Who Are You Pleasing?
Lord, help me to see the needs of my spouse more clearly today. Don’t let me fall into the trap of “giving to get” or of trying to manipulate them. Let me seek to give out of a pure and contrite heart.
Read: Corinthians 7:32-35, NIV
“(32) I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. (33) But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife. (34) And his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. (35) I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”
This portion of scripture was always difficult for me to navigate as a young man. “Lord, are you saying I shouldn’t be married and that I would be better off serving you instead?” While it is true that your devotion or service to Christ will be limited as a married person compared to an unmarried person, Paul is not condemning marriage or putting it down. He is simply saying that our focus will not be fully on God, but it will also be invested in our soul mate if we choose to marry. What is pointed out by Paul is merely a function of time and energy. To cultivate a fruitful relationship, it takes spending time with the people you want to grow in relationship with. If you do not marry, that leaves that much more time for devotion to God. If you marry, you can still love God, but you need to spend quality time learning and growing with your spouse.
One of my favorite scriptures from Ephesians, is Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Knowing that Jesus went to the cross and gave his life for the body, the church, is saying a great deal about how husbands should love their wives. Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” So Paul ties the devotion expected from husbands to wives and from wives to husbands as that of our devotion to Christ. Husbands and wives should strive each day to please the other. This relationship of giving is much like the giving of time and resources to God’s kingdom. Just like in the days of your courtship with your spouse, you should seek each day to “win them over.” Through a sincere heart, we cultivate a relationship of ‘giving’ to our spouses. This heart of giving keeps the flesh from taking over and allowing us to become ‘demanding mates.’ As a married couple in Christ, we can actually encourage each other in our walks with the Lord, making us true “co-laborers” for Him!
When you get to a point in your relationship with your spouse that you feel “entitled” for them to please you or do things for you…STOP. Remember that Christ, as our example, gave His very life for us. With that standard, consider how you should give to your spouse. Husbands, maybe you could come home “with” dinner? Perhaps offer to take the kids out and give your wife a little time to unwind in peace and quiet? Wives, ask your husbands if they had a tough day at work and offer a listening ear to him. What if you surprised him with his favorite homemade meal? Do things for each other, not ‘giving with privileges’ but giving to express a heart of love, of gratitude and of thanksgiving for the wonderful mate He has given each of you. Learn to be better givers in your marriage…remember, you can never out-give God, so practice a lifestyle of “giving” to your spouse.
Lord, whether in marriage or as a single person, make my heart fully devoted to you. Let me honor the verse in Colossians 3:22 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for Men.” Make me generous in my marriage and in my walk with you.