By: Martin Cisneros
My suggested reading from the Scriptures for you for today is from Colossians chapter 3, verses 12 to 17. Spend the rest of your life putting those verses into practice, even if you wind up feeling at the end of things like you never achieved anything else in life, ok?
Love each other, pray for each other. While in all things honoring Christ and obeying His Gospel, give your lives for one another. Live generous and selfcontroled lives. Worship God and fast for that Day to come. Stop harming yourselves and one another by the things that you approve of. Redeem time rather than cursing it or living in dread of the seasons of your life. Plead the earnest atonement of Christ in the behalf of your time as diligently as you would for your neighbor. Live lives without deception and hypocrisy. In all things, put your Father in heaven and His Christ first in your life always. Put perverse lips far from you and in all of your ways acknowledge the ransoming work of Christ and your true identity in Christ Who has become for us and in our behalf the 'Last Adam.'
Beat your appetites and not your spouses and offspring. Humble yourselves before the teachings of Jesus Christ and sacrifice your ways by showing Him to others in all that you do rather than exalting yourself in the showing of yourself to others. Meet every emotion of frustration with words of gentleness, peace, relaxation, and submission to the identity conveyed to you through the atoning and mediating work of Christ in your life.
Nothing matters that's short of your identity bestowed by Christ, your crucifixion to the world and it's crucifixion to you.
I want to spend a few minutes talking to those of you who are married. I particularly count those of you blessed who were married to each other in your teens, because while some may have given you a hard time about being too young and inexperienced with life, you at least weren't set in your ways, fiercely irrevokably independent, etc. But for the rest of you, I've highlighted some of your chief issues, if you were cornered about it privately.
Some of you have been beaten up enough with expectations from your churches, your families, counselors, relationship experts who are usually divorced when you do a google search on the famous ones, and by your own expectations from your understandings of Scripture and your own consciences. So, I'm not looking to pontificate or to insult your intelligence with taking you around the block again about Ephesians 5 and 1Peter 3, along with other passages that teach wives not to be gaudy and power struggling, and for men not to be distant, inattentive, neglectful, abusive, and immature.
You all know that. If you're needing a refresher course, then spend a day in bed together running references in a Young's Concordance or a Strong's Concordance on marriage, husbands, wives, and other things that come to mind as you talk together and study the Scriptures together.
I just want to cover things in a little different way.
Men: take the trash out and learn to cook. Write her a love note, even if you can't afford cards and flowers at all times. Tight budgets need not dampen loving attention and pleasant surprises for your wife.
Women: again, don't be the nag that the sitcoms always warned your husband about, before he married you.
Many of the books on marriage that I've seen will tell you to divide the responsibilities equally, pray together always, and they'll often give the impression that you can't be seen without each other. While I believe in accountability, mutual respect, and intimacy, it's unrealistic to think that you'll always or even usually fall asleep holding each other or that you'll never genuinely need your own private time of privacy. Be careful about blanket answers on issues that aren't moral, spiritual, and safety issues.
Unless you're unusually blessed by always being in appropriate, Godly company at all times, just pretty much figure that if most marriages end in divorces these days in Western civilizations, then the latest book out right now might not be the best read for marital wholeness. All they can tell you is what they were doing or where their hearts were at when they got divorced!
Your marriage will only be as whole and as rich as each of you are. Sometimes it's not even marriage counseling that would be adviseable for you, but some good life coaching seminars that really impart a strong "can do" spirit into you. Usually a decline in personal morale will lead to distance, wrong choices, frustration, anger, and relationship dissatisfaction. It can creep in on you from wanting something more, but not knowing what it is, and while you're in that vulnerable place then someone else comes along either personally or via a movie, a song, or in some other way that'll plant that seed that the grass is greener outside of that relationship.
Think of it this way: a well spiritually fed and healthy Christian is going to be self-sacrificing, differing to one another, humble, gentle, optimistic, and fun to be around. But when it isn't cool in their heart from frustration, not getting proper spiritual nutrition from the Word of God on a daily basis, and their own relationship with God is in a season of frustration, then how are they ever going to treat you right? And how are you ever going to treat them right, if you're the one in that situation? Think about it. Read your Bibles daily and listen to the Holy Spirit regarding fast days and concerning your generosity, and fulfill the law of Christ.
