Ephesians 4:31-32 31Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or … Continue reading
I absolutely love these articles from Mathew J. White. He is real and these articles make me think every time. Enjoy these and pray about this yourself.
Are you truly serving your spouse with the right attitude? 😉
Serving With the Right Attitude
Serving your spouse should be considered an opportunity and conducted with joy. Jesus was the perfect example of serving with the right attitude.
Imagine you’re sitting down to watch the debut of a new sitcom called “Married to Jesus.” (Roll with me for a minute, here.) You’re excited because it’s been the talk of all the entertainment news shows for weeks. There has been a ton of build up, but the details of the show have managed to be kept hidden. What you do know is that it’s not about Jesus of Nazareth, but a modern-day guy named Jesus who lives in the suburbs of Cincinnati with his wife and four children. The story line is basically this: What if all the characteristics of Jesus Christ were present in a family man from Cincinnati?
The opening scene goes something like this:
(It’s the middle of the night; Jesus and his wife, Sally, are sleeping. You get a glimpse of the clock that reads 3:14 AM.)
“Mom! Mom!” A scared 3-year-old calls from down the hall. “Mom! The monsters are getting me!”
Mom jumps up at the sound, but Jesus is already halfway out of the room and down the hall. He takes a few minutes to comfort their youngest son, gets him some water and then settles him back in for the night. Jesus returns to the bedroom to a groggy, “Thank you” from Sally.
(Camera fades; opens to a shot looking out the kitchen window to a cold, rainy Cincinnati morning.)
“Honey, I completely forgot!” exclaims Sally. “I need you to pick up the kids after school; get John to indoor soccer, Susan to band practice and Charlie to Sam’s house, and grab the little one from daycare. I am so sorry I didn’t tell you that I had a conference downtown this afternoon.”
“I’ll have to move a few things around, but that shouldn’t be a problem,” responds Jesus. They finish the morning routine, get everyone out to school and get themselves to work.
(Following a commercial break, you find Jesus at work; he’s a carpet salesman at the big carpet chain in town. As the camera pans down to Jesus’ desk, it passes the clock showing the time as 2:53 PM.)
“Bob, I can’t believe what you’re telling me,” Jesus says over the phone. “They want how much carpet, and how soon?” You notice Jesus glancing at the clock as he continues his conversation. “Okay. Let me get this straight: They need 30,000 square feet of carpet – installed – by this Friday? And they are willing to pay whatever it takes to make this happen? Am I hearing this correctly? And, they want me to be out there this afternoon to close the deal?”
Jesus looks up at the clock again, but not in a nervous or stressful manner. He seems very aware of the time and the dire circumstances. “Bob,” Jesus begins again. “This sounds like a great opportunity, but I made a commitment to my wife that I would pick up the kids this afternoon. I have to leave here in just a few minutes to get to the school on time. I know we can get this done, even if we wait until tomorrow morning to sign all the paperwork. Can you let them know this, and please apologize for the inconvenience?” You can hear Bob shouting on the other end, obviously furious at Jesus’ response. “Bob, I promise I’ll take care of everything. I will personally call the customer on my way to get the kids to ensure he understands that we will make this happen by Friday.”
Are you getting the picture here? It may not compare to the Seinfeld classics, comically speaking, but you’d get the sense that this Jesus guy is alright. As the debut continues, and in episode after episode, you see that in every situation, Jesus is more than willing to help out around the house. He gladly plays with the kids when Sally has to take care of some errands. He skips the game with the guys to paint the bathroom. And, he never considers not doing these things an option. He enjoys serving his wife every chance he gets.
And this is where it hits us! I can honestly say that I see myself doing many of these things. I help around the house. I help out with the kids. I take care of the yard work. I bring Anne coffee in the mornings. I join in the vacuuming and wiping down the floors. But, when it comes down to it, do I really do it with a joyful attitude? Do I look at it as an opportunity to show Anne a little bit of Jesus in me? Or do I grunt a little under my breath as I empty the dishwasher for the seventeenth time in three days!
