I wanted to share a great devotional I recently read. A Love to Die For by Robert Nolan
Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. — Romans 12:1-2 NLT
Day to day in marriage, there are the simple requests, such as, “Can you pause your TV show for a few minutes and help me with something?” Then there are the hassled but harmless asks, like, “I know you’re really busy, but could you possibly leave early today to pick up the kids?” And finally, there are the potential game changers: “Some things are really bothering me about our relationship, and I think we need to talk tonight.”
Marriage constantly requires and challenges us to place our spouses before our own needs. But this is exactly God’s plan to change us into His image — His personal holiness prioritized over our passing happiness. After all, what could be better for a self-centered sinner than to continually place someone else first in the name of love?
Today’s scripture talks about “a living and holy sacrifice.” A “living sacrifice” is an oxymoron, meaning two words that seem mismatched together. If a sacrifice is laid on the altar to die in the place of someone else, then how can it possibly continue to live?
Paul was talking about a state in which we live on the altar of Christ, giving up our “rights” to Him and serving His purposes instead of our own.
As humans, constantly sacrificing for someone else will eventually burn us out and we will fail, always in time defaulting back to our own desires. But as Christ-followers, submitting our will to God keeps us motivated and moving toward the service of others for His sake. That is a totally different perspective and one that is necessary for a growing and healthy marriage.
Think for a moment about the strongest marriages you know in your circles. Consider the marriages that you would most want to imitate. There is a strong chance that those couples also commit to being living sacrifices to the Lord, as well as continually dying to self with one another.
A great evaluation would be to filter your relationship through today’s scripture to ask: Are there any areas of our marriage in which we “copy the behavior and customs of this world”? And then the follow-up question: What area of our marriage has been the most transformed by the Lord?
Today, simply affirm one another. Speak not only compliments but also encouragement regarding any recent places of growth and change that you have not recognized before. Learn how to speak blessings to one another, as we often read of people doing in the Bible. This gesture will always be humbling, will push back pride, and will create a “die to self” moment, when all focus is placed positively on the other person.
How did your affirmation and encouragement affect each other?
Was there anything shared that seemed to have a strong impact?
How might continuing to voice positives encourage a “living sacrifice” marriage?
If you think a compliment of your mate, speak the compliment to your mate.