2 Kings 4 – Use Your Superpowers

If you had superpowers, what would you do? Most of us would say something like, “help others.” But wouldn’t it be tempting to use your power to do a little grand-standing? And how would you know if you were really using your power to help others or to draw attention to yourself?

Elisha

In 2 Kings chapter 4, Elisha is doing one miracle after another. And because of the way these events are narrated, it appears that Elisha is showing off. But if you look at the chapter carefully, you find that…

  • Elisha’s interest is always focused on caring for the needs of others.
  • The miracles are often done either behind closed doors (2 Kings 4:4, 33) or in the company of the prophets (2 Kings 4:38-44.) The miracles are not to impress the general public.
  • Elisha acknowledges that he is submissive to the real miracle worker…God. (2 Kings 4:27, 43.)

Us

All of us are like Elisha. We may not be able to do dramatic miracles, but God has given us many other things we could use to benefit others. Things like our:

  • Time.
  • Talent.
  • Resources.
  • Experience.
  • Fruit of the Spirit.
  • Etc.

Though more subtle than Elisha’s miracles, we can take what God has given us and produce one miracle after another in other’s lives.

Are you doing that, or are you taking what God has given you and using it for your own benefit? Are you doing what you do for others behind closed doors, so as to not draw attention to yourself? Do you readily acknowledge that what you have is a gift from God to be gifted to others?

We do have superpowers as believers. Jesus even said that we would do even greater things than He did. (John 14:12) The Spirit that empowered Elisha and raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us as believers.

So, how will you use your superpower?

How to Love Two Spouses

No, this post is not about polygamy or sister wives. It’s just that sometimes it can feel like you’re married to two spouses at the same time; the one you fell in love with, and the one you didn’t.

Let me explain by using a story from the ancient book of Genesis…

A STORY

Starting in chapter 27 of Genesis, you read about a man named Jacob. Jacob is ambitious and cheats his brother out of his inheritance. Consequently, Jacob winds up on the run. He runs to the far country and begins working for his uncle Laban.

Now Jacob’s uncle had two daughters. One was a rather plain-looking girl named Leah and the other was a beautiful girl named Racheal. One course, Jacob falls head over heels for Racheal and strikes a deal with Laban, to work seven years for Racheal’s hand in marriage.

At the end of those seven years, there’s a wedding ceremony. But, the next morning Jacob wakes up to find that Laban had somehow switched daughters and Jacob was now married to Leah instead of Racheal. (Don’t ask me how that happened!)

Laban gives Jacob some excuse and tells him that if he will agree to work for another seven years, he will go ahead and give him Racheal as well. Jacob agrees and suddenly He finds himself married to two spouses…the one he wanted and the one he didn’t!

A TRUTH

In some ways, this is true for almost every marriage. We all get a spouse we want and one we don’t. It’s a package deal!

When we’re dating, we become convinced that this is the person we want. We like their looks, their personality, and the way they make us feel. So we become convinced that they are the one for us.

But sometime after we’ve married, we wake up to discover we’re also married to a second spouse…and it’s not the one we chose. This spouse does things we don’t like. They correct us when we don’t want them to. Sometimes they take an attitude with us. This spouse doesn’t always look good or act appropriately. And sometimes, they’re just hard to get along with.

Now, occasionally, we still see the spouse we wanted; the spouse that’s easy to love. But then the other one shows up and reminds us that we got more than we bargained for.

AN APPROACH

So, you have to learn to love the spouse you don’t want. But how do you do this?

Here are some things you need to do in order to live with and love the spouse you don’t want:

Quit trying to change the one you don’t want.

Understand that you need the spouse you don’t want as much as the one you do. The spouse you don’t want brings gifts, helps, and perspectives that are much needed…even if they don’t feel good.

You would not be able to become the person you need to be if it weren’t for the spouse you don’t want. So quit trying to change them into the one you do.

Learn to appreciate the spouse you don’t want.

When you realize that the spouse you don’t want actually helps to make you and the marriage better, then it’s easier to appreciate them for what they do.

