Health for Your Marriage: Love God More
We are in the middle of a multi week series answering the question: “How can I find health in my marriage.” Last week we talked about changing your expectations. Please consider going back and reading last week’s column on the Herald’s website, on Revolve’s website or in the Revolve Church NJ App.
Today’s pointer: Love God more.
After 13 years of marriage and 6 years of pastoral ministry, there is something that I have seen to be true 100% of the time. If my relationship with God is healthy, I love my wife better. When my relationship with God is weak and struggling, I love my wife less. When my relationship with God is floundering - I am not reading his word, praying, confessing my sin and growing - I am more selfish and more easily agitated. This is true for us as a couple - my wonderful bride would tell you the same thing - but it is also true for you.
In my years of marriage counseling, I have realized a very similar principle at work. I have never had to counsel a couple who was walking with God in unity and intimacy. This is not to say that couples who walk with God don’t have problems - far from it! - but they work through those problems in a healthy way and are stronger for it on the other side.
In every situation of counseling that I have had, one or more of the people were refusing to pursue a vibrant, growing, loving relationship with God. They wanted to love other things rather than love God.
And that’s just what we all do, isn’t it? Jesus puts it this way in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” In other words, if you don’t love God more than your mom, dad, wife, husband, even your own self, you are missing the point. Loving God more than, well, everything, is the key to miraculous, spectacular, earth shattering, mind blowing health.
Like I said before, health doesn’t mean that you don’t have problems, but it does mean that you persevere through them, know how to wrestle with them without going bonkers, and grow in your love for God and your love for others in the process.
So, what does it mean to love God? How do you know if your relationship with him is on point or not? It begins and ends with Jesus. Without Jesus Christ, there is no spiritual health. This is why he came. Jesus Christ came to die in order to save sinners and then rose from the grave conquering death. Without Christ, you aren’t healthy, you are waiting for resurrection.
Trusting in Christ means that you believe he is who he says he is, that he did what he said he did, that he is doing and will do what he promised, and that you trust his words. To put it another way, you surrender to him, his lordship, his rule in your life and decide that rather than having it your way, you are going to have it his way.
That decision, to submit your life to him instead of yourself, hinges on you realizing that your life needs to be restructured and turned upside down. If you think you have your act together, if you love yourself as the king of your world, you won’t follow Christ.
In order to follow Christ, you have to trust Christ and in order to do that you need to stop following and trusting in something else. Think about it: every day you are trusting in something for your decisions, probably yourself. If we are to walk in health with Christ, however, we need to trust and follow him first and foremost.
As you do this, and as your spouse does this, your lives begin to become reordered. Think of it like a triangle. God is the top point. No longer is one of you walking towards Seattle and the other walking towards Miami. No longer is one of you walking towards Dallas while the other one tries to keep up. Regardless of your starting point, when you begin to reorient your life around God, you both begin walking towards that same singular point. When that happens, you cannot help but also be drawn closer to one another.
When I do premarital counseling, I always tell people that the best and most important thing that they can do is to walk in health with God as individuals and as a couple. That is the key to a healthy marriage, to love God more than your spouse, to love God more than your marriage.