Urging Toward Positive Conduct and Decision Making
Be ready in season and out of season; . . . exhort, with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2, NASB
Teresa and I learned early in marriage how not to live married life. One of these fateful lessons came from my trying to "preach" at Teresa. I took what I thought was the role of exhorter, quoting Bible verses and telling her how she ought to live. Of course, it didn't work.
I became a Christian at twenty-one, several years before Teresa. I wanted her to come to the same point in her relationship with God that I was at. But my pressure for her to hurry along in her spiritual journey did everything but help. I realized that God had His timing for her as well as His lessons for me. I learned about true exhortation with patience by looking at the Spirit's work in my own life. I realized that He prompts me toward Christ-likeness, but always with patience. He doesn't expect me to get it perfect the first time, and He doesn't try to motivate me through the fear of His rejection.
This realization of God's patience for me changed how I approached Teresa with spiritual matters. Instead of preaching to my wife, I talked with her about what the Lord was doing in my life. Instead of quoting Bible verses to prompt change in Teresa, I only quoted verses that God was using to produce change in me.
Teresa and I began to grow together and became more unified. As she began to sense my patience and acceptance, we began to read Scripture together. When we discussed a passage, I talked about what God might be saying to me.
Each step along the way, I learned that my role of exhorter was really to share my enthusiasm for God's work in my life and wait patiently for His work in Teresa's.
How might you show patience with your spouse and his or her spiritual growth?
Father, keep me patient in my confidence that You produce Christ-likeness, not me!