7 Ways To Encourage Your Married Friends
Summary: If you would like to support this podcast please consider picking up one of our marriage books. https://shop.marriageaftergod.com DESCRIPTION We think every married couple would agree that a little encouragement goes a long way! Marriage can be difficult and the enemy is good at convincing us that we should shrink back in our issues, isolate from one another, and try and get through it on our own strength. But we need to be reminded of who we are in this world, that we are loved, and that our marriage is valuable. We need to be reminded that our marriage has a great purpose for God's Kingdom. Every marriage needs this. That is why we are giving you 7 ways to encourage your married friends in this week's Marriage After God Podcast episode. We share a handful of ways you can be reminding your married friends that their marriage is worth fighting for, that they should be drawing close to God, and that they are being prayed for by you! As Christian husbands and wives, we should be encouraging other Christian husbands and wives, our dear friends, and the very people who are part of the same body, one body, Christ's body! Let's be the kind of friends that are loving, sacrificial, and willing to serve. Let's be light in people's lives. We hope this episode inspires you to reach out to your friends today, let them know they are not alone and that their marriage is valuable. The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time - by Sally Clarkson -> https://amzn.to/2Vn2xpS READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're gonna share seven ways to encourage your married friends. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life, [Aaron] love, [Jennifer] and power [Aaron] that can only be found by chasing after God [Jennifer] together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us for the first episode of 2019. [Jennifer] Woo hoo! [Aaron] Yeah. And we just wanna invite you to leave a review. If you've been enjoying this podcast since last year and are just loving the content, if you wanna help get the word out, one of the best ways to do that is to leave a star rating, which is super easy, you just scroll to the bottom of the iTunes app, if you're listening on iTunes, and you hit a star rating, that's enough. And if you want to do more, you can actually leave a text review, and we read through those all. They're really encouraging and yeah. We'd just love to invite you to do that. [Jennifer] We'd also like you to know that one of the ways that this podcast is supported is through people like you shopping through our store. So if you would like to check out just the resources that we've created for you for your marriage to encourage you guys, go to shop.marriageaftergod.com. [Aaron] Okay, so let's start off with our icebreaker question. Jennifer, what is one thing you are passionate about? [Jennifer] Well, something I don't know if they know about me is I'm very passionate about art. I love all things art, but specifically painting and restoring furniture. So like, I just got an old desk for Olive and it was multicolored and had designs on it and-- [Aaron] It was unique, yeah. [Jennifer] It was very unique, very bold dark blue and green. But I just, I covered it all with some chalk paint and did this kind of antique finish on it. It turned out really great, went to Hobby Lobby, got some knobs for it, so just doing kind of creative things like that, I love jumping into projects like that. [Aaron] Yeah, and you're good at it, too. [Jennifer] Aw, thanks. [Aaron] You should actually post some pictures from old art projects you've done in the past, like the blue lady-- [Jennifer] Maybe I'll do that. [Aaron] And I'm thinking of the Jesus painting you did a while ago. You're actually really good at it. [Jennifer] Thanks. What about you? [Aaron] Yeah, something I'm passionate about, I'm actually passionate about, and this wasn't planned, but I'm passionate about helping people with their businesses. Maybe people don't know this about me, but I do a little bit of consulting here and there. I don't do it publicly necessarily, but like, lots of our friends I've helped with their businesses, with their websites, with the creative, the marketing, I actually really love it. [Jennifer] Yeah, you're good at that, too. I feel like you have just something unique about you where you could just seriously look at any kind of business project, any goal that someone has and go, oh yeah, this is what you should do to make it awesome. [Aaron] And sometimes it works. