Written by: Roland and Tammy Martinez.
If Tozer’s quote could be true about some local churches, what could be said about our marriages or our homes? Scripture is clear we can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. The life of a Christ follower should be characterized by living a spirit-filled life. Just because our homes are a safe place where we can “let our hair down” it doesn’t mean we leave the work of the Holy Spirit at the door.
Early in our marriage, Tammy and I struggled because we had so many demands for our time. We had full-time jobs, part-time ministry positions, and major family issues, including sickness and death on both sides. We also had a lot of energy and zeal for ministry, which eagerly supplied us with ample opportunities to pour ourselves out…..literally! We had nothing left for each other or for ourselves.
To compound the strain, we disagreed on everything; how we spent our money, how we spent our time, establishing boundaries with our families, and how we kept our home. At this stage in our marriage we had four very busy and active girls, too. I was torn between my responsibilities at church, school, the extra-curriculars of coaching, and just being what I knew to be a good husband/father.
I started to feel as though Tammy didn’t care at all that I was killing myself to provide for our growing family. She was distant, so I was distant. We call this season “living parallel lives.” We spent a lot of time together physically, but emotionally, we were miles apart. Intimacy was present, but it wasn’t intimate. Our home would definitely not be described as peaceful. We didn't know how to have a healthy Christian marriage. We needed a change!
We tried many things that helped, but it never really changed our feelings toward each other. We built a new home with a pool to make good memories. We bought a camper to make good memories. We went on trips to make good memories. The truth was our foundation was not secure, and we were looking for power in the wrong places.
We still wanted to change each other. We didn’t like each other. I had dreams and she had dreams. Even those were different and, in many ways, opposing. We weren’t just “not on the same page,” we were reading different books all together.
Thankfully, the cycle of unmet expectations finally stopped. The following verses brought transformation.
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I asked myself, “Do those expressions of God’s Spirit describe the atmosphere in our marriage/home?” Sadly it didn’t, and that needed to change if we REALLY wanted things to be different.
We began to allow the power of the Spirit of God to permeate our lives. We let go of our dreams that drove us apart. We started dreaming together. We started pouring into each other. We were there for each other. We were finally a team.
God finally got through to us and allowed us to really live in the freedom He had graciously given us. We started to see each other in a different light. He was and is exactly what we needed. We needed a spirit-led marriage.
Paul writes just a few verses earlier in Galatians 5:16-17 to provide this admonition to us all:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
By the power of the Holy Spirit we pray for each other. We encourage each other. We are not competing, we are complimenting. We work so much better together. God’s design is for a spirit-filled marriage. He never meant for us to figure this out on our own. He gave us His Spirit to live in us at salvation.
We spent a lot of years quenching it and grieving it. But by the grace of God, we are finally living in a new freedom. My legalistic side sometimes looks back and regretfully laments, “all those wasted years….”
But on this side of redemption, I thank Him for stopping the cycle. I thank Him for blessing us in spite of ourselves. I thank Him for sustaining us. I even thank Him for letting us feel the weight of our own sin of pride and selfishness. I thank Him for teaching us how to have a healthy marriage. Then, I thank Him for the gift of repentance.
Submitting ourselves to the Lord and resisting the devil so he flees. James 4:7
Submitting ourselves one to another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
Is our marriage perfect? No, but it is good! The change that has occurred is more about submission.
We don’t have to power-up to get our way anymore. We don’t just get louder anymore. We state our opinion and then we submit (listen) to the heart of our spouse. Also, sometimes our spouse is wrong in a situation. Maybe their perception wasn’t quite on point.
When this happens, we DO NOT shame them. Shame is no longer on the table. We admit the mistake. We love and we forgive in spite of the mistake. It looks a lot more like Jesus. We take what Jesus freely gives and we give it to our spouse. We now have power through the Holy Spirit to show love and grace.
"I remind you that there are marriages so completely out of the hands of God that if the Holy Spirit withdrew from them, they wouldn't find it out for many months.”
Our prayer is this statement not ring true in your marriage.
Questions to Consider:
1. Where are you needing the work of the Holy Spirit most in your marriage? Forgiveness, communication, grace, humility?
2. How would you describe the atmosphere in your marriage/home? Is the fruit of the Spirit clearly evident?
3. What steps do you need to take by faith to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit?
4. When you come to a disagreement, do you listen to your spouse’s side or do you silence them?
5. Husbands, are you open (as an individual) to letting the Lord lead you in every area of your life, as you lead your family?
6. Wives, are there expectations/demands that you have placed on your husband that have stifled him from taking the lead?
Christian Family Life is a marriage discipleship ministry. We are here to offer resources and support no matter what condition your marriage is in. Our passion is to Build, Enrich, and Reconcile Marriages. Find out more at https://www.christianfamilylife.com/
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