Marriage and Faith
Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . .
In my addiction, I broke my relationship with my wife. My lies and toxic behavior destroyed trust, embarrassed her and wrecked her life. She wanted to know why. Why would you love something so destructive over me? She was right in asking. I chose the drug above all. In doing so, I caused profound misery and radically distanced myself from her.*
What I did to my relationship with my wife, though not a perfect metaphor, does illustrate what I do to God when I pursue self above him. While my wife and I legally remained married, my addiction gutted our intimacy. Similarly, when I pursue me above God, though I do not lose my relationship with him, I severely damage it. I may be forgiven for all eternity, but the practical manifestation of God’s spirit can be great or small, depending on whether I grow God’s spirit or grieve it.
I have lived most of my life as if the indwelling of God in me is a passive process for which I am not responsible. Paul insisted though, that I must walk in the spirit, putting off the old, sowing the seeds of God in me. This is anything but a passive process. I do not get to pursue self and be filled with God. Being a Christian does not mean I plant thistles and grow wheat. God is not mocked and I reap what I sow (Gal. 6:7).
How do I grieve God’s spirit? When I fail to pursue God, by definition, I put me above all, distancing myself from him. I cannot grow God in me while indulging in drugs, pornography, pride, anger, greed or any addiction. Even good things can become destructive if I pursue them above God. While I can love my family appropriately, I can also make an idol of them. Anything I pursue above God, distances me from him.
How do I grow God’s spirit in me? In keeping with the marriage metaphor, I must pursue him as I pursue my relationship with my wife. If I want to grow my marriage, I must spend time with my wife, denying my destructive desires, pursuing her.
Just as I cannot ignore my wife and expect intimacy, I cannot ignore God and expect to know him. If I want to know his presence and power in my life, I must deny self and pursue him. I must daily read his word, talk to and listen to him. I cannot neglect God and then wonder why I do not know his presence. When I pursue God, I find him.
*Thankfully, in my recovery, I have been able to rebuild my relationship with both my wife and God.