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About this series
Keeping Love Alive - Volume 2
Four Biblical Skills Great Marriages Have in Common
It’s hard to believe there are couples who’ve been married for thirty, forty, or even fifty years. So, what’s their secret? In this series, Chip shares the newest volume in his ongoing series, “Keeping Love Alive.” As he teaches from the book of Colossians, he'll highlight 4 important skills every healthy marriage has in common. Learn how to be better connected spiritually… communicate more effectively… resolve conflict peaceably... and manage your finances wisely. Discover what you need to improve your relationship and start making a change or two, today!More from this series
“Put on a heart of patience.” It means to endure with a good attitude. 2 Peter 3:9 says – people, he was talking about, you know, “He’s coming back!” And everyone goes, “Yeah, yeah right. He’s coming back. You’ve been saying that for a long time.” And Peter says, “You don’t understand. God is not slow as some think slow. For to Him a day and a thousand years is the same. He is patient,” macrothumos.
Can you hear the two words? Macrothumos: heat. It’s dispersed. He wants all to be saved, to all to come to repentance. It’s putting up with, enduring, one more time, one more time, “I’m not going to give up. We’re going to keep working at this.”
Jesus was patient with the disciples. Do you realize the only time, read all the gospels, and then list all the things He criticizes them for. All the times He comes down on them, criticizes them. We get one clear time when Peter gets very self-focused and his agenda and his kingdom. I can’t imagine Jesus looking you right in the eyeballs and saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!” The only time He reproves them is, “Oh you of little faith.”
Did you ever wonder, So, what does God really want from me? How do you become a “good” Christian? I mean, what does He really, really want? You ready for this? They asked Him that in John 6. He said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in whom He has sent.”
You know the greatest question you can ask yourself every single day? You might write this down. “What does it look like to trust God in this situation?” What does it look like to trust God with how he is acting right now? What does it look like to trust God with these finances? What does it look like to trust God with this deployment? What does it look like to trust God when the biopsy report comes back positive? What does it look like to trust God with a wayward child? What does it look like to trust God when you don’t like where you live? What does it look like to trust God with overcoming the infidelity of your mate? What’s it look like to trust God with the infidelity that you had and the guilt that you share?
See, you can be moral, you can go to church, you can read your Bible. Without faith, it’s impossible to please Him. Faith is nothing more or nothing less is believing in God’s character and God’s promises to the point of acting on them. Faith isn’t some ooey-gooey feeling. “Ooh! I think I got it! I think I’ve got faith. I believe You! I believe You!”
Faith is a picture of a bridge and we think faith is this rickety bridge like on one of those Indiana Jones movies and there’s missing pieces and they are superheroes and, “I hope we’re going to make it!” And they take two steps and they almost fall through and then they get to the other side and we think, “Oh! Indiana Jones Christians! They have such faith.”
That’s not faith. This is faith, biblically. Steel, concrete is three feet thick, it’s the object of your faith. God says this will hold me up. Let’s walk across.”
That’s why, you don’t need a lot of faith. Jesus said you could, you need the faith of a mustard seed. It’s the object of your faith. What if there is an all-powerful, all-knowing God who died, rose from the dead, who dwells inside of you, and the same power that raised Him from the dead dwells inside of you, and apart from Him you can do nothing. But in Christ, you can do all things. And you just say, “Okay. I can forgive him.” “Okay, well, I guess we will cut our budget and I don’t know how we are going to make it financially, but we are going to keep moving forward.” “Okay, it’s a wayward child, we can’t control him. We are going to trust God, we are going to get good counseling, here’s the path. Lord, You love him more than we do. You love her more than we do.” It’s faith. Patience.
I have a little tool, because you’re thinking, How could I practically, Chip, this sounds good. Hard. By the way, it’s not hard. Okay? Don’t look at this listening go, “Oh, that’s hard.” It’s not hard. It’s impossible. No, no, you need to understand that. Now, you can put in some effort and you could do a little bit better on these out of your strength. But after, it won’t take long. Maybe a couple weeks for some of you really hardcore people, disciplined people, self-starter people.
