Last week, we started chatting about the “A” in Faithful (my word for 2017), which is Acceptance. We chatted about how important it is to accept our spouses for who they are – everyone just wants to be loved and accepted. I believe it is the driving force for most of our fears, anxieties and issues… this fear that we may not be accepted, or good enough, or that we fall short. But, I am learning a very important lesson at the moment.
You cannot love and accept anyone until you love and accept yourself. You cannot extend grace to anyone else until you, yourself, have first received grace.
Last week, we discussed the vital importance of accepting your husband – anyone, in fact – everyone, just wants to be loved and accepted. And if they’re not getting that at home – their one safe place in this world – where are they going to get it? It is not our job to change our husbands; it our job to love them and to accept them for who they are.
And that is key – in fact, it is key to understanding the gospel message. There are many areas in my life and my personality that I don’t like, that I wage war against, that I don’t like and don’t accept. Oh, it’s not overt, and I don’t really discuss it with anyone else, but I know if I had complete control over my personality and life, there are many areas I loathe and would change. And if I’m that edgy within my own self, how can I fully accept someone else? Well, I can’t – not until I fully accept myself and understand how grace applies to my own life.
And it’s not even just about my personality – it’s about the things I do, and say, and don’t do, and mean to say, its about fears and anxieties, bad attitudes and negative thinking. God’s grace abounds to me in all circumstances, in all thoughts, in all attitudes, in all words – how can I not pay-it-forward with grace undeserved to others?
And it is a bit of a double-edged sword, isn’t it?
You have to learn to love and completely accept yourself before you can grow and change… It is seeing yourself as worthy and loving yourself that is a catalyst towards growth and change.
It is the understanding of my need of God’s grace in my depravity and His love and acceptance of me that gives me the grace to love and accept myself – while at the same time being fully aware of my own depravity. Sounds complicated? It’s not really – it simply means that God loves me so much that He saved me, and then grows me into becoming more like Christ.
I fully believe that a big part of becoming more like Christ is becoming and growing into the person God created you to be. It’s the renewing of your mind into Christ likeness and realising that we are actually – all of us – created in God’s image.
So, accepting yourself and growing in grace is growing into more of you – of who God created you to be.
Now, while we need to extend that same love and grace to our spouses, it is never our job to grow them to become more like Christ. That is God’s job – He will work in their hearts according to His will and purpose, in His time and in His way. Our job, quite simply, is to love and accept them and to extend to them the same grace that has been given to us through Christ.
But, loving and accepting ourselves and seeing our need for God’s grace isn’t always the easiest thing. However, one of the tried and tested ways of renewing your mind and thinking about yourself differently and accepting God’s grace and His understanding of who you are, is by applying Scripture to your life:
- Carrying around guilt and shame about your past – well, if you are born again and live in Christ remember: there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
- Feeling inadequate, shy or insecure about who you are – well, remember that God created you fearfully and wonderfully.
- Feeling unloved, cast aside, alone: Remember that God loved you so much that he sent his son as the atoning sacrifice to save you.
- Feel like you can’t accomplish anything or lose weight or get over an addition: Remember that you can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives you strength.
- Feeling fearful and insecure: Remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
To truly love your spouse, to accept them and to extend grace towards them, you need to understand the gospel message:
That’s it—the gospel in a nutshell: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again on the third day. That is the cornerstone, the foundation of our faith. Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-gospel-in-a-nutshell-11070/#5eAbIUmbV12EP4Iu.99
However, this quote leaves out one important aspect: the reason. The reason that God sent his son to die for us, to atone for our depravity is love. Because God is love. Not only does He love us, but He delights in us.
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
So, if your marriage is important to you – as mine is to me, firstly read Gary Thomas’s book called Cherish. In fact, read any of his books on marriage – it will change your view on marriage and just how important good, wholesome marriages are. But, Gary dedicates a whole chapter to truly understanding the gospel message – something I’ve realised I don’t do.
I don’t fully understand just how much God loves me; how much He delights in me; how much He wants to bless me: I am always on guard, keeping the walls up, fearful, anxious. What God wants me to do is to graciously accept His love, His delight in me, to grow me to be like Christ – and then to love my husband, to delight in my husband, to accept who my husband is and in so doing have a marriage that truly reflects God’s heart to the world.
So, in accepting your husband – start by accepting grace from God first. He is the power that sustains us to love and to delight and to truly live…