Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Is Your Marriage Displaying the Gospel?

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I don’t think it’s possible that a marriage could really be one, to the extent it should be, if we don’t have our oneness with Christ first.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for February 15, 2019.

Yesterday, Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth began working their way through Romans 12, pulling out applications for married couples, but the message is also helpful for anyone wanting to love more like Jesus—whether married or single.

Nancy and Robert recorded this message on the Love Like You Mean It cruise hosted by FamilyLife. When we left off yesterday Robert was talking about one of his most important roles as a husband: to pray for his wife and to lead his wife in prayer.

Nancy: This has been a huge gift in our marriage and in our dating relationship. First thing in the morning—early this morning, Robert is like “dark-o-thirty”—he’s out of there. He’s getting his coffee and his Bible and heading out. I’m not really awake yet, but just enough that he’ll lean over and put his face next to mine and just commit this day to the Lord . . . pray.

At night, it’s the other way around; He’s just out! And I’m ready to go to work! But in the morning we pray, he prays. It’s not long; it’s not theologically complex, but it’s really sweet. And for a wife, guys, what this does in terms of giving security . . . I know it’s a risk. It’s vulnerable to do this, and sometimes it seems like it’s harder with the person your closest to. But what a sweet gift that has been in our marriage, Honey.

Robert: Aww, thank you.

Nancy: . . . for you to just lead us to the throne of the Lord together. It’s also really hard to stay mad at each other when you’re praying together! So, this had helped us on a daily basis.

Robert: Yeah, and you don’t say, “Dear Lord, help Nancy to see things my way.” (laughter) And, like you said, Honey, it doesn’t have to be fancy schmancy. In the morning usually, because I wake up before Nancy does, usually I crawl out of bed in the dark. If she’s still sleeping, I don’t wake her up to pray. (“Wake up, Honey, I’m going to pray for you!”)

But she’ll just put her hand out, like that, just to let me know that she’s awake—sort of. So, literally, I mean (just inside baseball), I will lay back across the bed and put my face right next to her. I will say, “Good morning, Lord Jesus. Thank You for a new day. We give this day to You. Help us to honor You in everything we do and say and think. We love You. Thank You for loving us!” And then I’ll say to Nancy, “I love you,” and I’ll kiss her. That took, what, fifteen seconds?

So, just do it. Just do it. You know, if I could lovingly take you by the shoulders—every man in this room—I would say, “Oh, please! Give that a try. Give that a try!”

So, what would that mean? You said . . .

Nancy: Huge! It’s a huge gift.

Robert: Yeah. I’m humbling myself before the Lord. I’m admitting that, without His participation in my day—without His control over this day—I’m toasted! Amen? Amen! So pray, give thanks, and rejoice. “Wow, I wonder what God’s will is for me?” That’s it; it’s in the Word! So are you ready to go on? Romans 12, verse 3.

Nancy: I love this, about not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.

Robert: That never happens in marriage, does it?

Nancy: The importance of having a humble assessment of ourselves and not competing with each other. But isn’t it true that when we’re having a disagreement of perspective . . . It’s going to go on to say that, actually. That disagreement of perspective is a good thing; that we need that. We need to be different, we need to have those differences.

But in those differences, aren’t we prone to have an exalted view of ourselves? And the other one, we’re having a lower view of them. But Paul’s heading us off at the pass by saying, “For starters, don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.” (see Rom. 12:3).

In fact, Paul says in Philippians to esteem all others as better than yourself. (see Phil. 2:3). And just to go into our day, or that discussion, with the grid that, “It’s not exalting myself, but it’s exalting Christ, and lifting up my mate and their perspective and opinions and desires as carrying weight.” And we’ll come to that more . . .

Robert: Humility is really hard to work on, isn’t it? That’s a gift. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to not think about ourselves. When I married Nancy, she was fifty-seven years old and never married. Is anybody in this room fifty-seven years old? Look at that! Exactly fifty-seven! Now, imagine just getting married today and bringing all of that into a marriage.

I was sixty-seven. Actually, when we were dating, Nancy said, “You know, if this doesn’t work out with us, my mother’s still available!” (laughter) Did you say that?

Nancy: Maybe . . .

