The Biggest Problem in My Marriage (The Meaning of Marriage Chapter 2)

It is easy to talk about how God wants to change me by using marriage as a means of transformation. I might even think the idea sounds exciting. But unfortunately, and I can only speak for myself, real married life is hard. It is hard because challenges my deep seeded desire to look out for myself first. And to pull out that deep seeded selfishness I have to change. I have found that marriage changes me more than I want to change. In fact, the change required in marriage has revealed selfishness that I don’t always want to eliminate. My marriage:
Changes me more than I want to change.

Makes me work harder than I want to work.

And requires more of me than I want to give.

The biggest problem in my marriage is me.
So, how is it possible to have a good marriage if I know these things exist in me?
To live according to God’s design, Timothy Keller reminds us that Christian marriage comes from Christians filled with the Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18 is really the starting point of Paul’s famous passage on marriage. It says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Verses 19-21 describe what a life filled with the Spirit is like: a life fill with praise to God, a life that gives thanks in all things, a life that submits to each other.
So, what is God getting at by telling us to submit to each other in marriage? Keller says, “Paul is applying to marriage a general principle about the Christian life – namely, that all Christians who really understand the gospel undergo a radical change in the way they relate to people.” Serving others becomes specially challenging in our marriage. Keller says, “To practice these principles inside marriage is to practice them in the most intense way.”
Keller says that each time a situation requiring service arises in marriage, one of three things will happen:
1. You can serve the other with joy.
2. You can ‘serve’ with coldness and resentment.
3. You can be selfish and insist on your own way.
Our own natural self-centeredness damages real service. This is why we need the filling of the Holy Spirit. Keller says, “Without the help of the Spirit, without a continual refilling of your soul’s tank with the glory and love the Lord, such submission to the interests of the other is virtually impossible to accomplish for any length of time without becoming resentful.”
We need the Spirit to fill us because, once we get married, three revelations about the reality of your marriage will hit you:
1. The wonderful person you married is selfish.
2. The wonderful person you married has come to realize that you are selfish.
3. Yes, you might be selfish, but the wonderful person you married is more selfish than you are and that is the real problem.
So, how do you deal with that revelation? What do you do when you realize neither of you are perfect and not only are you not perfect but you are self-centered because you love yourself most of all?
Back to Ephesians 5:18 – Be filled with the Spirit. And then add 5:21 – Submit in the fear of Christ. Submitting to one another in marriage begins with submitting to God in the fear of the Lord. It is a process of knowing Christ in a way that bows before Him, obeys His commands, and lives according to the design He set up for marriage.
The great hope for marriage is not a new technique. It is the transformation of our hearts from the inside out as we learn to fear (honor, respect) Christ and submit (no resentment, bitterness, or power plays) to each other as Spirit filled people.

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