We’re two weeks into 2014, and I’m curious to know how your resolutions are coming?
Have you lost the first five pounds? Have you kicked a nasty habit? Are you on track with your read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan?
Valentine’s Day is about one month away, so I’d like to encourage you to consider squeezing one more resolution into your routine. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a stronger marriage when February 14 rolls around?
My challenge to you is this: devote the next month to resolving to love more, forgive more, and pray more when it comes to the relationship you have with your spouse.
Sure—conflicts are inevitable with loved ones, but the apostle Paul gives us great instruction for loving well:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13)
Let’s start where Paul started, with the idea of clothing yourself. Attitude is like clothing. It’s something people can see and pick up on right away when they’re in your presence.
Make sure, says Paul, that the first things people notice when they come in contact with you are virtues. They should pick up on your kindness and compassion, your gentleness and humility and patience. These aren’t things we wear naturally. If they were, Paul wouldn’t need to remind us. These are attitudes we have to work at.
I often find that it’s easier to practice these virtues with church members or friends than it is with my wife, and yet she is the one person whom I’ve made a lifelong covenant to love! She is the one person God is most counting on me to practice them with.
How do we go about clothing ourselves in these virtues? The first step is to make a decision that it’s important to God and to you. You might even write these verses down and place them where you’ll see them every day—for instance, on the mirror where you brush your teeth. Whenever you see the verses, pray them.
Say, “Lord, I’m grateful to be one of your chosen ones. I’m holy and beloved to you. Please help me to be more compassionate. Help me to demonstrate greater kindness to the people who are close to me. I want to walk with humility. Please help me to consider the needs of others before my own. Help me to be gentle and meek. And, Lord, please teach me patience!”
When I pray in this way, the very act causes me to internalize these virtues. As with all the Bible’s virtues, they are by-products of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. In Galatians 5:22 Paul calls them the “fruit of the spirit.” He says, in essence, that when we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work inside of us, these virtues are more manifest in our lives, which is why there is a strong connection between faith and successful relationships. It’s not a guarantee, but as we grow in faith—and especially as two people grow together in faith—we find that over time we become kinder, gentler, more patient, and more compassionate toward one another, showing a greater concern for the other’s needs rather than our own.
Victoria’s Secret offers clothing meant to spice up a relationship. Yet think how much more the clothing described by Paul can enrich your relationship.
If you want your love to last, then check out the closetful of attributes listed in this passage.
When two people are compassionate toward one another—kind and gentle, humble and patient—they form a love bond that can’t be broken. That’s what Paul offers us here.
In my next post, we’ll continue looking at how Paul instructs us to love others.
This post is an excerpt from my book, Love to Stay.