Transforming our marriages, families and Churches

Here’s an urgently needed word from Jesus Christ for our marriages, families and Churches:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What does this love look like in our relationships?  

Love…

      • is patient
      • is kind
      • does not envy
      • does not boast
      • is not proud
      • is not rude
      • is not self seeking (demanding its own way)
      • is not easily angered (irritable) 
      • it keeps no record of wrongs
      • is never glad about evil
      • rejoices in truth
      • always protects
      • always trusts
      • always hopes
      • always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). “There is nothing love cannot face” (NEB).

  • Love is tenacious and faithful.
  • Love is brave and noble.
  • The greatest is love.

Love in action

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10, NLT) 

  • “take delight” (προηγούμενοι) could be rendered “going before” or “giving preference.” The word conveys eagerness to honor others. It’s a call to initiate or even to surpass one another in showing honor.
  • “Out do one another in showing honor” (ESV).
  • I like the rendering “Take delight.” It should not be a burden but joy to show honor to others. Honoring involves recognizing the value of another. 

Renewed practice of Romans 12:10 could transform our marriages, families and Churches. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Love is what the world needs to see in us and what each person can experience through God’s love in Christ (see: Rom. 5:8; 8:38-39; Titus 3:3-6).

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (I John 4:9-11)

Steve Cornell

Unity in Marriage

Have you ever observed wives who suppress their identities under more dominant husbands who do not draw from the gifts and strengths of their wives?

Wives who do this typically have misguided understandings of headship and submission. They tend to enable their husbands while wrongly thinking that they’re being good submissive wives. What they are actually doing is violating the original design for a wife to be a complementary completion to husbands who need the unique contributions of their wives.

The original plan for marriage assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness in husbands and wives for the completion of a combined oneness. Think about it. If it wasn’t good for the man to be alone, it won’t resolve matters if a wife disappears into his identity. The wedding ceremony of the unity sand offers a nice picture of two becoming one — without one disappearing into the other.

Whatever else oneness is meant to be in marriage, it’s not the disappearance of either part into the other but the merging of the uniqueness of each into one. Some husbands foolishly misuse Christian teaching about headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of their wives. These men typically insist that life conforms to their dominant identity so they can get what they want. 

But marriage is intended by God to be a one-flesh relationship based on mutual self-giving love. It’s a covenant of companionship between two spiritually equal human beings. This doesn’t mean that the relationship is without roles and roles in marriage do not diminish individual uniqueness, equality and the call for mutual respect.

If each person is important to the strength of a marriage, each one must bring the beauty of their uniqueness and gifts to the relationship. It takes two for marriage to be what it is meant to be.

The husband bears primary responsibility to lead the home in a God-glorifying manner. His leadership clearly involves authority and should be honored by his wife and family. This authority, however, should be based deeply in the love described in I Corinthians 13:4-8a and in thoughtful consideration toward his wife (see: Philippians 2:3-5; I Peter 3:7).

Scripture issues strong warnings against husbands who treat their wives with insensitivity. Husbands must never forget that they are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Cultural limitations should not be placed on the command for husbands any more than on the command for wives to submit.

Steve Cornell

 

Formula E429 could change your life!

One of the best ways to improve our communication is to replace destructive tones with constructive ways of speaking to each other.

Words of appreciation and encouragement are excellent alternatives to ugly tones of grumbling, whining; impatience, frustration and defensiveness.

Think of how many times we could defuse a situation by choosing better words and tones. Parents especially need to ask if their words and tones set the right example for their children. 

Use Formula E429 to remind yourself of God’s will for our speech.

The formula is based on Ephesians 4:29 – “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).

Then apply a large dose of the first two characteristics of love: “Love is patient, Love is kind…” (I Corinthians 13:4).

This could change your life and the lives of those close to you!

WARNING LABEL

This advice comes with a warning about how easily we excuse our attitudes, words and tones by pointing to the difficult people around us. Remember the basic truth that the only person you can change is yourself. But by working on self-correction and experiencing personal change, we can powerfully influence others. So if you feel stuck in a bad place, find ways that you can change your attitudes, words and tones. But start with the words and tones you use because this discipline will make you face and confront your attitudes and emotions.

