“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”

— Ephesians 5:21


While on Christmas vacation, in Portland, Oregon, I had just gone out to get my wife her morning wake-up material. It consisted of a large decaf Americano with cold soy, a whole grain bagel with no butter, and the New York Times crossword puzzle. My daughter, who was lying in bed with my wife, said, “Wow. I want this for my marriage.” And there it was, a statement that I had shown my daughter what marriage looked like. A marriage in which I cared about my wife and her needs. I don’t judge my wife that she needs these tools to arise. They are just her. It makes me happy that I can make her happy and help her day.

“Over time we build a history of repeated positive actions that create a marriage.”

Now, what my daughter doesn’t know is that our marriage is hard work. Being a good husband doesn’t just happen after we say our vows. It is a constant repeating of failure and then success. It is a constant searching for how to be a better husband. Some arrive quicker than others. And some, like myself, take a while to get the point. In marriage we venture around the rooms of a committed relationship. In these rooms we discover revelations, which we then take and try out. Some work and some don’t. Over time we build a history of repeated positive actions that create a marriage. We slip and fall. Through the graciousness of our partner, we get another chance. This process repeats itself every day. We try every day to be a better spouse.

“In marriage we are subject to one another, because we are in reverence to Christ.”

Paul provides the attitude to help us continue this journey. He says, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Our actions, when supported by reverence to Jesus, present to our spouse a commitment of behavior as if we were talking with Christ. But also, we act the way we do because we are reverent to Christ. We get the decaf Americano with cold soy because we’d do it if Christ asked. We are gentle, because it is the way we would treat Christ. We spread our coats over puddles, because we would do this for Christ. In marriage we are subject to one another, because we are in reverence to Christ.

“As Paul recommends, we remain subject to each other and Christ.”

My marriage is easy, because my wife is gracious. My wife leads with love. My wife helps others first. My wife has a deep faith. My wife makes it easy to get her a decaf Americano with cold soy. We bicker. We test each other’s will. We fight for control. We complain about each other’s frailties. But we go to bed each night with a moment of affection.  As Paul recommends, we remain subject to each other and Christ. We wake up each day ready to renew our marriage. I am glad my daughter wants our kind of marriage.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What does reverence to Christ look like in our marriage?

Do we treat our spouse in a way that honors Christ?

“The works of hands are faithful and just; his precepts are trustworthy”

– Psalms 111:7


Abraham Lincoln left his family at the age of twenty-one and became a store clerk in Salem, Illinois. He earned a reputation as being honest and sociable. To help defend this frontier outpost, he joined the local militia. To his surprise, after one year he was elected by the other members of the militia as their captain. A remarkable achievement for a twenty-three-year-old who was new to town. In a very short time he gained a reputation as a man of integrity, and his famous nickname, “Honest Abe,” was given to him during this period of his life.

Many of us from the marketplace are faced with the question of integrity on a daily basis. How do we handle a client’s money? Do we reveal everything or hold back important information? Do we consider ourselves justified because everyone else does it? We ponder and debate. We look for answers from within our hearts. We’re under pressure to complete a deal, to give our boss the right answer. We are constantly besieged with these crossroad decisions.

I was recently confronted by a supplier to pay for more work than had actually been completed. I knew he was wrong, but I paid him anyway. His attitude was that of entitlement. I had noticed that over time he had become more difficult in his billing practices and a little more forward in his requests. After I handed him the check, I decided to end our relationship and began to use other suppliers. After a while the man complained that I wasn’t giving him any business. I advised him I had found another supplier. He never asked why; he just got angry and stormed off.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

When we view our relationships from only one side, we find it harder to be honest. We begin to feel entitled and justified. We cross the boundary of fairness. Our short-term gains turn into a crisis of reputation. It happens slowly. Customers leave without telling us why. People begin to avoid us. Our reputation becomes a hidden curse. Proverbs 22:1 reminds us of this, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

When we treat our neighbors with respect and honesty, we may suffer short-term financial setbacks, but we build long- term relationships. Recently, I needed a moving company and asked around. I was told to use Company X, they were the best and most honest. I called them, and in our conversations, I asked, “Why don’t you advertise?” The company representative’s response was “We have more than we can handle from our referrals.”Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. HartmanWhat are the questions we ask ourselves about fairness?

How do we resist the temptation of the short term?

How are your referrals?