Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Fruits

The world we live in is hectic, and we are all pulled in many directions. Work and school, kids, church functions, hobbies and other responsibilities - we all have (too many) things clamoring for our attention, and thus our time. Jim Rohn said “Rich people have 24 hours a day and poor people have 24 hours a day. The difference between the rich and the poor is in the management of that time.” Time is a God-given resource that, like money, we must be a good steward of.

When it comes to your marriage, is your spouse getting nothing but your leftover time? Too many people wake up, hit the ground running, and don’t stop until they fall, exhausted, back into their bed, leaving little time for the person they have vowed to spend the rest of their life with. What time there is left is low quality, with both spouses spent from the day’s activities. In Proverbs 3:9-10 we are told:

Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Other than your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important one in your life. The challenge for this month then, is to give your spouse the 'first fruits' of your time!  Doesn’t your spouse deserve the best of what you have to offer? Dustin Riechmann, who runs the Christian marriage site ‘Engaged Marriage’ puts it this way: "Your marriage is more important than your children or your career, so you need to start nourishing it." Notice in the above scripture, that when your first fruits are given, God promises abundance and blessing. Marriage works the same way.

Instead of your only "couple" time coming at night when both partners are exhausted, find time during the day to give yourself to your spouse when you are alert, happy, energetic. Wake up a few minutes early and have a cup of coffee or tea together. Meet for lunch if possible every now and then. My maternal grandparents had a tradition: their kitchen had doors, allowing it to be closed off from the rest of the house. When my grandpa got home from work, he and my grandma would go into the kitchen, ‘banish’ the kids and - well, no one knows what they did. It was THEIR time, and they guarded it zealously. My mom and her siblings knew that there was almost nothing that warranted them intruding on that time; it was sacred. Where can you and your spouse carve out a slice of your day to be a couple? The good news is that meaningful change can happen in as little as 15 minutes. That’s only 1.042% or your day!

We have to change our mindsets from “spending more time together would be nice” to it being essential. Consider: in a recent Asbury Park Press, Anthony D’Ambrosio makes the argument that time you spend on anything non-essential (instead of on your spouse) can amount to cheating. He writes “Sex [with someone else] is cheating, and maybe the most hurtful cause, but have you ever stopped to think that you're being cheated out of your relationship everyday? Lack of communication, attention, passion, intimacy — even lack of love. “

Sobering. It becomes so easy to take our spouse for granted after we’re married and life gets busier and busier. There’s too much else to think about… but, we have a choice, and that choice makes our priorities clear. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What are your treasures? Where is your heart?
You’ll know by answering “On what do you spend your time?”

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