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Monday
Jan 18th, 2021
Upstream: Marriage
By: Will Briggs
2 minute read 

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. (NLT)

Know someone for whom the rules don’t seem to apply? Money or power can sometimes mislead us with the assumption that, while rules may apply to the common folks, surely they don’t apply to us. It’s also true that people with narcissistic or psychopathic tendencies and antisocial behavior may also lend themselves to either ignoring or overlooking commonly accepted rule-centered norms. 

Either way, when we throw “rules” like common courtesy, reasonable levels of kindness, or sensible expectations out the window in an unemotional, win-at-all-costs approach to life and relationships, we may think we’re fighting for the win; but we will ultimately lose in the end—every time. God’s words in today’s scripture, addressed to husbands, also apply to wives. In a few words: Love each other. Simple, right? Loving and honoring your spouse is a door that swings both ways.

We’re not just talking about cultivating a loving attitude toward each other—not just an internal agreement or an emotional feeling that we “love” each other. It’s active. It’s a “rule of life” or way of life that involves searching out tangible ways to encourage, bring joy, support, challenge, bless. And, married or single, we can implement this approach and cultivate this habit in all our relationships and it will pay off massive dividends. But it’s especially beneficial in marriage.

A couple of pathways to consider as you seek to love really, really well…

  • Let the air out. Allow any inflated sense of your own importance to be deflated. Pray and ask God to help you to actively and practically consider others better than yourself.
  • Exercise empathy. Find ways to both understand and engage the perspective of others. When in doubt, ask. And then listen. Really listen. Stop and take in the words of the other. Bonus points for making eye contact.
  • Be respectful and kind. As much as it depends on you, make this your goal every time. And when you mess up, hit the reset button and keep pursuing this end. Be conscious, aware, and respectful of the rights of others.

We shouldn’t seek to beat the rules, work around them, or push them off on someone else. What if, instead, we were to find ways to live that fulfill and do not cross reasonable, loving boundaries? We can be intentional about setting up a “rule of life” that helps us love and serve people, especially our spouse, in a way that transforms and builds up.

Have a conversation with your spouse or another person who could benefit from a growth-centered focus in that relationship. Talk about how you can let the air out, exercise empathy, and be respectful and kind. Give yourself a score in each area, celebrate the wins, and talk about how you can grow in the places you’re challenged.