Sheldon Clowdus

Disciple . Husband . Father


Finding Life in Your Marriage - Session Four
Session four began with an illustration from the logging industry. What loggers can accomplish in days or weeks now used to take months. The difference is a tool that is available now that was not back then: the chainsaw. With a chainsaw, one man can do now what it took several men to do in the past. Of course, used improperly, a chainsaw can cause immense damage to people and property. To make sure that it is used property, safety classes are available to teach people how to operate them.

In the fourth session, a tool was introduced that if used properly, would allow couples to experience marriage the way God intended. If used improperly, however, it would lead to pain and heartache.

Sessions 1-3 were the safety lessons to help couples use this tool properly. Only by heeding the teachings that led to this point, will the marriage tool bring about what God intends for marriages.

To recap sessions 1-3:
Session 1 - God intended marriage to bring Himself glory in part by it reflecting the perfect unity and intimacy He shares with Himself through the relationship between husband and wife.

Session 2 - By choosing to disobey God, man commits spiritual suicide and no longer is marriage the way God intends for it to be. Now the man and woman struggle in the relationship to establish control.

Session 3 - Sin (both our own and those committed against us by others) has caused our souls to become damaged and prevents us from being a conduit of life to our mates. Sin also causes us to seek the source of life in things other than Christ. In order to cleanse our soul from the effects of sin, we must choose Christ as our source and allow Him to empower us (partly by reminding us how much He has forgiven us for) to forgive and release those who have sinned against us.

The tool that has been given us by God to bring our marriage back to the state he intended is The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39). The secret to finding life in your marriage is to love God and love others as yourself.

The first part of the command is to love God. Once again, agape is the love spoken of here. We are to love God as He loves us: unconditionally. No matter our circumstances we are to love God.

There are 3 practical steps to fulfilling this commandment.
1. Devote yourself to knowing God.
2. Devote yourself to learning God's design.
3. Give all of yourself away to him with reckless abandonment. He is the perfect one to practice agape with because He will never take advantage of us or forsake us. If we don't willingly place ourselves on His potter's wheel, eventually He will drag us there. It is better to go willingly....just ask someone who has been dragged there.
Only in giving Him all of who we are will we find joy and happiness.

The second command is to love our neighbor as ourself. Once again, agape is used to express unconditional love for ourselves and our neighbors. This command is predicated on us being rooted and grounded in Christ's love. If we seek to love ourselves and others while we are rooted in something other than Christ, if He is not our source of love and life, then this command becomes a dangerous thing. The difference between loving someone with Christ's love and loving someone with a worldly love is not in actions but in motivation. What inevitably happens is the worldly love eventually fails and the person being "loved" learns to associate the failed love with the action. Then they view the action with suspicion from then on, even when it is rooted in the love of Christ.

Loving ourselves and other with agape love is mimicking God's behavior towards us. There are some practical steps to follow to be able to effectively love ourselves and others. They are:
1. Forgive and release - both ourselves for our sin and others for sins against us
2. Cast off our burdens - give them to God
3. Rest - let your self take a break sometimes. Not a license for laziness.
4. Care for your spirit, soul, and body.
5. Stay connected to the source of life - Christ.
6. Set boundaries for unhealthy people.
7. Immerse yourself in biblical fellowship with likeminded people and couples.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband, and a father. I teach 5th grade in my hometown of Rome, Georgia.


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