"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:3-8
I am thoroughly convinced that there is no way that I can love Laura apart from the cross. Because God has poured out His love into my life (Romans 5:5), I am able to know what love is and to freely give that love away. Rich Mullins describes this richly in a song called, "All the way to kingdom come," as he speaks of Christ: "We didn't know what love was 'til He came And He gave love a face and He gave love a name And He gave love away like the sky gives the rain and sun...Now we know what love is 'cause He loves us "
By nature, I am selfish and love myself, but through Christ death and resurrection I have been given a new heart, a heart that loves God and seeks to see Him increase (John 3:30). As God increases in my life, I decrease and I also desire to view others better then myself, especially Laura and her needs. If not for Christ and the Holy Spirit strengthening me, then there would be no way that I could look to Laura's interest above my own. Because the mind of Christ is growing in me, I can be a servant and put to death my desires and bear my cross daily.
To have a marriage that shows my love for Laura is to have a marriage centered on the cross. When the cross is central everything I say to Laura will be seasoned with grace to encourage and lead her to Godliness. When the cross is central my leadership for Laura will be personified by sacrifice and humility with a desire to glorify God and serve her. When the cross is central all my decisions will be made with God's holiness in mind so that we can be set apart for His purposes and distinguished from this world. As the cross remains central the two highest priorities of study throughout my life will be first and foremost God's Word and second will be Laura as I will never stop learning about her. With the cross central to my relationship with Laura my prayer is that during those Habakkuk 3 moments I can die to self and increasingly learn to be more patient, gentle and gracious.
As I know myself and my own nature, I know that my only success in this area will be because of God's grace in me and nothing of myself. I also know, that there will be times that I fail, many times that I fail. Because of the gospel, there is no reason to despair, but to praise God that there is no condemnation and that my ultimate sin in those times of failure is not against Laura, but against God. If God can forgive me, then Laura can forgive me.
The beauty of the gospel is that it doesn't just end at God forgiving me, but He will grow me and He will be faithful even when I fall time and time again. My marriage to Laura will be centered on the gospel; the gospel is my only hope. Without it, I have no hope of ever being able to truly love Laura. Thank God for the gospel, for Christ example to me in His love for the church, for Christ death to redeem me and make me His own and for Christ resurrection which exhibits His power over death and His power to defeat my sin and transform me to His image.