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, but that's what I'm passionate about. I like the one on one consulting-- [Jennifer] The going back and forth. [Aaron] The going back and forth, the brainstorming, the ideation. [Jennifer] Ideation, that's what you're good at. That's awesome. [Aaron] So that's what we're passionate about. There's a lot of things we're passionate about, but those are some specific ones that people might not know about us. Okay, so we have, before we get into the main topic, we have a quote from the book, The Lifegiving Table, by Sally Clarkson. [Jennifer] This is a really great book if you guys wanna jump into for, well the subtitle is Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time, and she talks a lot about just creating your family culture around the table and she gives ideas on how to do that. She even gives recipes in the book, but on page 219 she says this: "Having deep, meaningful relationships "is not just a pleasant addition to our lives, "but an element essential to our identities." [Aaron] That's good. And it's about what we're talking about today. [Jennifer] Yeah, so we're gonna be talking about friendships and specifically your friends who are married and engaging in community with them. [Aaron] And specifically on how your marriage can be an encouragement to those other marriages. Because a part of being a marriage after God is not that it's just about us and what we're doing in the world and God's using us for, but that we are walking with other Christians as the body of Christ, for his purposes, for what he's doing, and one of those things, man, the New Testament, I feel like almost everything that's said in the New Testament is about our relationship with one another. You know, especially the Book of Ephesians, which is the relationship book, it's about our relationship with God, our relationship with each other as husband and wife, with our children. And so God loves relationships. [Jennifer] Yeah, he does. [Aaron] He came because of relationships. He died for relationship. [Jennifer] And Sally actually mentions just before that quote that I just read, she mentions how God created us in His image, and if He's a relational being then we are as well. [Aaron] Yeah, and that's exactly what we are, and I feel like one of the things the enemy does is makes us wanna be alone, wants to get us away from community with other believers, makes us feel like we're the only ones who think the way we think, or every time I get close to people, I get hurt. Which is funny, 'cause that's exactly how relationships work, they're sticky. [Jennifer] They're messy, yeah. [Aaron] They're messy. And you're probably not close enough to someone if you're not feeling hurt sometimes. Doesn't mean that we should be hurting each other, but it's just, it's natural for that to happen. But the enemy doesn't like it. He doesn't like us being connected with one another, closely tied together, 'cause we're stronger together. It's true in every aspect of life. You see it in the animal kingdom, you see it in the human kingdom, and when we're together, when we're unified, when we're one, when we're walking together, we strengthen each other, we're less prone to being attacked, we're less prone to falling, and when we do, we have someone to pick us up. Right? And so we're gonna talk a little bit about how your marriage, you listening right now, can encourage other marriages. [Jennifer] And it's so important 'cause I mean, when I think about some of the kingdom work, the things that God has us purposed to do, I think about evangelism and I think about telling, sharing the gospel with people who don't know Him. [Aaron] Yeah, the lost, yeah. [Jennifer] Right, the lost. But it's also so important to remember that even as Christians, we need to be reminded of these things, we need to be reminded of who God is in our life and how He's working and how He's moving in our life, and I think that's such a great thing about friendship is we can do that for each other. And that's why I'm really excited about this episode, 'cause we're gonna give you some kind of practical things and just encourage you to be those type of people in your relationships with your other married couple friends. [Aaron] Yeah, and if it wasn't for other marriages encouraging us, we would not be here today. [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] As in, we'd probably be divorced, but we had couples who loved us enough to dive into our messiness, to peer in, to say hard things to us, to encourage us, to be there late into the night. You know, we've talked about this in past episodes, you talk about it in your book, but just all the tears, all the laughter, all the late nights, all the food. There's all these things that were incorporated into our relationships and people loving on us and walking with us. [Jennifer] And we all need that. Like, even those listening, they're probably going well I need that. I just wanna encourage all of us to be the people that we need in our lives. [Aaron] That's a good one. We need to be the people. Yeah, we need to be the example, we need to. And you know what? Sometimes we don't feel like we can be that person, but we still should be. Because it's the times that you feel like you can't be it that you probably need to be it. [Jennifer] So this is really funny, it reminds me of growing up, my grandma used to say 'cause we'd all eat a bunch of food when we got to her house and then we'd all just wanna like, lay around on the couch and she'd go, 'kay it's time for a walk, 'cause that's the best time to take a walk, is when you feel like you don't-- [Aaron] You wanna go to bed. [Jennifer] Yeah, when you feel like you wanna go to bed or when you feel like you