this is an installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.
catch up on past posts here:
the secret of marriage
let me tell you about this picture. we didn't see each other until i walked down the aisle, but we did take a few fun pictures before the wedding without seeing each other. you can't really tell, but Thomas is actually praying in this picture. we wanted to pray together for our marriage before the ceremony, so we held hands around this corner & he prayed for us. i used this picture for the chapter on the power of marriage because prayer contains so much power!
in Ephesians 5 when Paul is speaking about the roles of husbands and wives... the discussion doesn't start in verse 22.... rather, the discussion on the roles is an add on to the verses about it... particularly verse 18 "be filled with the Spirit" - this filling of the Spirit is what empowers the submission in verse 21.
this Spirit that we are to be filled with.... is "the Spirit of Truth. . . [who] will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that [Jesus] has said to you." (John 14:17,26) Tim expounds on this by stating, "The Holy Spirit's ministry is to take truths about Jesus and make them clear to our minds and real to our hearts - so real that they console and empower and change us at our very center."
Philippians 2:3 tell us to "count others more significant than yourselves," and this is especially true in a marriage. we are to consider our spouse's needs as more important than our own & that completely changes how we relate to each other. when both spouses are intentionally serving each other with joy, the marriage thrives! however, both spouses must also ALLOW their spouse to serve them. if the husband is constantly serving, but not allowing the wife to serve him, he is denying his wife the opportunity to serve him. i've heard "it's better to give than to receive" my whole life, but it's also important to remember that someone else cannot give to you if you aren't willing to receive. freely give & freely receive.
when we respond to what Jesus has done for us and learn to give love & grace freely because much has been given to us, and when we put the happiness of our spouse ahead of our own... in turn, we will discover our own happiness. the reason for this is that we were created to serve God & others. so when we don't do what we were created for, we end up miserable. Tim states that "when facing any problem in marriage, the first thing you look for at the base of it is, in some measure, self-centeredness and an unwillingness to serve or minister to the other."
when we submit to God and become part of the Kingdom, we have to let go of our independence. likewise, when we get married and are unified, we must let go of our independence. marriage does not work with two "me"s but with one "us".
the reason for much of our self-centeredness is that we have been wounded in the past. when we've been hurt, we tend to dwell on it. the more we dwell on how we've been hurt, the more our focus is shifted onto ourselves, therefore feeding our self-centeredness.
we are the last to see how self absorbed we are. we will see it in our spouse though and tell ourselves that our spouses selfishness is worse than our own. however, we need to see our selfishness as the problem and focus on fixing it more than our spouses. Tim tells us the solution to this - "if two spouses each say, 'I'm going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,' you have the prospect of a truly great marriage."
how do we create selflessness in our lives? by shifting the focus off of ourselves and off of our spouses... and putting the focus onto Christ. when we realize that our needs are met in Christ, we will not look to our spouse to be our savior. Tim explains why this is important - "Until God has the proper place in my life, i will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough." marriage is not meant to complete us. Christ is.