This article is part of a series looking at Colossians 3:12-17 and how it applies to marriages.
I've said before, loving God more than your spouse is a foundational marriage principle. We are chosen and loved by God, long before our spouse ever chose us or loved us (Colossians 3:12-17). Out of this identity as God's beloved, Paul gives us four commands. Each of these commands draw us into relationship and create intimacy. The opposites of these commands are the destroyers of intimacy and the destroyers of relationship. Couples who desire a solid, Godly marriage will wisely pay attention to Paul when he says,
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).
Let's look at that first command to "Put on" as another foundational principle in a Godly marriage.
This command reminds me of something I was told by a mentor a number of years ago. He was talking about visiting a Benedictine monastery. He told me that when someone became a Benedictine monk they removed the robe they arrived in and were given a new robe, representing a new life. However, both robes remained hanging in their room--the old robe hanging alongside their new robe. Each morning as the monk arose to the new day, he had a choice to make. Put on the old robe, or put on the new robe?
It’s important to understand that Paul tells you to put on each of these characteristics and attitudes like clothing--meaning, you don’t have these naturally. Each morning, as you awake to your spouse, in the power of the Holy Spirit, you need to put on each of these characteristics. Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Meekness, Patience. Perseverance. Forgiveness. Love. Not only do you need to put these characteristics on in a general way, but you need to put these on toward your spouse. Wake up in the morning and tell yourself, “I will be compassionate toward my spouse today. I will be kind to my spouse today. I will be humble toward my spouse today. I will be patient toward my spouse today. I will persevere with my spouse today. I will forgive my spouse today. I will love my spouse today.”
Just think about the way this can transform your marriage. Each and every one of these areas is an opportunity to either destroy or build intimacy and relationship between you and your spouse. Relationship is broken when we lack compassion and are unkind toward our spouse. Intimacy is broken when we are prideful and impatient with our spouse. Paul knows all of these things. He also realizes that our natural tendency is to move toward unkindness, pride, impatience, etc. So he says, in the power of the Holy Spirit, put each of these on every day. Be intentional about it.
Write this passage in the cover of your Bible, your devotional, your prayer journal, or whatever you will see first thing every morning. Then, when you see it, pray, “Lord help me be compassionate toward my spouse today...” and go through each one of these areas. Also, take the opportunity to confess and ask forgiveness for the times when you didn’t put these on over the past twenty-four hours--for the times you were prideful or impatient. Taking this step, will draw you into relationship and will draw you into a deeper intimacy with each other. Doing this over time will solidify the foundation of your marriage, making it increasingly unshakable.
I also want to point out that Paul says to put on Love. Yes, that’s right. We need to wake up each morning and put on Love toward our spouse. Love doesn’t always come naturally. The Biblical view of love is much different than our culture’s view of love. Our culture uses phrases like “falling in love” as if it’s something that happens to us--something out of our control. This is also why our culture finds it so easy to “fall out of love,” again, as if it is something that is out of our control. However, the Bible does not give us these categories for love. The Bible says that we need to put on love each day.
Actually in this passage Paul says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Paul says that love--true, biblical, sacrificial, self-giving love--binds all of the other characteristics together. If you have compassion, kindness, humility, patience, etc... toward your spouse, but do not put on love, you gain nothing and accomplish nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). There’s no relationship, no intimacy, no foundation. Nothing. You must put on love each and every morning.
Yes, there will be times when it will be difficult for you to put on Love toward your spouse, but you must. By doing so, you will continue to draw closer to your spouse in relationship and in intimacy; you will solidify the foundation of your marriage; and you will be working toward a solid, Godly marriage.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster