Marriage is a unique experience. God takes two opposites and makes them one. In fact, it is the very fact that we are opposites (physically and usually in personality) that we were drawn to our spouses in the first place. Think through the couples you know. Often, one is outgoing the other more reserved. One is rejuvenated in a crowd the other alone. And so, God takes two opposites, puts them together. We learn, after the honeymoon, that many adjustments need to be made to have a healthy and enjoyable marriage. It is part of God’s refining and discipling process.
If, however, we do not grow and manage the differences we can experience distance and put ourselves at risk of unfulfilled marriages, affairs and divorce. We also miss one of God’s key means of making us more like Him.
So, how do we love each other when we do not “feel” like it? How do we love each other when we do not like each other much? How do we remain faithful to our vows? Consider CS Lewis:
“Love as distinct from ‘being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those times when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if allowed themselves, be ’in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”Read: Galatians 5:13-17, 22-24
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
13For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another. 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.
Does freedom mean I can do whatever I want? See verses 13 & 17. Freedom is not having rights, it is the power to do what is right!
Can you see how some marriages could be described by verse 13? What a witness that is to our children and our neighbors that we would “through love be servants to one another”
Conversely, can you see how some marriages could be described by verse 15?
The key to balanced, freedom-filled relationships is in verse 16. Paul commands Christians to “walk by the Spirit.” Not a suggestion. This is an on-going, daily, hourly, moment by moment choice to allow God’s Spirit to lead us.
GO DEEPER: “you won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh”. The word fulfill (telew in the Gk) means to bring something to maturity or to its end. While some Greek words are imperatives (commands) and others are indicatives (statements of fact) this is a subjunctive verb unique to Greek culture. Subjunctive is called, “the mood of possibility”. It is used in the NT to indicate things that exist but do not have to happen. All is ripe for this to take place but it doesn’t have to, based on the actions of the subject. For example, “do not leave your keys in the car (imperative) and you won’t tempt your child to accidentally start it (subjunctive). By leaving the keys in the car I provide the opportunity for a child to start it. There is a mood of possibility there. Now, with us obeying the Spirit vs. the flesh there is a mood of possibility with the flesh. It is ready to be started and take over. Your flesh is a real enemy and the possibility for us to give in to its draw is very real. So, we are commanded to walk by the Spirit! That is the key to maturity in marriage and in life. Now that’s one to grow on!
In our marriage class this week, my wife and I quoted verse 22 to each other with this statement: “if I have talked or acted this week without love, joy, peace, patience ….. the problem is not with you the problem is with me.” What do you think of that statement? How is your communication with your spouse?
How’s your communion with your spouse? Ladies are you showing him the respect he desperately needs? Guys are you giving her the love she deeply desires?
When you have those times that you do not like your spouse will you commit to seek the Lord for His “grace” and the “quieter love” that He can provide you?
Maybe listen to "I Will Be Here" - Stephen Curtis Chapman and "Power of your Love - Hillsongs in the Worship Center.
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.