“Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.”
John Piper is one of my go-to thinkers and authors. I can count on him to frame an issue or pose a question in a way that hits me just right. That is just what happened with this quote.
Am I devoted to the holy joy of my wife? Sadly, most of the time I am not. So, what am I devoted to? What is keeping me from living this way?
Honestly, it’s the same thing that corrupts the rest of my life. It is my worship of comfort. I have taken comfort and short-term happiness and placed it on an altar. I love it. I worship it. It is my idol. It is my golden calf.
There are certainly times that I am devoted to my wife’s joy, to her growth and fulfillment in Christ. It is one of the reasons our relationship is in the state that it is in. We both understand this truth, and we try to live it out. But in truth that is all we can do. Try. Our humanity will always keep up from perfection.
True love, love as the Bible and Jesus defined it, is sacrificial. It is the kind of love that drives you to lay down your life for someone else. If I can’t lay down my comfort now, how could I ever lay down my life? On my own, I cannot. Jesus was the author of true love, he laid down his life for our salvation and holy joy. He did this because he was the only one who could do so in full.
So, what are we to do? If our humanity will cause us to stumble but we are called to live out this kind of love, how can it work? I’ve not had enough experience in marriage to give a list of 7 practical tips to fix it all, but I can say this. First, I need to pray that God changes my heart. That he changes the way I see my own comfort and the way I see serving my wife. Second, I need to obey his commands. I need to love her as he loves me. I need to serve her, protect her and support her. Only he can change my heart, but I still have to make the decisions, small and large, to obey him every day.