can't. [Aaron] And hasn't science like, proven that now? It's like, it helps with digestion to go for a walk after you eat? [Jennifer] I don't know, I just remember my grandma always saying it. [Aaron] Grandma knew things. Yeah, so-- [Jennifer] So here's our encouragement to you, to go take a walk. No. [Aaron] Yeah, go get some food, take a walk. No but, I feel like this is important to, 'cause we all have friends, but how many of us have friends that we know intimately, that they're more like family to us? And I think it needs to be happening more in the Church. If we realize that being a part of the body of Christ literally means that we are unified with other Christians, not just well yeah, I go to church with so-and-so and oh yeah, they're nice but they don't know anything about you and they're never in your life. And we can't do this with every single Christian, but we can do it with some. [Jennifer] Yeah, and those who are already closest to us. [Aaron] Oh yeah. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, so why don't we just get into the seven ways? [Jennifer] Let's do it. Okay, you wanna start with number one? [Aaron] Yeah. You mentioned a minute ago about the gospel and how in evangelism, preaching the gospel to the lost, but when I read the Bible, when I read the New Testament, it's all about reminding the believer of what the gospel says. It's pretty incredible if you think about it. Doesn't mean we shouldn't preach the gospel to the lost, that's what we preach the gospel for, is for salvation, that Jesus would be preached and that people would turn their hearts to him and that they would join the body of Christ. But those that are in the body of Christ, I believe we need to be preaching the gospel to each other more often, not just assuming like, oh everyone, yeah, we're saved, we got the gospel. The gospel is the power of God. It's the thing that changes us, and many of the hard things that we walk through in life and like, our sins and things that we might have a hard time escaping, is because we haven't, either we've forgotten the gospel or we haven't truly understood it. Because the gospel is the thing that saves us, it's the thing that transforms us, it's the thing that makes us be like Christ. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] Yeah, so I wanna read this scripture, it's Romans 1:16. Paul says this, he says, "For I am not "ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God, "for salvation to everyone who believes, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek." And so in encouraging our friends, I think one of the most powerful things we can do is constantly be reminding them of the gospel, that we were once sinners lost in our sin, deserving the wrath of God because he's a just God, but because God loved us so much, John 3:16, he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him will not perish under the wrath that we deserve. Jesus took the wrath we deserved, and if we believe in him and we follow him, we actually receive salvation and grace. And our relationship with God is made new and that's the gospel. [Jennifer] Preach it. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] It's so good. So here's the thing that I know that this episode is for us to get our minds on our friends and how we can be a vessel of God's love and grace toward them, but when we say what you just said, when we have a heart directed towards our friends in reminding them of the gospel, what does that actually do for us? Like what's, there's benefit there. [Aaron] I think it's like, practice first of all. Practice preaching the gospel. You know, sadly I believe many Christians don't even know what the actual gospel is. And so saying it over and over again, it not only reminds us, but it gives us practice on how to preach the gospel. And you're preaching it in a safe environment 'cause you're preaching it to someone who already believes it. [Jennifer] Right. [Aaron] And you're reminding them, so you're loving them and you're saying hey, brother, sister, all these things that you're walking in right now, filter them through the gospel. Remember that we actually, what we deserve is eternal punishment. And but because God loved us so much and he sent his son to die for us, we don't get eternal punishment, we get all of the benefits of being a son of God and a daughter of God, which is what the Bible teach us, that is the gospel. [Jennifer] Yeah, and I just feel like if we're sharing the gospel with our friends, if we're reminding them of who we are in light of God's love story, then we're gonna be reminded of that constantly. It's gonna be on the forefront of our minds. [Aaron] Exactly, it will. And I think about when you have a brother and sister walking in sin. Like let's say you have a married couple, friends of yours, and the husband's not necessarily loving his wife as Christ loves the Church, which is what Ephesians five teaches us. Or you have a wife not walking in reverence or submission to her husband and you say hey, I just wanna encourage you guys, do you remember what the gospel says? Like, if you recognize what we should've gotten but what we do receive, it