According to the bible, loving God is equivalent to desiring to obey his commands. Although we do not obtain righteousness through works, obedience, or a desire to live in obedience, and love go hand in hand with acting out of our love towards God. Christ commands “If you love me, you will obey my commands [(same as “be my disciples.”) did you know that disciple and discipline come from the same root word?! He could just as easily have been saying, if you love me you will discipline your spirits to following my lead, and living to satisfy the spirit instead of the sinful nature.]
Paul reveals his own struggle with the sinful nature in Galatians.
He does not, however, excuse this as a hopeless struggle.
“13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV)
I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Galatians 5 as it has many useful truths which apply directly to our Christian walk. For instance, how do we keep from living out of our sinful nature and gratifying its sinful desires? By feeding the spirit. Our flesh and spirit are like two dogs. The one we choose to feed is the one that will win in a fight.
So, if we should not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth, what does that mean for our personal relationships? Am I saying that if a woman loves her husband, she should show it through obedience to him? I am absolutely not saying that a wife should be subservient to him, or vica-versa.
When you love someone, you want to get along, you want to please each other, you learn to be unselfish. We should not wish ill things on someone we care about. Neither should we neglect supporting them and rejoicing with them when something good comes along. We should have a relationship where we are taking part with God together. We should know each other’s heart for God, be able to intercede for one another in our prayer time, and pray with each other.
You see, in the world, we face many struggles: some physical, some spiritual, some soulish, and we need to be able to stand up as a team in the midst of these trials, and ward off the enemy together. It not only helps in our struggles, it creates strength and unity as a couple. When the Bible talks about a husband and wife”becoming one” it is not just speaking of physically. This is as a whole. We need to have each other’s backs and be at each other’s side.
I love watching how well my brother in law treats my sister. He will always make her look good in conversation even when she is not present. He does not speak evil about her or complain against her even when he is with other men and they are all complaining about their wives. He just refuses to put up with this, and constantly builds her up in these conversations. This is how it is supposed to be. As a society we complain and gossip too much.
I know that men don’t think they gossip, and many women don’t think so either, but maybe we need to revise our internal definition of gossip. If you are telling a story to get a reaction out of someone, or to gain sympathy; if the thing you are saying puts someone else in a bad light; and the individuals being told are not being told with a specific purpose to help advise you on the situation with wisdom and Godly council: we are probably dealing with gossip.
Gossip maligns others, often times it is seen as harmless or venting frustrations. Yes, most of us are not going to go out of our way to tell our great aunt Elizabeth that our distant cousin got pregnant outside of marriage, and what was she thinking, and she has “always been the wild one in the family”. How many of us, though, complain about a boss to a coworker, or talk about our arguments with our significant other? These things are forms of gossip. They harm the person being talked about. Office gossip is no joke, it harms relationships, and casts a grim feeling on the office environment as a whole. Maybe we should approach problems from a human perspective, and figure out what might be motivating a behavior we dislike, and try to talk directly with the person we are having difficulty with: diplomatically, with “speech that is seasoned with salt.”
We are the salt and the light. We should be living differently as such.
In the same way, maybe trying to understand and reason with our spouse is a better answer than taking our argument to all of our friends or spreading it around the workplace. If a mediator is truly needed, finding a wise trusted person you can both agree on is important, and staying humble so we can listen to the heart of the other person, instead of just their words. How wonderful would it be to live under less stress because you each know that when things are brought to the attention of the other, their is first an understanding of hearts, and then an addressing of the issue, instead of trying to come to that backwards.