by Rich Murphy
In our westernized "free" society, we tend to think of things in terms of our rights. In fact, most of the time, we don't bother thinking about the other person's rights, because we are too busy thinking about our own. We've become a society of selfish people, who spend their time "looking out for number one" (and that's not the Lord).
Most of the time, we marry because of what we expect to get out of it. We don't think about the other person, except in terms of what they can do for us. Most marital counseling center around this point. People go to the counselor and complain about how the other person isn't meeting their needs or desires.
If we are going to have God's blessing on our marriages, we need to find out what rights He has given us in the marriage relationship. It isn't what we think that's important, it's what He thinks. When we find out God's principles, and put them into practice in our marriages, then and only then can we expect His blessings to fill our homes.
After careful searching of the scriptures, I have found a full listing of
the rights we can expect to receive in marriage. Are you ready? Here
How's that for a list of rights? What... you think I missed something? Did you expect to see something written in that list?
Well, I couldn't write anything in that list, because the Bible doesn't give any of us, men or women, any rights in marriage. It gives us responsibilities. God isn't as concerned about what you receive out of the marriage relationship than He is concerned about what you give into it.
If you're not sure about this, just ask God sometime. Go to Him in prayer and start complaining about your spouse. I guarantee you that if you truly listen to Him, the answer you get back isn't going to deal with your spouse, but you. God will start talking to you about your failures in the relationship. He'll start showing you where you haven't lived up to your responsibilities. You talk about what they need to change, and He'll show you where you need to change.
Marriage is a covenant relationship. When people enter into covenant, they commit to what they will do for the other person. It's isn't about what you can do for me, it's about what I can do for you.
Our relationship with the Lord is like that. He hasn't invited us to become His sons and daughters for what He'll get out of the relationship, but for what we will. Every command He has given us is for our benefit, not His. After all, what do we have that we can give Him? Even when we give ourselves to Him, the one thing that He asks for from us, we are giving an imperfect gift. He is perfect, and we can't come close to giving Him anything that is anywhere near perfect.
God's covenant document, the Bible, talks about what God will do for us, not what we can do for Him. The commands that He gives us are for the purpose of showing us what we need to do in order to put ourselves in a place to receive His blessings. Not so that He can receive something from us.
As I said earlier, the Bible doesn't talk about our rights, it talks about our responsibilities. This is because everything in the Bible works by love. In fact, the Bible calls love the greatest of all things. Since love always desires to give, it always looks to the other person's benefit.
Men, you don't have a right to expect anything from your wives. However, God has given you the responsibility of loving them, as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for her. Her submitting to you isn't a right of yours, your loving her is a responsibility to her.
Ladies, you don't have a right to expect anything from your husbands. God never gave you the right of receiving love from him, but the responsibility of submitting to him, as unto the Lord.
God never gave either men or women rights to each others bodies, or even rights to their own bodies. What he did was tell us that when we marry, we no longer have any right to our own body. That we are to treat our bodies as if they belong to our spouse. That isn't stating their right, it's our responsibility.
When you stop looking for your rights to be met, and start looking at your responsibilities, it gives you tremendous freedom. Instead of trying to protect your rights, you turn to looking to meet the needs of the other person.
When both the man and woman stop looking to their rights, and start looking to their responsibilities, they end up meeting each other's needs. In fact, the needs won't just barely be met, they will be met with abundance. Remember, God's plan always works best.
Recently, my wife and I were going through some struggles. We had been under attack in a number of areas, including our relationship. On Rosh Hashanah (11 September 1999) we spent time in prayer. During prayer God directed us to put ourselves on the altar anew. We did this, laying on the altar, and praying, giving ourselves to Him. Among the things we gave to him on the altar, we gave our rights to expect anything from each other. There was incredible freedom, like a great weight coming off of us when we did this.
If you want freedom in your marriage, take some time to do the same as we did. Then since you will no longer be looking for your rights, start looking to meet your responsibilities. See what freedom will come to you by being a servant.
Copyright © 1999 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All