Friday, May 20, 2011

What Does It Take?

Marriage in crisis, image courtesy of christianmarriagesite.com

I tried, I tried,
I tried, I tried,
in every way I could,
to make you see how much I love you.
Ooo, I thought you understood.

So you gotta make me see,
what does it take to win your love for me?

I’m not a big fan of cookies. Oh, I’ll eat a cookie, but it’s just not my first choice of indulgence. As a kid, I was fascinated by the various shapes of cookies. Cookie cutters allow you to create cookies in shapes that fill a child’s imagination with wonder and awe. Unfortunately, marriages and relationships don’t have a cookie cutter form that allows people to shape the marriage or relationship into what they want it to be; people aren’t just formless globs of dough.

Marriages and relationships require a choice, a commitment, and an investment of one’s life to an extent that many often find is too high a price. This reminds me of when Jesus said:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.1

It’s as though Jesus is drawing a line in the sand and saying the words of Joshua:

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."2

The success of marriage must be established upon three principals:
  1. You choose to love someone.
  2. You commit to love someone.
  3. You invest your life in loving someone.
When that happens, the beauty of creation is revealed because we see the purpose and capacity which God equips us to love another. We are given a glimpse of the unsurpassing love of God.

God loves me unconditionally. Why can’t I love like that?

For God, choice is not difficult. Commitment is not a conflict of interest with God. Investing Himself in my life is not a high risk for God.

Choice is difficult for me because I have self interests. Commitment for me conflicts with my objectives. Investing myself in the life of another comes at a cost that for me is too risky. Selfishness is an aspect of our fallen nature; it inhibits my ability to truly and completely love another. Show me a discarded marriage or relationship, and somewhere in the rubble will be the selfish thoughts, words, and actions of a person unwilling to love. Men and women are unfaithful. They face personal problems of drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Some have issues of self-esteem. Some are materialistic, while others may be overly miserly. The underlying layer in all these elements is selfishness.

Often, the response of a spouse is to try and love a selfish spouse, but there is something missing in the marriage.

Father God,

So many men, women, and children have been hurt by divorce, fractured relationships, and marital discord. You command us to love, but we choose not to. I am amazed that You love me and the rest of humanity even though we choose to disregard Your wisdom. Oh Lord, may we humble ourselves before Your throne of mercy and cry out in repentance of sin and disobedience. Teach us to love unselfishly; to choose this day, to commit our life, and to invest ourselves into the life of Christ, our spouse, and others. May we find grace to open our hearts to give. You gave the greatest gift I could ever receive; the life of Your Son. I give my life. I pray for spouses, children, siblings, relatives and friends, that they find the truth that, "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." I pray Your blessings upon marriages and relationships. Heal the damage in our lives Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.


Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

Footnotes:
  1. John 6:51, NIV
  2. Joshua 24:14-15, NIV
References:
  1. What Does It Take, Lyrics by Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, Vernon Bullock, from the album Home Cookin', released April 25, 1969, Sung by Jr. Walker and The All Stars
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  3. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA


14 comments:

Judy said...

Hi MTJ,

That's why Jesus said regarding marriage, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given" (Matthew 19:10).

You are right that marriage is a choice to love, a commitment to love, and an investment of a lifetime. To stay married with joy and happiness between two people takes a lot of prayer. Prayer about our own sin before God to help deliver us from selfishness, unloving words and attitudes. And prayer for our spouses on a regular basis. I am a walking testimony of that.

I've been married 21 years miraculously by the grace of God. I owe it all to Him.

Blessings,
Judy

Patti Hanan said...

Thank you for praying for marriages. You are right, that it is a choice and commitment, and it takes a willingness to invest time to make it work. Wise advice!

Joan said...

I so appreciate your prayers for marriages. As I said last week, Satan is out to destroy and I think especially Christian marriages.

I am praying for you, also.

Blessings,
Joan

Anita Johnson said...

We need to be praying for marriages as culture tells us they are disposable. God tells us otherwise. Celebrating 30 years next month. Praying for peace and happiness for you too.

JT said...

Marriage is a life time commitment. I met my wife in January 1966. We were married in August. I only knew her for 7 months and 26 days. This August 26 we will be married 45 years. We have had a wonderful married life. God has blessed us. Every marriage needs prayer. God bless you.

Wanda said...

You words echo my sisters in regards to selfishness being the root cause of divorce.

Mari said...

Great principals, I like this post very much. Thanks

Have a blessed weekend :)

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

I have to say Amen! I have been blessed with a praying husband.
God Bless,
Ginger

Charlotte said...

Thank you for sharing this insightful post. This is the attitude we should all have.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Sharon said...

This was such an honest post. And you spoke such truth, MTJ.

I was divorced many years ago - and it was a choice I made at a time in my life when I wasn't following God closely. And I would be the first person to tell you that it was selfish.

Praise God, though - He has forgiven me. And He has also healed many broken people and restored many damaged relationships. He loves us in spite of ourselves - and He's the Master who comforts the brokenhearted.

May He continue to teach all of us how to love - how to choose His way.

GOD BLESS!

Virginia said...

The root of most marital problems is sin, and the root of all sin is selfishness. Submission to Christ and to one another is the only way to overcome selfishness, for when we submit, the Holy Spirit can fill us and enable us to love one another in a sacrificial, sanctifying, and satisfying way, the way Christ loves us.
Thank you for sharing this great post and prayer.
Sweet Blessings.

Carolyn said...

Hi MTJ,

Great post!!

(This is the 3rd and last attempt to try to make a comment! I will type a comment and hit submit and then it disappears! LOL!)

Blessings,
Carolyn ~ Cottage Sunshine

Pamela said...

I love the Joshua verse and we have built our family on its foundation. When each member is following Christ sincerely selfishness melts away. Beautiful prayer.

Blessings,
Pamela

From The Heart Online said...

Such hard stuff - divorce, damaged relationships... you're right; in the rubble is selfishness. The Bible implies this where it makes allowances for divorce because of hard hearts.

... did you recently change your 'about me' description?

btw - my email address has changed. dawn123@email.com ... just incase :)