…came from Jesus. I have tried applying it to my marriage. Fits any relationship: deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus.
- I choose to deny myself instead of thinking I owe it to myself. I’m not a victim, and others don’t owe me anything, but I owe God everything. I will not slip into entitlement as if “I deserve better than this.”
- I choose to respond rather than react. Reacting gets me into trouble, so I deny myself the right to fight, the right to be right. “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1), and I would rather turn it away than fire it up.
- I choose to look past my friend’s faults to his/her future. “Love always believes, always hopes, always endures.” I’ll do that for those I love (in my best moments).
- I choose to take the low road of humility rather than the high road of pride. I will be quick to point out my own faults (God help me!) rather than the faults of my friend. And I will be quick to forgive rather than holding onto unforgiveness until he/she deserves it. Rather than getting one up on her, I want to get one under her.
- I choose to believe that the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of joy in my life if I do not make happiness a personal right but a byproduct of obedience.
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
- I take up my cross daily. The cross is the price that I pay to obey God. I willingly embrace suffering because it brings healing to others and character to me.
- I take up my cross by not interpreting pain as the absence of God. I will likely sense His presence more strongly. I will not be surprised when going through trials and testing, as if I expect better.
- I take up my cross by learning to die daily to my rights and accepting my responsibilities. I die to selfish emotions. When misunderstood or rejected, I will accept it as part of the territory and not complain. Ouch!
- I follow Jesus by choosing to live for others. I will ask how they are rather than expecting them to ask me, encourage rather than being encouraged, serve rather than being served, think of others instead of expecting them to think about me.
- I follow Jesus by choosing to overcome evil with good rather than returning evil with evil. I choose to not take up an offense. That’s tricky! I choose to love even when it is not returned and forgive when people are not ready to confess.
- I follow Jesus by choosing to find my identity in the Father’s love. I do not need the praise or affirmation of others to establish my identity (I need you, Jesus). I am valued because Christ shed His blood for me. If I am devalued by others, I will count on Christ’s evaluation. On the other hand, I will be quick to affirm my spouse and others. But I will accept affirmation graciously if it is given.
- I follow Jesus by maintaining an attitude of thankfulness in the midst of difficulty. When the going gets tough, the tough get—grateful!
Sounds like a great marriage? It is—when I manage to pull off my part!