Stress, indecision, discontentment, worry, unhappiness, anger - we’ve heard or experienced every emotion through social media, texting, phone conversations, and even through prayer requests. The coronavirus has created many issues and has brought to the surface others already in existence.
This new enemy is affecting marriages as well. Stressors are pulling at relationships, creating unwanted tension. Spouses are on edge, ready to jump. This new temporary normal has not brought out the best in some.
How do we as Christians combat this? How do we look different from the world?
I shake my head sometimes at myself. I’ve been in church long enough, and have read the Word long enough to know better. But there’s a difference between knowing something and living something. What is it? I believe it is a love for truth. One line in Paul’s definition of love, given in 1 Corinthians 13, states that love, “...rejoices with the truth.” That’s interesting! Look at Psalm 119:160.
“The sum of Your Word is truth,
and every one of Your righteous rules endures forever.”
Psalm 119:160 (ESV)
The Word is truth! Do I love the Word? Do I rejoice when I read it? Do I follow it?
You probably can relate to those questions as well. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live with a passive or apathetic attitude toward the Word of God. We don’t want to see ourselves in this light, but are we rejoicing in the truth when we react to the world’s problems in the same manner as the world reacts? If our marriages resemble the world’s marriages, are we living by the Word?
Let’s take a look at five ways to recognize our love for the Word.
The Word tells us not to live in fear - John 14:27 states, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” If we know the Word, we know God is in control. Yes, there are times of anxiousness and uncertainty, but the one who loves the Word senses the peace that only God gives.
Wind scares me. It always has. I have prayed for trees not to fall more times than I can remember. But I never want to live in a state of fear and worry. I can make a difference through prayer - not fear. The more I read, the more I know I can trust God’s plan for my life (and trees!) That’s good enough for me.
The Word tells us to put others first - This is hard. Especially in marriage! The one we vowed our lives to must come before ourselves.. I’ll be honest. I married Jeff Earnest thinking he would take care of me. Sure, I wanted to make him happy, but my first thought was him bringing happiness to my life. We’ve asked lots of spouses why they married. The vast majority gave answers benefiting themselves. It’s how we’re wired.
But when we love the Word, we are awakened to the knowledge that it’s not about us. Our lives are about others. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Especially during these emotionally charged days, let’s remember this Word, with our spouse and family.
The Word tells us to take up our cross - Again, it’s not about us. It’s about sacrifice. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
All through the gospels, we are told to deny ourselves and to take up our cross daily. In fact, Luke says if we are unwilling to do this, we cannot be His disciples. I need to let that sink in. Do you? If all our time and finances revolve around ourselves and family, we aren’t taking up our cross. We must not be reading and loving the Word or we would know our priority is to share Jesus and represent Him well. Even during the pandemic, let’s point others to Christ.
The Word tells us to lay up treasures - God loves treasures, but not the earthly kind. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Years ago Jeff and I sold our dream home. It was everything we had ever wanted. But God spoke to both of us (Jeff first...it took three months for me to listen), and we knew this treasure was taking too much of our hearts. We needed to free ourselves for Kingdom work, not earthly bondage. We have never regretted it. But even now, we still evaluate our decisions, making sure we keep material pleasures in their place. It’s a constant battle for Christians in this “American Dream” culture. For many, this pandemic has been an eye-opening experience to their financial state. Is there any wiggle room to help others in need? Could you help with a few groceries or a treat from your local restaurant?
The Word tells us to live by the Word - Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…” John 14:23a This says it all. Basically, if we do not know the Word, how can we say we love God? How will we ever know how to be a disciple if we don’t study the Word? What kind of lie are we telling ourselves, and God, when we claim to follow Him, publicly praise Him, yet we don’t know Him intimately because we don’t read His Word?
If only we loved the Word, we would be different from the crowd. Not just during Covid-19, but in each situation that arises. Life is hard, with or without the virus. We daily need the Word, and we desperately need to love the Word.
Every day is a new beginning. Let’s pray for a hunger and thirst for right living, given only through the Word. Then, let’s listen as the Spirit reminds us, “It’s time to study My Word.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
We really have no excuse. We are a blessed nation to have access to the Word in numerous versions and forms. God has given us our handbook. Let’s take it out and trust Him to guide with wisdom. Let’s start resembling our Father, not the world.
Seeking the Word,
“Strengthen me according to Your Word.”