Summary: Discover how Christ-like attitude restores hope for marriage.
We continue with our fourth message in this series: Restoring Hope for Marriage. In the first message, we looked at the ideal picture of marriage, God’s design for marriage. All subsequent messages address how to restore marriage to that original design.
If you are not yet married, or if you are in a relationship of influence to your children or friends, these messages can serve you well. If you are married, by humbly and diligently applying these biblical lessons, you can grow to experience God’s intended blessings for marriage.
We’ve looked at how we can receive and give true love in marriage. We’ve addressed the practice of biblical forgiveness in marriage. This morning, we’ll look at the development of a Christ-like mindset in marriage.
Christian psychologist, Everett L. Worthington Jr. noted, “If [marriage] partners do not change their thinking about marriage, any other changes made in counseling probably will not last.”
Our mindset can be a positive or negative influence on our behaviors and feelings toward our spouse. By changing our mindset, we can change the way we see our spouse, his or her behavior and the hope we have in our marriage.
Our text is Philippians 2:1-11.
Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell. He was persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, he was writing to encourage the church in Philippi. How many of us can to encourage others when our own circumstances are grim? Paul was that kind of person, because he had a mindset or attitude like that of Jesus Christ.
In marriage and in life, our mindset or attitude will determine our ability to overcome unfavorable circumstances, negative personalities and a history of hurts. Chuck Swindoll wrote, “Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It’s more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home.”
I have an analytical personality, and I grew up with a strict father, and both predispose me to being critical. I have to work hard to have a positive attitude. When you show me half a cup of milk, I don’t just see a cup that is half empty. I see a cup that needs to be washed and a person who was irresponsible to leave that lying around.
But I’m getting better, and Susan and Esther are happier with me, because my attitude is becoming more like that of Christ Jesus’. The correlation between developing a Christ-like attitude and having a happier marriage should not surprise us. After all, marriage is a symbol of Christ’s relationship to His Church. So by developing attitudes of Christ-likeness, we restore God’s design for marriage.
There are four attitudes in Philippians 2:1-11 that Paul identified are Christ-like: Love, harmony, humility and other-centeredness. When Paul emphasized the importance of “being like-minded,” he is not telling Christians or husbands and wives to think alike, to love the same things or to accomplish the same goals in life. What Paul is telling us is that we are to be concerned about the same things: Love, harmony, humility and each other.
The attitude of love is the habit of bringing out the best in another. Most of us don’t have an attitude of love. We have an attitude of self-righteousness. When we argue with our spouse, we automatically want to be right. That automatic response is an attitude or a mindset.
To change our attitude from self-righteousness, defensiveness or self-protection to love requires a change in our habitual response. For instance, when Susan and I disagree or argue, I try to be the first to say, “I love you.” That not only diffuses the anger, but because that diffuses the anger, Susan’s best comes out rather than her worse. Love is bringing out the best in another.
The attitude of harmony is the habit of allowing for another’s preference. The next time you push your preferences on your spouse, remember that God only gave us 10 commandments, and it has nothing to do with how you clean the bathroom, what pot you use for cooking or where you store away the dishes or the groceries.
On Thursday night, the Worship Team met to discuss whether to have an Easter Sunrise Service or to have the Easter Sunday Service at our usual 11:30 AM. Craig said, “Listen, I prefer not to have service at 8 am, because it’s hard for my family to be ready that early, but I’m willing to go along with the majority.” That’s an attitude of harmony, explaining your stand, while not demanding your way, but going along with others, when the decision is not an immoral one.