‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…’ Ephesians 5:25 ESV
After many years of marriage, John decided to divorce his wife. The reasons he gave his counsellor were: ‘She’s not attractive, she’s not interesting, she’s overweight, and she’s a poor housekeeper.’ So the counsellor gave him this suggestion: ‘Starting today, I want you to go home and treat your wife like a goddess. Start doing everything in your power to please her. Listen intently when she talks about her problems. Help around the house, and take her out to dinner at the weekend. I want you to literally pretend that she’s a goddess. Then after two months of this wonderful new behaviour, pack your bags and leave. That should get her attention!’ John agreed it was a great idea, and decided to implement it. He took his wife away on romantic weekends and read poetry to her every night. After two months the counsellor called and asked, ‘John, did you file for divorce? Are you looking forward to being a bachelor again?’ John replied, ‘Are you kidding? I’m married to a goddess. I’ve never been happier in my life. I’d never leave my wife in a million years. In fact, I’m discovering new, wonderful things about her every single day. Divorce? Not on your life!’ The Bible says, ‘…A man reaps what he sows.’ (Galatians 6:7 NIV) And when John changed his strategy and started sowing seeds of love, he reaped a marriage he never dreamed possible. Do you think this same strategy might possibly work for you? What’ve you got to lose? Give it a try and see what happens. Chances are you and your spouse will love the results.
Engaged couples have expectations about marriage that are never verbalised. As a result, conflict becomes inevitable when those differing assumptions collide. So if you’re wise, you’ll talk about these understandings in the less antagonistic light of courtship.
Psychologist Dr. Archibald Hart asks the following questions of couples who consult with him: (1) If I had never met the person you’re planning to marry and I had to rely on you to give me a description of who that individual is, what would you tell me? (2) If you could think of one thing that you would like to see your fiancé change, what would it be? (3) What are the five or six major goals you have established for your first few years together? (4) What does your budget look like? (5) Have you planned how you’re going to pay for the things you’re going to buy beyond your honeymoon?
These are tough questions but if you can’t agree on them before you’re married, you’re certain to argue over them afterwards. Since half of all marriages today end in divorce, you’d better be sure you know the answers.
The biggest mistake you can make is assuming that your future husband or wife will automatically change for the better as a result of being married to you. ‘…Be good wives…yield to your husbands, responsive to their needs…do what is right… Be good husbands…live with your wives in an understanding way to your wives. Honour them, delight in them…’ (1 Peter 3:1-7 NCV)
‘Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”’ Luke 8:30 NAS
Remember the man in Scripture who was possessed by demons? ‘Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many devils had entered him.’ (A legion in the Roman army comprised some six thousand troops.) ‘Legion’ wasn’t this man’s real name; it represented his demonic oppression. He’d suffered with this oppression so long that perhaps he’d come to accept it as the new norm.
Perhaps you’re struggling along a similar vein, naming yourself ‘Fatso’ because you’ve battled weight for so long with no apparent victory in sight. Or you define yourself as a ‘victim’ because you were abused or taken advantage of by others. Maybe you see yourself as a ‘failure’ because you’re divorced, or your kids have gone off the tracks.
If so, it’s time to lose the negative labels and start seeing yourself the way God sees you. Jesus set this tormented man free, gave him his right-mind back, and restored him to his family. And He wants to do the same for you! Satan will take you from one extreme to the other. He’ll make you either boastful or bashful; make you think you’re ‘hot stuff’, or convince you that you’re worthless. Don’t buy it! Self-deprecation is often disguised as humility, when in reality it’s a rejection of God’s Word, which assures you that you ‘can do all things through Christ who strengthens [you].’ (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) What others call you doesn’t matter; what you call yourself does! The bottom line is: ‘God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.’ (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)
‘…He…guided them in the wilderness like a flock.’ Psalm 78:52 NKJV
Charles E. Fuller, one of the first radio Bible teachers, started his daily broadcast with the song, ‘My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.’ To get them from Egypt to Canaan, God took His people through the wilderness—and, spiritually speaking, you’ll have to go through it, too! You can have a wilderness experience anywhere. At a graveside, in a cancer ward, in a divorce court, in an unemployment queue, or when you lose your house. But the wilderness can also be a place of miracles. So for the next few days, let’s look at some things you need to survive in the wilderness. Direction! Without it you end up going round in circles. Notice how God led Israel. He ‘went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud…and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light…He took not away the pillar of the cloud…nor the pillar of fire…from before the people.’ (Exodus 13:21–22 NKJV) God basically told Moses: ‘Whenever the pillar moves, you move. And when the pillar stops, you stop.’ But what do you do at night when it’s pitch black? There are no candles or oil lamps, and you risk sharing your bed with a scorpion or stepping on a snake on your way to the bathroom. Don’t worry; God’s got you covered! The wilderness isn’t alien territory to Him. The Psalmist said, ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ (Psalm 119:105 NKJV) For every contingency, condition and circumstance you face, your Bible will guide you, protect you, and keep you safe. So stop worrying and start reading it every day.