It is July--more than halfway through the year.
When, I think of July two specific things come to mind. First, I think of Dalia and my wedding anniversary. Two weekends ago (July 16) our marriage turned 33. We went out to a nice little seafood restaurant to thank God for the grace that has brought us to this milestone and to talk about our excitement for where we are in our marriage after more than three decades.
The second thing I think of in July is 'freedom' as represented by our July 4th Independence Day fireworks and festivities.
But, for Dalia and me 'freedom' is way more than shooting fireworks into the sky or BBQ time with family. No, for us, 'freedom' is the promise of liberation in the Kingdom of God. God created marriage for us to rule in dominion as husband and wife. In the Kingdom, "freedom" spans spiritual, financial, and neighborly domains.
Let me give a brief explanation of 'freedom' in each of these Kingdom domains for the Christ-follower. It all begins with understanding Jesus' words in John 8:36, "If the Son sets you free then you are free indeed". In other words, if you claim Jesus Christ as your savior and truly abide in His vine, then you must mentally embrace the freedom you inherit as his child. You are no longer a slave to sin but you are set free to experience his fullness (or freedom). So, what does this freedom look like for the Christian couple in the spiritual, relational, and financial domains?
In the Christian community, we are accustomed to thinking about spiritual freedom as the power of the Holy Spirit to liberate us from our celebration of personal sin. But, spiritual freedom in marriage goes a step further. Spiritual freedom is what transpires when the Holy Spirit in you divinely inspires and cooperates with the Holy Spirit in your spouse to hone and release your anointing as a couple to expand God's Kingdom.
Unfortunately, most Christian marriages languish when it comes to spiritual freedom, lacking even basic awareness of the gifts they possess and the ministry that awaits them as a team of two. Therefore, they spend years bickering over everyday transactions rather than transforming the lives of people around them.
Over the past seven months, Dalia and I have discovered a greater version of our marriage than we experienced over the prior thirty-plus years. How has this happened? We have implemented a daily habit of devotions and prayer together and individually. Additionally, we have incorporated a weekly one-day fast into our routine. That's it. The rest is simply the Holy Spirit at work in both of us. These practices revealed the level of selfishness that for decades held our best marriage a prisoner of our pride and egos. Today, our love for God and for each other has freed our unique spiritual anointing for speaking a life of spiritual discipline into undisciplined relationships.
The Bible talks a lot about money. In fact, 'money' is referenced more than eight hundred times in scripture. Could that be because its handling is critically important to the Kingdom of God? We serve a God who holds everything in his hands. And, He generously bequeaths these possessions upon his children. Most Christians accept this as truth. Yet, financial freedom regularly eludes us. I believe that is because of our lack of knowledge.
Financial freedom is achieved when you are able to use the precious few years of your life performing what you are anointed to do as a couple rather than feeling trapped in jobs that lack meaning for you strictly to generate income. What is seldom talked about in Christian circles is that God desires that we dedicate our resources (which are really his resources on loan to us) for the expansion of His Kingdom. Couples experience financial freedom when their money is available to support the Kingdom causes that are important to them.
However, in Christian homes, financial disagreement and money problems consistently rank among the top three disruptors to a healthy marriage. Whether the argument is about the insufficiency of income, excessiveness of spending, or the weight of being in debt, far too many Christian couples are in financial bondage. Unfortunately, husbands and wives commonly have conflicting opinions about income, spending, and debt.
Dalia and I are in pursuit of financial freedom that allows us to transition early out of our careers in accounting and market research. We consistently invest in stocks and mutual funds to build our off-ramp. We also own a number of homes with wonderful tenants whose rental income pays our mortgages and provides us residual cash flow. But, ultimately, we understand that none of these material sources give us financial freedom. It is only when we put these resources in generous service to the Kingdom of God that true freedom is achieved. Today, our net worth is simply a leading indicator of how God is positioning us to spend more of our time serving Kingdom marriages rather than our employer's bottom line.
Scripture is extremely clear on its two primary commandments. First, love God with everything that you have. But, the second command is like unto the first. Love your neighbor as yourself. These two commands are interdependent--one cannot be true without the other being true. Your love for God must be demonstrated through your love of your neighbor and your love for your neighbor only happens when your love for God is above reproach.
The question that we as Christians seldomly consider is the same question that the lawyer asked Jesus (Luke 10), "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan in which being neighborly transcends racial tensions, socioeconomic standing, and religious beliefs. We, Believers, work hard to surround ourselves within homogenous communities that look and live a lot like us. But, Jesus' 'neighborhood' was always eclectic and defined by an abundance of grace and mercy.
Neighborly freedom is your conviction to demonstrate grace and mercy to your neighbor. And, your first and most important 'neighbor' is your spouse. Simply put, if you neglect extending grace and mercy to your spouse, you have missed the message of Christ and you do not love God--no matter how spiritually you may consider yourself to be. All of us are imperfect in this pursuit of grace and mercy. Because it is so hard to consistently control your flesh, only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we even keep trying. But, we must keep trying because as we unleash grace and mercy in our marriage it overflows to impact the lives of everyone around us. More importantly, it transforms us from the inside out.
Dalia and I are committed to serving others well. We want to be the type of couple that fights through our own tired bodies and mental loads to be available to extend grace and mercy to one another. We want to be present to listen and remind one another of how Christ is manifest in our lives. But, there is more. Dalia and I strive to increase our capacity to sit with those who need to experience Christ's grace and mercy through us. Eusebeia is our neighborhood. Won't you be my neighbor?
Register for the 2021 LIVE Event
Click here to register for our live event is October 14th-17th in Baltimore Maryland. This year's theme is "Discipline" and couples are going to learn how to practice habits that grow you together. If you have any questions, just email us at eusebeia1000 @ gmail.com.