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The Having a Marriage of Influence series continued last night at Elmbrook Church, with a focus on Impacting Your Spouse. Andrea and I shared a message that explored the ways that God uses marriage to transform us, and how we can promote the spiritual growth of our spouse. We pointed to Hebrews 10:24, which reads:
Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.
We need to give active, prayerful thought to how we can encourage our spouse to love and good deeds. In their book Love and War, John and Stasi Eldredge write, “Marriage is a divine conspiracy designed by God for our transformation.” While we are not responsible for our spouse’s walk with Christ, we have the incredible privilege to cheer them on in their walk. Husbands and wives can positively impact one another through:
- Understanding our situation, our spouse, and our savior
- Encouraging one another through words and actions
- Interceding in prayer for our spouse and with our spouse
Marriage can be amazing … but it’s not easy. Our spouse is not perfect, and neither are we. In James 3:2 we’re told that we “all stumble in many ways.” We need to avoid the spiral of negative attitudes that can grow about our marriage and our spouse. Begin by looking first at yourself and how you need to change. Many husbands and wives have a “plank problem,” as they obsess over the spec of sawdust in their spouse’s eye and are oblivious to the 2×4 in their own (see Matthew 7:3-5). We also need to be aware of the lies that satan, the father of lies, wants us to believe about our marriage and our spouse. In some cases the very things we once found endearing about our spouse become annoying to us. We may begin to think our spouse will never change, wonder if they truly love us, or if we made a mistake. These attitudes, and others, are debilitating to a marriage, and they are frequently based on accepting lies as truth. While we’re not implying that every problem in marriage is a spiritual attack, we would be naive if we disregarded this possibility. We need to fight against this and “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
As we understand the situation we’re in, it’s important to understand our spouse. Learn the unique way that God has shaped and gifted your spouse to prepare them for service, and encourage them specifically in the use of their gifts. We used the acronym S.H.A.P.E. from The Purpose Driven Life (learn more here). God has given each of us spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences; which come together to prepare us serve Him. We asked each person to consider whether they are the champion of their spouse using their gifts, or if they are a stumbling block. Do we care more about our spouse pleasing God than we care about our spouse pleasing us?
We also need to understand that we have a savior – and it’s not our spouse. By looking to Christ to fill our deepest soul needs, we remove pressure from our spouse and are able to offer grace and genuine encouragement to them. John and Stasi Eldredge write, “The greatest gift you can give to your marriage is for you to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ.”
With a foundation of understanding, we can encourage our spouse through words and actions. As we pursue our walk with Christ, share what He is doing in our lives, and demonstrate the fruits of the spirit; we serve as a powerful example to our spouse. We encouraged couples to regularly discuss what God is doing in their lives, and ask how they can cheer one another on in their relationship with Christ.
We closed by highlighting the importance of prayer. In James 5:16, we’re told that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Pray for your spouse, and with your spouse, every day. Pray in specific ways for each other, and ask God to open your hearts and minds to acts of service to which he has called you.
To explore this topic further, take a look at the Impacting Your Spouse Discussion Questions.
During our talk, we referenced the books Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge, and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. To learn more about these resources, visit the websites below:
Here’s the slideshow with scripture passages from the evening’s message:
We shared a couple of videos during the talk, and have included both below:
To listen to the entire song, visit the Sanctus Real Website www.sanctusreal.com.
For more information, visit the Gary Thomas Website.
Next Saturday, Dick and Cindy Greenup will conclude the Having a Marriage of Impact series with a talk focused on Impacting Others.