Liberty or Bondage?

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What can you do today to make your marriage a grace-filled relationship and not a performance-oriented one?

My thoughts are not your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8

In the early years of our marriage, it seemed as if Teresa and I were con­stantly trying to "whip one another into shape." After all, we seemed to believe, if we didn't keep the pressure on, the other one might never change. How wrong we were!

God has a better way. His thoughts are very different from ours. He told us, "Accept one another unconditionally and give one another grace. I will prompt and empower you to make needed changes!"

Couples in performance-oriented marriages focus on what each person does. Behavior dictates how much acceptance and approval each person gives. What each person does dictates his or her worth. This kind of environment produces bondage, fear, conditional love, and a focus on "works."

In grace-filled marriages, however, couples give unconditional accep­tance, approval, and worth to one another. When they do that, each of them is more likely to become motivated to "do" or to change. This kind of relationship leads to freedom, truth, and unconditional love.

It is clear what God wants for a husband and wife. He intends for our marriages to be refuges of grace.

At times I have wanted to whip my wife into shape. For example, I have wanted to change her tendency to see things as only black and white, and I have wanted to withhold my love and affection when I've been the recipient of her harsh words. But when I've been tempted to withhold grace from Teresa, the Lord has prompted me with this question: "Should one for whom Christ freely died have to earn your acceptance and grace?"

Teresa doesn't have to earn God's love and acceptance, and neither should she have to earn mine.

What can you do today to make your marriage a grace-filled relationship and not a performance-oriented one?

Father, please remove my tendency to want to change my spouse. Rather, make me one who demonstrates true grace.

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