“Sometimes love asks us to limit our freedom on behalf of someone else.” Margaret Feinberg
Who is a better example of this message than Jesus? Christ didn’t limit His freedom; He gave up His freedom completely on behalf of the entire human race. Why? Because He loves us. Because God the Father called Him to do it. Jesus obeyed and adhered to living out the covenant promise by God to offer His only Son as a sacrifice for our eternal reward.
Christ sacrificed His freedom so we could be set free from sin. And we’re called to pay this forward as Christians as we sacrifice our freedom at times for the benefit of another. This act of selflessness is of paramount importance in marriage. We spoke vows to one another on our wedding day and entered into a covenant relationship with our spouse. We took an oath, before God, to love, honor, cherish and commit to our spouse at all times. We swore in God’s presence to live up to these promises in sickness and in health. More times than not, following through on our proclamations to each other takes tremendous sacrifice. It’s a lot easier to hold on to our freedom out of self-preservation than it is to give it away for the good of our spouse, especially if our partner isn’t holding up their end of the covenant.
So the question is; are we living up to the challenge Margaret Feinberg puts before us? Will we choose to serve our spouse in love as Christ would even if it means giving up a part of ourselves? Will we sacrifice our own selfish needs and desires in order to put the needs of our spouse above our own? Do we believe that God calls us to help lead our spouse to Heaven, or do we only concentrate on getting “number one” through the Heavenly gates? Will we live “above the Cross’ by serving ourselves or will we rest at the foot of the Cross in complete gratitude, surrender and abandonment to Christ, and in turn, allow His saving Grace within us to guide our ways?
If we are truly living a life for Christ and walking a Gospel walk, then we know that human struggles, difficult choices and unexpected burdens are part of our journey. We’ve been told time and again that our worries, anxieties, fears, disappointments, and frustrations about these pitfalls are the devil’s playground – but yet we continue to stumble around attempting to overcome life on our own terms. We know that as mere mortals it is nearly impossible at times to ask ourselves “what would Jesus do” and then follow through on it. The beauty of being a Christian, however, is to understand that God sent a Holy Helper to carry us through the challenges of life. And at times it is only the strength of His Spirit that can help lower us to a posture of humility enough that we are willing to limit our personal freedom for the benefit of someone else’s gain.
What does this sacrifice of freedom in marriage look like? Sacrifice means the husband is prepared and willing to show acts of kindness like offering to taxi the kids around, clean the house, bring home a dinner or turn away from the television so he can listen attentively to his wife. “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting…” Ephesians 5:25 (Message) Sacrifice for the wife can mean allowing her spouse to pursue things outside of the relationship like hobbies or guy time. It means not expecting him to have an immediate answer to every concern, but patiently giving him the freedom to process things first. Sacrifice means finding a way to esteem your husband and affirm his good qualities even when he seems disinterested in the relationship.
“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ…” Ephesians 5:22 (Message)
For both spouses, sacrifice means we ‘re prepared to risk our feelings and the pain of potential rejection for the benefit of each other in maintaining an authentic covenant. It means having the courage to be vulnerable and face our problems head on instead of playing it safe by avoiding them and maintaining our own freedom. This isn’t true freedom because it keeps both parties in bondage, which benefits neither spouse in the long run.
We promised these things to each other on the altar whether we realized it or not. God commands them of us in scripture. So, for the sake of our sacrament, and in the name of Love and our faith, may each of us as spouses limit our freedom on behalf of each other. May we allow the Spirit to be alive in our hearts, Christ to be the center of our sacrament, and may both of us be willing to give God, the Father, complete authority over our blessed relationship. Amen.
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