"Don't give me that attitude, young lady!" That's what comes to my mind when I hear the word attitude. Of course, when my mother said that to me growing up, it was definitely always because I deserved it! But the word seems to often have a negative connotation.
According to dictionary.com, the word simply means "manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind."
I want to consider what kind of attitude we have in marriage. How is my attitude toward my husband? How is yours toward your spouse? How is your "disposition, feeling, position, etc." when it comes to marriage?
My attitude can sometimes be loving, especially when my husband has been sweet and helpful, when he hasn't left dirty dishes or laundry lying around, when he's been affectionate. But in that case, my attitude is dependent on my husband's actions toward me. That's reasonable, I suppose, but is it right?
Let's see what Scripture has to say about it.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11 (NIV)Jesus Christ, God's Son, God himself, humbled himself to the ultimate point. We just celebrated yesterday his resurrection from the dead--but he wouldn't have had to rise if he hadn't allowed himself to be humiliated and killed on a cross.
This, Paul wrote to the Philippians, is the attitude we are to have: that of humility, considering others better than ourselves. Paul doesn't advocate self-loathing, but he is encouraging his readers (that's us!) to put others first.
I have already found from experience that when I do this in my marriage, my husband's and my relationship greatly benefits from it. When each of us is seeking to serve the other person, instead of paying attention to only our own needs and wants, we're both happier. When we act in a selfless manner toward the other, we both feel loved so very much, because in doing that we're demonstrating that each of us is the most important person in the other's life.
It might seem counter-intuitive to live in such a way. "Gotta look out for number one," after all. But following what comes naturally doesn't always work out. By nature we're sinful, selfish human beings. It's because of Jesus' sacrifice in our place that we have the ability to live as he did--selflessly. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us: his own life. He loves us so much that he was willing to suffer indescribable humiliation and agony, so that we could be forgiven--and so that we could imitate him.
By God's grace, we're able to show each other Christ-like humility and selflessness--in all our relationships, but especially in marriage.
I'm going to keep working on this in my own marriage. Try it for yourself! See what happens when you start putting your spouse first. The results just may be even better than you thought.
I'd like to give a shout-out to Arlee Bird, the fantastic blogger who started this A to Z Challenge three years ago! Head over to his blog and say hello!
Linking today: A Proverbs 31 Wife, What Joy is Mine, The Better Mom, Yes They Are All Ours, Countrified Hicks