I talked to a friend on the phone today. She asked me how married life with Caleb was going. She asked me if we have had any fights, and if we've gotten tired of each other yet. I answered her by saying that married life was absolutely wonderful! It is such a blessing and I am so thankful for this man who the Lord created specifically for me. And to her question about fighting...well, I told her, we don't really fight! Sure we have our moments where we get frustrated with one another, but its usually just over something little and insignificant. We realize we aren't perfect. We eventually talk through it, forgive one another, and don't stay mad at each other for long. And we never go to bed angry! (Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger" Ephesians 4:26.) But then tonight, I got to thinking...why is it that Caleb and I have such a wonderful relationship? How is it that our marriage is so thriving and so enjoyable? And why don't we ever fight?
Well, the key to a thriving marriage relationship is laying yourself down for your spouse. It's about daily laying your own desires, needs, and wants down for the good of the other. It's about laying our lives down for our spouse like the Lord Jesus Christ laid His very life down for us.
Let me just say that my time spent packing Caleb's lunch this evening became a teachable moment for me. I started thinking to myself, "Ugh, I don't want to do this right now. I am really tired and cold and all I want to do is go to bed." I was not thinking happy thoughts. But I soon found myself rebuking my own lazy and selfish heart. I felt the Lord say to my heart: "This is what marriage is all about." And then I realized it! Doing things I don't necessarily want to do all the time...laying my life down...this is what marriage is all about! Laying my life down minute by minute for my husband. This is the reason that our marriage is so sweet. This why we have such sweet fellowship with one another. This is why we enjoy each other. This is one of the greatest reasons why we are more in love with each other than on the day of our wedding five months ago.
Marriage is not all about passionate romance every night (although sometimes it is), it's not about getting what I want from Caleb, it's not about making myself comfortable or happy. It's all about laying my own self down and loving Caleb like Christ has loved me. And its the same for him--its about loving me and laying his life like Christ laid his own life down. It's the picture of what Christ did for the church (believers everywhere). "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." John 15:12-13 So that our sinful souls might be saved, our perfect Lord and Savior Christ Jesus lived amongst sinners, died as a criminal, and took the full wrath of God all for us. He laid down His very life and shed His own blood for our good. He loved us so much that He gave everything for us. And that is what spouses in a marriage relationship are supposed to do for one another. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" Ephesians 5:22-27. (This verse applies to both husbands and wives).
If Caleb and I are to love each other as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for her, then we must realize we are both sinners. Our sinful flesh is warring against at every moment. It's fighting against Christ's Spirit within us. We have to die daily to our sinful flesh that Christ might live in us to will and to work for His great glory and His good pleasure. We have to purposefully lay down our sinful desires in order to truly love one another. And this doesn't just mean laying your life down for the other in a life or death circumstance! This is an everyday, every moment deal. We must lay down our lives for one another daily. Yep! That might sound scary and to you it might even sound awful...but its completely the opposite! It's freeing. When we love each other as Christ loved us, then we meet each other's needs. We are looking out for one another. It is how we were created to be before the fall! It is God's design for marriage. It's a heavenly kind of love!When we are both so consumed with loving and giving ourselves for the other person, then the relationship is so beautiful. It's free from the strain and struggle that our selfishness causes.
There are times that I really don't want to do things. Like wash the dishes or stay up making Caleb's lunch for the next day or say that I'm sorry. But every time I remind myself that I am laying myself down for his good and for the good of our marriage. It's something he needs and he appreciates. It's showing him Christ's love. And ultimately it is all for the glory of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can lay down my own desire for sleep, for comfort, etc. for the one I love. And the reason that we do this for one another is because Christ first loved us! "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers...Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:16 & 18. Because of all that Christ has done for us, we want to be like Him. We want to live in Christ's freedom, and we love when we get to experience it here on earth! We strive to live by His example because it brings so much blessing and so much good. And by doing this, you are ultimately laying yourself down at the feet of Jesus and saying, "Not my will but Yours be done, O Lord" Luke 22:42.
We are by no means perfect. I fail and fall everyday...I did today many times in fact. There are so many times that I let my sinful self get the best of me. And its so frustrating when that happens. But I want to encourage you to try and try again! If you are striving to please the Lord and follow His commands, He will bless it. He loves His children and leads them by the hand. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:24