The Forgotton Intimacy - Part Four
by Sheri Mueller
(c) 2009 Growthtrac - Used with Permission
In previous segments of The Forgotten Intimacy, I discussed the importance of prayer as the first element in building Spiritual Intimacy into your marriage. The second element is Servanthood.
In the early years of marriage, I thought servanthood was all about Jim serving me! Jim was to be my slave, kissing my feet, waiting on my every need. Me serve him? Never! Most spouses honestly expect their spouse to do all of the serving. That's exactly the opposite of Jesus' example.
A soft serving heart is a Christ characteristic. We are called to submit ourselves to each other. We are called to honor and respect each other. Everyday we have decisions to make — to serve or not serve our spouse. When marriage is all about us, we do not love the person we married; we love our self.
"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing." Philippians 2:1-5
Though he was God (Christ), he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a servant and appeared in human form. Philippians 2: 6-7
Who do we Model?
Does your spouse feel like they are married to Jesus? You know, there really should be a family resemblance. People proclaim Christ as their Lord with their mouths, but reject him with their actions. Does your treatment of your spouse reflect Christ?
What does it mean to be a Christlike?
In Intimate Allies, Dan Allendar provides a perfect description. Being Christlike expresses a tenderness and mercy to forgive. Submitting ourselves to suffering, even death, for our spouses. Remaining committed in spite of conflict within our marriage. Loving someone even when they are not loveable and putting someone else's needs before your needs.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5(NLT).
Am I being patient, loving and kind? Am I rude and proud? Am I demanding my own way? Am I irritable? Am I bringing up stuff from an old argument? Have you considered that your spouse may not be creating difficulty in your relationship? It may be you!
There is another element to Servanthood — Sacrifice. It means letting go, surrendering.
Guys, sometimes you get this sacrifice thing turned around. Do you equate sacrifice with a sixty-hour work week? Men, look at what comes first in your life. Is it your career or hobbies? Sports? Do your wife and family come later? Where does God and church fit in? Get your priorities right. Pay attention to what's important.
Dr. Kevin Leman says, he has yet to meet a man, who after a long day at work, thinks to himself — What I really need right now is a long 45 minute talk with my wife. But that is precisely why a man's willingness to engage in such conversation is so beneficial to him spiritually — it costs him something. It teaches him sacrifice.
Ladies, God designed us to be helpers. (Thanks a lot God!) With running the kids to soccer, baseball games, shuttles to friend's homes, grocery shopping and picking up the cleaning, we're full time chauffeurs. And don't forget the laundry, dinner, and a forty-hour work week! All this plus the nightly transformation in to the amazon love goddess!
I know women whose only feeling of worth comes from their children and knocking out that daily punch list. I know I've asked myself, "What am I doing that is so great?" Frankly, I'd rather stay at the office where I'm appreciated.
When is the last time you sat down and watched a sports event or surprised your husband with tickets to a Football game? Have you considered making him his favorite meal or dessert? Jim loves cookies or brownies (anything with chocolate). Ladies, your priorities should be God, husband, family, and work.
Servanthood will grow you spiritually. As serving becomes a standard in your marriage, daily thoughts will turn to excitement, looking forward to spending time with each other. You begin to ask, "How have I served my spouse today?" Servanthood has brought abundant joy to my marriage. I know I please God, praise Him and love Him when I give of myself with a joyful heart.
Are you serving with the right motivation? Do you enjoy doing everything yourself? If you're a strong "Type A" personality, it's easy to confuse control with serving.
If something isn't done your way, then it isn't done with excellence, right? Control has no place in the heart of a servant. Control boosts your ego and makes the other person feel insignificant.
Both persons are a significant part of the marriage. When we pull Power Plays, we don't just cheapen each other, we destroy Christian fellowship. We reject the idea that every part of the person we love has its place in the body of Christ. One person is not more powerful or more necessary than the other. In fact, a person's contributions that seem weakest or least important are often the most necessary. All of us together are Christ's body and each one of us is a separate and necessary part of it. (1 Corinthians 12: 14-31 — Paraphrased)
Remember, if you are in control, God isn't!
This is the fourth article in a series of five on the Forgotten Intimacy. The final segment will be about Connecting.
Copyright © 2004 Sheri Mueller. Used with permission.
Sheri is the co-founder of Growthtrac, an online Christian marriage resource. Sheri is a pre-marriage mentor, has authored several marriage related articles, and teaches at marriage enrichment events.