I Peter 3:8 tells us to be “courteous” in the King James version, and “humble” in the NIV. I briefly mentioned humility in this article earlier, but it continues to occupy my thoughts. Although I have talked often about ‘self’ and ‘pride’, I’m afraid we can’t hear too much about either. I believe they are the prominent factors that will quickly destroy a marriage. So, more on humility!
Below is the definition for humble according to my computer dictionary:
1. modest: modest and unassuming in attitude and behavior
2. respectful: feeling or showing respect and deference toward other people
3. lowly: relatively low in rank and without pretensions of humble origins
Below is the definition for courteous:
Polite and considerate: polite in a way that shows consideration of others or good manners
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
I know we all understand the meaning of these words, but living in a world that encourages us to think about ourselves causes us to quickly disregard them. Some of us are naturally born or taught to be humble and courteous, but others have to work at it.
Unfortunately, many of the most prideful (which goes hand in hand with selfish) people often have a blind spot to this important quality they lack. In counseling with couples, selfishness always gets in the way of healing.
I can think of two couples in particular where at least one of the spouses struggled with pride and selfishness. Actually, it wasn’t a struggle for the prideful person because they were unaware of it. (I don’t know that they were unaware as much as unwilling to make the necessary changes. They wouldn’t admit to this problem so appeared to be unaware.) It was a major struggle for their marriages though. Both ended up in divorce.
You can’t be selfish or prideful and have a healthy marriage, period. You have to put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Of course, this will always be a work in progress because we are human and tend to have moments of selfishness. Those moments need to be realized, and we need to make a conscious effort to overcome our ‘selves’ in order to put our spouse ahead of our ‘selves’.
The beauty of this action (unless you’re married to a selfish person) is that your spouse will naturally put your needs ahead of their own once their needs are met. Someone has to take the first step, though, in selflessness and humility.
*More to come about humility.