Are you honoring your spouse in your decisions and how you treat them?
The words you say and the actions you take display whether or not you honor your spouse. Selfishness is the opposite of honor. When I counsel with couples that are experiencing marriage problems, it never fails that each of them have their own side of “the story.”And if someone else was present there, a third, more accurate side would be available. True, there are two sides to every story but it is also true that there are two sides to a sheet of flypaper — and it makes a big difference to the fly which side he chooses! Your marriage isn’t going to make it — unless you make some better choices.
Choosing to honor your spouse means you think of them before you think of yourself. You value their opinions, preferences, ideas and suggestions before your own. Honor means selflessly laying down your right to be right and picking up your responsibility to protect your unity in Christ. Honor understands and expresses respect for the other person before themselves. No one gets their way all of the time — that’s call being a spoiled brat, which is not a fruit of the Spirit.
Honor lays down preferences and picks up principles. If any preference is to be kept, it is that of the other person — as long as it doesn’t violate Biblical principle. In other words, stop arguing about stupid stuff. The best way to make choices of any kind in life is to rely on the principles found in God’s Word. If preference is what is coming between you as a couple, refer to the principle of Scripture. Scripture doesn’t always speak directly to your preference; that’s why you use principle.
Need some principles? If the Bible specifically forbids it — don’t do it. The Bible has specific lists of sins (i.e. Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:26-32) that should be avoided. Are you displaying good stewardship in your ability and effort (Romans 12:11; 1 Peter 4:10-11), in your time and opportunities (Galatians 6:10; John 9:4), in your possessions (1 Timothy 6:9-10; 17-19), and in your health (Romans 12:1-2? Will this help your spouse serve God better or be a bad example to them (1 Timothy 4:12; Matthew 18:6-7)? Will your preference hinder your own service to the Lord (Proverbs 22:3)? Does your marriage look like Jesus and His church relationship (Ephesians 5:22-33)? Are you acting with Christ-like character and displaying the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21)? Am I living a double standard of Scripture and how I expect others to act (Hebrews 6:12; 13:7)?
Need more? The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Money is not a god (Hebrews 13:5). If greed, fear, compromise, and lust are what compel you, you will always be distant and at odds with your spouse — and God! You should be against what God is against, for what He is for — but you have to read your Bible to figure this out. If you don’t know and need help quick — get wise counsel from someone who will show you lots of Scripture and not just give you their opinion.
We tend to judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions. What about believing the best in your spouse instead of always being suspicious of them? What about being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)? What about forgiving, repenting, extending grace? Conflict in marriage is certain but covenant trumps conflict. You will have to make wise decisions — which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn. Burn the ones that destroy, divide, and are unloving. Cross the ones that look like Jesus. Continue to choose wrongly and your marriage probably won’t make it.
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Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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Editor’s note: Pastors or associate pastors interested in writing for this section may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.