actually brings us back to a place of healthy reverence and fear for the Lord and it reminds us of his goodness. And then you know what? It often brings us to repentance. Lord, you know what? I'm so sorry. Change me and make me like you want me to be because I love you and you've given me everything that I don't deserve. It reminds us of how we can be and who we should be and who God's made us to be and who He sees us as already, which is awesome. So the gospel I think is the most powerful thing we can continually be doing in our friends' lives, and like you said, it reminds us, too. [Jennifer] Yeah. Okay, so moving on to number two, and when we were going through the notes, I actually asked Aaron, isn't that the same as number one? And so I'm gonna let Aaron explain it, but it's share with them the truth of God's word. [Aaron] Yeah, so it definitely is. The gospel is a part of that, but there's often just practically, think about how many times for you, you've been going through something and I remind you of certain scriptures-- [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] That are truth and promises, and instead of you walking in the feeling, you're like, oh I can actually look at that and start thinking on that and dwelling on that. [Jennifer] Okay that's good, and I've had other friends reach out to me through a text message and you know, share a verse with me and just let me know that they're thinking about me and praying for me, and that is really powerful. So sharing God's word-- [Aaron] Yeah, there's nothing more powerful than the word of God. [Jennifer] Yeah, so sharing God's word with them, and practically, it could look like a phone call, a text message, a card, you know, all those things. Word of mouth, when you're sitting in front of them with coffee. [Aaron] Yeah, a little note on this, we've gotta be in the word of God. [Jennifer] In order to share it. [Aaron] To be prepared to share it, 'cause our friends might come to us and just mention something that they're going through or the way they're talking you just think like, oh man, I think they need to hear this. They're not thinking about this correctly. And then finding that scripture and saying, hey can I just read something to you? What's awesome about the word of God is instead of it just being my opinion, I think you should do this. Even if my opinion is founded in the word of God, it's still just me. But I can say hey, I just want you to know that like, lemme read this to you. Now what has to happen is they have to argue with the Bible. [Jennifer] Yeah, the authority of God. [Aaron] Yeah, as long as we're coming in a heart of love and encouragement, and our heart is to help them grow and we're gonna treat them the way we wanna be treated. Man, scripture is powerful. The Bible tells us that the word of God does not come, it goes out and does not return void. Meaning it's going to accomplish what it's going to accomplish. [Jennifer] Yeah. That's really good and I was just thinking, if your friends are married, chances are you, even if you don't know the specifics of what they might be going through in that week, you know that marriage can be difficult, and so you can just find a verse that's gonna encourage that. Like, does that make sense? [Aaron] Yeah, and you could be sending them like, large portions of scripture. Be like, hey can I encourage you today to read this chapter? And just say, look out for this word or look out for this. You know, I feel like God's heart for you is He wants you to know this about Himself. He wants you to know this about yourself. And on top of that, encouraging your friends to be in the word of God. Saying hey, are you guys reading? [Jennifer] Yeah that's huge. Challenge them, yeah. [Aaron] Jennifer we talk about this often, the times that we feel ourselves slipping into this routine of a little bit of bickering, which is totally sinful, we've talked about this in the past. [Jennifer] Just poor attitudes. [Aaron] Poor attitudes or just bad perspectives, discontentment. We realize man, we haven't been very consistent in the word of God. We've gotten out of sync, because the word of God puts our minds on the spirit rather than the flesh, and when we're not in the word of God, our natural tendency is just to walk in the flesh. So just continually reminding them. [Jennifer] A couple weeks ago I had, we were over at some friend's house and I was sitting on the couch with the wife and I asked her, I said so you know, have you been reading lately? Are you getting into a routine of being in God's word? And she shared with me that she had but it was kind of a struggle, and so I got to encourage her. And then she goes, what about you? And I was like, oh man, this is so good that I asked that question because I needed it myself. And I had just-- [Aaron] And you're like no. [Jennifer] No I was honest with her, I go you know, it's been really hard for me to get up in the morning and I wasn't doing that and so it challenged me to then change. And so I just think you know, being willing to even go to those hard places and ask those hard questions knowing they're probably gonna ask you back, it's good, it's