James 4:1-3 "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures".
I’ve talked about these verses before which bring me to, what I believe to be, the biggest challenge in marriage and in our relationship with God – self. I know, I always write about it and keep coming back to it. It seems to be the key to most of the issues we face. In whatever scenario you look at causing problems in any relationship, you will find a selfish party.
I once discussed the dilemma of selfishness to a pastor and told him I desired to break the code, figure out how to cure it. He snickered and said, “Good luck with that. Please let me know if you find an answer.” He had never been able to solve that problem either. Most selfish people are unaware of this flaw in their character and don’t readily seek a cure.
Verse 6 of this same chapter in James tells us, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Isn’t pride just another aspect of selfishness? God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. What good is pride for us if God resists it? Who would not want to receive His grace?
Verse 7 says “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” “Therefore submit to God.” Submit, here, means to die to your “self”. Give up your selfish ways (and your pride) so you can fulfill the plan God has for your life.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The devil loves nothing more than to see us act on our selfish desires. He knows that goes against everything in God’s word. It separates us from the love of God. It destroys our marriages. You CANNOT have a successful relationship with God or your spouse while seeking your own selfish desires. You have to actively resist the devils attempts to draw you away from God and your spouse.
When we get to the place of selflessness in marriage, we are then able to fulfill the needs of our spouse without interference of our own needs. That is one of the major keys to a successful marriage – putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own.
Could it be that ‘submission’, the word we as women always cringe at hearing, is nothing more than putting your husband’s needs ahead of your own? Dying to your own selfish desires that his needs would be totally met?
In Ephesians 5:21 we are told to “Submit to one another in the fear of God.” We are to put other’s needs ahead of our own. God isn’t only talking to women here though; He’s talking to all of us, male and female. So husbands and wives both need to submit to each other.
Verse 22 says “Wives submit to your husband, as to the Lord.” In verse 25 husbands are told to “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I believe that husbands have a greater, more difficult task, according to this verse, than the wife being told to submit to her husband. He is to “give himself” for her. The husband is called to this Christ-like standard that many men fail to live up to, and a wife is unable to completely submit if her husband doesn’t follow this guideline.
If we desire a healthy marriage, our first effort should be to die to our self and place our spouse’s needs ahead of our own. When both parties strive for this, then every ones needs are met. Your marriage will know peace and harmony and become the holy, joyful union God intended.