One of the best and most important parts of marriages can often feel like the very worst. In marriage, all our "ugly" comes out. Self-centeredness. Bitterness. Unkind words. Uncharitable attitudes. Manipulation. Anger. This list could go on and on.
Marriage, by design, is a relationship of such intimacy that our sin nature inevitably reveals itself, both to our spouses and to ourselves. "What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin," writes Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage. "It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness."
Those unhappy moments when we're forced to face our own self-centeredness and sin can actually be a gift to us as God invites us to grow and change. Thomas goes on to suggest: "View marriage as an entryway into sanctification—as a relationship that will reveal your sinful behaviors and attitudes and give you the opportunity to address them before the Lord … [Marriage is] a piercing spiritual mirror, designed for our sanctification and growth in holiness."
Look in a mirror and think about how your marriage has been a "piercing spiritual mirror" in your life during the past few days or weeks. What has your marriage revealed to you about yourself? About areas in which you need to grow in character and Christlikeness? About flaws, failings, and sins in your life that perhaps only your husband know and see?
Name what you see aloud, asking God to help you grow. Thank God for the gift of even the difficult parts of marriage.
Room for Growth: Biblically Examine Your Marriage
Part of God's wonderful gift of marriage is the daily, minute-by-minute opportunity it gives us to live out Christian character.
With different colored pens or highlighters, mark the words and phrases in each passage as they relate to your marriage. (If needed, use colors other than those noted below.)
- Which commands or character traits are the most difficult for you to live out on a daily basis in your marriage? (Underline in red.)
- Which commands or character traits come more naturally to you in your demeanor toward your husband? (Underline in blue.)
- Which of these commands do you find yourself living out with others, yet neglecting in the way you treat your husband? (Box in black.)
- Which of these commands do you feel most challenged by right now, regarding the way you've related to your husband over the past few days? (Circle in green.)
Internalize Your Findings
Paul summed up his teaching about Christian character in Ephesians 4:17-31 with this concluding statement: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Marriage provides you a daily opportunity to follow God's example in how you treat your husband as you love him and give up yourself in service and ministry to him.
Spend the next few minutes aiming to memorize these verses. Ask God to give you a vision for how you can live them out in the way you relate to your husband.
Excerpted from Day 6 of Enrich Your Marriage by Kelli B. Trujillo. Printed by Wesleyan Publishing House. Used by permission. Copyright © 2012, Kelli B. Trujillo.