I read a story a while back (not sure of source) but it goes something like this: A couple, who was hell-bent on getting a divorce came in to their Pastor's office. They had both agreed that they wanted to continue to come to that particular church and they both wanted their pastor to approve their divorce. They were a bitter couple who both made years of mistakes and were tired of each other and the pain that they caused each other. They were angry, bitter and maligned and neither one could be in a room for longer than 20 minutes before a massive shouting match would ensue. So in walks the Pastor into his office and before he could begin the meeting they turned that bitterness toward willful demand and both insisted that the Pastor grant them a divorce and to keep their membership in good standing. Each spouse, for the first time in 10 years, were perfectly aligned in their case in granting their divorce. The Pastor tried every angle in counseling that he could and had used before even in the most difficult of situations and even this well-seasoned Pastor could not budge this couple. So finally, he interrupted and spoke boldly and with authority to this rancid couple. "Okay," he said, "I will grant both of your requests on one and only one condition..." the pastor said. The couple was astonished and both shocked and looking back at each other said they would. The condition was that for three months they had to live together amicably. They had to turn insult into compliment, selfishness into serving and anger into gentleness. They had to live gently and lovingly with each other. They had to give it their most honest try to the pastor knew enough about this couple and their friends that he knew that they could not hide from doing that. "Three months?," they both said. Both of them expecting the pastor would have asked for a year and both were happy to honestly oblige. The first month was rocky and very short and curt between this couple. One would have a bad day and they other would serve and do the necessary things to diffuse their tensions between them. During the second month, the wife came home from work with a very bad day in the office and a colleague being fired after recent layoffs caused her to be steamed and looking for a fight. A fight with someone who she especially didn't care for - her husband. As she entered the house, she couldn't have even remotely expected the surprise that followed. The entire house was cleaned, picked up and vacuumed. The dishes were washed and put away and the laundry was done and folded. There was a delicious smell coming from the kitchen with a note that said dinner is in the oven and warming and your salad and dessert are in the fridge. Still angry and still looking to fight, she entered the room in which her husband was working and deliberately did all the things that would have caused an argument and she even messed up their clean bedroom. Failing to ignite his temper and anger she then decided to let rage leave her mouth. The husband, committed to his promise to their pastor got up and said, "Let me get your dinner." After serving her dinner and cleaning up her mess he went to bed.
The third month was finally there and they had just four weeks to survive their agreement and both were excited to get their pastor's blessing. Later that month, just days before they had to go back to the pastor's office, they both got home late from work and both were looking for an argument without even knowing it. The ironic thing about it was that each of them were serving the other and unselfishness doing what needed to be done in that house and for their marriage. When they finally turned their attention toward each other stupid and angry phrases started to babble from their mouth. To their surprise, both of their comments were so off the mark and ridiculous that neither one could stop laughing and the anger and bitterness evaporated. That night they slept in their same bedroom together.
The very next day, the husband woke up not only to serve his wife, but he made the coffee and served his wife breakfast in bed. To his surprise the wife was already up and laid out his clothes for work and they both had decided to play hookey from work and spend the day together....
The day finally came to meet the pastor and neither the man or his wife wanted to keep that appointment because neither one wanted to quit their marriage like that both had tried hard to do for he past 10 years. There was silence for just a few moments in the pastor's office. Both the husband and wife looked different. Both the husband and wife were acting different and both of their body language was engaged toward each other.
What the couple didn't know is what God's word had spoken to the pastor 1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." The pastor knew that both of them loved Jesus and both wanted the church of God to be their home. So the pastor knew that this couple loved God, therefore the pastor knew that they had God's Spirit to guide them in this three-month journey. Without missing a beat, the pastor took out the certificate of divorce and signed it as he had promised. Prompting his executive assistant and executive pastor, he had them come into his office to witness this. The couple squirmed sheepishly and interrupted this display by saying neither wanted a divorce. Not only did God's word guide them to the truth, both started serving and caring for the other, both started to let go of the past and focus on the present and both let go and let God move in their life.
Guys - if your marriage is in trouble, holding on by a thread, or worse - it's been dead for quite some time - don't fret! I have good news. There is hope. We do not serve a God who died on a tree, rather, we serve a God who was raised from the dead and can take dead things and make them knew.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What fruit are your bearing?Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
- Who is the authority in your life? 2 Timothy 3:15-16New International Version (NIV)15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
- What does God want from my marriage?Ephesians 5:21-33New International Version (NIV)Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Corinthians 13New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
10 steps to turn things around:
- Read God's word daily
- Serve unconditionally and do not expect anything in return
- Love unconditionally
- Love more unconditionally
- Forgive as you and your sins have been forgiven
- Turn insult into blessing
- Walk with other brothers who will keep you accountable, walk with you and read God's word with you
- Pray some more and ask God to give you the direction in which you should go.Proverbs 3:5-7 New International Version (NIV)5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a] 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
Who better to trust then in the One whose words never return empty.