No one knows better the fight for marriage than those who believe in God and are in constant pursuit of His will.  Week six has been all about fighting for your spouse by taming our tongue.  For most of you this idea is not new, but perhaps we need a fresh look at how serving our spouse by taming our tongue creates oneness. 

We have already talked about each of us having an enemy and as much as I would love to pin it all on Satan or his helpers, we do a pretty good job believing the lies about us without his help. Of course the enemy is on the prowl “looking for someone to devour”, but if all he has to do is remind us of a lie that we believe about ourselves, then we easily take care of the rest.  Now we believe there is a spiritual enemy and that if he can separate us from God’s blessing, he will give his best effort.  It is important to communicate to your spouse how he tempts you and under what conditions you easily give in.

Whatever your spouse is fighting, it is your job to know that enemy as best as you can with your spouse’s help.  Once you separate the behavior from the person you will see the person you fell in love with.  Although you can’t win the battle for them, you are there to help them, encourage them, and remind them of the truth that will be their only hope to victory.
The idea of “oneness” tends to rattle many couples.  Prior to the wedding, most feel that there must be something magical that happens during the vows or on the wedding night that suddenly creates a feeling of being one with our spouse.  Oneness is much more complicated and God knew it would have to require more effort on our part to enjoy such an experience.  The feeling of being one with our spouse can indeed happen in the bedroom, but it is the work outside the bedroom that is founded on service, forgiveness, and love.  The times I have experienced oneness with Matt or in observing other couples is that moment when we set aside our own agenda and hurt for the sake of our spouse.  It is that moment of attending to their soul, speaking forgiveness if asked of us and showing our ability to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the other whom God gifted us with. In that moment, we are who were created to be in marriage, for them, and God’s blessing of oneness unfolds.
When you think about it, this is how the church, or Kingdom on earth, was meant to function.  1 Corinthians 12 describes the body of believers as made up of separate parts, but needing each other and chapter 13 grounds our motives in the importance of sacrificial love.  Chapter 14 goes on to then unpack the unique talents we each have and their purpose being for the sake of others, not for ourselves.  Yet, we see that what God gives us is always intended to encourage the church which is why one may have a message from God to deliver to the other, but will not be received unless it is confirmed by another in the church.  This is an important lesson for us.  If we are delivering hard truth to our spouse, if it is indeed from God, it will be confirmed by another believer.  Sometimes that will be by other people close by that can affirm that this is a hard truth that needs to be heard, but hopefully when God gives us a call for change, we will find this confirmed by our spouse.  And if we ourselves are not grounded in our own relationship with God, we will miss opportunities to also do this for our spouse.  A true opportunity for oneness!

The end of chapter 14 brings it all together.  Working together, sacrificing our own agenda for the other, and utilizing our talent rooted in love will (as planned by God) vicariously lay bare the secrets in the heart of an unbeliever or someone who does not understand and “he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you.”  The end result of our oneness is worship, my friends and another example of oneness.  
Let’s take our study and go a little deeper.  Words definitely matter.  Matthew 12:34 says “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”  All of us have been hurt, rejected, and mistreated in our life and we easily surround ourselves with those who will permiss us to harbor bitterness and resentment.  Interestingly enough, when scripture speaks of arrows, we see it in the form of hurtful or deceptive words.  
Read the following passages:
Proverbs 25: 18
Psalms 64:3 
Proverbs 26:18

Ephesians 6:16 calls us to

take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

There is no doubt that if our heart is full of evil, hurt, judgement, or our own agenda (meaning self), our tongue will fire arrows of the same.  Before we take up our mission to help our spouse, we must first do a gut check.  Only Christ can uproot bitterness in our life, change a heart of resentment, and heal the deep seeded wounds in our soul.  So before we start anything, ask God to open your eyes to where your motive may be even slightly off.  Ask Him to convict you of where you are missing the mark with encouraging your spouse.

Truth does not come from our own understanding.  What does 1 Timothy 6:3-5 say results from specifically a teacher who does not submit to sound instruction from Jesus Christ? 
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need in my marriage is envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction.  My friends, even scarier than that, God, through Paul, is warning us that we have great ability to mislead another if our words are not grounded in the real truth.  But wait!  I have great news for you, the truth has already been given to us in Jesus.  When we allow the renewal of our minds by the incredible truth of who He is and what He has done for us, we begin to store up His goodness, His perspective.  The truth is simply the gospel, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Simply read the book of John.  John describes Jesus himself as the Word, “from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Everything about Jesus; his life, his words, and his sacrifice is a revelation of God’s truth.  Therefore, truth must come from God, evident in the message of Christ, confirmed by the Body.
2 Timothy 3:16 says

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God, “is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit.”  Dip your arrows in the word, in Jesus and his instruction, in the grace and love He also shares for your spouse. We ourselves have experienced this as Ephesians 1:13 says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the  word of truth, the gospel of your Salvation.”

So our instructions in battle are clear, as Ephesians 6:14 goes on to say “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”  Jesus is that belt of truth we tie around our gut.  Character wins the battle every time, not force.  And so we sacrifice ourselves to be refined by God, creating Christ-like character, storing up our words that are grounded in the truth of God and the hope that Jesus offers all of us.  The gospel is not complete without the hope of Christ defeating sin. It is in reminding our spouse of the hope of Christ that we ourselves have witnessed that we deliver our words

Jesus is the ultimate judge.  We are not meant to judge our spouse, only to serve them in love.  Sometimes service is delivering encouragement, other times it is the hard truth we talked about in week six.  But only Jesus can change and humble the heart in front of him.  Remember that we cannot change our spouse, only ourselves and our motivation is to be for them not against them. Just as we said an arrow destroys what it pierces, consider that if you must deliver hard truth to your spouse, restoration may be needed afterwards and you are needed in that restorative process.
Pray for the Father’s view of your spouse.  Ask Him to show you what he/she is battling with so that you can separate the enemy from the person.  Ask the Father to give you a heart for grace and patience, the way He has grace and patience for you.

We cannot end today’s ENLIVENFaith without turning the tables.  Do you allow your spouse to help you?  Encourage you?  Bring hope to You?  Speak Hard truth to you?  If not, you may be missing out on not only oneness with your spouse, but the character God intends to shape in you that can only be done through your spouse.  

By the way, how will you know if you are winning?  Everyone around your marriage will let you know because they will see the difference.