Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Marriage Part 4

The deep happiness that marriage can bring, then, lies on the far side of sacrificial service in the power of the Spirit. That is, you only discover your own happiness after each of you has put the happiness of your spouse ahead of your own, in a sustained way, in response to what Jesus has done for you. Some will ask, “If I put the happiness of my spouse ahead of my own needs—then what do I get out of it?” The answer is—happiness. That is what you get, but a happiness through serving others instead of using them, a happiness that won’t be bad for you. It is the joy that comes from giving joy, from loving another person in a costly way. Today’s culture of the “Me-Marriage” finds this very proposal—of putting the interests of your spouse ahead of your own—oppressive. But that is because it does not look deeply enough into this crucial part of Christian teaching about the nature of reality. What is that teaching? 

Christianity asserts, to begin with, that God is triune—that is, three persons within one God. And from John 17 and other passages we learn that from all eternity, each person—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has glorified, honored, loved the other two. So there is an “other-orientation” within the very being of God. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, he was simply acting in character. Then the Bible says that human beings were made in God’s image. That means, among other things, that we were created to worship and live for God’s glory, not our own. We were made to serve God and others. That means paradoxically that if we try to put our own happiness ahead of obedience to God, we violate our own nature and become, ultimately, miserable. Jesus restates the principle when he says, “Whoever wants to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). He is saying, “If you seek happiness more than you seek me, you will have neither; if you seek to serve me more than serve happiness, you will have both.

Paul applies this principle to marriage. Seek to serve one another rather than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness. Many couples have discovered this wonderful, unlooked-for reality. Why would this be true? It is because marriage is “instituted of God.” It was established by the God for whom self-giving love is an essential attribute, and therefore it reflects his nature, particularly as it is revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The Meaning of Marriage Tim Keller Page 58-59 

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