Day 31: Building a secure partnership
Read Ro.16:3-5 and Ac.18:2-3 and reflect on the relationship between Priscilla and Aquila.
So far our studies have been about our relationships with friends, God and ourselves. For these last 10 days we will focus on our relationships with our partners. If you are single, try to read these final studies as being about partnership in our relationships in a more general sense. When we look at the relationship between Priscilla and Aquila, partnership is a really useful term to describe what we see. Whilst husband and wife, there is a clear sense of them working together as partners in their ministry and work. There is also a clear sense of their ‘partnership’ with Paul. One of the things that is apparent is that the partnership they have is not about one having priority or a position of privilege over the other (including Paul) but a shared sense of goals and direction. What a fantastic example for our partnerships.
How is Priscilla and Aquila’s relationship characterised by partnership?
Are our partnerships characterised by a mutual sense of ownership and direction?
How could we grow this form of partnership?
Lord, help us to understand and grow partnership as a basis for our relationships.
Day 32: The problem of jealousy
“… for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. Pr.6:34
We could read today’s verse in two different ways. We could read it to say that if a wife’s behaviour causes her husband to be jealous it will lead to him seeking revenge. The problem with this is takes away all responsibility from the man. If we read the verse to say when we are jealous we become angry and vengeful, it reminds us that we need to take ownership of the emotion of jealousy and that if we don’t it will have serious consequences. To read the verse like this reminds us of the very nature of jealousy, the fact that it’s about our (mis)perceptions; we want what someone else has. Jealousy focuses on us not having, but if we can grasp the security given from knowing who we are in God, we can realise we already have all we need. When we are jealous, it should provoke us to re-evaluate our perceptions.
What can we positively do with the emotion of jealousy?
Is jealousy about our behaviour or someone else’s?
Do we need to rethink any issues of jealousy today?
Lord, in you we find all we need. Help us to know, believe and live in this.
Day 33: Love others as self
“In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Eph.5:28
We’ve already spent some time thinking about the need to love ourselves and how doing this meant looking after ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. Today we are challenged to love our partners in the same way. But what does it mean to look after our partner in this way? Once again, we need to turn to God’s example. In our relationship with God he does not act in a way which will harm us, however, he doesn’t prevent us from harming ourselves. When we read today’s verse we are challenged that our love for our partner should not only not harm them physically, mentally or spiritually, but also should not harm their ability to make their own decisions, even if we don’t agree. God wants our love for our partners to be as His for us; protective, but patient, bearing with our partner as they make their own choices on their life journey.
How can our love be protective but not possessive?
Do any of our actions harm our partner physically, emotionally or spiritually? If so, what do we need to change?
How can we become more patient in love?
Lord, your love for us is amazing. Help us to learn from it to help us love our partners.
Day 34: Consideration and respect
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect …” 1 Pe.3:7
Yesterday we thought about how godly love is protective but not possessive. Today we break this down a little more to learn how this sort of love is characterised as being considerate and respectful. When thinking about being considerate we are particularly challenged to think about our partners and how they might be impacted by our actions. This isn’t easy as we might misjudge how our actions might be interpreted and the effect they might have. However, the verse gives us some guidance in this respect. If we base our actions, behaviours and decisions on respecting our partner, this will provide us with a good basis upon which to show consideration. Consideration may also be about the timeliness of our actions. Whilst in one set of circumstances our actions might be respectful and considerate, there will be times when this might not be so.
Are there any guiding principles you could set for yourself to help you show respect and consideration?
Are respect and consideration things that change as we “live with our wives”? If so, how do we accommodate this change?
Lord, give us a sensitivity in our actions and attitudes.
Day 35: We too have a husband
“”Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you …”” Jer.3:14
People who hurt others often have lots of hurt themselves. In many of the stories of people who have committed violent crimes there has been a history of them too facing hurt and having a lack of a role model who has treated them well. This is also something that is often seen as a correlating (although not causative) feature in people who struggle in their relationship with their partner. However, today’s verse reminds us that as Christians we have the perfect role model for our relationship with our partner. As the Bride of Christ, our heavenly Father is also our husband. As we come to know him more, we can discover how it feels to have the perfect husband and explore how we might be able to express this in our relationships with our partners. We can become better partners because he has shown us how first.
What characterises God’s husbandry of us?
What emotions do we experience in our relationship with our heavenly husband?
Lord, it can be hard for us to do things right when we haven’t seen how. Thank you that you have role modelled how to be a good husband.
Day 36: Having confidence in your wife
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Pr.31:11
We have already thought about jealousy as an emotion of wanting something someone else has. Reflecting on this verse we will consider a further aspect; that of lacking trust. We will all have had experiences when we won’t have trusted someone. This lack of confidence in a person will have a significant impact on our relationship. We may be less generous in the giving of our self, more guarded and less willing to be forgiving. In turn, this will be reflected in the way in which the individual will treat us. Basing our domestic relationships on a lack of confidence will limit the potential quality and intimacy in the relationship. Conversely, today we are reminded, when we allow ourselves to have full confidence in our partners, it’s not just good for them, but we also benefit.
What does it mean to have ‘full confidence’ in your partner?
Is your relationship characterised by confidence? Why?
Is it OK, and what are the consequences, of not having confidence?
Lord, help us to be inspired by your confidence in us to take a step of faith where needed in trusting our partners.
Day 37: We need God to understand
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” Pr.28:5
How often do we feel we’ve been treated unfairly? There’s been many occasions when I’ve felt unfairly dealt with, and this has led to me either becoming angry or feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes we need to be angry, it can be a healthy response to inequality. However, in today’s passage we are encouraged that for us to understand justice, and fairness, we need to seek God. There will be times in our relationships with our partners that we feel they are not treating us or responding to us justly. When these occasions arise, we need to develop the habit of turning to God as our first response. We need to understand our experiences in the context of his wisdom. It is only by seeking God that we can truly understand justice and fairness.
How can we seek the Lord regarding matters of justice in relationships?
What is the difference between healthy and unhealthy anger?
Lord, in all aspects of our life we need to seek more of you. Help us to focus on you when we feel unfairly treated by those we care about.
Day 38: The danger of unfaithfulness
“Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” Pr.27:8
Have you ever observed the vulnerability of a newly hatched bird in a nest or the protectiveness of its parent? Without this homely protection the bird is vulnerable to predators. It’s also vulnerable to being hurt as a result of not being able to deal with the challenges of the wider world. This proverb likens us to a vulnerable bird in need of the protection and security of a home in which we are guarded against the temptations of things around us which we are ill equipped to deal with. The emphasis in the verse is in the decision to stray. There will be much which will tempt us, but as men we need to make a commitment, remembering the provision and protection God has provided us with through not straying from the nest he has created for us. Temptation is not the problem for us, the issue is with us being committed not to stray from God’s provision of protection in our partner.
Are we conscious of the things that tempt us to stray?
What commitments can we make to help us not to stray?
Do we need to make a decision to return to the nest today?
Lord, we often think we are strong but you show us how vulnerable we are. Help us to dwell in your provision for us.
Day 39: Carefully choosing our words
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Pr.15:1
We’ve been thinking a lot about God’s provision of protection for us in our relationships with our partners. We’ve also been thinking about our commitment to making godly responses to contribute to these relationships. Today’s verse helps us to think through how we communicate our responses. When upset, or when wanting to make a point, it is easy for us to use words which we know will hurt. Indeed, we might even find a sense of instant satisfaction in a put down or cutting comment. However, in the long term, such words and actions will cause further problems. Instead, we are exhorted to be more gentile in communicating with one another. This gentleness is not based on us covering up our feelings, but on actually taking responsibility for resolving the issues instead of just seeking instant satisfaction for our emotions.
How can we use gentle words whilst being true to our concerns and emotions?
What can we do when we don’t want to use gentle words?
How has your choice of words impacted on your relationship with your partner?
Lord, help us to deal with our partners with the gentle grace you have shown us.
Day 40: Roles or partnership
Re-read Ro.16:3-5 and Ac.18:2-3 and reflect on the relationship between Priscilla and Aquila.
As we reach the final of our 40 studies on building healthy godly relationships we return to the story of Priscilla and Aquila. When we thought about them previously we explored how their relationship, and their relationship with the Apostle Paul, could be characterised as one of partnership. In this final section of these studies we’ve looked at what this ‘partnership’ looks like. Respect and consideration enables us to work together to support one another in achieving what we want in life. This working together takes confidence, faithfulness and trust to extend this support to cover financial, emotional, physical and spiritual partnership. This is a challenge to the self-centred approach to life which can come naturally to us, but we have the role model and support of the perfect husband in our relationship with Christ.
How comprehensive is your partnership with your partner?
What prevents us from fully sharing our lives with our partners?
Are there changes I need to make?
Lord, consolidate your work in us. Guide us, challenge us and equip us to build relationships which honour you.