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To Accept or Reject – That is the Question

"If only I had waited like my folks wanted me to. Maybe that right person would have come along. I probably missed God’s best…"

"I could have married Don, you know. He’s a very successful CPA now. You should see the house they live in and the kind of clothes his wife wears!"

"Surely there is someone in this world who would appreciate me. You obviously don’t."

"I’ve made one giant mistake in my life– and that was on our wedding day twenty-two years ago."

Nowhere else is acceptance or rejection so crucial or so pleasantly or painfully visible as in marriage, breeding contentment or contemptibility. Security or schisms. Friends or enemies.

Let me ask you a question. Think carefully about your answer. Have you accepted (received willingly, with satisfaction, with approval) your mate? Or is there this deep, underlying discontent? This gnawing thought that you made one serious blunder? That there must have been someone more suitable–that lingering figment of your imagination, that vision of your delectable dream woman, or your tall, dark and handsome hunk who treats you like a princess? Or maybe there will be another time, another person? Are you thinking? Let me ask you. Have you rejected (refused to accept, to discard, to decline to receive) your mate? Think carefully about your answer.

There are five critical areas in marriage where we choose either to accept or to reject the person we singled out as our husband, as our wife.

I. COMMITMENT TO MARRIAGE

The Bible leaves no doubt that marriage is for life. Divorce is contrary to God’s order. Christians need to realize that in taking the name of Christ they accept a different standard for marriage than that permitted in the world. A different standard for living.

"But Anabel, I just don’t love him anymore." It isn’t love that is going to hold your marriage together, dear one. It is marriage that will hold your love together. It is your commitment to God’s marriage covenant. It’s a choice. Not a feeling.

What should you do? Essentially, don’t consider alternatives! Don’t try to think of a "way out." Don’t daydream about a different wife, a different husband. Don’t read books or listen to friends that would tempt you to consider any option other than the one you accepted when you entered into this most holy relationship. You were there when someone parroted "yes" after the preacher made his speech about until death parts us. Was that "someone" you? Do you accept that statement of commitment willingly, with approval? Don’t renege.

II. FOUNDATION OF MARRIAGE

A house is condemned if the foundation is faulty. It’s the substructure on which the whole house stands… or falls.

Too many of us base our foundation for continuing in a marriage relationship on (1) looks, (2) feelings, or (3) circumstances.

Hey! Your looks can be gone in less than 1/2 second. I remember the night Wade was playing softball. He turned at just the wrong time and got a ball in the face. Result? A crooked nose.

A bad omelet can affect your feelings. A lukewarm cup of coffee. A restless night. Your feelings can’t even think! And yet, we allow them to control the most important decisions in our lives.

Circumstances? Well, we’re prone to think that for our marriage to work we need the right house (and driving around on Sunday afternoon viewing the houses other folks live in has produced more than one depressed, disgruntled spouse). The car has to run, the children must be obedient, we should have a surplus in our checking account, compatible in-laws and a mate that meets our needs perfectly (to list just a few). When the circumstances get all messed up, we get all messed up and begin rejecting our marriage partner because of what’s happening around us, forgetting the foundation upon which this union is built.

Looks, feelings, and circumstances. These are all tangible, but very unreliable. They cannot be the foundation for your marriage. They’re subject to immediate change. One tiny seed of discontent will always bear fruit labeled "rejection."

So what is the "foundation?"

The foundation for a stable marriage depends upon your integrity in accepting God as your God (placing yourself under His authority), and on the regard you have for the positions designed by God in marriage. Husband. Wife. Honored positions. Respected positions.

Wrong Approach: I love Bill. He is my husband. This way, my fragile, human love determines my view of Bill’s position and should my tender, human love be wounded, the foundation of my marriage is apt to crumble.

Right Approach: Bill is my husband. I will love him. This way, the position requires that I love. This is what my Authority has said, and following His instructions will guard against a vulnerable, faulty substructure. I accept this foundation for my marriage and live by it.

III. THE ROLES IN MARRIAGE

The Bible did not say to me, "Anabel, this is it! You are to marry Bill Gillham." But, it certainly tells me what to do after I marry Bill Gillham!

You volitionally place yourself in the role of husband or wife, and under the established rules set for this position. No one coerced you. You reported for the "try-outs" and then said, "I’d like to have this part."

I remember the man who said to his wife, "Never! Never in thirteen long years of marriage did you ever praise me in front of anyone!" You may marvel at that "in front of anyone" part, but the marvel is that a woman who calls herself by the name of "Christian" would not be obedient to this one command for thirteen years. The same God who said, "Do not murder" (Ex. 20:13) also said, "Wife, praise your husband" (Eph. 5:33). They are both commandments. And obedience is not dependent upon the husband’s behavior. It is not conditional.

The terms of the contract state: "Husband, love your wife like I (Jesus) love my wife. I love her so much that I actually died for her. I gave Myself up completely for her. You do the same." Again, there are no "conditional" clauses.

As a single person you had a diversified life-style. Your job, your hobbies, your friends, how you chose to spend your time and your money. You made all the decisions. Now that you’re married, you have a very specific, detailed role– a challenging role– a sharing role. None of us can claim ignorance. Our roles are spelled out too clearly by the One who created marriage and who (by the way) was the witness when you signed your contract and it was notarized.

You have the direct, revealed will of God for your life. You are a wife. You are a husband. Now, accept the part and play it like Hepburn and Tracy!

IV. CONDITION OF MARRIAGE

The Bible places people in two groups… just two: lost and saved. Your mate fits into one of these. If he is lost, you are to unconditionally accept him and then present Christ to him through your actions: the sweetness of Christ, His love, His compassion, His truth, His kindness, His charisma. If he is saved, you are to unconditionally accept him as a new creature in Christ Jesus– with old habit patterns to overcome (just like yours) — and then present Christ to him through your actions: the sweetness of Christ, His love, His compassion, His truth, His kindness, His charisma. The details may be different, the players, the settings. But the rules of the game don’t change.

Answer these two questions: As a lost person, does God love your marriage partner? Does He long to share that love? As a Christian, what is your mate’s true identity IN Christ Jesus? Is that person acceptable to God? To you? Christ through you will, at times, confront, exhort, reprove, or point out poor performance, but HE WILL NEVER REJECT.

This is the condition upon which we should accept our mate. You’ll notice I didn’t say, accept or reject our mate. You unconditionally accept that person as lost or saved, and then your course is charted. Your role is clear.

V. POWER FOR MARRIAGE

"Anabel, I’ve tried and tried. My marriage is done for! It’s a mess! If you only knew! And Jesus doesn’t have to live with my wife." Oh, no. You are wrong there. YOU don’t have to live with your wife. Jesus does. Remember? You have died and He is now your very LIFE!

You cannot be the husband or wife that Christ has called you to be in your own strength. I know. I tried awfully hard for twenty long years. No. You must appropriate as Truth that Jesus Christ is now your life and allow Him to live through you in your marriage, accepting Him as your strength, your love, your wisdom, your very LIFE!

You choose. Are you going to stand there in the kitchen, resenting her and refusing to express love to her, being willfully disobedient? Or will you allow Christ to enable you to go over, put your arms around her, kiss her lightly on the cheek and say, "Good morning, Honey. I love you." You’ll be amazed!

STATEMENT OF ACCEPTANCE:

I accept the standard given by God that my marriage relationship is to last until death parts us, and I accept the honored positions that we both have been given as husband and wife. I also accept the specific instructions that have been drawn up for me in my individual role. I unconditionally accept my spouse and I accept the power of Christ living through me to consummate all of these agreements.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.