Ryan Paulson | 18 May 2020
I can remember standing before Kelly Hester on June 1, 2002, committing to love her and care for her for my whole life. On that day, marriage felt like bliss. It was hard to imagine that we’d ever have a fight or a disagreement; but then real-life set in. We’ve both found out that marriage isn’t easy. It takes intentionality. It’s hard work; but it’s so worth it.
God knows that relationships are not easy and so there are a number of instructions and guidance given that helps us have flourishing marriages. However, sometimes the best marriage advice is found in general commands given to Jesus followers – not in specific instruction about marriage. One of my favorite passages that isn’t specifically about marriage, but it has everything to do with building a healthy marriage is Philippians 2:3-4. It reads,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Even though this passage isn’t about marriage, it would certainly help form a healthy covenantal relationship, wouldn’t it? Yes! Husbands and wives both thrive as they embrace the selfless way of Jesus.
I share this example because one of the traps we fall into is in thinking that the specific commands given for marriage override all of the other general commands given to Christians. Paul teaches the Ephesian church to “submit to one another” (5:21) and then he says, “wives as to your husbands.” He then wrote, “husbands, love your wives.” The specific call for wives to submit to their husbands doesn’t replace the general command to submit to one another; and the specific call for husbands to love their wives does not replace the command Jesus gave to “love one another” (John 13:34). Husbands should also submit, and wives should also love.
The unique applications for marriage point to an emphasis placed on a specific action within the relationship. It draws out the differentiated unity that is found in healthy marriages, but it doesn’t override the 59 ‘one anothers’ we find in the New Testament. Those ‘one anothers’ have something to say about how to live as a follower of Jesus, and they apply to both parties within a marriage. It’s in living out both the general and the specific commands that healthy marriages are forged and flourish.
Take some time today and memorize Philippians 2:3-4. Then choose one way to try to apply it to your life. If you’re married, think of one way to live it out in marriage.
By Ryan Pauslon
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