It’s day three of the Strong Marriages Matter Love is series, and as we continue working our way through the richness of 1 Corinthians 13, we read Paul admonishing the church in Corinth that love “”does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.”
You cannot have honor without selflessness. Nor truly receive honor without a heart of humility and holding yourself in low esteem. These two virtues work hand in hand. They are cyclical - one feeds the other.
Luke 14:10-11 reads “But when you are invited, go and sit down [to eat] at the last place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; and then you will be honored in the presence of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled [before others], and he who habitually humbles himself (keeps a realistic self-view) will be exalted.”
Although this passage isn’t specifically talking about marriage, it draws a clear picture of the relationship between selflessness and honor. Here, the instruction is purposefully place yourself in a low place - a beautiful and a real image of selflessness. But we aren’t to stop there - we are to make a habit of this. So often in marriage, this is the mistake. It is not difficult to be selfless for a moment. But repeated selfless actions and placing your spouse’s interests and needs before your own? That poses a challenge for many couples. Whether they are in year two or year twenty. Take a look at what happens next. When the host comes, he immediately lifts that friend up to a higher place. It’s the picture of a husband who is selfless and sacrifices something for the wife, yet when she sees his sacrifice, she instead defers to him in honor.
If things aren’t working this way in your marriage right now, you are not alone. We immediately recognized that there was more work to be done in our marriage and were grateful to God that we still have time to put in that work and grace to be diligent in it. As we depart, here are a few scriptures and thoughts to start a discussion with your spouse about selflessness, honor, and how you can incorporate these two characteristics into your marriage.
- Mark 12:31 tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Your spouse is your closest neighbor. So be sure that you are starting at home. If you can selflessly give honor and deference to the men and woman at church, at work, in the community but not to your spouse than there is something broken.
- Romans 12:3 reminds us that we are not to think more highly of ourselves then we ought. Powerful! Remember, to be invited to the high place is far greater than forcing your way into a great place. Why? Because the invitation puts God’s goodness on display instead of your ability.
- Ephesians 5 tells us to be imitators of Christ. When we look to Philippians 2 and see that Jesus Christ gave up everything - all of his divinity - to be brought low as a servant to save us. When we think about all that He has done for us, it is just silly to think of what we will not do to show our spouses love.
What about you? How do you handle giving honor and remaining selfless in your marriage? We’d love to know in the comments below.