. Emotional energy is nonexistent unless first of
all one discovers good news to believe about the problem.
Believing right things soon leads to doing right things. And then
problems begin melting away. The reason is that believing the real
truth activates secret, dried-up springs of motivation within the
Here are five truths solid as the granite hills, each of them
an item of good news about your marriage. You will not be burdened
with duties to perform that are beyond your strength. You may
however need strength to believe that the good news is true,
because mankindís favorite obsession is believing bad news:
- God is more concerned that your marriage become a happy one
than you are.
- He invented marriage. If marriage proves too difficult
for human beings, its failure naturally reflects on the
wisdom and reputation of its Inventor. Some people
troubled about marital problems asked Jesus for advice. He
answered, "íA man will leave his father and mother
and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.í
So they are no longer two, but one. Man must not separate,
then, what God has joined
together. " Matthew 19:4-6,
GNB, emphasis supplied. The point is that you have Someone
working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to
ensure that your marriage is a happy one. Donít resist
what He is doing.
- Each marriage is as important to God as if it were the
only one on earth. "Not one sparrow falls to the
ground without your Fatherís consent . . .. You are
worth much more than many sparrows!"
Matthew 10:29-31, GNB. So, when God says "you are
worth" so much, He includes you and your marriage!
When a marriage begins to crack, we feel desperately alone. Itís
good news to realize that Someone cares, for once you recognize
this fact, the problem ceases to be yours. It becomes His problem
too and you can stop asking: "What am I going to do
and begin asking, "Lord, how can I cooperate with You while
You solve this problem?"
- Ornery spouses can become un-ornery. Often all God needs to
make a marriage happy is for just one spouse to be willing to
cooperate with Him in making certain changes. The changes will
have to be His work, for, when it comes to solving problems
like this, the Bible recognizes that we are "without
strength." See Romans 5:6. It boils down to our letting
the Lord heal the marriage. This is not a "laissez
faire" cop-out. There is something for you to do; but
that something is not an impossible work; it is a truth you
If there is one ornery spouse in the picture, God already has
one perverse will to deal with. If you add to the problem by
choosing also to be perverse, He is stymied. Even Heaven canít
save a marriage if both partners are unwilling to let God save it.
But if one spouse chooses to cooperate, thatís all God needs in
order to be free to go to work.
The Bible recognizes that human beings can thwart Godís good
news for them if they persist in rejecting His grace. But it
offers encouragement to believe that one marriage partner can be
the instrument whereby God changes the other for the better. It
says that "the unbelieving husband has been sanctified
through his [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife has been
sanctified through her believing husband." 2 Corinthians
That word sanctified means "put into a positive
relationship with God because of the believing spouseís
cooperation with Him." In other words, the spouse who needs
to be changed is influenced by the one who is in touch with God.
But now another problem comes to light.
In the intimate relationships of marriage, we get to know one
another without pretense or veneer. Your spouse knows whether or
not you are genuinely unselfish. We cannot help showing how
selfish we can be, apart from the grace of God. So, when your
spouse sees evidence of Godís Spirit working in you, he or she
will be far more likely to be receptive to the impressions of the
Holy Spirit than otherwise. Thatís one way God
"sanctifies" the unbelieving spouse.
Godís favorite method of revealing Himself is not through
lightning strikes and earthquakes, but by transforming ornery
people. As the warm sun melts a block of ice, so this kind of love
frequently succeeds in melting an icy heart of unbelief. As Paul
puts it, "How do you know, wife, whether you will save your
husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your
wife?" Verse 16, NIV.
- Perhaps wrong attitudes on your part have provoked your
spouse into unpleasantness. The change God can bring about is
good news, especially if you are the one who has been
primarily at fault for this is something you can correct with
Godís help. Your transformation can be Godís means of
saving your spouse. To be saved means to be changed from being
"alienated from the life of God because of . . .
ignorance" to being reconciled to Him. Ephesians 4:18,
This could be especially true in a marriage where only one
partner is a professing Christian who exhibits ornery behavior.
