Have you ever heard these lines? “Oh, to dwell there above with the saints that we love, that would be glory. But to dwell here below with the saints that we know, that’s another story!”
Between now and the time we arrive in heaven, we’ve got some living to do together, don’t we? That’s the other story. Let’s take a look at that story, because it can turn out to be a happy journey.
Whenever a young man and woman get together, and they talk about getting married, can you picture them having this kind of a conversation? Where the guy says to his girl, “Boy, you sure bug me. You know you bother me more than you give me pleasure, and we’re always fighting with each other, and it’s a very difficult thing for us to find a basis for getting along. Why don’t we do this the rest of our lives? Will you marry me?”
Can you imagine that kind of a conversation? That’s ridiculous. Nobody gets married without the highest of hopes that theirs is going to be one of the finest, friendliest, most congenial, most satisfying relationships that anybody ever had. And that is a possibility. It is possible to live that kind of life. However, we need to stop and consider what goes into a relationship that will guarantee happiness and contentment and satisfaction.
Ephesians 5:18-25 talks about the ingredients and personality factors that each partner needs to bring to the marriage, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Spirit means depending on God to make you the person you need to be in the relationship. It means you are allowing God to fill you with the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV).
Sometimes a man will read Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands,” and he wrongly interprets that to mean that he is the boss and his wife has no say. However, if he reads further, the next verse says, “the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.”
Fulfilling the role of “head” is a big undertaking and can only be accomplished if a man chooses to allow God to fill him with his Spirit. Then, he can be the head of the wife in such a way that involves walking in the Spirit.
It is equally important for the wife to be filled with God’s Spirit, and submit to it, so that she can be subject to her husband as Ephesians 5:22 says. Then, the relationship works in God’s way, because you are both “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).
You may be thinking, “With all this submission, where does my personal freedom come in, and what about my independence? Maybe if my partner would change, then I would be able to submit to the Lord.” However, the same principle applies to marriage as to any other relationship. Whenever two or more people get together, both of you give up your rights. You’ve got to cooperate. That’s the nature of marriage.
You see, the preparation for marriage is spiritual, and a man and a woman must find a mutually agreeable and a mutually binding way of life. 1 Corinthians 1:10 spells it out in Biblical terms, “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Take a step . . .
Take some time to consider your current relationship. Are you submitting to the Spirit of God? Are you bringing to the relationship an attitude of cooperation? Ask God to change your focus and to enable you to surrender to Him. Ask Him to make your relationship all that it should be!
This summary is from Dr. Brandt’s message Building a Partnership.