And…when you appreciate people for who they are and what they bring, they tend to rise to the occasion and become better than they would normally be. Isn’t it true that when your spouse shows you appreciation, it makes you want to be better and do more? If so, then do that for the spouse you don’t want.

Serve the spouse you don’t want.

It’s easy to serve someone who’s saying what you want to hear and acting the way you want them to act. It’s also easy to stop serving someone who’s not saying what you want to hear or not acting the way you want them to act.

But when you stop serving your spouse because they’re not the one you want, you usually get more of the behavior you don’t want. Remember…the way you treat them actually trains them on how to act toward you. So serve them like they’re the spouse you want.

IN SHORT…

Treat the spouse you don’t want as if they’re the one you do, and you might just find out they really are!

And finally, you’re reading these words to figure out how to live with the spouse you don’t want. But remember…they’re also reading these words to figure out how to live with the spouse they don’t want.  Because you’re not the only one who got the spouse they wanted and the one they didn’t.

How to Spot an Immature Spouse

 

This is my wedding photo. When I look at this photo, I can’t help but notice how young and immature I was.

  • I was only 21 years old.
  • I was a country boy who had hardly been out of the county in which I lived.
  • I had little education.
  • I had never seen a wedding, let alone been in one.
  • My parent’s marriage was difficult rather than exemplary.
  • I didn’t have a close relationship with my father and had no instruction on how to be a man, let alone a husband or father.
  • The 3 years my bride and I had dated were mostly long-distance; leaving me with no idea of what it was like to spend extended periods of time together.
  • And to top it all off…a few hours after this photo was taken, we moved 600 miles away from home and family to start new jobs.

It’s frightening to think of my level of immaturity at the time. Looking back on it now, it seemed like a train wreck waiting to happen.

But somehow, we made it. We learned to overcome our immaturity and put each other first. It didn’t happen overnight, and immaturity still shows its face occasionally…even after 41 years of marriage.

IS IMMATURITY WRONG?

Here’s the thing. We’re all a little immature when we get married. Before we’re married, life is about “me.” “After we’re married, life is about “us.” And it can be a steep learning curve to shift from “me” to “us.”

The point is this…It’s ok to be a little immature when you get married, but it’s not ok to stay that way!

THE TREND OF IMMATURITY.

I’m concerned about a trend I see in my pastoral counseling practice. I feel like I’m seeing an upswing in marital strife, and more and more of it seems to be about immature spouses. These spouses are not young newlyweds. They are older and have been married for a while! And while immaturity in marriage is not gender-specific, I tend to see it more in husbands than in wives. (Sorry guys!)

THE SIGNS OF IMMATURITY.

So, how can you spot an immature spouse?

Below are some of the signs you can look for to spot an immature spouse. (Note: Use this list to identify immaturity in yourself first, and don’t use it as a club with which to beat up your spouse.)

  • They focus more of their non-work time and energy on themselves than on their spouse.
  • They usually feel they’re right and need things to go their way.
  • They’re quick to blame others, rather than own their responsibility.
  • They feel a sense of entitlement, more than a sense of gratitude.
  • They have to be forced to be sacrificial, rather than freely offering it.
  • They want their spouse to understand them more than they want to understand their spouse.
  • They tend to see things as either right or wrong, and can’t see possibilities in-between.
  • They expect to receive more apologies from their spouse than they’re willing to give.
  • They get mad, pout, or withdraw, rather than talking things out.
  • They spend more time talking about respect than they do earning it.
  • They feel they have to be dominant to get what they want.
  • They become passive-aggressive if they don’t get what they want.
  • They make decisions that affect their spouse, without checking with them.
  • They give more ultimatums that compromises.
  • Their wants and needs tend to come before their spouse’s wants and needs.

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS LIST…

This is a brutal list.

No one wants to be associated with such a list. So when reading through it, it’s easy to quickly apply it to your spouse rather than yourself. It’s also easy to quickly defend why we might fit some of the things on the list. But look over the list again, and try to be as honest as you can about yourself before reacting.

All of us are guilty of these on occasion.

I’ve been guilty of everything on that list at times. (And I’ve got the scars to show for it!) But if you find one or more of these to be true frequently, or more often than not…then you may have an immaturity problem.

