The Sweet Christian Bride

Philippians 4:8 in Marriage: Excellent

by admin on September 4, 2012 in Faith, Spouse with No Comments

If you missed out on the intro to the Philippians 4:8 series, check it out here.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is EXCELLENT or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).


What is truly excellent in this world?  I would venture to say nothing this side of heaven.  All that is excellent—in the purest sense of the word—is rooted in Christ because He is perfect.  What we can “excel” at here pales in comparison to the perfection in heaven.

That said, we have a goal, which Paul worded so beautifully—”Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

We have the goals of becoming more like Christ, of being the Kingdom of God here on earth, and of sharing Jesus with others.  Christ is truly excellent.

Where can we see the excellent presence of Christ in our marriages?  If you are like me, you might have an easier time focusing on what has yet to be attained rather than what you already achieved.  It’s easier for me to confess my sin and to keep a critical eye on my husband than to affirm the growth and celebrate the victories in each of us.  If you are like me, it is crucial to train yourself to fix your eyes on Jesus and not dwell on the areas of growth (even in the name of doing good).  Otherwise you will be receptive to lies of the enemy that tell you your spouse is not good enough, your marriage is not worthy, and you are not lovable.

With your eyes on Jesus, however, you can keep an unadulterated picture of excellence while identifying reflections of His excellence in your marriage.  Chew on this verse.  Say it to yourself everyday.  Believe it:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”(Hebrews 12:1-3).

It’s all there in that verse:

1) Know your goal (“the race marked out for us”)

2) Keep your eyes on the prize (“fix our eyes on Jesus”)

3) Do everything you can to limit and deflect hindrances to your race (“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”)

4) Use Jesus as a teacher and model, knowing He has been through it Himself and was victorious (“who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”)

5) Don’t give up (“let us run with perseverance”)

6) Don’t lose heart (“Consider him who endures such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”)

Let’s apply this to marriage.  Perhaps an area that you are struggling to find excellence in is sex.

1) What is the race marked out for you?  Probably something along the lines of to give and receive sexual pleasure and intimacy with your spouse (and him alone) for a lifetime.  Or perhaps you aren’t able to make a goal so vast.  Perhaps more appropriately, your mini-race would be to feel comfortable naked around your husband.  Start there.

2) Keep your eyes on Jesus.  He is excellent.  Rooting your self-worth in Him is the only way you will feel confident in your own skin despite your perceived body flaws or your psychological wounds.  He is the One Who sets the bar for your worth—no one else.  He is the One Who can re-train your mind to know what true beauty is.  Focus on Him, not on your insecurities, not on culture, and not even on your husband’s needs and desires.

3) Be proactive and reactive in throwing off what hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  Stop reading Glamour magazine and checking out everyone else’s body to compare it to your own.  Find a lighting in your bedroom that you can work with.  But lingerie that flatters your body shape.  De-friend on Facebook your ex’s who are stealing your mental space. Get an exercise and eating plan that is healthy.  Avoid criticizing your husband’s desire for you or any other defense mechanism you use to protect yourself from having to be naked with your honey. Pray that God will heal your heart of insecurities and will impart His Truth about who you are.  Diligently confess your worry, your selfishness, and your fears.  Call sin for sin, and get it out of your life.  Whatever you need to do, do it.

4) Use Jesus as a model.  Jesus has dealt with incredible rejection.  He has also wrestled with the consequences of Who He was.  He had to be utterly secure in His identity in order to have lived His life without sin, despite being misunderstood and persecuted and killed.  How did He do it?  A big hint was the time He spent alone with the Lord, especially in the midst of others forming opinions about Him (Luke 5:15-16).  Another would be the people He surrounded Himself with who knew His identity (Mark 8:29).  How can you incorporate any of this into your daily schedule?

5) Okay, so you might not be growing in confidence immediately.  Or you might have put yourself out there only to receive a comment that reinforced your initial insecurities.  Don’t give up.  You know your goal, and you know that your Lord can do anything.  Even as Jesus didn’t want to move forward with His cup, He did (Luke 22:42).  He didn’t give up because He knew that His goal was one set by the Lord.  Yours is too.  What verse can you sit with or what friend can you call or what activity can distract you momentarily in order for you to refresh and reorient your motivation?  Your marriage is worth your perseverance.

6) Don’t lose heart.  This is so similar to #5, but it runs deeper.  Being tired, frustrated, and hindered (#5) is different from being defeated and hopeless (#6).  I hope you never get to #6, but if you do, there is always hope in Christ.  Perhaps your pursuit to become comfortable getting naked with your spouse took longer than you thought, and in his desperation, he sought out porn or strip clubs or other women instead.  Crushing blow to you and to your marriage, but even still, there is always hope in Christ.  This is where you must lift your eyes up from focusing on the cause of your hopelessness and fix them on Jesus.  Jesus went through hell and back, coming out victorious.  He endured opposition and persecution from utterly sinful people, and He was betrayed and abandoned by people He trusted and loved.  Yet still, He was victorious!  You do not move forward through tragedy and despair by your own strength; you do it by letting the Holy Spirit be your strength.  Do you believe He can do that in your life and in your marriage?

Using Hebrews 12:1-3 as your manual for pressing onward towards excellent goals will change you.  You will train your mind to think on what is and not on what isn’t.  You will find hope in the midst of staleness or despair because you will begin to experience more and more that your life is not just for you; it is for the Lord and He can work with any material on any time frame for any reason.  Seek excellence in your marriage by fixing your eyes on Jesus, and God will respond powerfully.

God 7: Enemy 0.

Protect your marriage from attack by thinking on what is moving towards excellence in your husband and in your marriage.  If you don’t know what that is, think on Christ and that will calibrate your thoughts.

Photo © Gabriel Moisa

By Lindsay

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