As we have seen before, the Bible is desire oriented and not works oriented. In the failure of Chivalry in Biblical marriage, this was the point on works vs desire.
Works and desire in salvation and also marriage
Going back to a point I made several years ago now is the difference between works/performance and desire. The ideal is to desire God and His commands. Everything flows from this. The grace of God is what sanctifies us, but it changes us so that we desire to do good works.
When we try to “perform” or “work” we inevitably fail. As Christians, we know that works cannot save us: we cannot follow the Law good enough to achieve salvation.
Likewise, the same is with marriage. Working does not work. Biblical marriage is an image of Christ and the Church. The same standards apply to the husband and the wife. It is one of desire and not works.
- You cannot work hard enough to placate your wife’s emotions (e.g. make her feel more attracted to you).
- You cannot work hard enough that your wife will be pleased (e.g. do enough chores).
- You cannot work hard enough that you will ever meet her expectations.
Falling into a pattern of works is falling into the temptation of sin. You are not trying to please her; you are trying to please the black hole that is unrestrained hypergamy. Your works will never be enough.
Part of the reason why works fail is fear. If you are working, there is a chance that you fail. If there is a chance that you fail, you will fear. If you fear man (or woman/wife in this case), you are not leading nor loving according to the Scriptures.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t try to please your wife? Certainly not. But it must come from desire and not working to try to please.
Maturity mode: Process oriented vs results oriented
When we get caught up in the work mentality, we also become very results oriented. We are working to get a specific result. We fall into the pattern of trying to game the system to get that specific result, and it often backfires on us.
God is clear that we are to be process oriented:
1 Corinthians 3:5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
We are to focus on doing our part to the best of our ability, whether that is planting or watering (placing the necessary conditions around the seed such as evangelizing or ministering or discipling), but it is God in the end that is going to get the result on earth (the seed to grow). We will be rewarded for our labor, but not necessarily here on this earth.
The problem with being results oriented in relationships or marriage is that we often or sometimes focus on the result that we want rather than taking into consideration all of the parties involved. This is true whether in marriage, with family, with friends, with colleagues or others. It’s also much more difficult to be excellent and show God’s love and fruit of the Spirit through our actions if we are too focused on the result rather than the process of building and caring for the relationship with the other person.
I think this is the one thing I have become much more aware of as I minister to other men and my wife. I need to be wholly there in the moment (and prior fulfilling my own walk with God and own needs so they don’t interfere), so I can focus on them to do what God wants me to do in that moment. I am not there to try to change them (results oriented) but instead to influence them in a godly manner through the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (process oriented).
It’s easy to moderately difficult to understand works and desire and have that be a focus in all your relationship. However, taking the next step to become more and fully process oriented rather than results oriented is truly difficult to extremely harder, especially when we deal with the harder situations of life. So many times we just want to change that other person because we have been through that experience or we have the foresight to know it won’t end well, but instead we just need to help them walk through in and influence them toward God.
I’m not fully good at this yet, but this is what I am aiming for in this next season of life.