Our marriages are under attack like never before. If you didn't get a chance to read Part I of my talk at the LE RISE Conference, then go back and read it first. Otherwise, let's take a look at Part II of "Marriage Under Fire".
Marriage Under Fire
B. Take out the trash
Eph. 4:26 & 31-32
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
If we take these words Paul gave to the Ephesians and apply them to our marriages, he tells us to let go of our anger.
How many times does it seem that our spouse or our kids know exactly which of our buttons to press? We come home from a bad day and it isn’t long, someone is pressing on those buttons.
But, it goes farther than that. Often we dwell on something that was said or something that was done and bitterness begins to set in.
For us wives or spouses at home, it can look like...”He’s missing another important event. I’m tired of being a single parent.” Or “I’m tired of him coming home crabby every day. Just because he’s had a bad day doesn’t mean he can take it out on me and the kids.”
For husbands it can look something like, “She continually nags me. I’m tired of it.” Or “Nothing I do seems to make her happy.”
How many marriages have ended from past hurts...past wounds...so many disappointments and frustrations which have built up and built up until they boil over and scald everything in their path?
The Bible tells us that we are to get rid of all that rage and anger. We’re to throw out all the bitterness and not give the enemy a foothold.
You and I are to live up to our calling...to take off and set those things aside and instead pick up and put on kindness, compassion and love.
Instead of coming home and taking out all the frustrations of your shift onto your spouse or your kids, be patient, humble, gentle. Take out the trash that is causing you and I to stumble.
Guard your homes and make every effort to keep it a place of peace and unity. Will there be skirmishes from time to time? Of course. We’re human. But when both partners are putting God first and each are living a life worthy of their calling, then the marriage is going to run more smoothly.
A few years ago, the movie Fireproof hit theaters. It was about a couple struggling in their marriage, almost to the point of divorce. They had turned their backs on God and had walked away from each other. Pornography had become a means of escape and bitterness had set in.
After the husband shared his struggles with his dad, he was challenged to take a 40 day Love Dare, where he would do something nice for his wife every day.
Of course at first, she resented his efforts and he second-guessed and resented having to do it. Yet, after the 40 days, their marriage had been put back together piece by piece – the biggest piece being a firm foundation with Jesus Christ.
Just like this story, we are to go out of our way to serve and love our spouse. To honor them and be an encouragement and help to them.
C. Mirror God, not the world
“Be imitators of God.” Eph. 5:1
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Eph: 5:3
Let me ask you, what’s the normal talk from those around you? What’s coming out of your own mouth? Are the words you hear or say imitating God, or reflecting the world?
What’s going on within countless departments across the nation that is being swept under the rug?
What’s our first response when we are faced with temptations?
Listen...You and I are called to be imitators of God...to mirror His qualities.
Our mouths should not spew out words or talk that is not God glorifying. It tarnishes the armor.
Our body, the Bible says, is the temple of God. We are called to leave our former ways behind and put on the new self.
Therefore, flee sexually tempting situations that do not involve your spouse.
Too many who have let their guard down. They are walking out from underneath the covering of our heavenly Father, and instead are standing unarmed with a big target on their backs, in the middle of the world’s street.
We need to mirror God’s qualities.
You know, a silversmith will boil down his silver and skim off the impurities that rise to the top. When he can finally see his reflection in the pot of molten silver, he knows it’s pure.
Does God see His reflection in you today? If not, why not?
D. Submit to one another in love
Eph. 5:21-23; 25, 28
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. “ What does that mean? The original greek word there for submit is “Hupatasso” which means: "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".
“Wives, submit to your husband as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior....Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy...In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Get the picture here. Wives represent the church who submits to Christ’s leadership. Wives can willingly and lovingly submit to her husband’s authority because...husbands represent Jesus and are willing to give up his life for his bride. He will protect and love her as he loves himself.
Listen, if husband and wife are submitting and loving each other....cooperating and helping to carry each other’s burden, then there will be no room for divorce!
The problem that we see all too often, is that someone has left his or her post or was never there in the first place.
The first thing I ask couples or a wife when I counsel them/her is “where are you at with the Lord?” I can tell right away how dire the situation is by knowing where they are at spiritually.
9.99999% of the time, someone has walked away or has never even been in a relationship with God, and that’s the whole problem.
Recently, I had a police wife contact me. Her husband had left and she was now at a point where she wanted to start some type of program or education system that would help officers and spouses to not have to go through the same things she was experiencing.
All that sounds good. Programs can beneficial, however, I told her that until both the husband and the wife submit to Christ and get their lives right with Him, no amount of information can save a marriage.
Have you ever tried to teeter totter by yourself?
It just doesn’t work. Yet when you have two people who are actively pursuing a relationship with Christ, there’s going to be that give and take...that flow...regular rhythm.
That’s what a healthy marriage looks like.
3. Armor up and shoot straight
Officer Katie Conway relied heavily on her training in a situation of extreme stress and pain. She grabbed onto her weapon and fired two fatal blows to her enemy, ending the nightmare she was experiencing.
Ephesians 6:10-18a – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray...”
Listen, the enemy is going to come. He is already lurking around the walls of your marriage. At any given moment, he will jump out in front of you and will fire his evil darts in your direction.
If you or I do not have our armor in place....if we have nothing in our memory bank from God’s Word, or we don’t have that direct line to Him open, then we will not hear the instructions we need to shake us out of our wounded stupor.
Yet, if we will train daily wielding our sword...learning how to hunker down behind our shield of faith....relying on our helmet of salvation and the truth around our waist, then we, too, will be able to deal a fatal blow to our enemy and spare our marriage.
And then as we later recall, “Someone’s marriage was going to die that night but it wasn’t going to be mine.”
Many blessings to you, my friend.