But two weeks, if you don’t see results after doing these, you’d give up. This is not hard, it’s impossible. The only way to do this is – what? You need to believe: I’m chosen, I’m holy, I’m dearly loved. I keep getting from God each and every day everything I need so I can – are you ready?
Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
I’m going to give you just a little tool, you can write it at the bottom of the page. I call this little tool: I know you really care when…
Okay? Just write that. “I know you really care when…” Because some of you are thinking, I want to be compassionate and I want to be gentle and, okay Chip, I really want to be all this, but I’m not sure what it would look like. I can’t read her mind and I can’t read his mind.
Here’s what you do. There’s a little column and if you’re a husband, you write, “I know you really care,” speaking to your wife, “when you,” one, two, three. Just write the top three. You can go five if you want. But, I mean, give her a break. Just write, “I feel loved when you,” and just write the top three things that when she does them, you feel loved.
Ladies, you write, “Here are the top three things,” you can go four or five, “I feel most loved when you,” and just write them. And then just exchange lists. We have made this whole thing about, “It has to be so spontaneous and if he could read my mind or if she would only know.”
I did this with my wife. We were struggling. The counselor gave us this tool, okay? Everything I give you, I got out of counseling. So, but, it’s like, okay, here are the top things. “When you take out the trash, when you help with this, when you help with the kids’ homework,” I’m thinking, What in the world has this got to do with love? And finally I said, “It doesn’t matter what I think.” If this makes her feel loved, guess what, I love her. Guess what, I made a vow. Guess what, I’m committed to her.
So, she made a list and I just decided I’m going to do at least one of those things every day. If nothing else, at least, you know, every day she is going to get loved by me with some compassion and gentleness and vice versa. Try it. You’ll like it.
Okay, shift the page, because what I have said to you so far can only happen if something else happens.
This is the clothing metaphor. That word “put on, put off, put on, put off” – here’s what you need to get. You cannot put on the new until you take off the old. Notice what he says here. The clothing metaphor is crucial to biblical communication. Old clothes must be taken off.
Open your Bible if you’re not already there. We are in Colossians chapter 3. And after he says to set your mind on the things above he says, “Put to death,” I’m in verse 5, “whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” Well, what is that? “Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, which is idolatry.” Why? “Because of these the wrath of God is coming.”
And then he reminds them, like he reminds us, “You used to walk in these things in the life that you once lived,” now get this, here’s the new, “but now you must rid yourselves of such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other,” why? “since you have taken off,” it’s a metaphor, “your old self with its practices.”
But that’s not the end of it. “…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed,” mind renewal – how? “in the knowledge, in the image of its Creator.”
You have to take off the old. Old life of anger, logging on to porn, flirting with other people, spending money I don’t have, yelling, screaming, abusive language, wanting my own way. Get rid of it all! That’s what he’s saying. And put on, put on the new self. It’s a journey. It’s a process. You renew your mind.
You ask, “Who are the people in my life that keep pulling me that way?” “What am I putting into my mind?” Whether it’s on a video, whether it’s Netflix, whether it’s porn, whether it’s a relationship that keeps telling me, “Hey, why don’t you come with us and do this?” Whether it’s a temptation.
You remember the passage where Jesus said, “If your right eye is causing you to sin, pluck it out”? Remember that one? Now, some people took that literally, which is very foolish because if you pluck out your right eye, I have got news for you, you can lust with your left.
If your right hand causes you to sin, what did He say? Cut it off! Well, I got news, you can still steal with your left hand. It was an idiomatic expression, but here’s what he was saying: You be as radical as you need to be to take off the impurities and the things that pull you away from, first, the Lord Jesus, and second, from your most important relationships.
