The Jesus Creed and Your Marriage

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”
–Matthew 22:36-40

Some people have called these words from the mouth of Jesus the super CliffsNotes of the Bible. This Jesus Creed is a summary of how to live the Christian life. We are to first love God, and second, love others as you love yourself. Love for God focuses on our spiritual life. Love for others focuses on our relational life, and love for self focuses on our physical and emotional well-being. As a couple, you can do your “life checkups” when you look at this one verse and ask yourselves three questions:

1. Love God (Spiritual Life): Is my heart for God growing or shrinking?
2. Love Others (Relational Life): Am I in a right relationship with my spouse? Others?
3. Love Yourself (Physical/Emotional): Am I physically and emotionally healthy? If not, what is  holding me back?

We have found that if we are brutally honest with ourselves, these simple questions will tell us a lot about how we are doing as individuals and as a couple. Many times through our marriage we have had to make U-turns and detours to make the necessary changes to move toward health and healing. People usually don’t change unless they are willing to practice the spiritual gift of self-discipline. Paul’s advice to his disciple Timothy is sound counsel: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB). Yes, sometimes it takes raw courage and discipline to make the right decisions about our primary relationships; these would be God, others, and ourselves. With discipline in these areas, more of life seems to make sense and fall into place.

With the thought of discipline in mind, let’s look at these three areas of the Jesus Creed.

Spiritual: We find that life lines up better when we worship regularly at church, involve ourselves in a daily time with God as individuals, pray together as a couple, and serve God and others often.

Relational: When our relational priorities are in place–putting God first, our marriage second, children next, vocation, and then other responsibilities–we seem to gain the right focus. But unfortunately, we too often have a “child-focused” marriage or put our work in front of everything else. Then we wonder why life and relationships aren’t working right.

Physical/Emotional: Because of the mess so many marriages and individuals are in, people are now beginning to realize that self-care is necessary too. The discipline of keeping your body in shape by what you eat and how you exercise will enhance every other aspect of your life because it is all tied together. Finding time to rest and then refresh and restore your physical and emotional life is actually a mandate from the Bible. Unfortunately, too many people are living at a pace too fast to take care of their own physical and emotional health.

The Jesus Creed speaks to putting our priorities in the right order. No one said it would be simple, but Jesus has shown us the way.

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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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