Brownie Points: 4 Reasons why they may not be good for your marriage.

Cards.  Candy, Socks (one of my favorite gifts). Flowers.  They’re all those things that we purchase and hear someone say, 

“Somebody’s gonna get some brownie points for that.”

In the completely accurate source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Brownie Points are given a phenomenal definition. They’re a hypothetical social currency, which can be acquired by doing good deeds or earning favor in the eyes of another.  Regardless of the etymology, they’re essentially used for the purpose of earning approval of someone.

NOTE: I am not against gift-giving.  I’m not opposing to doing thoughtful things for your spouse.  In fact, acts that are kind, thoughtful, loving, and/or romantic should be consistently a part of your marriage (key word: consistently).  They should be the natural outflow of a healthy marital relationship.  The little things matter and need to be actively seen in marriage. But the connotation that “Brownie Points” carries, can actually be a very unhealthy to you and your spouse.  According to the definition, in the context of marriage, little acts are done to curry favor and approval that, apparently, either didn’t exist or have disappeared.  The love we see in our marriage should be spilling out from the love of Christ.  We see that love described in 1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

And because of that here are 4 reasons why brownie points may not be good for your marriage. 

1. Score keeping. Couples that keep score deteriorate. Why?  If you’ve done more acts of kindness for your spouse, you can sit back and do nothing until he/she gets caught up with what you gave.  It fosters the misunderstanding that “marriage is a 50/50 proposition.” 50/50 simply means “I give in proportion to what you give me.”  So you sit back and keep track of who did what and, often, make statements about how much more you’ve given.  But a healthy marriage is 100/100.  That means that a spouse gives all that they are regardless of what the other gives. “Love is…kind.” I give100% because that’s what type of love Christ gave me. The kindness in his immense generosity knows no bounds. 

2. One upping.  I’ll admit, I like to outdo what I’ve done before because I love Anne and enjoy doing more for her.  But “one upping” can flow into an unhealthy mentality when 1 of 2 things happen.  First, when it’s become about pride instead of about love.  We perform an act of kindness/romance and stand back and say, “Look what I’ve done for you.  You’re lucky to be married to me.”  Now no body in their right mind is going to actually say that but that’s the heart behind it. Secondly, it fosters manipulation.  “Can you do _________for me?  I did __________ for you last week.”  There’s a terrible danger of taking what is supposed to be kindness and/or romantic and it’s become a weapon used to “make” your spouse do what you want him/her to do. Remember, “love…does not insist its own way.”

3. Sets the precedence that “favor” with your spouse is something to be “won.”  I don’t think there has been a time that Anne has ever had to earn my favor.  Have we had conflict?  You better believe it.  Do we annoy each other?  At times.  But love isn’t “arrogant or rude.”  It doesn’t let the marriage operate so that one person must be satisfied so that favor may be granted upon the spouse.  How arrogant are you if you demand that your favor must be curried? Love is unconditional because it’s what Jesus showed us. And scripture tells us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”  

4. Can make forgiveness dependent upon actions. Scripture tells us that “love is…not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” Most people struggle with forgiveness because they mistaken it for trust.  They are not the same thing.  We don’t let our spouse have to earn forgiveness by actions. We love and forgive based upon what was modeled in Christ. Trust, on the other hand, is built over time. It’s grown by the fruit (consistent actions) of a healthy, contrite, and teachable heart. Is it tough to do when our spouse has broken our hearts?  Absolutely. But love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  Love never fails.  

Hear my heart.  Keep doing the little things for your spouse.  Don’t do it because of what you can get out of it nor do them as penance for wrongs that have been done.  Let them flow out of the love that you saw and experience from the love of Christ.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

What my parents didn’t teach me about marriage – Part 2

Last week, we started this new blog series that focused upon the things my parents didn’t teach me based upon some of the issues we see today.  Again, please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes.  I do not elevate anyone above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.”

To catch up, read Part 1 of the series here.

Part 2…what didn’t my parents teach me?  They didn’t teach me to operate separate from my spouse.  They showed a unified front

When I think of the definition of “oneness”, I think of my parents.  As stated in Part 1, I don’t think they’re perfect in the least bit, but I’m grateful for them NOT teaching me certain things.

One of things they NEVER taught me was “disunity.”

When I saw them make decisions, I heard discussions.  They both gave input.  Sometimes they asked us kids what we thought (even thought our opinions probably had no baring on a decision). But nevertheless, we (Rach and I) felt a part of things.  When dad and mom made the decision to go into ministry, tons of changes were coming to our lives.  They told me of the news together.

To take this unity thing further, never once did I feel they vied for the position of “favorite parent.”  I never heard language or saw actions in which one was trying to be the “nice parent” and the other would be the “disciplinarian.”  It wasn’t about “wait till ___________ gets home.”  When it came to encouragement AND discipline, both parents shared the roles and walked in unity with those roles.   If they disagreed on how the other one parented (which probably happened as I know it happens to me and Anne), I, as their child, never saw it and assumed it happened out of earshot of us kids.

Let’s go another step deeper: When dad and mom had disagreements, we (Rach and I) were not pawns in the midst of conflict.  Our heads were not filled with parents wanting us to take sides.  We were not in the awkward position of hearing information that kids should hear.  Our young minds didn’t go through the agonizing conflict that so many parents put their kids through pressuring them to “side with mom/dad”.  We were spared from being a part of the conflict. They kept it between them.

One of my favorite scriptures to quote when talking marriage is Psalm 133.  For where there is unity,

“…there the Lord commands His blessing.”

There wasn’t perfection in our home.  There wasn’t a world with rose-colored glasses (idealism). We lived modestly.  We lived real.  There was laughter and tears;  excitement and disappointment. It was just a real home, with real issues, but approached by a marriage in a unified manner.

And for that reason, I believe the blessing of God was on us.

For that reason, I thank you mom and dad for “one”.

Till next week when we look at Part 3.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devos: Crash – Day 28

Welcome to “Crash”…3 things to do every day:

Glorify God.
Pray over the daily prayer point.
Pray for the lost.
Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Crash Prayer Card 5

2 Minute Devos: Crash – Day 9

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Today’s Scripture: John 17:20-24

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be inus, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Crash Prayer Card 2

New 2 Minute Devo Series: Crash

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A rhinoceros; characterized by it’s tough skin, physical design, and pure power.  A large group or herd of rhinoceros is also known as a “Crash.”  A crash is especially dangerous because of the high amount of force and speed that is combined from the individuals coming together.

The words “one accord” in the book of Acts shows exactly what one accord will do when God is involved. The words “one accord” have a variety of meanings such as “togetherness, with one mind, harmony, united in purpose, unanimity.”   When the Acts believers reach a “crash” or a point of unity, powerful things happened.

What if the “Crash” mindset was applied to the prayer life of a church? While the prayer of an individual, according to James 5:16, “has great power and produces wonderful results.” A group, or a Crash, of those same individuals coming together to pray can have catastrophic results to the kingdom of darkness.  When people are “of one mind,” the prayer capacity of that unanimity can bring about unbelievable outcomes.

Today’s scripture: Psalm 133

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity![a]
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

#CrashOn