Ephesians 5:8-10 explains how to live uprightly: “For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life. And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]” (AMP).
As we walk in the light, pursuing to live a life pleasing to God, the fruit (the effect) will be uprightness of heart and life. When our hearts and minds are obedient to God, His goodness develops in us. We need to be obedient and walk uprightly, sharing God’s goodness with others, before we see it fully develop in us.
It’s easy to share God’s goodness with those we want to please. But it’s challenging to share His goodness with those we don’t think we need to please, such as our families. In the past, God often convicted me that I was treating others better than I was treating my husband. I’d drop everything to help someone else, but would complain when I had to help my husband. I’d go out of my way to meet others’ needs, but wouldn’t even think about my husband’s needs.
I’d be generous with my compliments and encouragements toward others, but only generous with my complaints and criticisms toward my husband. I’d be eager and willing to volunteer at church, but often complained if I had to make my husband’s lunch or iron his shirt to help him.
I felt God tell me one day, “You love me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, now love your husband the same.” That humbled me, and I realized I didn’t love my husband the way I was supposed to.
We need to love our spouses with our minds, hearts, souls, and strength.
First, to love our spouses with our minds means we have to change our thinking. I didn’t realize how much I complained in my mind about my husband until I started paying attention to my thoughts. I also didn’t realize I rarely thought about the good in him.
My mind was filled with praises for God, but wasn’t filled with praises for my husband. I wasn’t thankful for his good qualities. What made me feel worse was my husband often told me he thought about me throughout his day. He said he loved me so much that he’s always thought about me. I thought about him through my day, but not in the way he thought about me. I was thinking negatively towards him. He was thinking positively towards me.
As we start thinking about our spouses in positive ways, our hearts will change toward them. We will then be able to love them as God commands us to. Our desires for our spouses will grow and we’ll start desiring to do good things for them.
Second, to love our spouses with our hearts means we desire to meet their needs. Because my husband’s mind is always on me, God often brings my needs to his attention.
For example, I recently encountered some trials and was exhausted from my toddler getting up in the middle of the night. As I was lying in bed one morning, feeling down and wanting to stay in bed, my husband sent me a text that felt like a message from God. His uplifting message was just what I needed to lift me out of bed and start my day with a positive attitude.
I knew God nudged him to send that text message because it wasn’t something my husband normally said. When I asked him about it he said he was thinking about me and wanted to tell me he loved me. But when he began texting, that message suddenly came to his mind.
If my husband didn’t desire me in his mind and heart, I don’t believe he would have heard that message from God. If our hearts are filled with bitterness, we won’t be able to clearly hear from God. We won’t be able to love our spouses if our hearts and minds are not pure towards them.
Third, to love our spouses with our souls means we have to love our spouses as much as we do our own souls.
Luke 10:27 says, “…Love your neighbor as yourself.” And Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
These are commands from Jesus and we need to obey them. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” God never commands us to do anything that is not for our own good. Ecclesiastes 3:12 says, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.”
We are happiest when we live uprightly and treat others the way we want to be treated. If we start treating our spouses the way we want to be treated, they’ll more likely treat us the same. And if they don’t treat us well, God will be our vindicator and work it out for our good. As long as we are doing our part, God will handle the rest.
Last, to love our spouses with all our strength means we have to expend the effort. It takes daily effort to think good thoughts, to do good things for our spouses, and to treat them like we want to be treated. But when our hearts, minds, and souls are filled first with Christ, and then our spouses, God will give us His strength to walk in goodness.
He will show us the good things we can do for our spouses. He will show us what our spouses need at just the right time. He will show us when we fall into negative thinking. He will show us when our hearts become bitter. And He will help us walk uprightly.
I want to encourage you to keep striving to live uprightly.Remember to always lean on God and pray for Him to help you. As you walk in obedience, He move abundantly in your marriage!
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good…”
—1 Peter 3:10-11