Today, people are getting married later in life than at any other point in American history. That means that many young adult Christians are single longer than young adults from previous generations. For those singles who have a desire to be married, the time to prepare for the journey of marriage is while you are waiting to be blessed with a mate. Spiritual preparation is essential for a thriving marriage. 2 Peter 3:18 instructs us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The characteristics that make a good Christian are some of the same qualities that make them a good husband or wife. Here are some areas of growth to consider.
Unconditional Love (agape). To love is to give of yourself, make sacrifices, and care for another like you care for yourself. When we love as God loves us, we treat others right in spite of what they do. Remember that the command isn’t to just love someone you are interested in with unconditional love. It is to love everyone unconditionally.
Forgiveness. Know that true forgiveness is behaving as if you have forgotten (that’s what God does). We shouldn’t say that we have forgiven someone then keep reminding them of what they did. In order for marriage to be enjoyable, there must be forgiveness. When we forgive we are seeking restoration of the relationship, not revenge. We should also grow in asking others to forgive us.
Selflessness. Realize that it ain’t all about you. Compromise is critical in a marriage. Regard others as more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3-5). Practice putting the needs of others ahead of your own. If you always have to have your way, don’t get married.
Patience and long-suffering. Remember that God isn’t through with you yet, so don’t expect Him to have perfected anyone else. Contrary to what you may think, you are not flawless. We all have some things about us that are difficult for others to deal with. Learn to resolve problems in a way that pleases God. Don’t run every time there is a disagreement, and don’t blow up in anger.
Self-control. You can’t say everything you think. Control your tone, and beware of sarcasm. Remember that when people are yelling, nobody is really listening. Control your temper. Control your hormones. Don’t get yourself worked up. Create boundaries and avoid putting yourself in situations where you are tempted to give in to your sinful desires.
These are just some of the areas in which singles should examine their spiritual lives. What areas would you add? Where are your opportunities for growth?
Words matter. There is power in words. Wars have been waged because of words. Lives have been lost due to words. People have been fired and some have been hired because of words. Praise God that souls have been saved because of words.
In Matthew 12:35-37 Jesus says, "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (NASB).
Our words are an indication of what is inside of us. The fruit of our lips reveals the seeds that have been planted in our minds. What is in your heart is forced out in such a way that you can try if you want to, but you can’t hide what’s inside you. What you say bears witness to who you are.
We will be held accountable for what we say. Beware of idle words, words that are useless and unproductive. Jesus says that for every useless, unproductive, worthless word that we utter, we must give an account. Our words will either reveal that we are right with God, or they will be used to pronounce a sentence of judgment against us. Before we open our mouths to say a word, we first need to make sure that the words that we are speaking are not useless, unproductive and worthless. We should make sure we are not gossiping or assassinating another person’s character.
What we say speaks to who we are. When you see peaches on a tree you conclude that it is a peach tree. If you decided that you wanted oranges instead peaches, you wouldn’t pull all the peaches off and hope that next year the peach tree would produce oranges. You have to tear down the peach tree and plant an orange seed in order for the fruit that the tree bears to be oranges. If you want some different words to come out of your mouth, then you have to plant some different seeds. Change what you read, who you talk to, what you talk about, what you watch on TV, what you see at the movies, what you listen to on the radio or your music player. Don’t just try to change the words that come out of your mouth. You have to uproot the trees that have been planted in your heart and plant some good seeds so that you can produce good fruit.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.