Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of my wedding day. Everything is perfect, I’m adorned in my most beautiful attire, and my knight in shining armor awaits to whisk me off to “and they lived happily ever after” land.
The reality: it rained cats and dogs, the cake was absolutely wrong, our photographer called day of the wedding saying he couldn’t come, and my ringbearer spiked a 104 degree temperature shortly after the ceremony. I have no idea what anybody said during the ceremony except the “I do” parts in all the right places. My dad, who officiated our ceremony, even forgot to tell my darling he could kiss his bride. (I’ve teased him about doing that on purpose.)
All of that before we left the church building.
And the “happily ever after” part? Well, let’s just say that real life is not a fairy tale. Real life is messy. People get sick, bills come due, cross words are said, selfishness and laziness seep in to even the best of marriages.
So, how do people survive and even, (dare I say it) thrive in marriage?
This week’s readings brought me face-to-face with God’s advice to married couples in ways I’ve not seen before. In one day’s reading, in particular, the apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Colossae (Colossians). This same writer pens words of guidance to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians). In both of these letters, Paul talks about the unique and precious relationship that Jesus has to the church, calling it Jesus’ own body (Colossians 1:17-18, 24) and His bride (Ephesians 5:25-31). These two images give us a glimpse of how very precious the church is to Jesus. I am especially drawn to the parallels of love and devotion between Christ and His church and husband and wife.
So, as the Savior, through the pen of Paul begins to share guidance to the church on how we should treat each other as parts of His body, His adored bride, the church, it dawned on me that these exact directions apply exponentially to husbands and wives as mirrors of Christ’s love in the world.
Reading, then, through the letter to the Colossians as if Jesus were speaking directly to husbands and wives, what can we learn about how to treat each other in marriage? Here are ten specific truths that can lift, strengthen and sustain our marriages.
1. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him. Colossians 1:10 Focus your day-to-day walk on pleasing Jesus. This focus helps prevent petty retaliations to what my spouse may do in his weaker moments. I cease trying to “pay him back” but rather seek to please Jesus.
2. For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth. (Colossians 1:15). My spouse was created by Jesus. That realization alone changes the way I think about my husband. How much it would hurt the Creator if I purposely mistreated His child!
3. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2) It’s easy to let distractions of this world draw us off track from what is important. Keep focused on the important and minimize distractions that may come from over-scheduling, “keeping up with the Jones’, or climbing the corporate ladder, just to name a few.
4. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:7-8) That’s a lot of “putting to death:” completely removing impurity, covetousness, unkind words spoken in anger or frustration. All sexual appetites become focused only on my spouse, concern for my spouse’s well-being takes precedence over my own selfish desires, words become uplifting or are silenced.
5. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10) Trust is one of the most important characteristics of a healthy marriage. But trust can easily be damaged by dishonesty. Chances are, if I am tempted to lie (including purposeful misleading or hiding truth) to my spouse about something, I probably don’t need to be doing whatever I'm trying to cover up.
6. Put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12) Focusing my heart on my spouse is one of the greatest blessings I can give him. Being patient, considering where he is. What has his day been like? And I must admit it, when my days aren’t so great, I'm not always the greatest companion on earth. That realization is humbling.
7. If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13) Forgive. Just the way I want Christ to forgive me. I’m thankful that Jesus does not continually throw my mistakes back in my face, aren’t you?
8. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14). This kind of love isn’t the mushy touchy-feely stuff. This is the epic choice to care for your husband. It’s a choice, a decision, not based on the fleeting emotions of the moment.
9. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Colossians 3:15) Work to set a peaceful tone in your home, starting from your heart and working outward. Work to create a space that nourishes and nurtures. The world can be brutal. Give space for peacefulness.
10. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2). Pray. Pray. Pray. Ask God to strengthen your marriage and your resolve to mirror His love to the world through your marriage. Thank God for your spouse. Focus on his good traits and thank God for those.
I'm not sure about how this guidance hits you, but I can readily see some areas on which I want to improve.
May we all seek Him first and foremost. And may we pursue God-honoring relationships here on this earth.
Thanks for reading.
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