Updated: May 2, 2019
Dalia and I had the fortune to have our godson, Ryan, and his wife, Amber, visit us from Detroit this past Easter weekend. Ryan and Amber just married last year. Dalia and I walked with Ryan and Amber through their dating and engagement stages. So, it is particularly gratifying to see them start this Christian walk together as ‘one flesh’. Over the Easter weekend, we had a lot of time to listen and share with them.
Ryan and Amber’s visit made me think about the early years in my marriage to Dalia—over thirty years ago. I really wish I had an older mentor couple that directed us. We made so many egregious errors during those days. In a real sense, it is the Easter message that prevented us from doing more serious damage to our relationship.
I’d like to offer the words of the Apostle Paul to encourage you to embrace the Easter message in your marriage every single day—not just one weekend a year. It reads as such…
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that ONE has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, ESV)
As I break down these two verses, I'm inspired. Will you examine them closely with me because within these verses is the Easter message, ‘One has died for all”. Christ died for all humanity. It was a physical death suffered in the most torturous manner available to the Romans, crucifixion. We all know of this sacrifice. But, do we really understand WHY Christ died for all?
Upon close examination of the passage you see that Christ died for all in order that all might die. Our death, however, is not a physical death like Jesus'. Rather, it is a death to sin for all that call Jesus Lord. In other words, Christ’s physical death incites our death to sin—which we can also think of as love of self. At its core, sin is always an exaggerated and uncompromising love of self. But, Christ’s death liberates us from untamed love of self. But, again, do we really understand WHY Christ died for all?
The Apostle Paul gives us the clue in the very first sentence of the passage. We have to die to sin so that the love of Christ (rather than the love of self) controls us. The Adversary is a master of self-love (which caused his downfall from God's presence) and he encourages you to let self-love be the downfall of your marriage as well. Western culture brandishes self-love like a glorious badge of honor; however, when untamed it looks like unbridled pride and narcissism.
As a young couple struggling with the realities of a new marriage, Dalia and I fell right into his hands.
But, the Easter message is about replacing self-love with Christ-love.
This is the ultimate reason Christ died (evidenced in verse 15). Christ died so that you and I will no longer live for ourselves. The love of Christ must change the way that you love your spouse, the words and the tone that you choose, and the sacrifices you offer. The love of Christ must transform your marriage from good to great because these outcomes are simply divine byproducts of a marriage where you no longer live for yourself.
As you can see, the Easter message is not relegated to one weekend a year. Rather, it is a constant reminder that your life (and your marriage) is not your own. It wholly belongs to Christ because He died for all.
Will you let self-love die in your marriage so that Christ's love wields its control?
I know that this is rarely easy. In fact, I encourage you to check out this article that I wrote, Great Marriages Tell Dirty Stories, to see how to navigate the difficult periods of marriage so that God (rather than the Adversary) gets the glory. Your best marriage requires that you do some things differently than you’ve done them before. As NY Times bestselling author, Marshall Goldsmith, says “what got you here won’t get you there”. Check out this article to help you think about some things differently, even if you’ve always done things a particular way.
I would like to offer these words to my godson and his wife (words that I wish someone had taught me in my early marriage)—God gave everything that was most dear to Him in order that you would live for your spouse and your neighbor. You honor Him every time you do that and you dishonor Him every single time you love yourself more than Christ.
Thank you for all that you do to bless your marriage and that of your neighbor. This is the greatest commandment. In that spirit, I pray that you will register for the Eusebeia Weekend Experience LIVE (Oct 17-20) in Columbia, MD—where we strive for a higher level of spiritual intimacy in our marriages.
You will also notice on the Eusebeia website that we now have a FREE monthly devotional that you and your spouse can do together. It has an insightful object lesson and questions to enrich your spiritual intimacy. It gets updated each month. For those wanting a devotional package for use throughout the year, you can purchase one titled, I’m Going Clean which will help you embrace this year’s Eusebeia theme, “Clean”. This digital booklet includes a monthly lesson, creative activities that you can do with your spouse, and links to online resources to encourage you. You can purchase that here.
In this video, Pastor David Liesenfelt of Rock Valley Christian Church gives a brief summary our featured passage (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).