We're kicking off a week of practical marriage advice from a handful of our Crossway authors. In What Did You Expect?, Paul David Tripp asks readers to consider the problem of "kingdom" in our marriages:
We are drawn to order, predictability, comfort, ease, pleasure, appreciation, fun, and personal happiness. We don’t like difficulty of any kind. There are many of us who would rather have an easy life than a God-honoring one. So before we ever battle with one another, we are actually battling the Lord.
Think of the sturdiness of your allegiance to your own kingdom purposes. Think about how little of your anger over the last month had anything whatsoever to do with the kingdom of God. Your anger seldom comes out of a zeal for the plans, purposes, values, and calling of the kingdom of God.
When you are hurt, angry, or disappointed with your husband or wife, it is not because he or she has broken the laws of God’s kingdom, and it really concerns you. No, you are most often angry because your spouse has broken the laws of your kingdom. Your spouse is in the way of what you want, and it mobilizes you to do or say something that will rein your spouse back into service of your wants, needs, and feelings.
But God’s grace purposes to expose and free you from your bondage to you. So he places you in a comprehensive relationship with another flawed person, and he places that relationship right in the middle of a very broken world. To add to this, he designs circumstances for you that you would have never designed for yourself. All this is meant to bring you to the end of yourself, because that is where true righteousness begins.
So, as you read, I would ask you these questions:
- Whose kingdom shapes your marriage?
- Whose kingdom defines your dream?
- What really makes you happy?
- What is it that you want so badly for your marriage to be?
- Could it perhaps be that what you thought was love was not really kingdom-of-God, other-centered, other-service love?
- Could it be that what you actually wanted was for that other person to love you as much as you do?
- Could it be that your anger reveals how zealously committed you are to the purposes of your own kingdom?
- Could it be that the troubles you face in your marriage, both big and small, are not so much hassles as they are opportunities?
- Could it be that just when you thought God had abandoned you and your marriage that he is really very near, giving you the best gift ever—transforming grace?
This grace rescues you from the one thing that you cannot rescue yourself from—you. Reconciling your marriage begins when you begin to reconcile with God. It begins when you begin to pray this radical prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, right here, right now in this marriage as it is in heaven.” Good things happen as the result of that prayer!
Excerpt modified from What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp.