When we get to heaven we will probably want to remind God of all the good things we did while we lived on earth. We will want Him to know how active we were at church and list for Him all the markers of our success in our jobs and careers. Maybe we will recite all the Bible verses we memorized or boast that we are returning His investment thirty, sixty or a hundred-fold.
However, when we get to heaven, the first thing on the Lord’s mind will not be anything about our work or our accomplishments, as important as these are to us. He will ask us questions about our relationships, about how we treated the people He placed in our lives while we were doing all that work for Him. And the first question He might ask will be: “In all your years together, how did you treat your husband?” or, “In all the years I gave to you, how did you treat your wife?” He will say, “Did you choose your wife or husband first each day, after you have demonstrated your commitment to me?
Parents often find themselves having to “tag-team” in the years they are raising their children because there is so much that needs to get done. School, homework, extra-curricular activities, activities at church, and so much more all have to be done while one or both parents handle the responsibilities of jobs, changing jobs, moving, caring for grandparents and so on.
During this time it is easy for married couples to pull apart from one another and function more as a partnership (you do your part, I do mine) than two people in a sacred covenant and committed to serving, honoring, and laying down their lives for one another. Couples might take one another for granted, perhaps the passion of the relationship starts to dull a little, and in all kinds of small ways each person settles into beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that may or may not be true or that fall short of God’s standard.
A wife might believe her husband will always be lazy, irresponsible, or generally inactive with the kids. That is just the way he is and he will never change. Or a husband might lower his expectations little by little and settle for an irritable, joyless and unresponsive wife assuming that she will be that way until death do us part. So he might as well get used to it.
Parents raising children sometimes fall into the parent abdication cycle. For some reason or another, dad abdicates his position and authority as leader of the household. Maybe he travels too much. Perhaps he has decided to spend all his time on his computer or doing things with friends, but for whatever reason he abandons his leadership role. Perhaps he has the absurd notion that education is solely mom’s responsibility! (See, for example, Deuteronomy 6:6 or Chapters 1-10 in the book of Proverbs where the Father is the teacher!)
As a result, mom has to step up and take on the responsibilities he has neglected. This increased burden causes her to become resentful (she already has enough work to do!) then angry (this is wrong!) and then disrespectful. She starts to subtly tear down her husband, the kids pick up the now toxic atmosphere in the home and gradually God’s order and design for the family breaks down. The parents have lost sight of God’s plan. It is a very simple one: wives respect, husbands love, children honor.
We forget that growing in a relationship with the Lord is a dynamic process of ongoing transformation which means husband and wife should always be changing, growing, and becoming more like Christ. Remembering that nothing is impossible with God, and that He can fix the most broken of married relationships; remembering and really believing that there is no sin or amount of sin, no condition or situation that remains outside His grace and mercy, we can walk in hope that our prayers for our spouses will not only change them, but will also change us.
Each day after fulfilling your commitment to the Lord, choose to honor, respect, love, and serve the most important person God has given to you on this earth—that person is your spouse. That person is your most valuable player. Your child’s education, personal well-being, walk with the Lord—indeed, your child’s entire future… depends upon it!