Devotion #129

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 ESV

I love the transparency in these verses. Even though Paul has been a believer for a couple of decades by the time he wrote this, we can still hear the struggle in his words. He’s not perfect, but he continues to try. He reminds himself to keep his focus on our purpose by looking forward instead of behind him. He doesn’t give up the fight, despite the fact that he continues to fail. No, Paul keeps his eyes fixed on the goal.

Marriage is hard—we are going to struggle and we are going to fail. We are going to battle every day, sometimes with our own selfish desires and temptations, sometimes with our spouse’s self-focused words and actions. Sometimes we are going to stumble off the path with our own sin, and sometimes others who aren’t on the path or those who have fallen off the path are going to throw rocks at us. We need these encouraging words to keep our minds focused on our purpose, our perspective focused on eternity, our hearts focused on Him. 

The fight for God-honoring Marriage is a life-long battle. As a younger couple, you may look at more mature marriages and think they have “arrived”; that they are somehow closer to perfection, but you would be wrong. They still struggle with the flesh every moment of every day just like you do—the only difference is they know how to put on their battle gear. Marriages that survive the test of time know how to use the shield of faith and the belt of truth, covering their hearts in the Word every day. They know how to strengthen the sword of the Spirit with prayer so their responses are patient, gentle, and full of grace. They understand the sacrificial love and forgiveness that was bestowed upon them at the moment of salvation, so can freely love and forgive their spouse through brokenness.

One of our greatest struggles in marriage is that we look at our spouses and think they shouldn’t struggle. We expect perfection. We expect them not to make mistakes, especially if it’s an area where we don’t struggle. We expect their growth to match our growth, and we expect them to always have control of their emotions and their responses. We expect them to respond as we would in our most perfect moments, and we allow no room for error. We judge and we condemn, then we keep them trapped in the moment they sinned against us, refusing to allow them to grow. Leave it and press on. Move toward the goal of the upward call of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been a believer for a long time, and my God continues to chasten me every day. He continues to reveal to me my shortcomings, places where I need to grow more loving and more compassionate, and blind spots where I hide sin. While I am on this earth, I am constantly being transformed. As I change, it would be easy to get stuck in the past, but that would only hold up the transformation. I leave it where it belongs by being thankful that He continues to pursue me and love me despite my deep brokenness. Then I take all of that, and apply it to my spouse, offering the same grace God shows us as we transform into His image.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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