all good. [Aaron] And you bring up a really good point. I think this is why a lot of people avoid saying things, because we know internally that-- [Jennifer] It's gonna come back to us. [Aaron] Well, the moment we say it, either we're lying or we're a hypocrite or we're doing it. [Jennifer] But this is also why we need that. Like, we need this. [Aaron] Yeah, walking in light as he is in light, as Jesus prays for us in John 17 and in first John, chapter one, he says if we have fellowship with God, then we have fellowship with one another. And if we walk in the light, then we, we'll have fellowship with one another. So the light that we walk in is doing and saying the things that God wants us to do, even if it means that we're going to also be told the same things. And that's the point of it, is that we're growing together and being built up together. And so man, you're right, saying something means you're gonna be vulnerable and have to be told the same thing or at least hear the same thing because you're saying it out of your own mouth. [Jennifer] Yeah. And just a practical note for this portion of this episode, what are some hard questions that they can ask their friends besides are you in the word? 'Cause I know another one is hey, have you been submissive to your husband? How are you guys doing in that department? [Aaron] That's a hard one to ask, right? [Jennifer] Well I know you and the guys usually ask, what do you guys usually ask? [Aaron] We ask each other does your wife feel cherished? And often the question is, and we wrote this in our book, my pastor always brings it up, could your wife say today that she is the most cherished woman she knows? And so for the husbands listening right now, I have a question for you. Is your wife the most cherished woman she knows? Could she say that? And if you can think to yourself I don't know if she would say that, you need to ask yourself that question. You need to figure out how to walk the way Ephesians 5:25 tells you to walk. [Jennifer] And then when you're catching up with your friends who are also married, who are also husbands and wives, be willing to ask each other hard questions like this, because this is what's gonna encourage us but also change us. [Aaron] And if someone who says they're your friend says it's none of your business, then you should ask yourself if that person really sees you as a friend. [Jennifer] Or be praying for them even more. [Aaron] Because it should be our business. I think of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel, this is in the beginning of the Bible, and God comes to Cain and says where's your brother? And he says what, am I my brother's keeper? And the point was is God asked him where his brother was at, which means God was asking him where his brother was at. So do we know where our brothers are at? Or we can just say like, I'm not my brother's keeper. And in reality, that's not loving our brothers at all. [Jennifer] Right, if we love them we'll know where they're at. [Aaron] And we're actually supposed to be keepers of each other's hearts and relationships with God, and we walk with each other and it's safe, and so yes, we are keepers of our brothers and we just have to realize that. And so, that means I'm accountable to other Christians. If they ask me hey, is your wife cherished? I'm responsible as a believer to say truthfully yes or no, not get out of my business. Because if I don't want another Christian in my business, then am I a Christian? Because we're all a part of the same body. [Jennifer] Right, it's all one body. That's really good. So for those listening, if they have been resistant to let people into those intimate parts of their lives, this is a challenge for them to hear, to give maybe not everyone, maybe just a handful of people that permission. [Aaron] Yeah, and for those that are feeling that, like oh maybe we're not letting people in, go read Proverbs 18:1. It's a good scripture to talk about that kind of person who does that. [Jennifer] Yeah. Okay, so let's move on to number three, and it's be friendly. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man who has friends "must himself be friendly, but there is a friend "who sticks closer than a brother." [Aaron] That's powerful. Like, it seems totally simple, right? But if you wanna have friends, we gotta be friendly. Like, so are we just being friendly, are we reaching out? Are we opening up our hearts? Are we laughing with, or are we just like sticks in the mud, which is how I can be sometimes. [Jennifer] Are we being vulnerable? [Aaron] Yeah, are we being vulnerable? [Jennifer] Are we being truthful? Because sometimes you can be in a room with people and you can kind of just tell, you know, they're not-- [Aaron] Yeah, we're surface level. [Jennifer] They're being surface level or they're not being open with me. [Aaron] Yeah, and friendly is like not, like we just kind of were talking about it before, not being afraid to let people in, not being afraid to be seen and known. [Jennifer] Yeah. I feel like being friendly also comes with thoughtfulness. Like, you have to be thoughtful of each other and maybe even what each other likes. Like, I have a handful of girlfriends who I know what kind of coffee they like and I can randomly drop it off for them when I know they're having a hard day, or you know, just little things like that. I think thoughtfulness is such a big part of friendship. That can be an encouragement. [Aaron] And I think of friendly, there's a word I also think of, of light. Like, are we light around our friends? Do they feel like it's always this work to be in our presence? Or is it light to be in our presence? And that's kind of what I think about friendly. We've had relationships in the past, Jennifer, that they always felt heavy. Not that they were necessarily going through heavy things, it just felt like work to be around those people. And we made it a point to like, not be those people. So there's times that we'll ask hey, how are we being as friends? Are we easy to be around or are we hard to be around? [Jennifer] I also wanna make a note that we never let those relationships go just because they felt heavy. We felt it was our responsibility to be accountable to them still and to love them still and to be-- [Aaron] Took more work. [Jennifer] It did take more work, but I just wanna encourage those listening, if you have relationships, be praying for those couples and maybe talk about this, you know, with them, but don't give up on them. [Aaron] Or even say the hard thing and have them over for dinner, have no kids around and say, can we just share with you something? We love you, but you're hard. That's the truth of it. Hey we love you, but it's hard. Like, there's these things that have happened, and can we work on this together? How can we help you? How can, is there something you haven't recognized? But having those conversations means that you're being friendly. Like hey, we want to be in this relationship with you. We don't wanna just, 'cause the easy thing to do is you just write it off. And some people say let's dust our sandals off. That's the easy thing to do, but that's not what we do to the others in the body of Christ. We don't just dust people off. [Jennifer] Yeah, I would say a marriage after God is loyal and faithful and loves deeply and cares about the hearts of those people. So we don't just walk away from them. [Aaron] Now there are, we're not gonna get into this, but there are biblical reasons to cut off relationships. [Jennifer] Well, if you and your husband have set boundaries and those boundaries are being broken, absolutely I feel like that's necessary. [Aaron] Or if there's unrepentant sin and it's been called out but is not being, and those people aren't being willing to change, then the Bible tells us to avoid those people. But we're talking about normal Christian relationships, friends, not someone who's walking in unrepentant sin. [Jennifer] Okay, so be friendly. Aaron, do you wanna hit number four? [Aaron] Number four is be hospitable. This one could be hard, especially if you want your house to be a certain way all the time. [Jennifer] Like you have expectations. [Aaron] Yeah, or the people that you might, the friends you might invite over have more kids than you do or older kids or younger kids or, there's lots of scenarios that could be-- [Jennifer] Different dynamics. [Aaron] Difficult to say let's open up our home and have people over. But man, the Bible, God, the word of God tells us that we should be hospitable people. First Peter four, eight through nine says, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, "since love covers a multitude of sins. "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." So there's, I mean those are two verses that are super powerful in themselves, like love covers a multitude of sins? Which means if we can love with a Christ kind of love with our Christian brothers and sisters, there's a lot of things that that covers. It's pretty incredible. Now again, if someone's in unrepentant sin, that's different than someone who's come to you and repented of their sin. But our love can cover it, but the showing hospitality to one another. [Jennifer] What does that look like practically? [Aaron] Practically it means, hospitality means to open up what's ours. It is available. What I have is available to you. [Jennifer] And I wanna encourage people on this because sometimes we can look at a situation and think well, we don't have enough, and then therefore you're not gonna be hospitable in that moment, but how many times have a friend texted us and said they're in town, can they stop by for dinner? And I kind of like, I look at everything and it's halfway made and I'm thinking that very same thing, I don't think that there's enough, and then they get there and I spread everything out and it was a perfect amount. It was like exactly what we needed. [Aaron] Well and also just on that side of things, like of not having enough, the reason for having them over isn't because we have enough, it's to-- [Jennifer] It's because we wanna share it with them. [Aaron] It's because we're gonna share what we do have. [Jennifer] What we do have, yeah. That's good. [Aaron] And so we can, this is practically for us in the way we think and for those listening, hospitality is not sharing what you don't have, it's sharing what you do have. And so being willing to share, it's as simple as hey, you absolutely can come over, we would love to have dinner for you guys. We may not have enough to make you super full, so if you have anything you wanna bring, do it. But otherwise, just come and we will share with you what we have. [Jennifer] Now, there's other hospitality, too, where you kind of plan and prepare for it, knowing that you wanna bless this family or that family or that couple. [Aaron] So you save up for it. [Jennifer] And you save up for it or maybe they have a bigger family and you don't have enough utensils, go and get some plastic and just have a nice dinner on paper plates and plastic utensils. [Aaron] And there's something beautiful about having a little bit, too. And there's nothing wrong with having a little bit. You mentioned the bigger family thing. That's actually a good thought, 'cause sometimes we can feel, we can evaluate relationships and say well, me and you, we only have one kid, so we don't need to invite the family over that has four because they should do the opposite, like it's gonna be harder for us to accommodate a family of six because we're not used to that, so therefore, someone else should do it. But in reality, there's something beautiful about inviting that big family over because how often does that big family get invited to places? [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] We've actually had a situation in our own fellowship of big families saying we'd love to be invited over, we'd love to be thought of that way. [Jennifer] Yeah. So I have another example, when we were first married and we were in Christian community, we actually expected people to be hospitable to us because it was just us, and we could easily just come over and spend time with families. [Aaron] Yeah, we did have a one-way expectation. [Jennifer] We had a one-way expectation because we didn't have any kids and it was just easier, that we never invited really people over. I mean maybe a handful of times, but not-- [Aaron] Yeah, you're right. [Jennifer] Not very often. And I just thought about that just now, and so I just wanna encourage those listening who maybe they don't have kids, all the more be willing to open up what you do have and share that and build those relationships with people in a different life stage because there's good in all of it. God has created us to be able to encourage one another no matter where we are in our different life stages. [Aaron] Yeah and I think on the other side of that, we also didn't have much, we had not a lot of money, we didn't have a lot to give, we didn't have like, 20 plates and all these things, right? So we had this mentality of like, well since we have less, people that have more should take care of us. But Jesus points out the woman who gave her last mite, and he says she gave more, 'cause she gave out of her poverty, than that rich man who gave out of his wealth. And so there's something spiritually powerful about having the heart of hospitality even when you have little. [Jennifer] Yeah, and not letting expectations trip you up or stop you. [Aaron] No, but just out of a heart of like, God, I don't know how we're gonna bless these people but we'll share what we have. And invite someone, they may say no, but open up your home and open up what you have to other believers. And you never know, you might, we've seen this before. There was a time that me and you, I'm not trying to just toot our own horn, but we blessed a friend of ours who was in a much different financial situation than us, and it blew their mind. Because they're like, why would you give to us? We could've totally taken care of this and we're financially stable, when we were not in that place. And it actually totally ministered to them and showed them a level of generosity that's never been shown before to them. Just because we were obedient, we didn't think like, well they have enough, we don't need to help them. That's not how we were thinking. [Jennifer] No, we felt like God was telling us to do this and we were just trying to be obedient. [Aaron] Yeah, we were like hey let's bless so-and-so with this. And so the hospitality part of this is just a, it could be a powerful ministry tool to grow the Church, to build each other up. So why don't you do number five? [Jennifer] Okay, number five is be sacrificial. [Aaron] Which kinda ties in. [Jennifer] Yeah, I mean, I was telling Aaron, being sacrificial is kind of required with all of these. Whether it's time, energy, resources, whatever it is, but we just wanted to point out that a marriage after God, when it comes to their friendships and their married friends, they're sacrificial. They're available to other couples. They can be inconvenienced by them. [Aaron] Which is a sacrifice of our comfort. [Jennifer] And our time. [Aaron] Like getting a call in the middle of the night to help someone. Being up late with a couple to cry with them, to pray with them, to read to them, to support them. There's many ways, sacrificially, financially. Like oh, this person, so-and-so needs rent or