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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Guys, one Bible verse that can transform your marriage

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

COMPELLED by the Holy Spirit, very imperfect as a human, very indicative of a man, I report this for husbands, for their reflection; for wives too, for their hope. The only thing that makes me worthy to write this is I have failed so much, and still do; but I have had enough success to see it work.
The one Bible verse undoubtedly designed to guide husbands most in their relationships with their wives is as follows, from the pen of the apostle Paul:
Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her…

— Ephesians 5:25 (NRSV)
This is a biblical present imperative, which is interesting. The Greek verb agapāte for ‘love’ in “Husbands, love your wives” is in the present tense, active voice, imperative mood; meaning it is a command for Christian husbands to love their wives, and with continual and ongoing effect, meaning it is never complete, and, with the following part of the verse above, means their love rises to the standard of Christ.
A husband’s love is to be visible and sustained, and not so much of Christlike standard in the realm of holiness, but of Christlike standard in the realm of sacrifice. Sacrifice is achievable.
Here is my own raw experience, even as it stands as two incidents on the very same day. Both incidents I was, as husbands can be, harsh of word and demeanour, through a lack of discernment based in a lack of care. At least I was initially. Within seconds, however, I could feel God convicting me. I know this feeling well and it is always awful, because my mindset is so prideful in these moments. But there was sufficient humility on these two occasions to pour contempt on that pride.
I approached my wife, but not in a noisy, authoritarian sort of way. I was careful to be silent, ready to accept her resistance and do nothing threatening nor distancing in response. My attitude took responsibility for the conflicts we had had, and I let my actions speak from this attitude. This attitude completely disregarded any of what could be termed ‘her fault’ as if it were irrelevant — because it was. Even as I trusted the Holy Spirit, not knowing what I would do or say, or commit to, I found myself saying sorry, endeavouring to convey understanding, offering and making restitution, repenting of my actions, and seeking forgiveness, whilst at the same time forgiving her.
As husbands, and this is just the same as wives, we expect our partner to change — we make demands, then judge and punish them if our demands are not met — when our prerogative as a husband is to lead in the marriage. Now, biblical leading is upside down, or the other way around, compared to how the world sees what leading is. Biblically, leading is serving. It is taking the lower place; bottom if possible. It is washing feet as an example of what ought to be done. Biblical leadership is pure example, never taking the high ground, trusting the Holy Spirit for change in others much as we trust the Holy Spirit to exhort change into us.
Husbands are to desist from requiring change from their wives. But more. They are to become the change their wives seek for. What seems logical — a ‘worldly wisdom’ — is utter madness. It never works. It only causes marital derision. Only the upside down, other-worldly truth works — to give our lives away that we might save another’s life, much like as Jesus saved us. That way, through the change wrought through the Holy Spirit’s power in husbands, they save their marriages, not least their wives, who, because they’re not tested to frustration, can be ‘holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5:27) on his account. Husbands are not to exasperate their wives. They are not to be the cause of her distress.
The practical outworking in a husband’s working on himself is something transformative in what the wife sees.
No longer does she feel unworthy and unsafe, not to mention frustrated and alone and without hope. She begins to feel the freedom to observe and quietly celebrate change in her marriage. She is empowered even as she sees that change unfold within her family. She is encouraged, because this change came seemingly out of nowhere, as all things of God seem to do. She is comforted, because finally her husband is equipping the family.
Here is an encouraging truth for husbands. Wives, often being spiritually and emotionally deeper than their husbands, watch for and notice nuances of change. Small changes are not lost on most wives when they have an appreciative mindset. The little things are the big things for them. And while she watches her husband lose his life to save hers — making the kind of sacrifices for her that Christ would make for His church — the Holy Spirit begins doing wonderful things in her. The Spirit has her implicit permission. The only blocker, ever before, was her husband. He, alone, stood in the way. Now that he no longer does, she is free to become that impossible version of herself both she and he wish to experience. His heart has been changed, and this has produced a brand-new mindset. Praise the Lord, the husband cannot return to who he once was. The husband has truly let go to let God change her, according solely to His will and timeframe. Both husband, as he leads, and wife, as she reciprocates, cease to have demands on the other.
The husband now has no claim on her to change; his change of mindset is so sweepingly vast he wishes her to stay exactly as she is. From this relational locale, both husband and wife can only be further blessed. They have learned to appreciate and accept each other.
When a husband accepts his wife for who she is, suddenly she accepts he is who God anointed for her.
I usually hate reading these types of articles, by some guy who thinks he’s the ‘guy of all guys’ with such a sweet marriage, who has life all worked out. Well, thankfully, I have none of those qualities, because I’d be conceited if I did. Just take this for what it’s worth — words on a screen or piece of paper — for that’s all this is… until the concept is taken, buried deep in the heart, a seed germinating into a transformed husband, who is not one iota better than the momentary second allows.
The final comment is for wives. If your husband is genuinely trying to love you as Christ loved the church — trying and failingadmire his intent. When we stand away a distance to really see what’s going on, there is nothing sweeter in marriage than a husband with potential. Your instinct for grace will inspire within him the confidence to succeed more often.
In the marriage context, when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church, men are being men in allowing women to be women.

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