What Do You Tolerate In Your Marriage?

couple upset

What do you tolerate in your marriage? This is part 4 of 7 in our series on what Jesus would say to our marriage. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The word tolerate means “to put up with something even if you might not agree with it. To tolerate is to allow something’s existence without interference.” As a word, tolerance is thrown around a lot today Often it is used in an effort to get acceptance of something which may be unacceptable to us or our values.

This post is specifically focusing on things that we allow into our marriage which have no place, but we tolerate. We allow them to remain even when they cause harm to our union with the one whom we vowed to love, honor, and cherish.

The Context

The first person the Apostle Paul led to faith in Jesus was a woman from Thyatira named Lydia who sold purple cloth for a living. The church in Thyatira was located in the smallest city to which the seven letters were addressed. Though this church was located in the smallest city, they received the longest letter to the seven churches. Thyatira was a blue-collar type of city. They had all kinds of trades which were represented by guilds and unions. Most notably, they were known for their work with bronze and textiles. It’s interesting that the description of Jesus in this letter pictures him as having feet of burnished bronze—something that would resonate with them.

To belong to the guilds and unions usually meant participation in the worship of patron gods, sacred feasts, and immorality. Christians chose to tolerate participation in these activities as part of life, a way to survive, but missed the sinister forces at work behind the scenes pulling them from Jesus. They had chosen to tolerate what was wrong and not take a stand for what was right.

“You Are Doing More Now Than You Did At First”

You aren’t satisfied with where you began in your marriage. You want to grow, stretch, and learn. You are well-intended in your efforts to improve your marriage. To you who have “moved the needle,” “brought the ball down the court,” “moved the chains down the field”—Jesus would say, “I’m proud of you. You have worked on your marriage. You’ve learned. You have applied what you have learned. You aren’t where you once were. Well done.”

“You tolerate…”

HOWEVER…Jesus tells the church in Thyatira that they are tolerating Jezebel who has infiltrated the church with teaching and influence. Jezebel was an ancient queen whom you can read more about in 1 Kings 16-19 in your Bible. Basically, she was diametrically opposed to anything having to do with God or good. She was pure evil. Jesus is painting the picture that the Christians in Thyatira have allowed evil into their midst to influence them and significantly impact the health of their faith.

What have you allowed into your marriage that is evil? This isn’t about legalism and a list of dos and don’ts. It’s about discernment and decisions. What is right or wrong? What is pure or evil? What are you tolerating in your life and marriage that is from the Enemy of marriage?

A gutsy step you can take is to simply pray a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you places where you have tolerated what is evil. Ask where you have chosen to tolerate things that erode your marriage.

Here are a few quick thoughts:

  • Ascribing to your spouse motives that aren’t true.
  • Choosing to remain angry/unforgiving when you know to let it go.
  • Watching movies or shows that are not honoring to God (what if Jesus was watching with you? Hint: He is!).
  • Reading books or magazines that draw your imagination and/or affections to others.
  • Friends whose influence pulls us away from godly thinking and choices

When you know what you’ve tolerated in your marriage that is evil, get rid of it RIGHT AWAY! Don’t wait, don’t dawdle, don’t worry. God will honor your decision and guide you into the next steps. He is a good God who loves both of you.

“I have given…time”

When we think we are getting away with something, we are actually just living in the window of God’s patience as he waits for us to be convicted and repent. He gives time…but then he brings his judgment on those who aren’t Christ-followers and discipline on those who are.

God won’t be mocked. He wants our relationship with him to be intimate, holy, pure, and restored.

Whatever it is that you have tolerated, choose right now—together—to stop those influences in the name of Jesus. Go to any measures necessary to repent (turn) and do what is honoring of Jesus.

“Hold on to what you have”

These words were written to the minority who had not tolerated the world’s ways, but stayed true in their relationship with Jesus and each other. To you Jesus would say, “You have been strong and chosen well. You are staying faithful and refuse to tolerate evil. I will bless you and keep you.”

What do you see couples tolerate in marriage from which they need to turn? Take proactive steps now to build your marriage!

