Putting Jesus First in Your Relationship

Marriage seems to be struggling today, and everywhere you look, couples are having trouble. God’s plan for marriage looks different from the average marriage today. In Genesis, He talked about a man leaving his mother and father and becoming one with his wife. What has happened? How have we drifted so far, and how do we get it back? Sin is the problem, and loving others the way Jesus did is the solution.

Improving Relationships

The Bible has many commands to us regarding being in a relationship. Which skills do you need to improve on?

  • Love one another as I have loved you.
  • Serve one another in love.
  • Pray for one another.
  • We are to esteem others more highly than ourselves.
  • We are to take an interest in the needs of others.
  • Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. He gave Himself up for her.
  • Wives are to respect their husbands.
  • Forgive one another as you have been forgiven.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage (Philippians 2: 5-6).

“However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)

If Christ, who deserved it all, but didn’t exalt himself, why do we?  Why do we think we are “all that.” Why do we want to make our own rules for how to go through life?


Our human nature does not want to do these things I just listed. None of what I just said, that Christ said for us to do, is dependent on the other person’s behavior or whether or not we feel they deserve it.


Unconditional Love and Respect

The skills listed are things we can do regardless of the other person’s behavior. Emerson Eggerichs says, “Our response is our responsibility.” We are responsible to God for our actions while we are on this earth. And it doesn’t matter how the other person acts.  When we love and respect others unconditionally, we want them to reciprocate, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about that.


I struggled with this. It didn’t make sense to me to do all this good stuff with no assurance it would be reciprocated. So, I started picking and choosing how I was going to go through life. I now know I never did understand how to love others well. You see, I was hung up in lust. Lust I understood, but godly love–true unconditional love–I did not fully comprehend for a long time.


When I was about 13 years old, we had a revival at the church I grew up in, and I consciously told God no, I did not want to follow Jesus. I had found out about pornography by then, and I knew God was going to have a problem with that. So, in my teenage wisdom, I thought it best to leave God out of my life.


Later, Jane and I got married, and we had three daughters. My career grew, and I was still ignoring God. I dedicated my time and energy to making money, being the provider. I spent most of my time working, while Jane’s at home with three kids. I might bathe somebody or read them a book at bedtime, but she’s pretty much a single mom. But I didn’t understand what her problem was. Why is she mad at me?

I later learned that during these early years, what we were doing was drifting apart. Life was coming at both of us hard and fast, and we were looking to self to get through it. I was not there for her, and she was not in my world at work. My priorities of job and family were out of line, and nothing was working well for me. When I was 35, I found 30″ sweetgum trees in a field of no-till cotton that was about 10″ tall. This is before RoundUp Ready cotton, and I was looking at a nightmare. Meanwhile, back at home, my six-year-old daughter had started cussing.


I was saved right on the edge of that cotton field. I told God I was making a mess, and I needed help. He’s been helping me ever since. The relief and peace He has given me are incredible!


Today and Every Day

It was not enough to give my life to Jesus Christ; I needed to give Him each day. I was able to break from pornography, my language cleaned up a lot, and my racial prejudice changed dramatically. I started to read the Bible a lot. The Bible spoke to me in ways it never had before. I started listening to Christian radio–BBN. The preaching and teaching I heard made a lot of sense. I read Christian books; I started writing stuff down, trying to make sense of it all. But I had a severe misunderstanding that took me years to figure out.


I was trusting in myself for today, not Jesus. That is sin! I continued to be hounded by lust. I tried to justify it and then later to break free of it. I could not shake it. We can’t overcome our sins without Jesus. God created us to depend on Him for what we don’t know. But I didn’t know that back then. I was operating on the principle that if it feels good, do it.


Finally, I had a revelation from Christ. I saw Him clearly. He was on the cross and looked as bad as Isaiah described Him, and He said to me, “Is this not good enough? Do I have to go through this again, before you choose me for today?” I felt so ashamed and now choose Christ, and his unconditional love, for today. His love is the antidote to sin in your life. Learn to love and respect others the way Jesus does for us.


Obedience to God

The writer of Hebrews tells us the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years and did not enter God’s “rest” because of their unbelief and disobedience. When we choose to accept Christ, He will resist temptation on our behalf. Now, we may enter that rest, spoken of in Hebrews, and come in from the desert! Christ gives us back our peace, hope, and joy that the enemy has taken.


If the enemy continues to beat you down, and your life, your marriage, or your relationships do not have the joy they should; then read Romans 6 and ask yourself “Am I crucified with Christ?” Don’t do it by your flesh–do it by your faith! 2 Corinthians 5:15 reminds us “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”


Being Crucified with Christ

Not only is Jesus the way to overcome sin for today and live a life of freedom from it–He gives us the power to do so. Jesus told us in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” Jesus was telling us we need to die to ourselves daily. He knows when we follow our self-interests, we will go the wrong way. We need to see ourselves as crucified with Christ and follow Him.


And He is here with us! He says, “follow me.” Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

So, here’s how you can be crucified with Christ. To make it work, all you have to do is have the presence of mind to choose Christ before you respond by your flesh when sin attacks. The thought flashes through my mind that I have NO DOUBT He is taking me through eternity. Likewise, He will guide me through today. Then I’m able to do what I know is right, and OVERCOME SIN! At that point, I “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” I am dead to sin, and that list of skills at the beginning is a lot easier to accomplish. I’m a lot closer to loving others the way Christ does.


Christ-Centered Relationships

So, for our relationships to grow, we have to follow God’s guidance and be obedient to His commands. Only faith in Jesus can change your life. We need faith that He is who the Bible says He is and that through Him, we can overcome the sin we face daily.


Stop relying on worldly advice to fix marital problems with spiritual roots. Go to the Bible, where the institution of marriage was created. How is what you are doing working out for you? Are you happy? Is there peace and joy in your home? Are you and your spouse living as” one” or as roommates? What about your children? What’s coming out of their mouths? (Mine quit cussing as God transformed our family). When you choose to do marriage God’s way, the rate of divorce drops to around 1 or 2%. Don’t believe the lie from hell that you can fix it without Jesus.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”


How well you love and respect your spouse does not determine where you spend eternity; your love for Jesus does. And He said, “If you love me, obey my commands.” One day each of us will stand before our maker on a holy day of judgment (2 Co 5:10). We will stand alone, and He will ask, “What did you do with the Life I gave you?” What are you going to tell Him?