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Marriage as God would have it (III)

Written by Bill Bryant.

In yesterday's article, we considered the need for both marriage partners to REMEMBER what they had in the beginning and what was pledged in their marriage vows. Each person needs to remember how things used to be…before the honeymoon ended. They need to remember how ready, willing, and able they were to “give” to the other marriage partner. In today’s article, we consider the second step to returning to one’s first love from Rev. 2:1-7, the step of REPENTANCE.

For a marriage to be as God would have it, the NEEDS of BOTH marriage partners must be met. BOTH marriage partners must understand each other’s needs and, to the best of his/her ability, strive to meet them. BOTH marriage partners must come to understand and exemplify “agape love” because it will serve as the foundation on which other kinds of love are developed ("storge" – family love; "eros" – sexual love; "philia" – friendship). The person you must determine to change throughout your marriage is you, not your mate. The time will come to discuss needed changes, but that should be secondary for you in your quest to make your marriage great.

Selfishness is the great enemy of marriage. Selfishness is at the root of all sins. There are a number of reasons why selfishness destroys relationships. First of all, Selfishness clouds good judgment. King Saul was instructed to completely destroy the Amalekites (I Sam. 15:3). But Saul used his own judgment and returned from battle with the spoils. God sent Samuel to challenge Saul’s disobedience. Saul defended himself by saying, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” (I Sam. 15:13). His selfishness clouded his judgment and made sin, at least in his mind, the right thing to do.” Today, spouses allow their selfishness to cloud their judgment. They feel they “owe it to themselves” to listen to the voice of pleasure and enjoyment at the expense of the spouse and family (and their soul).

Secondly, Selfishness is never satisfied. The more selfishness gets, the more it wants. King Solomon allowed selfishness to water down his faith in God. Gold, riches, wives, and concubines were never enough. Toward the end of his life he could look back and say, “Vanity of vanities… all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2). The more a spouse turns inward, the more he/she wants… the more unhappy they become. We see this truth in the lives of unfaithful spouses who are put away. Sooner or later the illicit affair comes to an end. The fantastic feelings of sensual love do not last forever. The grass that seemed greener on the other side of the fence still has to be mowed. Other conquests are sought… with the same result eventually!

Thirdly, Selfishness gets in God’s way as well. See Jeremiah 10:23 and Proverbs 14:12. Selfishness causes people to turn away from the only thing that can save him, the gospel. It causes people to spurn God’s wise counsel on how to live as a Christian, and as a Christian spouse and parent. How is selfishness defeated? First of all, be humble enough to admit that selfishness is sin. Secondly, obtain forgiveness from God and those hurt by selfishness (Luke 15 / I John 1:9 – 2:2). Make the apologies, as much as possible, repair the damage. Turn from a life of serving self to serving others. Thirdly, learn and follow the example of Christ’s humility and willingness to serve. Note the incident where Jesus taught the way of success in His kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28). Remember how He washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:3-15) to show the importance of service (that should be applied first at home). Strive to be the “giver” as much as possible remembering that this quality of love identifies us as God’s children.

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