DOES YOUR BEHAVIOR PUSH YOUR SPOUSE TO CHRIST?
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How do you positively or negatively contribute to your marriage? In broad categories, you can help in one of two ways, though you probably assist in both, depending on what is going on in any particular season of your marriage:
There are times that a spouse can be so hurt and so angry with their spouse—because of the ongoing disappointments from their spouse—that they do not see their sinful contributions to the marriage.
Those are the sad situations where the person shuts out the Spirit of God from the marriage (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). The mounting disappointment is overwhelming, and the spouses are more about grenade launching than redemptive communication (Ephesians 4:29).
For the wife, it will almost always be in the area of respect. Nothing will cut the heart out of a husband like a wife’s disrespecting attitude or tongue. Her husband is wired to lead, but because of sin, his temptation is to lead poorly, especially in their marriage. I am sorry it is this way, but too often, that is the case. He needs a wife’s assistance to help him to lead well.
For the husband, it is mostly about love and protection. Nothing will cut the heart out of a wife like a husband who is lazy in his love and his protective care. If he does not love his wife well, he is contributing to her steady distancing from the marriage (Ephesians 5:28-29). Though she is responsible for her choice to distance herself, he is responsible for his sinful contribution to her actions.
The answers for the husband and the wife are to think about each other the way Christ thinks about them. Christ loves imperfect people, and He is always busy working on their behalf, seeking to redeem and transform them into His likeness.
Is your spouse imperfect? Does that surprise you? It should not. The testimony of Scripture is far less flattering regarding the human condition. Your spouse deserves to go to hell. There is nothing that speaks to his/her worthlessness like the outcome for all spouses, who have not been born a second time (John 3:7; Romans 3:12; Revelation 20:15).
The good news is how the gospel penetrates all people’s nonsense and gives them something undeserved. The gospel gives spouses empowering favor (James 3:6). What they get is not based upon their behaviors (Isaiah 64:6), but upon the grace, mercy, and love of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
Imitating Christ’s redemptive behavior is how you are to live with your spouse (1 Corinthians 11:1). Christ does not put things in your way to demotivate you to live for His glory. He is not annoying or aggravating. He draws you by His love. He overcomes your nonsense by keeping His eye on a better prize (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 3:14).
Christ is a transformer, whose purpose is to transform your life. Even being despised and rejected by others did not deter Him from His restorative goals (Isaiah 53:3; Galatians 6:1-2).
Think about how what you should be doing to your spouse is what Christ does for you.
These are excellent examination questions that will identify what may be going on in your heart while revealing how you contribute to your marriage. Though your spouse is entirely responsible for his/her sin, you are called to love your spouse in such a way that contributes to his/her sanctification. How is the Spirit asking you to respond to this devotion?