Friday, February 10, 2017

Marriage, a Test of Character

As Christians we are called to live for our Lord and to serve Him with our whole heart. A chief purpose, in response to His love for us, is to love others. Since our modern idea of love is superficial and more in terms with what we can get out of it, it helps to review what love is: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. In summary, instead of solely seeking fulfillment for our own benefit, or being defined by fuzzy emotion, love is sacrificial.

As I reflect on my life, I find it easy to love folks from afar. I can amiably relate to those I hardly know, acquaintances seen only sometimes, or people with which I do not spend a great deal of time. With those I spend my life it becomes a much greater challenge. For me, this is marriage. Love others, oh sure, I can do that. To genuinely, selflessly love, in my home day in and day out is another thing.

Love and marriage is hard work. Marriage shows the depths of our true character in the volatility of relationships and vulnerable personalities. An intimate spousal connection is visceral; that is, deep seated, in the guts so to speak. In the closeness of union we are exposed, beyond the face we put on for the world. Over the years I realized, if I can not treat my wife with the true love of Christ, what good is it if I can treat others this way? Can I say I have love at all, or is it something else, something more convenient? It is a stark reminder I have plenty of growing to do. A husband’s role is no casual duty, our wives deserve nothing less.

The vast terrain that needs work in my life as a husband is humbling. For a man who comes from an isolated and withdrawn background with emotional and mental issues, there have been hard lessons. I am so grateful that not only does my Savior daily offer His unmerited grace; my wife demonstrates grace by forgiving me and loving me through my imperfections. She inspires me to want to treat her the same.

It is said marriage is a picture type of God's love. If this is so, I am learning of God's patience, unmerited mercy, daily personal love, and His forgiveness in Christ "seventy times seven" times.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green.

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