Last weekend my wife Dalia and I traveled to Denver to met with a few of our dear friends (and spouses) who we originally met during our days at Fuller Theological Seminary over twenty years ago. We meet annually to share memories, laughs, goals, and prayers. Since our seminary days, we have each gone on different psychological and theological paths. We live thousands of miles apart on separate coasts. But, we are mutually encouraged and challenged by each other’s faith in a God that does ‘impossible’ things.
In just one example this weekend, we marveled as one couple described how God is preserving and opening miraculous doors for them as they deal with a rare Stage 4 cancer. It is fascinating and encouraging to hear how, unbeknownst to them, God orchestrated little things over the course of several years so that his power could be evident in the midst of a cancer diagnosis so dire that doctors refused to even give them a prognosis.
Their faith is such an encouragement to Dalia and me. Just as God provides for them in the darkest of hours, so he will provide for us.
As I think about this couple's tumultuous cancer journey, my mind goes to the Apostle Paul in the first chapter of his letter to the Roman church. "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:11-12).
There is so much here for us to deeply consider as Christian couples.
As Christians, we desperately need Holy Spirit-inspired spiritual gifts to strengthen us through the stresses of our daily lives and the resultant emotional strain that they invoke. When referencing these ‘spiritual gifts’, the Apostle Paul is referring to the seven spiritual gifts coined by the prophet Isaiah (11:1)—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (spiritual devotion), and fear of the Lord.
In the hustle and bustle of daily marriage, we lose touch with the spiritual gifts that are essential to the growth of your relationship with the Lord and with your spouse. This detachment from the spiritual gifts leaves you feeling out of touch with God’s purposes in your life or your marriage But, even more so, it allows room for your flesh to dictate your response to God and your spouse. That is a recipe for disaster because your flesh always leads you away from God.
I encourage you to embrace as many of these seven spiritual gifts as possible. Here are some suggestions of how this might look in your marriage:
Spiritual gift #1: Wisdom — “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7) Wisdom must come from a sacred source otherwise it is folly. Ask God for wisdom in how to invest in your spouse this month.
Spiritual gift #2: Understanding — "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (Proverbs 14:29) One of the things most scarce in Christian marriages is patience. We know it's a virtue. But, like a muscle, it can only be cultivated through practice. Ask God for discernment in how you can be more patient with Him and your spouse.
Spiritual gift #3: Counsel — "Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.” (Proverbs 19:20) The greatest couples I know are ones that exude a teachable spirit. They always want to learn from the counsel of others. How well do you accept discipline in order to be a better spouse?
Spiritual gift #4: Fortitude — "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13) We know that the Adversary roams like a lion seeking to destroy your relationship with God and your spouse (1 Peter 5:8). You cannot afford to let your guard down for even a few minutes. Will you have the courage to remain spiritually connected as a couple with godliness being the only thing that binds you?
Spiritual gift #5: Knowledge — "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) Western culture is infected with humanism where what is right and desirable in the human mind is valued over the absolute truths of scripture. Culture tells spouses to look out for oneself rather than striving to become “one flesh”. However, the blessing of your marriage requires that you consider Christ’s will for your marriage first as the starting point for truth?
Spiritual gift #6: Piety (Spiritual devotion) — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Few Christian couples submit themselves fully to God’s purpose for their marriage because they perceive the sacrifice as more than they can bear. Yet, scripture encourages you that God will never put more on you than you can handle. What will manifest in your marriage if you align your heart, soul, and might in demonstration of love for God?
Spiritual gift #7: Fear of the Lord — "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) With all the things happening in life, we are easily distracted from our mission as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom. In the end, your responsibility is to reverence God and do your very best to abide by his commandments—dispensing grace liberally to each other as spouses when you fall short of the Lord’s commandments.
God is looking for Christian couples who are poised to raise their spiritual gifts to the next level. in As leaders of a spiritual movement for Christian couples we are constantly praying for the Lord’s help to cultivate these spiritual gifts in our marriages. As the Apostle Paul suggests in the Romans passage, let’s mutually encourage one another to embrace these spiritual gifts.
P.S. Keep in mind that scripture has several lists of spiritual gifts. Here is a video that will help you discover your own spiritual gift.