Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:1-3
As I look back on my life as a husband I think more times than not I have carried out my role with selfish ambition and conceit. I am a selfish husband even though it’s the last thing I want to be. I look back on my early years of marriage and sometimes I wonder why my wife stayed with a person who was so opposite of what she deserved. It has taken me almost 18 years of marriage to realize that selfishness is truly my nature. Now that I have identified the problem what can I do about it?
Paul gives us the answer right here in Philippians 2.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:4-5)
First, Paul tells us to look not to our own interests but to the interests of others. 18 years, and many mistakes into marriage, one of the questions that I am constantly asking is how is this decision I am making going to affect my wife? Sure I want to go out with the guys to Buffalo Wild Wings but what will that cost my wife if I do that at dinner time? Before when I was so inwardly focused I asked the question what would it cost ME if I went to BDubs?
Thinking if I do this am I going to get yelled at when I get home because something went wrong with the kids or because my wife had to handle something in my absence, never really thinking about how all of those things hurt her. When I put the interests of others before myself the question begins with how my decisions affect the other person.
The second thing Paul tells us is to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. What mind was that?
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
Even though Jesus was God and had all the same rights as God He did not consider that equality as something important but rather He emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave. Can you imagine what this would look like if you did not consider equality with your spouse as something you need to have but rather took on the form of a servant? Every day you would wake up thinking of new ways that you could serve your spouse and show them the love of Christ. I promise you your marriage would be forever changed if you did this.
Paul goes on to say that Jesus humbled himself, and not only did He humble Himself He took on the most humiliating pain anyone could imagine, He was obedient to the point of death on a cross. When was the last time that you exemplified humility like that in your marriage? Too often I find myself doing the opposite, trying to prove how I am right or somehow better than my wife. Why would I do that?
I recently had a conversation with my son because he is constantly arguing with his siblings and trying to prove how he is always right and I said to him “I know you don’t mean this but when you approach a conversation like you are always right you intentionally or unintentionally say that you think you are smart and they are stupid”. As I am talking to him I realized how many times I have done that in my marriage just to try and prove what? That I am right?
So many times I have sacrificed my relationship with my wife just to be right. That is not the mindset that Christ would have and it is surely not the mindset that I want to have. It’s a constant battle that I face putting my pride aside and humbly serving my wife, but my marriage could not last without the fight.
So this Valentine’s week would you try a few things…
1. Would you put the interests of your spouse before your own?
2. Would you every morning look for new ways to serve your spouse?
3. Would you choose humility over pride in your relationship with your spouse?
I can assure you if you do just those 3 things you will begin to see a noticeable difference in your relationship with your spouse.