Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Making a Christian Marriage #2

by Betty Jackson

What Is Love?

Do you believe “being in love” is more important in marriage than commitment?” Most married people in our culture have experienced “being in love,” that feeling of infatuation. However, the honeymoon doesn’t last forever—at least in a 24/7 way. In a good marriage, there is still the being in love, but in a different and steady way. Soon the misconception that you found the perfect man is gone. He knows you aren’t perfect either. 

In John 3:16 we are told: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son...” The Greek word “love” in this passage is agapao. This type of love is not so much about feelings, but of commitment to the person of worth. How much are you and your husband worth? Both of you are priceless! If God loves your husband so much that he gave Jesus to die for him, then he is worth all the effort you can give to love him with that kind of love. 

Agape-love is a deep and abiding commitment that considers the loved one worth saving. The most important role in marriage is helping our husbands. That was why we were created! (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:8). It is so easy to succumb to negative thinking: “But he doesn’t ... or he does thus and so all the time.” This series of lessons is not about husbands. It is to encourage us to grow stronger in the role God has assigned to us.

The primary helping task is spiritual (more about this in another lesson). The outstanding characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman are her strength, dignity, and kindness (v. 25-26). A consideration of her daily tasks reveals she was bound to have moments of fatigue. Bone weariness can bring temptations to be negative and combative. These are times to be in tune with our bodies, and to have a spiritual mind over matter. 

We must be the spiritual helpers we ought to be, in spite of our physical weaknesses. Improving our marriages takes deliberate and hard work. This short article cannot address all the ways to do that. However, we need to look at our schedules which get so out of control that our lives are in virtual chaos. One must address these kinds of things for the best spiritual good. There must be balance between tending to the necessary, and neglecting the spiritual.

Consider this: 
Read 1 Corinthians 13 through two times this coming week. 

Try this: 
Choose a couple of things from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to incorporate into your life this week. It might be good to choose the latter part of verse 5. In the American Standard Version, it reads: “Love ... taketh not account of evil.”  In the New American Standard, it is translated: “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” I don’t think the ESV brings out the original, but perhaps it does help us to realize that keeping score of wrongs causes us to be resentful, producing an atmosphere that is detrimental to the spiritual environment of our homes.

Communication breaks down when we keep bringing up past hurts that should have been forgotten. Dealing with the problems is not about keeping an account of how many times we have been hurt or ignored. 

Another consideration might be: “Love .... is not provoked.” When we make the decision to “agape-love,” we will overlook petty annoyances. Our level of irritation, exasperation will be less. There are right things to be annoyed about. Paul was upset at times with the ignorant behavior of his fellow Jews. But in the context of 1 Corinthians 13, we are talking about the characteristics Christians should possess.

Is it hard to have this kind of love? For sure. Yet, it can grow easier day by day, with practice. None of us grew up in perfect homes; we brought some baggage into our marriages. Some learned things must be unlearned. Becoming a Christian is a life of thankfulness and repentance, a life of changing and growing through committed effort to put on the new self (ESV, Ephesians 4:22-23).

Do this: 
Evaluate yourself.  Note how your attitude of irritation affects your treatment of other members of your family. 

Be thankful for the Lord’s help when you acted in a good and kind way (without a haughty attitude), in spite of anything that you perceive as irritating.

Recommended Reading
Heald, Cynthia. Loving Your Husband. 1989. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress Publishing Group.
Jackson, Jill. 
Jackson, Wayne.

Memorize this:
1 John 4:7-8(ESV)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Questions to Ponder
 (Give Scripture references)
  1. Define “agape-love.”
  2. How do wives show true love in marriage?
  3. Why were women created?
  4. What are some things one learns in youth that should be “unlearned” for marriage?
  5. How does a Christian woman show she is penitent and thankful for the forgiveness of her sins?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Making a Christian Marriage #1

by Betty Jackson

Loving Grace

Scholars define grace, bestowed by God, as favor, loving-kindness. In biblical context it is “unmerited favor.” Without at least an inkling of the horridness of sin, grace will be unappreciated. “[T]o the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians  1:6-7; ESV). (Emphasis-mine.) 

Consider the cost of the bestowment of that grace! “...For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many” (Acts 20:28; Romans 5:15).

The offer of grace is an offer for salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10). Of course, that means we must know how to obtain grace. The Bible reveals that plan of grace, or salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16).

Grace can be lost (Galatians 5:1-5). We are to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Growing and changing takes deliberate effort. Habitual behavior is not easy to overcome.  

How can an appreciation of God’s grace help one’s marriage? How can growth improve relationships? A deep and abiding appreciation for God’s grace (unmerited favor) will motivate us to permeate our actions with grace and kindness toward others. Jesus had an attitude toward us. He did not look down upon us because of our sins. Rather, his goal was to rescue us, to help us go to heaven. Our individual goals need to be the same as the Lord’s—helping others go to heaven, without being condescending. Our immediate responsibility is to our mates and our children. 

Consider this: 
Make a list (at least mentally) of your sins for which you are especially grateful that God has forgiven. Thank the Lord for his grace that made it possible that you be forgiven.

Try this: 
Make a list of things that you do that you know irritates your mate. These may be something as unimportant as the way you squeeze toothpaste out of the tube, or it may be a real sin. Don’t make a long list. Just one or two items.

Think about how your husband can show grace towards you, when you do these things he does not approve of, or that irritate him. Note: Grace doesn’t always overlook mistakes. 
Do this: 
Read Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29. How does one who speaks with grace, seasoned with salt (speech permeated with heart-felt love for God and others) speak and act towards another person, even an offending person? 

Make a list of ways you can improve in speaking with grace to your mate. How often do you speak in an angry or condescending tone? Practice—not just when things are going great, but even when you are under stress. If you err, apologize; and start over!

Memorize this:
 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight” (Ephesians 1:7-8; ESV).

Recommended Reading
Jackson, Jill. 
Jackson, Wayne.

Loden, Patsy. 2010. Loving Your Husband. Huntsville, AL. Publishing Designs, Inc.

Questions to Ponder
  1. What does the word grace mean?
  2. How has God shown grace to us?
  3. Can one be saved by grace alone?
  4. What is Christ’s attitude toward those upon whom he has bestowed grace?
  5. How can our speech destroy our influence as a Christian?