I am saddened to learn of so many marriages currently under attack. It seems as through more and more people (Christian and non-Christian) are splitting up, separating, and/or filing for divorce. Recent statistics are very alarming. According to statistics from divorcerate2011.com,
- Almost 49 percent of the marriages end up in divorces
- First marriages end up in divorces in an average duration of just less than 8 years
- 60 percent of all divorces are related to individuals aged 25 to 39
- There were more than 21 million divorces in the year 2000. In the same year, 58 million couples were married and still lived separated
- The average male age for a second divorce was 40.4 years and the average female age was 37.3 years in 1990
- The divorce rate of first time marriages is almost 10 percent lesser than the divorce rate for second marriages
- Over a 40 year period, 67 percent of first marriages terminate in a divorce and 50 percent of these divorces take place within the first 7 years
- Every year more than 1 million children are affected by divorce
Researchers across our great country are often left scratching their heads wondering, “What can be done to reduce (even eliminate) the growing number of marriages which are in turmoil?” “What measures need to be taken to allow more marriages to remain strong and last for a lifetime?”
I do not want to try and oversimplify what can be done but I do feel the need to share with anyone who will read this article my personal conviction on this sensitive and delicate issue. It is my intent to spend three articles in what I feel God wants us to understand in order to establish marriages which will serve as a legacy to our children and throughout our communities.
Suggestion #1 – Learn to Kill Your Selfishness
Selfishness has been defined as, “Concerned chiefly or only with oneself without regard for the well-being of others.”
I ask that you take a few minutes and read 2 Samuel 11:1-27; 12:1-14, 18-19. This passage of Scripture is the sinful encounter between David and Bathsheba. Within this context, we see where David’s selfishness caused nothing but pain, anguish, and even death for many of those involved in this lustful scene from history.
The Bible speaks frequently about the need for each of us to kill our selfishness.
Luke 9:23 – “And he (Jesus) said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
John 13:1-7 – “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
Knowing what we must do and understanding how to do it are often two different things. I want to suggest four things that we all must do in order to have strong relationships with not only our spouse; but with everyone we encounter. Most importantly, this is vital to have a healthy spiritual relationship with our Father in Heaven.
You must allow God to change you.
Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Paul is reminding the Corinthians brethren that they are now changed; they are different than they were before they became a child of God. They are no longer living like the world but they are acting like Christ in all that they do and say. Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” When we learn to abide in Christ, we are learning how to become selfless by allowing God to work in us and through us.
You must change the way you view yourself.
Paul states in Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me“. It is so very humbling when we fully come to grasp that another man died to set us free from our bondage of sin and eternal damnation. However, we must not allow His death to be in vain. We must understand that we are valuable and precious to God. In Colossians 3:1-10 we read were we need to set our minds on things above. Thereby killing our earthly/sinful way of living and producing a life which brings glory and honor to Him.
You must change the way you view others.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture dealing with how we view others is found in John 9:1-7. I am intrigued how the apostles were concerned with the details of whose sin caused this young boy to be born blind. I love seeing how Christ was all about His Father’s work. Notice that the disciples were more interested in having a theological discussion than they were in helping a person in need. The apostles are rebuked for their lack of vision. Notice with me how the disciples learned from this experience and changed their perspective in Acts 3:1-10. You can see firsthand how they learned from Christ in how to properly view other people. They no longer viewed others as a topic for theological discussion but instead as an opportunity to display the power of God at work.
I believe the challenge for each of us is to learn to think like Christ. We need to continually ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:4-7).
You must pray for guidance.
There is nothing more powerful than prayer. The ability to bring our petitions and needs before a sovereign and loving Father is something which should never be ignored. Proverbs 2:1-5 – “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” This father wanted his son to come to understand the source of wisdom and understanding. He is reminding the son of his need to first seek the Lord in all his ways. Jesus adds to this thought in John 15:7 – “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” What a blessing to know that if we abide in Him and His word is in us that whenever we strive to imitate Jesus that whatever we ask will be given to each of us.
We will never have a successful marriage until we destroy our selfishness. Are you selfish? Can you truly say that you are a new creature living for God? Can you say that your true intention is to make the life of your spouse the best it can be? May we do whatever is necessary to rid our lives of selfishness and may it not be found present in our marriages. By learning to love our spouse and to put them before ourselves will go a long way in having dynamic marriages and relationships with one another.
May God bless you richly.