If only husbands and wives would learn one simple principle.
If only they would realize how important this principle is in their marriage.
If only they will apply this very principle in their personal lives.
Then we would have content husbands and wives who will not even complain against each other.
Thus there would not even be any hint of separation or divorce.
What is this principle that I am talking about? It is the very principle that Jesus laid down as a prerequisite to being His true disciple.
“If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself (disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself) and take up his cross daily and follow Me”. (Luke 9:23)
Two words: DENY YOURSELF. This is the principle I am talking about. It is a Scripture that true believers have heard, known, and accepted as part of their walk. It is as simple as it is yet not so much applied in marriages. Isn’t that strange? So strange that even strong men and women of God have overlooked this Scripture when it comes to marriage.
The problem that I see is that when a woman gets married, and even before she does, she is already looking forward to having a man who will protect her, guide her, love her, take care of her, and cherish her. The man on the other hand is already looking forward to having a wife who will cook for him, take care of him, help him, listen to him, and simply be there for him. All these desires are valid but they are focused more on the “self” and what the other person should do for us. Come on, how many Christians thinking of or entering marriage have thought about what they can do for their future spouse more than what they want for themselves? We humans are wired to think of ourselves more than others. This is our earthly nature.
With the many wives I have counseled, most if not all of them complained to me about “what their husbands are failing to do”. And when I tried to bring them back to what they have failed to do, they almost could not fathom it. In fact, I had a post on Facebook about “denying yourself” in marriage and one single lady commented and said, “That does not apply to marriage”. I realized then, more than ever, how ignorant most Christians are about this principle.
The instructions of God to the husband and wife respectively are about “denying the self”. When God commanded the wife to “submit to the husband”, to “have a gentle and quiet spirit”, to adore and respect him”, wasn’t He telling her to forget about herself and focus on her husband? I can’t submit to my husband if I am all about myself. I will have all the justifications not to. This was my main struggle back then. I was focused more on my rights and what I should receive from him than his rights and what I can give to him. In the same way, when God commanded the husband to “love his wife the way Jesus loved the church and gave Himself up for her”, wasn’t He telling the husband to deny himself? For how can my husband love me the way God instructed him to if he will think about himself and his needs and what I should be giving him?
Deny yourself. This is the basic and foundational principle in the success of any marriage. When we learn to apply this, we will be looking at our own faults and not the faults of our spouses; we will be serving them everyday instead of expecting to be served; we will not be playing the blame game but will take accountability for our own actions; and we will not be focusing on our hurts or anger but will be taking the bullet for them.
You can receive this message, reject it, or just be unsure about it. Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. I am simply sharing with you a valuable principle that I have learned and continue to learn. And if you are like me—serious about staying committed to my marriage, whatever it takes, and being obedient to God in everything, then you too will put this principle of “denying the self” into action.
Written by Lisa Maki
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