Robert: Oh, boo!

Nancy: He’s actually just a hair closer to her age than to mine.

Robert: I said, “No thank you. I’ll take you!” We’re talking about humility. I’m sixty-seven years old. I’ve been married [to his first wife; he was a widower] for almost forty-five years. I don’t really think I need much help with this. And I sure don’t need help from people telling me what to do or what not to do about this woman!

But I said to the Lord . . . And boy, I’m a sinful man. This is not showing off. I said, “Please give me a spirit of humility.” Nancy, because she was never married, she had no children, but, believe me!, the ministry of Revive Our Hearts owned her like she was family. She has very close women friends, and they wanted to know who this guy was and what his intentions were!

So I prayed that the Lord would give me humility to just take it, to listen, to be empathetic. Why? What would I say a thousand times? Because Nancy is worth it! That was the higher goal. And the Lord was really good to give me His Spirit of humility and to listen to the people—their cautions, their anger at this person stepping into their lives.

They had her all to themselves. (Does that makes sense?) But no more! (laughter) So there it is! Like Nancy said, we could park on this for the rest of the morning—to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought in our marriages. Amen? Amen.

Nancy: This one body, many members . . . is that where we’re going, Honey?

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: And the members don’t have the same function. We’re one body in Christ, individually members of one another. We know how that relates to our relationship with Christ. But in marriage, the fact that we are one—there’s a unity there, but there’s also diversity. We are different. We bring different gifts and strengths—and needs—to our marriage.

Robert: Right.

Nancy: Our oneness with Him is where it starts. We’re members; we’re one with Christ; that makes us one with each other. I don’t think it’s possible that a marriage could really be one—to the extent it should be—if we don’t have our oneness with Christ first. But then, being one with each other, we realize that we are different members.

We value and celebrate (in fact he’s going to go on to talk about that in the next paragraph: the gifts differing according to the grace given us) those differences. Celebrate those gifts. I mean, we have many, many similarities, but we also approach a lot of things differently—just male/female, different strengths, different gifts, different life experiences.

I found myself even as we’re going into this session . . . we prepare very differently. We present differently. And I’m thinking, How do we do this as one in Christ? Well, the way we do it is, I celebrate how God has wired Robert. It’s not a matter of, “My way is better; his is not as good.” It’s more, “Thank You for the ways You’ve gifted him. I need those in my life.”

I need his ability to be more spontaneous. And maybe he needs some things in my being not as spontaneous.

Robert: Maybe . . . just maybe! (laughter)

Nancy: But we celebrate those differences, and that’s humility living out in marriage.

Robert: It’s so interesting, the one body concept. You think of Genesis 2: a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh. This text is used a lot relating to the Church as the Bride of Christ. But, guess what? You and your mate are also the Bride of Christ!

When we started putting our wedding together—and it was actually a blast, especially for me, because Nancy did most of the work! The big idea of us being the Bride of Christ, that was a really big deal! So this chapter also relates to you and me as husband and wife, being one. I love that!

Okay, so jump to verse 9: “[Husbands], let love be genuine.” No room for phonies, amen?

Nancy: But the very next word: “abhor.” Some of your translations say “hate.” “Let love be genuine, but hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.” So there’s a place for “love that hates.” And what we do is, we hate the evil and the evil one and his influence in our lives and in our marriage.

In each other, we love each other so much that we want God, by His grace, to slough off all the things in us that aren’t like Jesus so that we cling to, cherish, what is good. Robert’s often saying, “Lord, let us go first. Lord, search me, search my heart; show me what isn’t pure in me.”

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: One of the beautiful things for me, having not been married all these years, is now I have the gift of someone who loves me tenaciously and tenderly and persistently and beautifully. But part of his love for me is that he not only hates what is evil in his own life and is quick to repent of that and to seek forgiveness, but he hates what is evil in my life.

That’s part of his love for me. And that can help me—and us together—not to be defensive, when we can see things. I have a friend who always said, “The last guy to know he has a rip in his jacket is the guy who’s got it on.” So we need each other. We have blind spots.

