A Love That Lasts

Posted: May 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

cute-old-couple_FotorHow do you grow and maintain a marriage for 50, 60, even 75 years? I mean, in a culture like ours, how do you build a love that lasts? Well, in many ways, it begins with looking in the mirror. When, by God’s grace, I finally get an honest look at myself, when I truly see my selfishness and pride for what it is, then I also see my need not only for forgiveness, but also for change. And that, in part, is what marriage is aimed at… change.

Now change, as we all know, is not easy. It demands things like patience and grace and speaking the truth in love. Which is why we need to remember that marriage is a covenant, a commitment to love and support one another “for better, for worse”.  The question is, what kind of change does God want to accomplish in and through my marriage?

Well, according to Erik Raymond, there are at least Three Ways the Gospel Changes Marriage:

1. From Selfishness to Service

Every single sin flows from the reservoir of self. We displace God and others in favor of ourselves. It is disastrous and painful. Nowhere is this inversion more glaring and hurtful than in marriage. But when the gospel comes home there are pronounced changes on this front. The irritable wife becomes patient and kind with her husband because Jesus was patient and kind with her. The self-absorbed husband finds more joy in learning about his wife’s interests than the side-story of his favorite athletes. This is because he realizes that she was made by God and for God as well as the truth that the Spirit continues to powerfully work more of Christ into her life. This is attractive and compelling in a way that home-runs and touchdowns can’t ever be. The gospel comes home and turns our hearts away from ourselves (selfishness) and towards our spouse (service).

2. From Laziness to Engagement

If you don’t think laziness is a problem in America, consider the fact that we have a chair, the “Laz-e-boy” tailored to and marketed to the American male. And it sells! Laziness, much like selfishness is bent toward the self, but it gets its marching orders from the comfort committee. We desire comfort and refuse to do anything difficult because it could be uncomfortable. Laziness is chiefly about preserving and promoting the perception of personal comfort. And laziness lies, a lot. We know there is a problem in our marriage but also know that it requires a change, perhaps even a painful change. So what happens? Laziness says, “Oh, I’ll get to this another time.” Or laziness says convincingly, “It’s not that bad. I’ll be all-right.” But this is laziness talking not Jesus the Governor of our lives! Doubtless you can imagine how this would undermine Jesus’ plan for growth and change in you and your marriage. But when the gospel of grace comes home we become engaged in our marriage. We are no longer passive spectators hoping to maintain a culture of comfort and security through sanitized mediocrity. Instead, we become about what Jesus is about: pursuing Christ likeness by means of painfully putting sin to death.

3. Self-Righteousness to Humility

Self-righteousness is that devilish mindset that we possess merit in ourselves that commends us before God and men. While selfishness loves to retreat to self, self-righteousness loves to boast in self. At its heart this opposes the gospel which pivots on our need for and our reception of Christ’s imputed righteousness. Self-righteousness in a marriage is as subtle as a raised eyebrow while humility is as noticeable as joyful affection. During a dispute a wife may bring some concerns to her husband. If he is self-righteous he may begin to refute her with “hard” evidence. If things get sticky his fearless inner defense attorney will powerfully articulate his innocence while also bringing charges against his wife. Self-righteousness in marriage is always defending because we perceive that we are always under attack. This is to be contrasted with the gospel which teaches us that we have already been sufficiently attacked, critiqued and judged. The cross is the verdict. We are guilty. But the beauty of the gospel is that while we were infinitely sinful we were also unfathomably loved. This brings humility and assurance. When the gospel comes home in a marriage we will more quickly silence our internal attorneys while basking in the truth of the gospel. It is only here that we can in humility grow together into the likeness of Christ.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)

  1. Heather says:

    Great reminders! Point #2 reminds me of a sermon where you said, “God hasn’t called us to a life of comfort.”. That has always stuck with me. I certainly need reminders of that though!

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