On the way to an Art of Marriage event we were facilitating a couple of years ago, the drive was long enough for Scott and me to get to a point in the conversation where we heatedly disagreed and misunderstood each other. Yep, we had car-itis, a condition where driving brought out the worst in both of us, and we didn't have enough time to resolve the issue before having to meet with the hosts of the event and get set up. So we put our unsanctified emotions aside, put on our best smiles, got out of the car, and acted like the husband and wife God created us to be...shelving the conflict for resolution on the drive home.
Acting. We're all able to act, aren't we? To become something we aren't, even if for a short time? C'mon, you'e done it, too. Whether it's what you do when you get out of the car after fighting with the family the whole way to church, or perhaps what you do to get through big family holidays, we all know how to put aside our feelings and put our best foot forward. And you expect and teach your kids how to act in certain situations. In Ephesians, we are called to act like God, He models for us how to be husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. He shows us how to love in every relationship.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. ~Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. ~Ephesians 5:1 (AMP)
What does it even look like to imitate God in your marriage?
Well, first and foremost, you cannot imitate someone you do not know. To imitate someone, you must learn all you can about that person, so you'll know how He loves and responds. The way to know God is to read His Word, the bible, every day. He and His character resonate in every phrase. As you read His Word, talk with Him, invite Jesus into every area of your past, present and future. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you. The more you walk with the God, the more you will know Him, how He loves, and in turn, how YOU can love others...including your spouse.
A straight up place to start is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, a passage that is read at more weddings than anything else from the bible:
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (AMP)
Wow. Where do you even start? To change your behavior starts with the decision to do something different to get a different result- to think differently, speak differently and act differently. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 may look daunting as a long paragraph, so what if you break it up, replace the word "LOVE" with your name, print it out and paste it on your mirror to start your day?
Act like a husband and wife:
__________ endures long and is patient and kind;
__________ never is envious nor boils over with jealousy,
__________ is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
__________ is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride);
__________ is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
__________ does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking;
__________ is not touchy or fretful or resentful;
__________ takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
__________ does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
__________ bears up under anything and everything that comes,
__________ is ever ready to believe the best of every person,
__________ 's hopes are fadeless under all circumstances,
__________ endures everything [without weakening].
__________ never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].
Will you master every one of these attributes every day? Nope, not likely. Acting like God is not being God, it is an act of becoming more like Him every day. You will fail, but you are not a failure. Every step you take in love, acting as the husband/wife God created you to be, brings you one step closer to Him and to your spouse.
Back to that Art of Marriage, Scott and I didn't wait until the car ride home to resolve our conflict. When we got out of the car, put our selfishness and emotions aside, acting the way God calls us to act, we both were so convicted regarding our selfish positions during the car ride. Right after setting up, we took a moment to ourselves and sought each other's forgiveness, prayed, and facilitated an Art of Marriage experience where almost 50% of the participants made first time decisions for Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It was so worth the decision to think differently, speak differently and act differently.
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