Refusing to Compromise

Ring and Commitment

Compromise  has no place in our marriage when it comes to our commitment to our spouse. This is part 3 of 7 in our series of what Jesus would say to our marriage. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The Context

The city of Pergamum (Revelation 3:12-17) was at one time considered the greatest city in Asia Minor. It was known for manufacturing a special parchment which was used as paper for books—and the parchment was named after the city and called “pergamena.” There was a massive library of over 200,000 volumes in the city. A multitude of gods were worshiped in Pergamum including Zeus, Athena, Dionysius, and Aesculapius. Aesculapius was the god of healing and had an entwined serpent on his staff—the same image that is used today as a medical symbol.

Even further, this was the first city that had a temple dedicated to Caesar and they promoted worship of Caesar—hard. In fact, Jesus describes their city as the place “where Satan has his throne.”

Early on the Christians stood firm against the persecution, refusing to budge. One of the leaders of the church in Pergamum, Antipas, was martyred because he would not worship Caesar. All one had to do was take a pinch of incense and put it on the altar of Caesar and affirm loyalty to him. But Antipas refused and died for for his refusal to compromise. Over time, the strength of the Christians’ commitment was eroding into compromise in beliefs and in their tolerance of false teachers.

Perhaps in the early years of marriage you were steadfastly committed to your spouse in every way. But over time—almost without awareness—you’ve allowed compromise to subtly slip in where resolve once stood firm. What would Jesus say to you about your marriage? Where might he point out areas of compromise in your commitment? He might say:

“I know where you live”

Jesus knows the influence of Satan is all around your marriage. Culturally:

  • Divorce has become normalized,
  • Faithfulness to one’s spouse is trivialized.
  • Commitment to Jesus is demonized.
  • Personal purity is jeopardized.
  • Honesty is marginalized.

He might say, “You have stayed faithful in your marriage. You haven’t given in and walked away from your spouse. Even with all of the influences of Satan to draw you away you’ve stayed in your marriage.”

“I have a few things against you”

However, Jesus may be saying to you, “While you may have remained married, there have been compromises. You have allowed:

Your eyes to wander where they don’t belong
Your heart to long for another and that’s wrong
Your testimony of Me to shrink from the scene
Your purity to be tarnished as you look at a screen
Your truthfulness slips from your marriage to hide
The secrets that you hang onto deep inside.”

“To those who overcome”

Jesus calls each of us to live with our spouse without compromise. He wants us to live in the overflow of his blessing.

What do you think—where have you seen couples compromise? Where have you seen couples stand strong?

When you stand strong, when you choose to live in faithfulness, when you shine like lights in an ever-increasing dark world—you make God-sized strides as you Build Your Marriage!

When Marriage is Hard

Pursuing Spouse

Marriage can be hard. This is part 2 of a 7 part series. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The church in Smyrna was one of only two churches addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation that received only praise. The Christians there faced hardship and persecution because of their decision to follow Jesus. Words used to describe them were “tribulation,” and “poverty.” Jesus said that their near future would include suffering, testing, and even death. Sounds hard, doesn’t it? The easy way for them would be to simply deny Jesus, walk away, and live like everyone else.

Perhaps your marriage is like that. It’s hard. It’s work. You see other couples that are happy, thriving, connected—and you ache because your marriage is far from what they have. What would Jesus say to you?

In the Bible, Christians—the Church—are called the “Bride” of Christ. Let the words of Jesus to his Bride in Smyrna be words of hope and encouragement to you as well.

“I know”

Jesus doesn’t candy-coat the pain the people in Smyrna are facing. He doesn’t tell them, “It’s not that bad!”

Instead, he says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty….” He validates their pain and position.

Jesus knows what you are going through in your marriage as well. He says, “I know it’s hard. I know you hurt. I know you’re misunderstood, under appreciated, lonely and sad. I see the injustice and hard work you are doing for your marriage.”

It would be nice to think that all marriages are easy, but if that were the case, there would be no need for ministries like Build Your Marriage. The truth is, each marriage requires effort—and many marriage require a lot of effort. The easy way is to simply deny our commitment to our spouse, walk away, and live like everyone else.