Recognize how all of this change fits under the work God is doing in your life. 

“And we all are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17-18, NIV).

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13).

I have work to do. Will you join me?

Steve Cornell 

See also: Spiritual Depression

Love’s grand finale

 

“Do everything in love” (I Corinthians 16:14). How can we do this? Go back to the best definition of love available to us: 

I Corinthians 13:4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV).

Those who practice this kind of love minimize conflict because love is anti-rivalry. Playful rivalry keeps life interesting and fun but when rivalry becomes selfish it violates true love and destroys unity and community. 

A closer look at love

1. Love is patient: It is long-suffering. It restrains anger when provoked. Patience is more than passive waiting. It’s active restraint in the moment of provocation. God is patient (Romans 2:5; II Peter 3:9).

2. Love is kind: It reaches out in good will with acts of care and concern. Love not only patiently forebears, but through kindness, actively pursues. Loving people are distinguished by their kindness. God is kind — even to the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6:35-36; Titus 3:4-5)

3. Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. Envious people engage in evil rivalry. The envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the envied. Enviers delight in evil.

4. Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to self. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It needs no limelight or stage, applause or recognition.

5. Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment dictates (Romans 12:3).

6. Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.

7. Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.

8. Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered, short-fused people.

9. Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. When hurt badly, this part of love is hard to practice.

10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: This rules out gossip, slander, and Schadenfreude (delight in the downfall of others).

Love’s grand finale – Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.

There is nothing love cannot face and endure. Four verbs (protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres) offer repeated emphasis on how love brings everything under its influence. Love is tenacious and faithful. Love is positive and hopeful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us” (Ephesians 5:2).

Steve Cornell

God gives grace to the humble

“We human beings are a strange lot. We hear high moral injunctions and glimpse just a little the genuine beauty of perfect holiness, and then prostitute the vision by dreaming about the way others would hold us in high esteem if we were like that” (D. A. Carson).

People who habitually do this tend to draw attention to the sins, faults, weaknesses and failures of others. This is the comparison trap that can easily produce the spirit of the Pharisee who thanked God he’s not like other men.

Legalism provides people with a deceptive means for screening out their own sins by highlighting the sins of others. Let’s oppose this spirit on every level because it insults the grace that leads us to salvation.

Remember Jesus’ words, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). Jesus condemned hypocritical judging. He insisted that we must “first” remove the log from our own eye before we’re prepared to notice and remove the speck from our brother’s eye.

If you know someone who has a habit of pointing out the sins, faults, weaknesses and failures of others, recognize that this could be a cover up for issues in his own life or a means of exalting himself over others.

People who are insecure or who always feel a need to be right or to know more than others are especially susceptible to this behavior. Gently encourage such people to reflect on the Apostle Paul’s words,

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:3-5).

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (I Peter 5:5-6).

Steve Cornell  

Dating and Relationship Advice

Dating tends to be a time when people conceal information that marriage will inevitably reveal. This is one reason why we need to guard our hearts and use our brains.

Let your head lead your heart

Do not give your heart to anyone until your head has processed the necessary data to tell you that you are making a wise decision. If you give your heart to a bad relationship, it will be very difficult to talk your head out of it.

Someone once recommended that we should focus on becoming the person that the person we’re looking for is looking for. Start by becoming the person that your future spouse needs. This will more likely lead you to attract and be attracted to the right kind of person.

Develop a mature understanding of love

When couples understand that marriage is not about being in love but an agreement to love; not about feeling loved but truly valuing each other, then they will find the path to deeply meaningful companionship. And (as a result) they usually experience the feelings of love that follow the choice to be loving.

One of the greatest obstacles to loving companionship in marriage is our cultural obsession with personal happiness as a fundamental right – if not, a sign of true mental health. Don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting we become stoic realists skeptical of pleasure and enjoyment. But I am saying that true and lasting satisfaction come from a refusal to treat felt needs as the highest priorities of life.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Phil. 2:3-5).  

Steve Cornell

SeeThe path to great relationships