I remember a guy called me that I knew fairly well and he talked about an emotional affair he was having. Godly man, great family, found himself in this – if you, I don’t want to be too graphic here, but often when affairs happen, it’s just crazy. Like, there’s this chemistry like a magnet toward someone.
And by the way, the Proverb says that the enemy uses these kinds of things to undermine. He wants to destroy you, destroy your marriage.
And he just, he was right here. He goes, “I’m just, I find myself dressing a little better, I think about her, we both know when I’m next to her,” and he goes, “Chip, I’m calling you. I didn’t even want to talk to my pastor. What should I do?”
I said, “Be as radical as you need to be.” I said, “If you need to quit your job, God has another job. But, boy, I’ll tell you, this will destroy your life.” He said, “Yeah, I mean, this is getting, this is getting, I know where this is going. We have both talked about it, we have both talked about the impact.” And by the way, when your emotions get here, your IQ drops by a hundred points. I kid you not.
Infatuation causes you to think things, do things, and perceive things in ways that only idiots think. And then you wake up alone and with half your money going somewhere else and with kids who said, “I thought you loved me.” And a mate whose life you made a vow to and you’re in the process of ruining.
I have lived on the other side. I bet it was fifteen years of a journey of healing of watching my wife overcome what it was like to be rejected by this unbeliever. I watched what it did to my little boys. I still remember the emotional connection, they were eleven years old, and I went to my mentor and I said, “I’m really, really trying to be a great dad. It has been six years and we are fine, but you know that connection, that connection, that connection.”
He said, “Chip, do you understand what they have been through?” I said, “Intellectually.” I said, “So what do I do?” He just looked at me and he goes, “Love them. Just love them. Just keep loving them.”
So, I don’t know where you’re at, but I can tell you for sure your marriage will be something you never dreamed it could be and it won’t be easy if you put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. But you can’t put that on unless you take off anger and rage and malice and slander and abusive speech.
I have videos that go in my mind when I have done those things, acted that way, felt those emotions. Put it off!
Now, let’s get real positive, because many of you are very convicted right now and you know what you need to put off. So, I’m not going to take you off the hook, alright?
But don’t go to bed tonight, you hear me? Don’t you – this is an order from the Commander in Chief of the universe. And it’s not because He’s mad. He wants to rescue you. Listen to Him. Do what He says. But here’s what I want you to get. The new self requires new clothes. Here’s the principle. Who we are determines how we dress.
Now, all of you, we are a bride. Do you remember that day? You were the bride. So, because you were the bride, how did you dress? How did you dress? I mean, you spent at least four hours.
I still remember, I had three boys and a girl so I only have one wedding where I got really inside – I mean, my lands! They did her hair, they did her nails, they did the dress. It was like a four or five hour getting ready. Why? Because she wanted to be beautiful and awesome for her husband.
Who you are determines how you dress. Who are you? You’re a daughter of the living God! You’re a son of the King of kings and the Lord of lords! So, how do you dress? You dress in a way that is appropriate.
I want you to imagine in your mind’s eye, and maybe some of you have been there, but you’re going to receive the distinguished medal of honor. How would you dress for the occasion? Jeans? Flip-flops? I don’t think so. See, you dress – that’s why I can give you tools galore, I can give you all kinds of techniques. And there’s a place for them.
Until you start to believe that you are chosen, that you are set apart and holy, and that you are deeply, powerfully, unconditionally loved, you’ll never dress that way. The great majority of Christians are living for God’s approval instead of from God’s approval. And the difference is night and day.
When you live from God’s approval, it’s I’m, when I carry that money in my pocket or when I choose to do things for Theresa, now, I’m not doing it because God goes, “Okay! On the big refrigerator in heaven, hey guys! Three more stars for Chip!” It doesn’t work that way.
When I do something like that, it’s, God, You have been so kind and so compassionate and so patient with me. You have so humbled Yourself to stoop, to die in my place. You have been so gracious to cause Your Spirit to dwell inside of me, to guide me. You have, in supernatural ways, provided access where I not only have the mind of Christ, but You have given me Your Word and You have told me that if I come to You, You’ll renew my mind and You will make me more and more like Jesus. As I soak that in, what happens? From God’s approval, you love.
I have been on a journey for forty years to try and believe and feel and accept that God loves me for me.
Some of you grew up in homes like I did. And my dad’s idea of love was, “You went three for four, what happened? Chip, how many times have I told you? When that curve ball comes on the inside, you step in the bucket, that’s why you grounded out the shortstop! Come on, son! Step it up!”
Four As and a B? “Son, give me your report card. What happened here?”
Now, he loved me and he thought that would, I got one degree, “So, when are you going to get your Masters?” Got that degree. “When are you going to get that? When are you going to get that?” I finally came at about thirty-five, I will never live up to my dad’s expectations.
And somehow, I translated that to that’s how God was. And He’s not. God loves you for you. If you never did anything, He loves you. He died for you while you were still a sinner. While you were His enemy.
So, here’s the problem. We have settled for techniques and self-help tools to change how we speak and to modify our emotions and behaviors to improve compatibility. I think so much of what we do in our marriages is: How do we get along better? Rather than focusing on the deep-rooted transformation of our hearts, which empowers us to give life-giving love of Christ to our mates. That’s where the real action is.
The solution is three-fold. Number one, don’t buy the lie, “I am what I have” – possessions. “I am what I accomplish” – performance. “I am what others think of me” – popularity.
Most of us, at some level, live with an “if/then”. “If/then”. If I become, then I’ll be a somebody. If I possess, then I’m a somebody. If I get a higher rank, if I make more money, if I drive this kind of car, if someday I can, if so many people have likes on Facebook, if I finally get my own…if I finally, then…
Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie. I live in the Silicon Valley and for reasons I don’t understand, I’ve discipled a lot of people that are the wealthiest, I mean, I know three billionaires. The, not that these three, I have never seen people with so much money and so much sorrow who really thought that when they went public, or when they had a few million or ten million or a hundred million or a billion. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. The human heart – I have literally sat in a room with someone who was worth over a billion dollars and said, “You know, I just don’t feel comfortable giving if my cash flow goes down between five hundred million.”
And I just thought, The deception of the human heart. And before I got very judgmental, God said, “What’s your number, Chip?” Because I have one and you have one. All I want you to know is that it’s a mirage. Don’t buy the lie. You are already valuable. You matter. Those things are things to steward.
Second, dress appropriately for your mate. You might – Jim Burns is a counselor, a teacher, a friend. And he says, “Practice awe.” A-W-E. Affirmation, warmth, and encouragement. This is what to do with your mate.
And this – it’s just a good little acronym. Do you understand that for every negative comment, your mate needs about ten positive ones? That you need to, you need to, you know, a business principle, I have a friend who is a really, really effective businessman. And one day he said, “Chip,” you know, our staff was growing and he goes, “Chip, do you want to be a really good leader and manager?” I said, “Well, yeah.” He goes, “Whatever you praise, that’s what you get.”
He said, “Quit looking for what people are doing wrong and keep, start catching them doing things right. And the moment you find, ‘Hey! Wow! Thanks for coming in a little bit early today. Boy, that was a great report. How long did that take? Well, thanks for doing that. Hey, I really appreciate that.’” And he said, “If you will praise and affirm,” he said, “we are all, we are human beings. We all long.”
Ask yourself, “How much affirmation? And I don’t mean Pollyanna, making stuff up. But I mean affirming your mate. And warmth. There’s an atmosphere that’s acceptable, that’s caring, that’s…
So often, for some of you, like, on your way home or just before, I don’t know how it works, who works where and does what, but before I walk in the door, I have a little process I go through driving on the way home that thinks, I need to get my mind, because I’m drrrr, drrrr, drrrr, thinking this, this, this. Okay, I’m going to walk in, okay, where has her day been today? What did she do? Where is she going to be at emotionally? And what does she need the moment I walk in the door?
