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Worthy of Our Calling

My daughter, Anna, and I went grocery shopping yesterday. I told her that I felt like I was on vacation because the only time I go grocery shopping is when we take a family vacation. (Don’t judge me.)

For some reason, grocery shopping led to a conversation about marriage, and I shared with my single daughter that marriage can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, and then when you throw in our selfishness and pride, marriage can get downright ugly.

I find this in myself far too often: I want to win more than I want reconciliation. And this surfaces over the silliest of things, such as arguing over what we had for supper last Friday night. Me: “I had a baked potato.” Laura: “No, you had mashed potatoes. Don’t you remember?” Me: “NO! It was a baked potato!” Laura: “Whatever you say, dear.” And she rolls her eyes.

If I center my marriage on being right rather than on being relationally healthy, I will always succumb to the temptation of pride and selfishness. I will see every issue as a competition where there’s a winner and a loser, and I will do everything possible to prove that I’m right—even if the issue is what I had for supper.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes that we are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling . . . with all humility and gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2). I know I should display this in relationships with friends, fellow believers, and people who don’t believe in Jesus, but do I display this with my wife? I hope so.

Eighteenth-century preachers, John Wesley and George Whitefield, were good friends until their doctrinal differences divided them. Years later, they reconciled, even though their followers did not. The story is told that after Whitefield’s death, one of Wesley’s followers asked him, “Do you think you’ll see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?”

Wesley replied that he didn’t expect to see Whitefield there. Delighted with Wesley’s response, the woman pressed him further. “Then you don’t really believe he was converted?”

“Converted? Of course, he’s converted,” Wesley responded. “But I do not expect to see him in heaven because he will be so close to the throne of God, and I so far away, that I doubt I will be able to see him” (Revolution Within, 177).

Humility and gentleness—two traits we all need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Maybe, like me, you have a much easier time showing those traits to people at work than to your family at home.

Let’s make the choice to grow in humility and gentleness so that our marriages and families are not based on who is right but on being right in how we treat one another.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

A Valentine Message – Love That Goes Beyond a Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day highlighted and promoted by every florist, candy shop, card producer, and teddy-bear manufacturer in the country. Without sounding like a Valentine’s Day scrooge, the underlying message is:

            Roses are red, violets are blue;
            If I don’t buy you something, my love is not true.

In case you’re wondering, I DID buy my wife flowers, candy and a teddy bear, even though she told me not to, because, as she said, “It’s just a waste of money.” Wow. I sure love my wife.

Almost every “chick-flick” I’ve watched with my wife (which is part of being a sacrificial husband) makes love appear to be all about one’s feelings. Rarely are love and marriage portrayed as commitments we make and actions we choose.

As C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,

“[Being in love] is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be `in love’ with someone else. `Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity; this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run; being in love was the explosion that started it.”

In a study on marriages conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck, couples who believe that love is “instant, perfect, perpetual compatibility, and `meant to be,’” have a much higher likelihood of divorce than couples who believe that “a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences” (Mindset, 151-152).

When a couple says, “If we need to work at it, there’s something seriously wrong with our relationship,” they, in fact, have something seriously wrong with their relationship. Relationship researcher, John Gottman, says, “Every marriage demands an effort to keep it on the right track; there is a constant tension . . . between the forces that hold you together and those that can tear you apart” (ibid., 153).

Jesus gives the most practical marital instruction ever: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). And, by the way, in case you’ve forgotten, your spouse is your friend.

So, buy the candy, flowers and teddy bear. That’s fine. But make sure you keep your commitments and choose actions of servanthood and sacrifice, for it is on that kind of love “that the engine of marriage is run.”

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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