Marriage in God's Hands 6

Cultivating Restraint

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With God’s help it is possible to develop restraint in our marriages to the point where even our countenances will express love when under pressure. Two ways to develop restraint is to cultivate kindness and be determined never to injure our spouse with our words, passions, countenances, etc.


Definition for restraint: If I restrain myself, I will hold back or hinder any action, any word, any passion that will be harmful to another. If we are not surrendered [to God], we might be able to restrain our words of irritation, but not our countenance. There is a physical manifestation, a physical feeling that occurs in us. And this is the unrestrained me, self. God wants to change what is happening inside, so that we may respond to the conversation in a different way. God can give us something better to say that can change the direction of our communication and keep our homes a happier place.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we learn that we should not be easily provoked, which is contrary to our nature, when self is crossed. But if we allow ourselves to be in Christ, to be surrendered to Him, than we do not have to be provoked. It also says that it [love] does not behave itself in an unseemly way. The problem is that we cannot do this ourselves even if we try hard. That’s why we need to surrender to Christ so that He will restrain us.

Restraint accompanies respect. The more respect grows in our marriage, the more willing we are to be restrained by the Lord. We need to develop restrained even in the small things. When we recognize our need, and find Christ as the key, we do not have little eruptions in our marriages anymore.

One way to develop restraint is to cultivate a spirit of kindness (see Ephesians 4:32). When we are willing to be restrained, and do something that will be kind to our spouse, we find an inner joy. You do not necessarily have to plan some great event to show kindness to your husband or wife. You can be thoughtful of the other person in small activities, and cultivate kindness, which is really a restraint of the natural selfish nature.

Another way to develop restrained is to be determined to never injure your spouse by your words, actions, countenance, reactions, etc.

Here is a challenge: The next time you find yourself in the “me” focus, where self wants to be expressed, be willing to be restrained of God and look for a way to change the focus and cultivate kindness towards your spouse, and see the difference both in your relationship and your heart.

If we move out of the “me” focus into the “us” focus, than we will be prepared to be determined not to injure the other person in our words, even in our countenance. The only way this is going to happen is if we give ourselves to God and allow Him to work in us.
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