Such behavior nullifies the "Christianís" profession
and makes it appear that God is impotent to save people from
themselves. Nothing can make ordinary human beings more ornery
than believing such bad news. If you have been a stumblingblock in
this regard, maybe you need look no further to find the cause of
your marital unhappiness. What a person believes about God
determines what kind of person he or she is. This is because of an
unerring Bible principleóthe principle of righteousness by
faith. Itís really as simple as two and two equaling four.
Good news is the communication of a message of truth concerning
what Christ has done and is doing to save us. It centers in His
sacrifice of Himself on the cross. Itís not only the
pie-in-the-sky salvation beyond death; it means peace, happiness,
reconciliation, transformation of heart here and now. To see and
appreciate this is what the Bible calls faith; and such faith
works to effect righteousness in the heart of the believer. It
ends the great emotional energy drain, for faith energizes:
"faith . . . works through love." Galatians 5:6, GNB.
(The Greek word for "work" is energeo, from which
we derive our word energize.) This is how guilt, fear, alienation,
suspicion are melted away from the heart.
Letís say it again: all these wonderful things we are
supposed to do are impossible for us to do unless we believe what
Christ has done for us and is doing for us. Believing bad news
paralyzes you; believing Gospel good news energizes you.
An unbelieving spouse who does not see this good news
demonstrated in the life of his or her marriage partner is
deprived of the most effective means God can use in making the
unbeliever "un-ornery" On the other hand, the
unbelieving spouse who daily witnesses this "good news"
will have a hard time resisting it.
- If there is hope for you, there is hope for your spouse,
because God made the two of you one. The devil specializes in
telling married couples they are "mismatched." When
two people marry, they may indeed be "mismatched,"
but God intends them to become increasingly suited to each
other; and they will increasingly become one, if they do not
frustrate Godís plan for them. His word is, "The two
will become one." Matthew 19:5, GNB. Not, the two ought
to become one, or the two should be one, or it would be nice
if the two could become one; no, ďthe two will become
one.Ē In other words, Godís plan is to make people who
think they are mismatched (the devil tempts them to think so)
become happily matched. This is what His grace accomplishes.
But this only happens if they allow God to work out His plan
in themóin other words, stop resisting Him.
If what we have said thus far is true, then as surely as one
spouse can become un-ornery by the grace of the Saviour, so surely
is it possible for the other partner to become so. The same God
who made the one, made the other and intends that the two be
"one." Of course, He will never force anyoneís will,
so one can resist His grace to the bitter end.
- Say Yes to that impulse to do or say something nice to your
spouse. Believing right things is the foundation on which
doing right things rests. But, how does one get the will and
energy to do what is right? The answer is, by faith. Faith is
not true faith unless it "works through love."
Galatians 5:6, GNB. Faith will prompt one to do or say
something helpfulósuch as complimenting your spouse with
words of sincere appreciation, buying him or her an unexpected
gift, giving your spouse an impromptu hug, putting yourself
out to do some unselfish deed that you have stubbornly
resisted doing. There are a million ways faith can energize
you to do what was previously "impossible." That
blessed prompting is actually the work of the Holy Spirit. Do
you see it? God is already working to save your marriage! Do
it! Say it! God makes it possible for you to be different from
what you have been. Thatís His jobóbeing a Saviour.
If your loving deed or word is repulsed, do not respond
cynically. Such a response could ruin everything and put in
question the motive behind your kind word or deed. Expect that
your genuineness will be tested, and donít get discouraged when
it is. Phony goodness seldom works, but genuine goodness has a
good chance of succeeding. Genuine goodness has no way of
demonstrating its genuineness except as it is tested. Tests and
trials met in the right spirit increase your chances of success.
If you see this precious insight, unexpected setbacks will no
longer upset you. See 2 Peter 1:5.
"Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you;
pray for those who treat you spitefully . . .. Treat others as you
would like them to treat you . . .. Be compassionate as your
Father is compassionate." Luke 6:28-36, GNB.
Does this work? Indeed it does! The idea on which Godís
government rests is that light is stronger than darkness, love is
stronger than hate, good is stronger than evil, and grace is
stronger than sin. Thus Godís grace is powerful enough to
resolve the greatest marital problemóif it is allowed to
accomplish its purpose.