Friday is a good day to visit friends or have friends over... today I am so happy to introduce you to a dear friend of mine who is visiting with us today, Anne. I still remember when I met her at a Veritas Press Teacher's Training; since then I have admired her; she is a godly woman, who loves her family, Latin, reading books by the dozen and pencils. Anne has been a great encouragement to me this year as we are together in the Partnering to Remember Project memorizing Philippians.
Thank you, Anne...
By today’s standards, my husband and I married at a very young age. He was 22 and I was 21, and we’d finished college only the day before.We knew little about what was ahead, but we received solid, biblical counsel in those early days and ever since. We’ve now been married for 21 years, and I count it all grace from a merciful and good God.He has held our marriage together through many military deployments, and has allowed us to grow up together and raise two children. He has made sure we’ve had solid, biblical teaching and fellowship. I am only a recipient of His grace and certainly no expert.One thing I know for sure is that God put me and my husband together on a path toward heaven, and the way we live here matters for eternity.
As I consider the marriage relationship in light of what God’s Word tells us, I think there is a tendency to compartmentalize and forget that the marriage relationship isn’t the only relationship I have with my husband. Yes, Scripture is clear that when two believers marry each has certain responsibilities and roles:the husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church (oh, how impossible this seems!), and the wife is to love and respect her husband and submit to him. Apart from the Lord, these are overwhelming and undoable tasks.
But as my husband and I have been recently memorizing Philippians together (memorizing Scripture together with my husband is something I really wish we’d started long ago!), I am reminded that all of the other exhortations in Scripture about relationships among believers apply to husbands and wives as well.Here are just a few of them from Philippians, as Paul wrote to the believers there who were partners with him:
"~Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27)
"~Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)
"~Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)
And a few from elsewhere in God’s Word:
"~ And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24)
"~I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
"~Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him, who is the head, into Christ" (Ephesians 4:15)
"~Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
So, I am more than my husband's wife, and he is more than my husband. We are fellow believers, brother and sister in Christ, partakers together of grace. We are being made ready for heaven as we live our lives together. We are to be partners in every way – physically, mentally, spiritually.We are to be “of the same mind”, “in full accord”, “striving together for the faith of the gospel.”We’re to speak the truth in love to each other, giving counsel and admonishing when necessary, strengthening each other’s weaknesses, and pointing each other to Christ. And we’re to remember that, as Paul Tripp has said,
“Christian marriage is one flawed person living with another flawed person in a fallen world with a faithful God.”
We wives tend to extremes.We nag our husbands when we want something to change or when we are offended, certainly speaking, but not in love. Or in silence we feed bitterness as we stew and brood over an offense whether that offense is real or only imagined.I think that if we more carefully considered our role as our husband’s partner, as a fellow believer and partaker of grace, we’d be more likely to avoid those extremes.Maybe that would help us to remember that our husbands are on the path to heaven, too.
Perhaps we wives would do well to take some time and consider our husbands as brothers in Christ.In light of this relationship, how can I encourage him in his walk? How can I strive together with him? What are some practical ways I can count him as more significant than myself? Am I lacking humility? How can I build him up, strengthening his weaknesses? How can I help make his job as my husband easier? How can I pray for him? In what ways can I show him grace? Is there an offense or sin that I can overlook? Or do I need to, as Paul says, speak the truth in love?
It’s a privilege to share my life with the man God gave me, and to grow old with him, holding his hand as we walk this life as partners in every way. God has truly been good to me. And it is at once both amazing and daunting to consider that our partnership has eternal implications. May we partner together for the faith of the gospel for His glory.
©Anne Malone; if you wish to use these lines contact Anne at Europeanne