I never lived with someone before who was pointing out—graciously, helpfully—my blind spots, because I couldn’t see them! So it’s easy to be defensive and think, Look at your own jacket, guy! But to be thankful that the love of this man for me, and my love for him, makes us want to help each other with those blind spots.

Robert: That’s so good! Think of holding a squirming child; have you ever done that? You’re holding a squirming child. This text says, “Hold fast to what is good.” So it’s like a child that wants to get out of your arms—where it isn’t safe or good—so you hang on tight. So, you hang on tight to what is good! So that’s a great reminder all the time!

The thing about marriage is it is so relentlessly daily! You had a great day yesterday. So what!?

Nancy: The evil one’s after us today!

Robert: Like, you live in Denver, and you water your yard today. You have to do it tomorrow, because it’s all sand. You water it every day. You do this stuff every day. And, honestly, the joy that you continue to build with your marriage—with your mate—is worth anything you pay!

It’s more blessed to—what?—than to receive? To give, see? We receive when we give. Nancy just mentioned “going first.” Have you ever been in a situation (this isn’t hypothetical, because you all have) where you think, I’ve had it! She has to say that she’s sorry for what she just did! You can wait a long time for that!

How do you inspire her to ask your forgiveness? What’s the answer to that question? You go first!

Nancy: We talk about “racing to the cross”—see who can get there first. We really try to do that.

Robert: Amen, yeah.

Nancy: By the way (this is just a little parenthesis here), we knew when we got married that we would not likely have as many years together as those who marry in their twenties will have. And so, we just purposed we didn’t want to waste one single day by putting up walls, being angry, holding on to rights. Why waste a week being upset at each other?

Let’s just deal with it! It’s not that we don’t have things come up . . . we do. But we say, “Let’s deal with those and move on.” We don’t want to steal the joy of whatever months, years the Lord may give us.

Robert: And look at this: “Love one another with brotherly affection” (v. 10).

Nancy: You always talk about the most important ingredient in a marriage is . . .

Robert: In our very first conversation, when we started to at least hover over the possibility of a relationship, I said, “I’m so eager for a friendship with you!” That’s what this is talking about: a friendship. Some folks talk to their dogs more kindly than they do to their mate. Right?

Nancy: Or friends in the home.

Robert: Bobbie, my late wife, was an inspired person, who had a hair trigger on her emotions. There was one time when we were screaming at each other in the kitchen. I don’t mean raising our voices. I mean screaming at each other! And the phone rang.

Now, if you would have said to me, “Are you out of control?”

I would have said, “Yep! I am completely out of control!”

This is back in the day when the phones hung on the wall in the kitchen with a long cord. I picked it up, and I said [pleasantly], “Hello-o-o.” (laughter)

Nancy: We’ve all done it, right?

Robert: You know why? Because it was a friend on the end of this line. I thought I was out of control. I wasn’t. I had chosen to be out of control. Treat your mate as a friend, as a brother or a sister. That changes a lot! I love that Paul used that expression here in this chapter that talks about being one in Christ.

Nancy: Can we do one more phrase there?

Robert: Do it! Showing honor . . .

Nancy: “Outdo one another in showing honor” (v. 10).

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: This is something we really, really try to do. Robert is amazing at it, let me just say.

Robert: Have you ever done a garage sale? And so, it’s the night before and it’s really late. You’ve got those little stickers. And what are you writing on the stickers? A price, right? And you stick it on whatever that thing is. You are voluntarily assigning value to that stuff, and of course, you rarely sell it for that, right? You bargain.

Every day I put a value on this precious person; that’s mine to assign. If it’s really valuable, then I will treat it like it’s really valuable. I will honor it. Does that make sense? That’s a really important thing! Each day it’s saying to myself, “Nancy is the rarest of gifts to me!”

I carried in my jeans pocket Nancy’s ring for ten days before I gave it to her because I was traveling and actually speaking at a camp with cabins. And if you think I’m going to leave that ring in my suitcase in a cabin at a youth camp . . . wrong! It was in a little box, but I could hardly hide a ring box in my jeans pocket, if you know what I mean.

So I carried the naked diamond in my pocket. Oh, you’re gasping! Guess how I felt about that diamond in my pocket? It had amazing value! You don’t need to appraise the value of your mate. The Lord has already appraised that . . . and it’s priceless! So you honor each other. Isn’t that good? You honor each other with brotherly affection.