Some of you are just grumpy because you're lathargic on the daily routine. You need a day of eating and drinking nothing but water, and staying in bed to get you out of your rut before it deepens. While you need times of fasting and prayer together to maintain a good household blessing, you might need to do this one by yourself. Some of you need to get up and drink a good vegetable juice on your next day off and then to go back to bed and eat nothing that day but something from your Bible. You need to let your bodies rest from all of the stress, to let yourselves detox, and to get some extra sleep. And yes, you can catch up on your sleep with a day of fasting. When you're fasting, then all of your body has a chance to rest. Your body temperature isn't getting elevated with your normal metabolic processes and by any favorite spices, sugar, and caffeine, and there won't be any "pizza dreams" in that context. God prescribed Israel one 25 hour fast annually to reevaluate their priorities, repent of their sins, renew their commitments with God, establish their commitment to a closer walk with Him, and though this isn't often emphasized, there is an element of resting your spirit, mind, and body when you're depriving it of the normal routine for a day.
If you'll start taking better, daily care of your relationships with God and with yourself, then you'll lead a healthier spiritual and emotional life and of course you'll start treating one another in marriage consistently better. And if it's all good with your marriage, consider these little points to keep it good in the long run!
Never underestimate the power and significance of the ministry that God has given you of just simply being a husband or a wife. Jesus said that what you do for the least of these, His brethren, you’ve done for Him. Sometimes in reading that verse we get caught up in thinking in terms of social or economic class, the under privileged, or the over privileged with the chip on their spiritual shoulders and the plank in their eyes. I don’t believe that it would be a twisting of His intent to simply say that what you do for the least number, which would be “one,” you’ve done for Him. If He’s the Ransom for all, then He’s the Ransom for each one, and what you’ve done for the one - whoever they may be - you’ve done it for Him in the eyes of God.
Sometimes believers can read through the book of Acts or through St. Paul’s epistles and have an occasional wince that they’re not daily putting it on the line to share the Everlasting Gospel with all of the pagans in the most remote parts of the earth.
There is as much time spent on relationships in the New Testament as there is upon exploring the significance of Christ’s sacrificial death. I don’t believe that it’s a departure from the original topic of counting one’s self crucified and risen to newness of life with Jesus Christ (Romans 6; Colossians 3). Real life is in the love that you share. And your most holy love is going to be for that one significant other in your life, be they a husband or a wife. When you’re as ready to lay it on the line in it’s entirety for that one special person in your life as you would be, or think you would be, for all of the unconverted multitudes on earth, then your Christianity means something and not until!
Many people worship our heavenly Father without ever having understood His purpose in Christ. Many of them may never see His purpose for them in Christ until a long list of "issues" is accounted for, not by His apologists but by Himself Personally into their lives. But you’ll genuinely make a mark that cannot be erased if your love is genuine, unselfish, and committed. Many Christians are so caught up with details that they never achieve that.
If you’re not yet married, then St. Paul said that you should further the purposes of God (ideally) through your singleness until God opens that door for you to be married, if He ever does. Your spouse will tend to remember that one evening that you weren’t there for them more than the previous year or two that you spent totally devoted to them day and night. You can’t ever take back those moments when you got too busy, or just up and ran because you mistook their first “get out of my face” as a genuine request for space, and you didn’t hear that cry to be held that echoed stronger than their precise words.
Haven’t any of us learned that things are the most fragile when they’re the most perfect? Think of the Garden of Eden situation as recorded for us in the Bible. Theoretically, it was “easy street” for two people who were not only near perfection, but totally perfect for one another. And boom! One careless act destroyed, or nearly destroyed everything! Relationships aren’t perfect so that we can take them for granted but so that we can cherish them, dwell upon them, and dwell with them all of the more in tenderness, respect, kindness, patience, gentleness, purity, watchfulness, and love! Selah.