• Dr. Tate Cockrell

Principle #1 - Christ First & In Everything




The first principle of having a healthy marriage is "Christ first and in everything." Of course a minister, seminary professor, and biblical counselor would start here. But, what does this statement actually mean? It would be easy, even as a committed Christian, to move too quickly past this principal because we think we understand it and are already doing it. But, hold on just a moment.


After years of doing counseling I have discovered an interesting phenomenon. Even when people love Jesus, are committed to His Word, preach the Gospel, and serve on mission - often they don't allow the principals and commitments of their faith to intersect their relationships. It's as if their relationships are divorced from their spiritual beliefs. Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things." Can you imagine how your marriage would be different if it were characterized by the fruit of the Spirit? How would your communication, conflict, and intimacy be different if the fruit of the Spirit was paramount in your marriage? If you want more love, more joy, more peace, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self control in your marriage, then the Spirit's work is the only way to go about achieving those goals. You can't muster those behaviors on your own. They have to grow in you as the Spirit does His work in you.


How does the Spirit do His work in you? You obey Christ and plant his Word deep in your heart. You live a life of surrender as you obey the teachings of Christ. As you read the Word, you allow it to become the authority in your life. You surrender your will to the will of the Father. Christ isn't your co-pilot. He's your pilot. Living in obedience is not "a" way to live. It's "the only" way to live. Surrender and obedience to Jesus permeates your life, especially your marriage relationship. The one-another passages of the Bible become guiding principles for your relationship with your spouse. Love one another. Forgive one another. Bear one another's burdens. Exhort one another. Encourage one another. Honor one another. Live in harmony with one another. These are but a few of the exhortations from the Bible that should characterize our marriage relationship.


When we decide to rush past the very basic principle that Christ has to be Lord of every part of our lives, then we begin to believe that what our marriage needs is better communication, or more sex, less conflict, or more dates. Sometimes these things are needed in marriage. But if all of these things happen, but Jesus is not first and in every part of your marriage, then you'll always be left feeling like you need more.

The first principle of having a healthy marriage is "Christ first and in everything." Of course a minister, seminary professor, and biblical counselor would start here. But, what does this statement actually mean? It would be easy, even as a committed Christian, to move too quickly past this principal because we think we understand it and are already doing it. But, hold on just a moment.


After years of doing counseling I have discovered an interesting phenomenon. Even when people love Jesus, are committed to His Word, preach the Gospel, and serve on mission - often they don't allow the principals and commitments of their faith to intersect their relationships. It's as if their relationships are divorced from their spiritual beliefs. Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things." Can you imagine how your marriage would be different if it were characterized by the fruit of the Spirit? How would your communication, conflict, and intimacy be different if the fruit of the Spirit was paramount in your marriage? If you want more love, more joy, more peace, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self control in your marriage, then the Spirit's work is the only way to go about achieving those goals. You can't muster those behaviors on your own. They have to grow in you as the Spirit does His work in you.


How does the Spirit do His work in you? You obey Christ and plant his Word deep in your heart. You live a life of surrender as you obey the teachings of Christ. As you read the Word, you allow it to become the authority in your life. You surrender your will to the will of the Father. Christ isn't your co-pilot. He's your pilot. Living in obedience is not "a" way to live. It's "the only" way to live. Surrender and obedience to Jesus permeates your life, especially your marriage relationship. The one-another passages of the Bible become guiding principles for your relationship with your spouse. Love one another. Forgive one another. Bear one another's burdens. Exhort one another. Encourage one another. Honor one another. Live in harmony with one another. These are but a few of the exhortations from the Bible that should characterize our marriage relationship.


When we decide to rush past the very basic principle that Christ has to be Lord of every part of our lives, then we begin to believe that what our marriage needs is better communication, or more sex, less conflict, or more dates. Sometimes these things are needed in marriage. But if all of these things happen, but Jesus is not first and in every part of your marriage, then you'll always be left feeling like you need more.

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