Read Philippians 2:3-4. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were naked and without shame. This nakedness was of the physical sort, of course, but it was also a spiritual nakedness. You see, they had transparency with each other and with God. No secrets. No lies. No hidden shame. Nothing but openness and honesty. But when selfishness entered the hearts of our first parents, everything fell apart. Sin came in and blew everything up.
I am convinced that selfishness is Satan's number-one tool to destroy a marriage. The beautiful relationship that the first couple enjoyed—the kind of marriage that was only possible because of their selflessness and transparency—was dismantled by Satan in an instant. Now, every fight between married couples, from the time of Adam and Eve down to today, stems from self-centeredness.
Every fight between married couples, from the time of Adam and Eve down to today, stems from self-centeredness.
You may be saying to yourself, "If this problem has been going on for this long, is there any hope for me? For my marriage?" With Jesus, there is always hope. When you live in the power of the Holy Spirit, you'll be able to live out the apostle Paul's command to "value others above yourselves" and become a Christlike spouse who is mature, magnanimous, and malleable (Philippians 2:3).
Mature Christians ask, "How can I sacrifice for my spouse's comfort?" not, "How can I get my spouse to do more for my comfort?" Mature Christians reflect, "How can I be more patient with my spouse? How can I respond gently when I am irritated?" This kind of maturity flows from God's Spirit at work in you.
Magnanimity is generosity and benevolence—core characteristics of selflessness. To bless their marriage, magnanimous Christians seek to understand their spouse's thought patterns, feelings, and needs.
Finally, selfless Christians are malleable or flexible, meaning that, in marriage, both husband and wife submit their personal desires to the other out of respect for Jesus. That's why you do it—out of reverence for Christ. As each person sacrifices for the other, we see the clearest picture of Christ's relationship with His Church.
As you and your spouse together die to self, your marriage will reflect the power of the resurrection to bring new life and abundant joy.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see the ways that I act and think selfishly in my relationships. Give me the strength to submit to Your Spirit so that I can become mature, magnanimous, and malleable toward my spouse. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4).