Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 17, 2019
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Proverbs 5:18
Sitting on the back porch this morning reflecting on 40 years of marriage as of today, wow! And, interestingly enough, my brother who is three years younger is being married today for the first time, double wow! The topography of our time together as husband and wife reminds me of a variety of geographical conditions: a humid rainforest full of luscious vegetation, an arid desert where life struggles, a beautiful vista from a mountain top or a view of despair in the dark valley.
What makes a healthy marriage? How can we help each other be the best versions of ourselves?
Here are some ideas on what contributes to a fulfilling marriage:
Exchange Short-Term Threats For Long-Term Security
From age 19 (way too young to marry), Rita and I said divorce was not an option. Taking divorce off the table forced us to figure out how to persevere through problems, while providing each other security knowing we were both in this relationship together “come hell or high water”. Days of working through difficulties became years of progress (“two steps forward and one step backward”). Along the way we sought help from a supportive faith community, loving mentors and Christian counselors, who wisely pointed us back to Christ as our ultimate mediator. Exchanging short-term threats for long-term security grows into the happiest and most fulfilling marriage.
“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).
Exchange Short-Term Selfishness For Long-Term Selflessness
As a proud husband I made the mistake of demanding my way and asking my wife to comply and get out of my way. Mistake. Big mistake. I may get my way running roughshod over my wife but at great cost: deep hurt, resentment and anger are the fruits of pride. The alternative is deferring my way to another day and in humility giving my spouse what she needs: love, understanding, care and comfort. Selflessness builds bridges to the heart that grows into reciprocal love and respect. Making the bed, picking up the children from school or following the budget are selfless acts that contribute to a rich fulfilling marriage. Small and constant acts of kindness bring fulfillment.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:10-11).
Exchange Short-Term Financial Freedom For Long-Term Financial Faithfulness
Money can bless a marriage or become a heavy burden to bear. Finances can serve good motivations and productive purposes in marriage or grow into a feared task master of debt and destruction. So we are learning to give to the Lord first, others second, the government third and live modestly on the rest. Paying cash for schools, cars, a home and weddings is a discipline of financial faithfulness that takes the pressure off of marriage (working too much) and allows you to flourish. Typically the highest earning decades are the 60’s, 50’s and 70’s in that order. Like a farmer, patiently plant financial orchards early so in later years you enjoy the fruit of faithfulness.
“Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty” (Proverbs 21: 5-7 The Living Bible).
Exchange Short-Term Worldly Love For Long-Term Love For The Lord And Others
Love is the heart of the matter. In marriage as in life, love gets us to God’s best. When we set our affections on Christ and His creation—people, we are able to dismiss the lesser loves that compete for our attention: work, money, stuff and notoriety. Lesser loves are seductive, but shallow in their long-term fulfillment, only a shell of security. Passion is fun and prevalent in the early years of marriage, but deep, abiding love is what keeps passion aflame as we grow older. Wives and husbands who are first loved lavishly by their heavenly Father have the capacity to love each other to the fullest. Yes, the flames of Christ’s love flicker forever. Love is fulfillment!
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Heavenly Father, grow my capacity to be loved and to love, in Jesus’ name, amen.
What short-term goal do I need to replace with long-term trust and fulfillment?
Love defers my way for another day and gives my spouse what she needs today. #wisdomhunters #marriage #Jesus
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