"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, December 3, 2010

TWO OR ONE?

Ephesians 5:21 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."


Marriages are under attack. This covenant is no longer esteemed, honored or viewed as sacred like it should be. My heart grieves over the hurt brought on by disintegrating relationships between husbands and wives. Many marriages represent two individuals operating independently of the other without any regard to physical, emotional and spiritual oneness. They function as two people rather than a united whole, resembling room mates instead of partners.

In the past couple months I have become aware of several marriages that are on the fringe. A wife of 30 years walked out. A husband battles pornography. A middle-age couple struggles with stubborn hearts. A newlywed wife struggles under the authoritarianism of her husband. A young couple with three little ones wrestles over who is to be the spiritual leader of their home. Another husband pursues personal hobbies while withdrawing from his family. Sadly, I could go on. All of these couples are Christian. All are struggling. All are ready to give up and move on.

My husband and I experienced challenges early in marriage. Deep wounds were brought in from my past. While I loved my husband, my actions certainly didn't show it. I lashed out at him, disrespected Him, and withdrew. Admitting I needed help was not about to happen. You know, "Everything was just fine." God intervened. The Holy Spirit brought a large dose of humility to my heart. Over time we sorted through our "baggage" and our marriage is stronger as a result. Praise God for His healing in my life and our marriage.

It gives Satan great pleasure to see marriages fail. This reality is not to be taken lightly. The master deceiver wants to destroy all marriages. We live in a war zone friends. The less effective our marriages are the less we influence the world for Christ, the less radiant we are for His kingdom, the less glory we bring to His Name.

Paul uses marriage to illustrate Christ's love for the church in Ephesians 5:25, (NIV) "Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy." Christ loved the church by laying His life down for her so that the best could be brought out of her. As a part of Christ's bride, we understand the significance of this sacrificial act. He was willing to empty Himself for the good of the church, His bride. In the same way, the husband is to seek to sacrificially love his wife by emptying himself and become a servant. Christ didn't lead by domineering, but by caring and cherishing and so it should be for the husband.

Verse 33 exhorts wives by saying, "The wife must respect her husband." Love and respect are foundational principles for any marriage to thrive. Just as a wife expects unconditional love, the husband needs and expects unconditional respect. Unfortunately, most wives don't understand or refuse to accept this fact to the detriment of their marriage.

The enemy is a liar. He wants to convince us we are always right and our spouse is always wrong. He wants us to believe we can find fulfillment outside of Christ. He lures us away from God's best and entices us to fall prey to addictions. Tempting us with power, control and pride are his specialties. He tries to persuade us that God wouldn't want me to be unhappy. Recognizing the deceivers' lies and tearing down his deceptions is vital.

Deeply rooted struggles in marriage are often a symptom of a much bigger problem. When our heart is not right with God all other relationships will feel the impact; family, co-workers, friends, and especially our spouse.

The destruction of marriage starts with the individual. When Jesus Christ is truly Lord of our lives, change is always possible. When Jesus is Lord we proclaim that He is the authority by which we conduct our lives. If Jesus is not Lord, something is. Dying daily to self is necessary in order to keep Jesus as Lord. Living under the lordship of Christ solidifies the foundation upon which to build a healthy marriage. Here are a few building blocks for further construction:
  • Believing God can change our hearts and restore our marriage is crucial. If we doubt the Holy Spirit's power to renovate our hearts we need to re-evaluate our core beliefs.
  • Granting forgiveness makes healing possible. Ruth Bell Graham says, "A great marriage takes two great forgivers."
  • Applying consistent unconditional love and respect (Ephesians 5) will bring harmony and peace.
  • Being willing to change implies humility. Removing pride is necessary for growth to happen. When we are prideful we are not teachable. The problem comes when we are not willing to confess when we are wrong and own up to our part.
  • Praying holds our hearts together. When the Holy Spirit penetrates our heart a natural response is to get on our knees. We cannot do marriage on our own. Communication with God is an expression of humility because we seek His strength to live and function. We desire His protection from the fiery darts of the evil one. We pray for ourselves to ensure our heart is right with Him and our finger is not pointed elsewhere.
This is not a prescription for a perfect marriage. No. Perfect marriages don't exist, only restored ones. They take time, commitment, daily surrender, forgiveness, unconditional love and respect. This does not mean we will be exempt from struggles, disagreements, or desert experiences. Being determined to work through them though will ensure victory for us, and defeat to the enemy! It is a start to reflecting the glory, grace and oneness God intended for man and wife.




Heart Examination:
Do I understand how important my relationship with God or lack of relationship with Him impacts my marriage?

How healthy is my marriage? How can I extend forgiveness and unconditional love to my spouse? How is the enemy deceiving me?

Am I committed to do whatever it takes to love my spouse and have a godly marriage whether or not my spouse reciprocates?

Am I willing to be responsible for my contributions, good or bad, to my marriage?

Does forgiveness, unconditional love, respect, humility and prayer characterize my marriage?

Heart Work:
Evaluate how your relationship with God contributes to your marriage.

Ask God to remove the tactics of the enemy to persuade and speak lies to you.

Consider the strength of your foundation. Which building blocks can you better implement for a healthy and godly marriage?

Heart Changing Word:
Matthew 7:25 "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Romans 8:12 "Brothers we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."

Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure."

Ephesians 5:21 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

Ephesians 5:33 "The wife must respect her husband."






Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.