“Do not fear”

A hard marriage is fraught with fear.

  • “What’s going to happen to me next?”
  • “Where will this marriage end up?”
  • “What’s happening to me in this marriage?”
  • “What about our children—how is this affecting them?”
  • “Is there any hope and help?”

While we hope and pray for healing, joy, and change in our marriages—and certainly some couples experience this!—there is no certainty of change because our spouse has free will in their choice to submit to the Spirit. The promise to Smyrna—and to us—isn’t that there will be a deliverance, but that there is a Presence.

Jesus says to you, “You are not alone. I am with you. I will strengthen you. I will guide you. I will give you what you need moment by moment and day by day. Have courage. Trust in me.” As you stay strong in Jesus you will see his blessing and favor spread through your life.

“Be faithful”

The church in Smyrna was urged by Jesus to be faithful through hard times. He wanted them to know that there is favor and hope for those who hold on.

Jesus says, “In a world where choosing divorce and living like everyone else is the choice of many, be faithful to your covenant of marriage as you are faithful to me.” In your faithfulness, you are honoring Jesus. Your faith and trust in God will grow deeper as you depend on him when things are hard.

We know that there are extreme cases of abuse or serial adultery where other options may eventually have to be considered. But as you work on your marriage, remember Jesus’ words to Smyrna—and to you—as you Build Your Marriage.

What do you think? How do you feel about this? Join the conversation below…

What Would Jesus Say About Your Marriage? Part 1 of 7

Photo: Chloe Moore Photography

Photo: Chloe Moore Photography

If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The church in Ephesus had been established by the Apostle Paul and Timothy. This church started on the right foundation and they were focused on doing right things. In fact, 35 years earlier Paul wrote a letter to this church and praised them for the love they had for each other.

Now, through the apostle John in the book of Revelation, Jesus said to this church, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance….You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:2a, 3) Sounds good, doesn’t it? Some of us might look at a married couple described that way and think, “THEY are awesome! They don’t get distracted from doing things for Jesus. When things get tough in life, they still press ahead.”

And those traits are commendable for anyone and any couple! Perseverance, endurance, and faithfulness to God are qualities we should all strive for!

But all is not perfect in Ephesus. Look at what Jesus says to them: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4-5)

We’ve seen some couples fill their calendars doing good things. They are busy for God. They make sure they get to their children’s activities. They are involved in the church and in the community. Their schedule is packed with laudable activities.

But in their relationship as a couple they’ve gone into autopilot. The flame, romance, and passion for each other has slowly ebbed away for lack of attention. There isn’t hatred or seething animosity toward each other—just a co-existing partnership doing good things. Somewhere along the way a slow drift settled in and little by little their hearts have grown distant, distracted, diluted.

What would Jesus say about your marriage?

Would he say: “You have been busy doing good things for Me, your family and community. You have served the poor, taught children, even helped people to trust in me. When you have been weary, you have been faithful in your service.”

Hearing that it would be easy to say, “Thanks, Jesus!” and start to walk away only to hear him say, “But I have this one thing against you….”

Slowly you turn to hear what he has to say. Jesus looks at you in the eyes and says, “You have forsaken the love you once had for your spouse. You’ve become so busy that you’ve drowned out the time and focus needed for the gift I’ve given you as your life-mate. Repent—turn from what you’ve been doing—and revisit the things you once did that made your love alive, full, and passionate.”

Would Jesus say this to you? If so, what steps do you need to take to do an about-face and rekindle the love in your marriage?

In his book, Fall in Love, Stay in Love, Dr. Willard Harley describes how he began helping couples fall in love all over again. He writes: “I began to encourage couples to try to do whatever it took to make each other happy and avoid doing what made each other unhappy….whatever it was, that was their first assignment.”

Perhaps this would be a good place for you to start as well. What did you do when you were dating? When you were engaged? We want to challenge you to go back and do the things you did. Clear some things out of your schedule and make time for each other, and fall in love all over again as you Build Your Marriage!