Scripture Texts: Romans 7; Psalm 19
Here in Romans 7 Paul takes on what many have experienced in life. We know what it is we want to do but we are not able to do it. At the same time we know what we should stay away from doing and we do it anyway. This is the bakery problem. We can look at the baskets full of fresh baked bread, all the sugar glistening pastries, the chewy bagels, and don't forget those muffins as large as a person's head. There is full recognition we should walk on by and not get anything. Then we decide to get one thing, that becomes two, that becomes one of each.
Marriage is not exempt from this challenge. Often we can find ourselves knowing exactly what would be of great benefit for our spouse. Few and far between are the times when we are clueless about what we need to do. The challenge is following through.
At the root of this is the idea that we will have to subordinate our own wants and desires for the sake of another. Yup pride shows up again. Paul uses the language of sin, it is possible the root of all sin is human pride. Whenever our pride goes into overdrive, there is a good chance we will lose the battle of doing what we know we should do and not doing what we want to stay away from.
Three little words convince us that our actions are okay, I deserve this. These three words have signaled the downfall of many marriages. To be clear, this is not to say we do not deserve certain things. However when we begin to justify our actions by what we deserve, or make demands about what we deserve, pride is lurking.
Cultivating a healthy marriage pays attention to the feelings and declarations of what we deserve. Each partner searches themselves to root our pride. Together the couple can talk about the struggle of pride and feeling like they deserve certain things. This conversation should take place long before the feelings of pride are raging and demands are being made.
Oh, and like in our individual lives, the more we choose what we know to be right, the easier it gets to make that choice in the future. It is true, practice makes perfect easier.