Three Questions

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted.                        –2 Corinthians 13:5 the message

Cathy and I periodically ask ourselves three questions. We want to put them before you today. The way you answer these questions can help you figure out how your relationship with God and your spouse is doing. What’s fascinating is if you look at how you are doing emotionally, spiritually, and even physically at any given time, you can usually know the direction your marriage relationship is headed too. Here are the questions:

  • Do I like the person I am becoming?
  • Is my heart for God shrinking or growing?
  • Am I giving my spouse and my children only my emotional scraps?

Do I like the person I am becoming?

If you like the human being you are becoming, it is often because you are in a good place with God, your spouse, and even yourself. So much of that question has to do with discipline. Paul once wrote to Timothy: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB). If we are spending regular time reading God’s Word and praying, spending healthy doses of time with our spouse, and keeping our body in relatively healthy shape, life seems to go better in our personal life and in our marriage. On the other hand, if we are living an undisciplined life with confused priorities, nothing seems to fit into place.

Is my heart for God shrinking or growing?

Far too often when we examine our heart, through either neglect or poor decisions, we find that it isn’t in a growing mode. Sometimes it’s that we are too busy; other times it’s because we aren’t disciplined in spending time with God. Some people simply choose poor habits, and that makes their heart for God shrink. For us, it’s probably more about living with “attractive distractions.” We both tend to bite off more than we can handle, and when the pressures come, we lose the joy of growing in our relationship with God and with each other. We love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases Romans 9:32 in The Message as it describes the people of Israel: “They were so absorbed in their ‘God projects’ that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.” Are there attractive distractions in your life that are getting in the way of your heart growing for God?

Am I giving my spouse and my children only my emotional scraps?

Why is it that we sometimes give our best to others and then don’t have anything left to give the ones we love the most? If we are not emotionally present in a relationship, the relationship will grow stale. In a marriage with a lot of tension, there is often at least low-level anger and resentment. When the tension, anger, and resentment aren’t harnessed, it often leads to a lack of emotional intimacy. On a diet of little or no emotional intimacy, a marriage can get into trouble very quickly. Being “dangerously tired” will also cause us to give our loved ones only the emotional scraps, and that makes for tired relationships as well.

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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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