I speak to my mate like I would speak to a friend. If you just snap that lens on this, that will impact the way you speak to each other. Raised voices . . . the great coaches on the sidelines in the NFL were not screamers. Those guys actually wind up in a booth somewhere; they don’t stay on the field.

You take Tom Landry or Bud Grant, those guys were winning coaches, but they didn’t yell and scream, because motivating their team wasn’t just yelling and screaming. That gets old! So treat each other like brothers and sisters . . . like friends.

Nancy: And there’s something so life-giving about that! And we watch this happen in each other’s lives day after day: “How can I honor this man, this precious man of God that God has given to me?” It’s looking at him through eyes of honor, speaking words that honor.

Just this morning Robert was in shaving, and he said, “I love you so much!” I was so grateful, I thanked him. I said, “What are you thinking? In that moment, why did you just say it? Was there something in particular?”

He said, “I’m just thinking about you and how much I love you. I thought, Why should I just think it? I should say it.’” And Robert is good at that. I’m not so much. I’ve had to learn a lot. I’m learning a lot from him about verbalizing. He’s the romantic in our marriage.

Some of you women say, “My husband’s not that way!” It can be different in this. But we’re learning from each other, and learning to honor and to bless and to think ahead: What would he enjoy?

This morning, I became our little “IT tech” in our room, because I knew that taking a few minutes to help Robert with something that I had already figured out on my phone yesterday would help him to do that on his phone. We were in a little bit of hurry.

I could have spent those minutes to myself, but it was a joy to honor him. And conversely, I’ve seen when I dishonor my husband . . . One of our first really hard scenes—I won’t tell you the details, because time’s out—was outside a grocery store where I had left him in the parking lot for what was supposed to be a few minutes. He says it was an hour! (laughter)

Robert: Only because my watch told me that! It was a totally judgment call, right, Honey?

Nancy: But when I saw and sensed in those next few minutes how he felt dishonored, it was a hard few minutes! I just watched the life kind of go out of this man’s spirit and I realized, “This man’s a sensitive man.” And part of me is thinking, Why are you so sensitive!?

I love it when he’s sensitive and romantic, but not so much when he was sensitive in a hurtful moment. Well, that was a great learning experience for me to think, I can bless this man. I can encourage him. I can strengthen him with my words, as he does with me day after day and throughout each day.

So we’re trying to outdo one other in showing honor. And what’s the goal? Not just so we can bless each other. We do that, but ultimately so our marriage can reflect the beauty and the loveliness and the worthiness of Christ. That’s what we really want!

Robert: Amen!

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She and her husband, Robert, have been reminding you why your marriage is so important. It’s a picture of Christ and the Church. They’ve been leading us through Romans chapter 12, pulling out applications for marriage.

Robert will be right back to pray. Before he comes, you have a great opportunity to follow up on what you heard today and read more from today’s two speakers. Nancy and Robert each have written a book—one directed to women and the other to men—to help us uncover the lies and deception of the enemy.

Those books are Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free and Lies Men Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. These books will help you watch out for the ploys of the enemy. They’ll help you recognize wrong beliefs keeping you from experiencing God’s best for your life, and they’ll help you walk in the truth.

We’ll send you both books as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation, and let us know you’d like Lies Men Believe and Lies Women Believe. Or ask for the set when you call 1–800–569–5959 with your gift.

Nancy says you can be a godly person and still go through tough circumstances. On Monday, she’ll show us why our reward is not in the here and now and how to find the hope to press on. Please be back next week for Revive Our Hearts. Now to close our time, Robert and Nancy are back.

Robert: Lord Jesus, we commit ourselves to You. I pray, Father, that Your name would be lifted up; that people would be drawn to You so that Your name would be honored and that we would enjoy the luxury of a friendship with You. I pray that in that friendship, You would teach us how to love each other better.

I pray that would be so infectious that our neighbors, our kids, our in-laws, our parents—everyone—would see You when they see the way we treat each other. We couldn’t pray for a higher goal than that. And because we believe that, we’re all going to say . . . amen!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you honor God in your marriage. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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