Monday, September 10, 2012

The Meaning of Marriage

Marriage has been on my mind recently in part because Thursday is my fourth anniversary! And while I've grown in my understanding of marriage and in my role as a wife over these four years, there is still so very much I do not know. Each year has its own personality bringing joys and challenges (and there are phases where one seems to outweigh the other!). I have never been stretched as much or learned so much about myself. Marriage is a rather mysterious union. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful, I love my husband more today than I did at our wedding! But marriage is also incredibly hard work as it requires the dedication, love, and harmony of two sinful people. It is my hope that I always desire to continue to grow and learn about marriage and being a godly wife. To that end, each year I try to read at last one book about Christian marriage, right now I am reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Only three chapters in, I've already found much food for thought.

While reading last night about the need for selflessness, Keller wrote this: The Christian principle that needs to be at work is Spirit-generated selflessness—not thinking less of yourself or more of yourself but thinking of yourself less.

Further on, he discussed the life-changing possibilities of being completely immersed in the knowledge and work of Jesus. And while this is not marriage specific, I found the following paragraphs insightful. They also created in me a desire to know Jesus more deeply!
What, then, would the effect be if we were to dive even more deeply into Jesus’s teaching and life and work? What if we were to be so immersed in his promises and summonses, his counsels and encouragements, that they dominated our inner life, capturing our imagination, and simply bubbled out spontaneously when we faced some challenge? How would we live if we instinctively, almost unconsciously, knew Jesus’s mind and heart regarding things that confronted us? When you received criticism, you would never be crushed, because Jesus’s love and acceptance of you is so deeply “in there.” When you gave criticism, you would be gentle and patient, because your whole inner world would be saturated by a sense of Jesus’s loving patience and gentleness with you.

This does not mean that ever time you are criticized you are consciously, deliberately thinking, “What does Jesus have to say about this?” You won’t have to think it out like that, because if Jesus and his Word are so deeply in there, they will just fortify you, lifting you up. They will be part of you. You look at yourself through his eyes; you look at the world through his eyes. It becomes the cast of your whole mind.

This does not happen overnight, of course. It takes years of reflection. It requires disciplined prayer, Bible study and reading, innumerable conversations with friends, and dynamic congregational worship. But unlike learning other thinkers or authors, Jesus’s Spirit can come and live within you and spiritually illuminate your heart, so that his gospel becomes glorious in your sight. Then the gospel “dwells in you hearts richly” (Colossians 3:16), and we find the power to serve, to give and take criticism well, to not expect our spouse or our marriage to meet all our needs and heal all our hurts.

I hope perhaps you too might find these thoughts encouraging!


Margaret said...

So interesting, I just started that book last night!

Heather L. said...

I LOVED this book! Will highly recommend it. Somehow I missed that quote on selflessness, but I must remember that because it really describes the right balance. I should probably read this book every year.....

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