It's 5:21 in the morning, and the alarm goes off. I roll over and hit the snooze button in hopes of just nine more minutes of sleep before the day begins. At 5:24, my two-year-old quietly – his version of quietly, anyway – enters the room and approaches the bed. I pretend to still be asleep so he'll walk to the other side and crawl in with Anne (Failure #1).
Once in bed, Ian, our youngest son, starts in with his two-year-old version of whispering. I roll over and pull the covers tight to subtly tell Anne and Ian to keep it down (Failure #2). After a few minutes in that position, I realize he's not going to be quiet or lay still – which both of us have asked him to do several times. I groggily slither out of bed and head for the closet to get dressed so I can take Ian downstairs.
When I get downstairs, I pull out some muffins and milk for Ian and then head to the basement to watch whatever is on TV at 5:30 a.m. so I can lie down for a few more minutes. I decide I'll get Anne's coffee in a little bit (Failure #3).
In just seven minutes, I've failed to show my wife love in the same way Jesus loves me! It may seem harsh to beat myself up like this, right? Wrong! If I was really intentional about loving my wife like Jesus loves me, I would have 1) hopped out of bed to try and catch Ian before he woke Anne; 2) taken him into the closet with me while I got dressed, so not to bother his mom; and 3) started the coffee and made Anne a cup so it was waiting when she got up to get in the shower.
Did you see yourself in my situation? If you don't have kids or it's been some time since you were there, you can make up another circumstance. This same mentality, where it's much easier to do the selfish thing, can creep into every part of your day. But, Jesus has set an example for us to follow. And, the first place he wants us to put this into place is in our marriage. The Bible very specifically compares Christ's relationship with the church directly to the relationship between husband and wife. And as we examine the characteristics of Jesus, we discover exactly what we must do so our spouse will see Christ in us.
It's not just about being unselfish. If you really want your spouse to see Jesus in you, you have to genuinely put into practice an attitude of becoming more like Christ in everything you do. This is not a simple, one-time event; it is an everyday struggle. It's not easy to act like Jesus in every situation. In fact, it's notably difficult. We live in a world where it's much easier to do what feels good or take the easy way out. But, becoming more like Jesus involves sacrificial love; it takes a servant's heart; it means forgiving when it's not easy to forgive; and it takes a concerted effort toward humility and self-forgetfulness!