It’s not easy to see these things in ourselves.

If you’re brave and really want to know your immaturity level, ask someone who knows and loves you to weigh in. And if you’re really brave, ask your spouse. Don’t be surprised if your spouse is hesitant to respond. But assure them that it’s not a trick and you really want to know. Then listen openly and carefully. Don’t react. It could be a good time of growth for both of you.

A FINAL THOUGHT…

The cure for immaturity is to get your eyes off of yourself. See your spouse for who they are and what they need. Serve your spouse in ways that put them first and lift them up.

I’m not talking about being a subservient doormat. I’m talking about being a mature, loving, adult partner. At times, this may require having some hard conversations which will not always be received well…especially if your spouse has an immature issue.

But growing up and being mature (no matter your age) is the best way to have a real, honest, and lasting marriage that goes the distance.

Why Did You Get Married?

WHY DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED?

When I am counseling couples, I often ask them this question: “Why did you get married?“ The answers vary…

  • I fell in love with them.
  • We had so much in common.
  • I loved spending time with them.
  • We were tired of going home at the end of the date.
  • It just felt like the right time.
  • I was ready to build a life and a family with them.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all good reasons. But eventually, they are not enough to sustain a marriage. The longer you’re married the more difficult marriage becomes…leaving the above reasons insufficient.

WHY ARE THESE REASONS ARE NOT ENOUGH?

Look again at the reasons listed above…

I fell in love with them.

It’s certainly preferable to fall in love with the person you’re going to marry. But if that’s the main reason for getting married, what happens when you fall out of love? Throughout the course of the marriage, that feeling of falling in love with your spouse will come and go. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than falling in love.

We had so much in common.

People who come to me for premarital counseling focus on how much they have in common. But people who come to me for marriage counseling focus on how different they are. Early in the relationship, we tend to maximize our similarities and minimize our differences. But eventually, the differences begin to force their way to the top. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than your similarities.

I loved spending time with them.

There is a correlation between the amount of quality time we spend together and our feelings of love for one another. Early in the marriage, we’re afforded a lot of quality time together. But the longer you’re married, the more the demands on your time mount, and the less quality time you have. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than loving to spend time together.

We were tired of going home at the end of the date.

I hear this from a lot of people in premarital counseling. The consistent feeling of not wanting to be away from the other is certainly a good sign that this person may be the one. But many couples underestimate the issues that can arise from living under the same roof day in and day out. Some spouses even start yearning for more time alone. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than wanting to spend all your time together.

It just felt like the right time.

Often, when I ask couples why now is the time to get married, they will say, “it just feels right.” But, feelings have a way of coming and going. There will be times in marriage when you might even question whether it really was right or not. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than just a gut feeling that the time is right.

I was ready to build a life and family with them.

Of all the reasons, this is probably one of the better ones. But it is still a reason that stands on shaky ground because we have no idea what that life will look like. And what happens when that family grows up and moves on? These things will change, so you need a bigger reason for marriage than just the desire to build a life and a family with this person.

SO WHAT IS THE BETTER REASON?

When our original reasons don’t work like they use to, we typically try to get our spouse to change…so that things can feel like they used to be. But this creates tension and conflict in a marriage and usually makes matters worse.

When our former reasons don’t seem to be working, the answer is not to change our spouse. It’s to change us! That’s the real reason for marriage.

We need to understand that all the above reasons are good and important, but they are merely gateways to connect us and bring us into marriage. They can’t sustain a marriage. The real reason for getting married is that God uses marriage to mold and shape us into who we need to be. This is what it means when Scripture says, “the two become one.”

God wants to use our marriage to make us less selfish and more sacrificial. To be less self-focused and more other-focused. To learn to love more for what we can give than what we can get. It’s just that we don’t tend to see this early in the relationship. It’s something we need to grow into with time and experience.

A FINAL WORD…

No matter how you answer the question, “Why did you get married?” there’s a bigger and better question for you to answer. That question is, “Why are you married now?” If your answer is so you can grow into a better person for your spouse, you’re on the right track.