Couples Devotional: Your Marriage To-Do List

This is my commandment, that you love one another, just has I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:12-13 NASB

Many couples expect romance to just happen, but we have found that intentionality is the key to rekindling romance. In two places Scripture says, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). It’s directed to husbands, but it is the right advice for wives too. As we mentioned earlier, what’s really inspiring is that in the original Greek wording, the meaning is closer to “keep on loving your wife,” or “keep on treasuring your wife.”

Do you make to-do lists? We sure do. Both of us are what our kids call list freaks. The only difference is that Cathy makes her multiple lists and follows them, and I make my lists and then lose them! Whether we write them out or not, everyone has to-do lists. We note things as simple as picking up the groceries, calling a friend on her birthday, or paying the taxes on a certain day.

The Bible is much more focused on to-be lists than to-do lists, but throughout the Bible there are a variety of “to-dos” for Christians concerning how we treat each other. They are often referred to as the “one anothers.” Here are a few of them that we think directly related to marriage:

Romans 12:16 — Live in harmony with one another.
Romans 15:7 — Accept one another.
1 Corinthians 12:25 — Care for one another.
Galatians 5:13 — Serve one another in love.
Galatians 5:15 — Don’t spitefully hurt one another.
Galatians 5:26 — Don’t provoke or envy one another.
Galatians 6:2 — Carry one another’s burdens.
Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind to one another.
Ephesians 4:32 — Forgive one another.
Colossians 3:9 — Don’t lie to one another.
2 Corinthians 1:4 — Comfort one another.
Titus 3:3 — Don’t hate one another.
Hebrews 3:13 — Encourage one another.
James 5:9 — Don’t grumble against one another.
James 5:16 — Pray for one another.

These “one anothers” are perfect “to-dos” for a healthy marriage. What if we lived our lives and focused our marriages on these amazing biblical mandates on how to treat our spouse? When the day gets busy and the time runs short, we must admit that we all tend to short-cut this to-do list.

As we look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, He obviously lived out the “one anothers.” He understood that treating people by the Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just a philosophy of life, it is the way to live life. We love what Mother Teresa once said: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Isn’t it interesting to note that the happiest people we know are the ones whose to-do list is filled with loving and serving one another?

• What is challenging about the “one another to-do” list for you?
• Which “one another” is hardest for you?
• Today’s scripture says that we are to love one another as Christ loved us. It also says that there is no greater love then when a friend lays down his life for someone else. How can laying down your life be applied to our marriage relationship?

The One Another To-Do List

Going back to the list of “one anothers,” circle the three that you want to work on this week. Think about how you will specifically accomplish these tasks.

(Excerpted from Closer: 52 Devotionals to Draw Couples Together by Jim and Cathy Burns; Bethany House, 2009.)

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Jim and Cathy Burns

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Some of his recent books include: Finding Joy in the Empty Nest; Doing Life with Your Adult Children, and Have Serious Fun. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California. Cathy Burns is the co-author of Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together. Along with being a mom, wife and Bible study leader, she recently retired from her job as a teacher in a school for “kids who learn differently” in order to help care for her three grandchildren. Cathy and Jim met the first day in college and married one week after she graduated.

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