Devotion #170

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:20-21 ESV

Your love for God is on display in the record of your actions toward the person in your life you find hardest to love. God didn’t write these verses for those who are easy to love—He wrote them for those who are the most difficult to love. Those who are annoying or inconsiderate, those who are harsh and rude, those who have hurt us deeply. If that person is your spouse, pause a minute here and ponder these truths.

We love a sovereign God. This truth means God reigns over every aspect of our lives. He is the master chess player who orchestrates every intersection, allowing for every relationship. There are no accidents. Each and every person in your life was allowed to enter your life by Him. He knew the difficult people you would encounter long before you met them, He knew who would be irritating and who would be hurtful, He knew the challenges your spouse would bring into your life.

He also knows your heart, and sees clearly where it needs to be chastened. He sees hidden prides, secret idols, and sin that is often unknown even to us. He wants to root that evil out of your heart. His desire is to transform our self-centered hearts to be more and more like Christ, who love others perfectly without condition and without judgment. So, He sends people into our lives who bubble up to the surface those areas of our hearts that are not yet refined. Conflict demonstrates where we are not yet in line with Him. In other words, the conflict in your marriage doesn’t only point to your spouse’s sin, it points to your sin.

The problem is we’re often much better at recognizing what the other person is doing wrong than holding up a mirror and seeing our own sin. Their sin is so big in our eyes, that we justify our unloving response. We think we have a right to our actions because their sin is so wrong. We look on our spouses with judgment, but our judgment crushes love. We think they should prioritize the same passions and desires, and they shouldn’t struggle with the sins we’ve overcome. We measure them by our yard stick, comparing their shortcomings to our accomplishments, and we sit in judgment of their lives. Then we shame them by spreading their shame to others. All of this crushes the love of God in a marriage.

If we say we love God, then we are to love our spouses as He loves us—unconditionally and without judgment. This takes the intentionality of an incredibly humble attitude. We must be willing to continually fall to our knees and ask God to reveal the sin in our own hearts with every conflict we encounter for the purpose of our union to be realized.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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