Most of us, whether we realize it or not, evaluate our marriages almost every day. If we’re in a social situation, we tend to wonder, “How does our marriage measure up to theirs?” When we’re by ourselves, the evaluation is often along the lines of, “Am I happier today than I was yesterday?” or “Am I as happy today as I was the day we got married?”
Some of us evaluate our marriages by evaluating our spouse: “Has she been kind to me lately?” “Has he been noticing me lately?”
Colossians 3 gives us a better evaluation tool: ten things to look out for (“die to”), and ten things to strive for (“clothe ourselves with”).
These are the things we are to “put to death.” They should never exist in any Christian home, let alone a Christian marriage. So let’s give ourselves a score of “0” (never) to “5” (a daily problem) of how often we (not our spouse) bring these into our relationship:
- Sexual immorality
- Evil desires
- Filthy language
The following are the things that, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” that we should “clothe ourselves with.” Are these positive things present in your marriage (that you are performing toward your spouse)? Give yourself a “0” if it is never present in your marriage and a “5” if you excel in it daily:
- Studying the Bible
Then there’s the “bonus” question. When specifically talking to spouses, Paul urges: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” (v. 18-19)
The question of what verse 18 means is so hotly debated and so outside the length of this blog post, just evaluate it based on your best current understanding of what it means. Let’s do the same thing here for the “bonus” question: a “0” or “1” if it’s something you never or rarely practice, or a “5” if it’s a daily reality.
So, for the negative list, there’s a possible “high” (which means low) score of 50, and for the positive list there’s also a possible “high” (which is good) of 50. The “bonus” question can help us “catch up” (so there’s really a potential “good” score of 55).
For the qualities that God values in a Christian life, how are you doing?
Please, don’t rate your spouse. If they want to take this test and the two of you want to talk about this on a date night, that’s one thing. But Paul would tell us to focus on ourselves—what we’re bringing into the marriage. These are the things that the inspired words of Scripture tell us to die to and to clothe ourselves with.
More important than how you think your spouse is doing, and more important than how the world thinks your marriage is doing, and also more important than how you feel about your marriage, is how God feels about the way you’re acting in your marriage. Based on this score, how are you doing, really?
I’d be interested in the comments section: what do you think the “normal” scores should be?