One of the books I most enjoy is The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (Christian Softcover Originals)
, by John Ortberg. Through his book, I was given a revelation about Jesus and His life of serving that I had never considered. Ortberg says, “When Jesus came as a servant, he was not disguising who God is. He was revealing who God is.
What an awesome statement! Jesus didn’t come as a child and a carpenter’s son and live a life of serving to hide the fact the He was the son of God. He showed Himself in this way so that He could reveal the true nature of God.
In order to become more like Christ, we must not consider ourselves above anyone, especially our spouse. Instead, the opposite is true. We should be searching for ways to serve our spouse. Every day presents us with opportunities to serve. Seek those out and serve with joy!
“Love” can be defined in many ways. Christ’s love for us is an unconditional love, and this is the love we are to seek in marriage.
In my book, Married to Jesus, I tell the story of my love for Blue Bell® ice cream. “The best ice cream in the country” isn’t sold up here in Ohio; so I long for our trips back to Dallas to visit my parents or when we drive down south to connect with my brothers in the Carolinas or Anne’s sister in Tennessee. If you’ve ever tasted Blue Bell, then you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say, “I love that ice cream!”
But, what does loving ice cream have to do with marriage? It makes the point that “love” can take on many forms. I can love ice cream, or I can love my dog. I can love music and love the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love, then, can have different meanings depending on the situation or context.
The kind of love I want to discuss is the love that Christ has for us – the love that we’re supposed to show our spouse every day. If, as Paul said in Ephesians 5:1-2, we are to “be imitators…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,” what does that look like for me in my marriage and you in yours?
When Anne was pregnant with our first child, she had a rather awkward craving one night. I can’t remember if there was something in particular that sparked the desire, but we were sitting on the couch one evening when, all of a sudden, she said she wanted a turkey salad. Now, we’re not just talking about any old turkey salad; this had to be a turkey salad from Subway®. And, it had to have shredded lettuce. In fact, she told me that if the first Subway I went to didn’t have shredded lettuce for some reason, then I’d have to find one that did! So, I hopped in the car in search of a shredded lettuce turkey salad from Subway.
Subway was not necessarily close to our house, so it was a bit of a task to respond to this request. I want to believe this was a very small example of what Jesus meant when he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, NIV) Now, certainly, I wasn’t laying down my life for my wife – I just went to get her a salad. But, by sacrificing my time and putting myself aside, I was showing love to her and hopefully giving her a glimpse of Christ in me.
Christ’s love for me goes beyond my love for ice cream, sports or even friends and family. His love is a giving love. It is a sacrificing and selfless love. It is a love that shows itself in action. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus loves us, not because we are attractive or share some interest with Him, but simply because He loves us. So, He made the ultimate sacrifice, giving up everything – all his glory, His life – to serve us.
The Greek word for this sacrificial love is agape. I like this definition of agape love:
“Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”1
Jesus doesn’t expect anything in return. He loves me when I speak to Him daily, spend time in His Word and help an elderly person cross the street. But, He also loves me when I respond with a harsh tone to my kids, yell at the person who cut me off and don’t feel like going to church on Sunday morning. His love is unconditional and is there even when I screw up.
No Keeping Score
So, let’s go back to the Subway story for one more minute. Envision this: I say to Anne tomorrow, “Remember that time ten years ago when I went to Subway to get you that shredded lettuce turkey salad? Why don’t you run up to McDonald’s® and pick me up a cheeseburger, just so we’re even?” That sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? But, we live with that mentality in our marriage every day.
“I did the dishes, so you should bathe the kids.”
“You got to go out with your friends last weekend, so tonight is my turn.”
“Since you bought that outfit, I went ahead and got the tickets to the game.”
Sacrificial, unconditional, agape love doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t matter how your spouse responds; if you want to love like Jesus loves, you have to put yourself aside. In a sermon entitled “What is Christian Marriage,” Coty Pinckney said, “Agape is a love that gives, a love that does not demand or hold onto rights, but has the good of the other at heart. This is the love we need to work on in our marriage in order for our spouse to feel like he or she is married to Jesus.”2
- Does Your Spouse See Jesus in You?
- Love as an Action Verb (brokenbelievers.com)
- Why is Knowing My Love Language Important? (marriagemechanic.wordpress.com)