Pursue Christ with Your Spouse
Written by Steve Dingeldein
A couple of years ago my wife and I traveled up north to Indiana to celebrate the marriage of my youngest sibling and his soon to be bride. It was such an exciting time of planning, preparation for the purchase and move into their new home, the wedding preparations, and of course the “big day" celebrating their decision to go through this life together as one. At that time, Wendy and I had been married about 11 years. We knew this decision is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life. But just making the decision to get married and celebrating the high of the wedding day doesn’t stop there. It's what comes after that special day that we were also celebrating and looking forward to for the new couple: the sanctification and growth that comes from a husband and a wife doing life together while striving to live for God. As we have all likely been a part of or know people in our life who have celebrated the joy of two becoming one, we have also all likely seen or been impacted by the pain and suffering when a marriage relationship is broken. We routinely need to take a step back from our daily grind of “to-dos” and evaluate the purpose and reason for marriage.
Marriage was created by God to give us a glimpse of the relationship of Christ and the church. Ephesians 5 draws this parallel for us, “As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”
Our goal and focus in marriage should be to bring glory to God by serving Him, not ourselves for our selfish desires. We have a responsibility to our spouse to ”spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
How do we maintain a biblical mindset on what our marriage was created for? We strive to grow deeper in our understanding and our faith in God. We do this by studying the Word and pursuing God, individually and together as a couple. Here are four practical ways we can pursue God together in our marriages and a brief summary of things God has put on our heart as we seek to follow after Him and use our marriage relationship as a reflection of Christ and the Church.
1. Read the Bible together. It sounds so simple but writing the Word of God on our hearts is powerful. Studying the word together allows you to challenge and sharpen one another not based on your opinion or desires but on Gods perfect desires. Wendy and I routinely ask each other about what God is teaching us and this leads to deep spiritual intimacy rooted in our faith.
2. Pray together. We KNOW this is powerful. Psalm 37:4 tells us “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This is not telling us that we will get whatever we ask for but that our desire will match God’s good and perfect desire, We put so much emphasis on communicating with our spouses as the key to a successful marriage (which is helpful), but do we remember to communicate with our Creator? There are times when this can be difficult because of schedules, distractions, and even conflict you may be having with your spouse. It can be hard for me to pray with my wife during times of conflict. I can become prideful and lose my focus on what my marriage is ultimately for. Praying with my spouse in moments of conflict, humbles my heart and refocuses my spirit on our greater goal. Spending time together in prayer with your spouse, communicating with God is of great importance. Aligning your hearts to the desires of our Creator together as spouses will do great things in your marriage.
3. Serve together. James 2:26 says that faith without works is dead. Serving together puts your faith in action. Serving humbles us together and reminds us that we are not the center, and that our calling is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You will be amazed at how conflict can melt away when your conversations spend more time on how to help other people together verses needs you feel are unmet by your spouse. If you're looking for practical ways you can serve together just ask those around you. You may even consider choosing an evening that you will regularly host different families in your neighborhood for dinner to love on them, or you could even offer to care for another family's young children together to give them a date night. The intentional act of serving together is powerful.
4. Be discipled by another couple (and if you are in a healthy place, be discipling others) This last suggestion is one that my wife and I have practiced with very helpful results over the years. We recognize we are sinful by nature and sometimes we allow selfish pride or fear to creep in and blind us in an argument. Sometimes those molehills turn into mountains and we need other believers to walk alongside us and lovingly point out where we are missing the mark. We have couples that have a few more years of marriage under their belt that we meet with regularly and have invested in us. They know our strengths and our weaknesses. We have great respect for these couples, and when we feel like we may need some help navigating a situation we are stuck in, we know they will provide Godly counsel. We trust their perspective knowing they are not picking sides but pointing out important truth in our potential blind spots.
All these helpful hints will ultimately be ineffective and are simply a patch fix if you have not yet placed your faith in Jesus and the sacrifice He already made on your behalf. Once we rest in the understanding that we cannot do anything to earn God’s favor, and place our faith in Jesus, our lives (and our marriages) will be forever changed!
Please save the date for our next Waypoint Marriage Conference on May 13-14 - more info to come.