Some people are naturally sweeter and kinder than others. You may be someone with an almost angelic spirit. I am not such a person and neither is my husband. But no matter who you are, no matter how sweet you started out, no matter how close to Jesus you’ve grown, perfection is not attainable in this life. Does that mean that we shouldn’t worry about working to be more Christ-like, more reflective of His Spirit? Should we just raise our little white flags and surrender to sin? Of course not! Dallas Willard wrote that “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.” The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’ Essential Teachings on Discipleship.
Instead of giving up as if it’s a lost cause, we need to be faithful to implement the tools that the Bible has laid out. Living by the Spirit is a moment-by-moment decision to be yielded to His will for our lives. Richard Foster wrote the seminal work on spiritual disciplines and he says that, “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us ” (Celebration of Discipline).
The measure of our lives and also our marriages is not perfection but progress. Dr. William Backus says that progress “is to be a prime characteristic of our lives” (What Your Counselor Never Told You).
So this Marriage Monday I’m praying about the areas where I need to make progress, may I be faithful in effort and yielded in spirit. May my husband hold me accountable — not for perfection but for progress, and may I do the same for him.
Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Oh that this may ring true in my own life!