Isn’t it funny, and kind of bittersweet, how we look back and see the way we used to think when we were young? The more I age the more I realize I knew very little when I was younger. Kelli and I are going on 10 years of marriage and I’ve learned so much since then.
Let me give you some context. When Kelli was 16 years old, just 2 years before we met, her parents divorced. There was a lot of pain for Kelli in the midst of the split and much of it was directed towards her dad.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself sitting in Shannon’s office. I don’t remember the context of the entire conversation or why we were even having the conversation. I do remember talking about my marriage and my responsibility as a husband and a man.
I remember telling Shannon for the first several years in our marriage my goal was simple: don’t be her dad. It was a pretty easy gauge to control myself with. As long as I wasn’t “like him,” I was in control and a good husband. Shannon listened and smiled, and when I was done saying what I had to say he began to dig deeper. He pointed me to a higher calling than what I had set for myself. He went straight to Ephesians 5:25-28:
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.
Shannon didn’t try to give me his opinion or his philosophy on what makes a good marriage. No, he pointed me to the Word of God, what we as Christ-followers should submit ourselves to and let guide us.
Self-control is tricky. Like my old way of thinking, we convince ourselves if we can just not be like fill-in-the-blank then we’re ok. If exercise enough control not to say the words they use, not to do the things they do, not to act how they act, then we earn the stamp of righteous. But this is not the self-control of the Holy Spirit. Self-control from the Holy Spirit leads us to submit to God’s Word and let His truth control our lives. He becomes the standard.
Our marriage wasn’t in shambles, but it certainly wasn’t as good as it is now. I’m not a perfect husband by any means, but instead of using my own methods of self-control to be a good husband, I lean into God’s Word, letting the Spirit and His grace be my self-control gauge.
Who are you looking to for your standard of righteousness? If it’s anyone other than Jesus, you’re giving them a control which only belongs in God’s hands and robbing yourself of something better God has for you.