And you know how I learned that? By not doing that a lot. And I will tell you, for years, I mean, we had kids and I ended up pastoring a church that was a pretty good size and a lot of demand. And one of the things, we ate as a family. I bet four or five nights, five thirty, we ate as a family. We shared around the table. We prayed around the table.
Man, we, that was the link. But when I came home, I just thought every woman did this. When I came home, my wife knew when I was coming home, she went, she put on fresh makeup. I came home every day to a wife that looked and cared and created an invitation of warmth.
I didn’t get someone with their hair pulled back, in sweatpants, who looked like she hadn’t showered in a couple days.
The people that your husband is working with, or vice versa, they come put together. My wife created this atmosphere of warmth, of acceptance. And then encouragement. How do you lift them up? You know, a little act here. “Hey, is there anything I can do to give you a hand?”
I found, are you ready for this? I found that counseling, out of that counseling, that running the vacuum was one of the most romantic things I could ever do. I’ll tell you what, if running the vacuum a few times means we have a romantic night, “Hey, honey, give me that Hoover, baby! Hey!”
But we all get loved in different ways. It’s a heart of compassion. It’s kindness. It’s humility.
And then we are going to wrap it with this. Have at least two couple’s conferences per week.
I paid a lot of money for this and you get it for free, so you don’t have to say thank you right now. But here’s a conference. We didn’t know how to communicate. Okay. I want you to imagine, okay, here we go, here we go, here we go. This is, okay, you’re going to do this today. You sit like this, your mate sits like this. You make eye contact. You lean forward. And as the man you say, “What are you concerned about?” And then visually, we’ll put it, put duct tape over your mouth and lean forward. Ladies, here’s what you do. Anything that comes to your mind. It doesn’t have to be…
“I’m concerned about one of our kids. I’m concerned about our relationship. I’m concerned about we don’t have enough money. I’m concerned about your mom’s health.” And, ladies, just until you can’t think of anything else. Guys, hang in there. They get shorter after a while. And then when you’re done, and by the way, men, say nothing. The only thing you can do is nod and say, “Anything else?” Okay, that’s it.
If you fix it, so help me, I’ll knock you out. So, then she says, “What are you concerned about?” And don’t give her, “Not much. Everything is okay.” She has been hearing that for years. I want you to sit there and go, “Well, I’m concerned I might get deployed. My supervisor, I think it’s an unfair situation. I’m concerned about one of our sons. I’m concerned about our money too. Gosh, I don’t know if my mom is going to live or not.”
And then second question. You say to your wife, “What do you wish?” And by the way, again, it can be, “I wish we would win the lottery. I wish we could get relocated. I wish our marriage would be ten times better than it is now.”
Go easy on that one. Whatever you wish, “I wish we could go to Disneyland. I wish we would get a check in the mail for a hundred thousand dollars.” I wish, I wish. Whatever. And then, you get it? Don’t interrupt her. I wish…
And then the last question is, “What are you willing to do?” And here’s the rule: You don’t have to do anything. But here’s what the conference does. And it can take fifteen, twenty minutes. Without arguing, what happens is you are going to hear all the things that are weighing down your partner’s life – the burdens. And you’re going to hear, if you chose to, where you could put wind in their sails.
I was so embarrassed to go to counseling. I was so embarrassed to sit in a room where someone might walk in and go, “Oh, there’s a seminary student. He needs counseling?” And the reason I would be embarrassed was because I was arrogant and proud. And your pride and your arrogance will keep you. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. His grace always flows downhill. When He finds a man or a woman who says, “I can’t do this. Will You help me?” The Spirit of God and the grace of God will rush to meet you.