groceries or whatever, or a date night. So yeah, just sacrificing our time for them, our talents, our energy, and just realizing that what God's given us isn't just for us, it's to be used for the body. [Jennifer] Yeah, John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, "than to lay down one's life for his friends." Are we doing that? [Aaron] Yeah, do we lay ourselves down or do we think like, well I would've done that but that was too inconvenient. [Jennifer] So I want those listening to do something real quick. Just the first couple that pops into your mind, your friends, your close friends-- [Aaron] Ooh, I like this. [Jennifer] Who are married, when was the last time you were sacrificial for them? That you expressed love in a sacrificial way? [Aaron] So just think about it, and then I would take it even a step further and say call them, text them. And as a couple, do something for them. [Jennifer] Find a way to love them. [Aaron] Yeah. Just go out of your way for that couple. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to number six is pray for them and with them. [Aaron] Ooh. Praying for them's easy. [Jennifer] Sometimes not. [Aaron] I guess you're right, yeah. [Jennifer] Sometimes people struggle with prayer. But Aaron and I, a large portion of our ministry is to encourage you guys with prayer to pray, to be warriors of prayer, and this is important. [Aaron] I think of the scripture that says, it's the greatest commandment. The Pharisees came to Jesus and they said Jesus, what's the greatest commandment? And he tells them, he's like you tell me. And the Pharisee says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. And in that situation, the Pharisee challenged him and said well, who's my neighbor? Well, we know who our closest neighbors are, it's our spouse. And then our other neighbors are brothers and sisters in Christ. And then there's our physical neighbors that live nextdoor to us. So we know who our neighbors are. But loving your neighbor as yourself, how many listening wouldn't love someone to pray for them? We get messages all the time of saying could you pray for me? Can you pray for my marriage? So if you want to be prayed for and prayed over and prayed with and thought of in that way and taken care of in that way, then love your neighbor as yourself. [Jennifer] Yeah, be those people. [Aaron] Pray without ceasing for your brothers and sisters in Christ so that they won't stumble, so that they will be encouraged, so that they will be strong and walk in purity. And be encouraging in the word of God and strengthened to do ministry and be healed and blessed and like, all the things that you would wanna be prayed for, pray for them. [Jennifer] Yeah. And sometimes you can go out of your way to ask them hey, what do you need prayer for? Hey, I'm praying for you right now, what can I pray for you? Text them, ask them. You know? It's powerful. [Aaron] A pet peeve of mine is, and we all have done this, I'm gonna pray for you and then don't pray. So make it a point. I've made it a point any time I tell someone I'm gonna pray for them, if I text it, if I, I stop in that moment and I pray. [Jennifer] Yeah, me too. [Aaron] I've just made it a habit because I didn't wanna be that yeah, I'll pray for you and just, now it's now a phrase that we say. Of like, I'm thinking of you. No, let's be in prayer for each other, because this world is wicked and the enemy wants to destroy us and to steal from us, and we just need to be battling for each other. [Jennifer] I was just thinking like, there's a whole spiritual battle going on and obviously the enemy hates marriage because God created it and God loves it and God uses it-- [Aaron] He hates everything God made. [Jennifer] Yeah, which means that all of our marriages, not one of us is outside of this truth, and that is that our marriages are under attack constantly. [Aaron] Yeah, and our faith and this, and Christ's Church just as a whole. So we need to praying for each other. You know, you pray for us, we'd love that. Pray for our marriage. [Jennifer]Thanks. [Aaron] Pray for our children. Pray for our families. So prayer is one of the ways you can encourage your, oh and then praying for them, like with them. Be in the presence of your friends and say we're gonna pray for you right now. [Jennifer] Yeah, maybe when you have them over that week for dinner, just set some time aside to say hey, we'd love to pray for you. [Aaron] Speaking of prayer, I was just at a friend's house today and he was telling me how his wife's just dealing with headaches, and I said let's go pray for her. And so before I left, me and him went down and we prayed for her. [Jennifer] That's awesome. I didn't know that, that's cool. [Aaron] And why don't we do that more? Like, why don't I do that more? And I'm talking to myself right now. We need to get in a spiritual habit of just praying for each other. I think a lot of things would change in our marriages. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to the last one, number seven. [Aaron] Serve your friends. Serve 'em. I think if the scenario that Jesus did when he was in the upper room before he went to go die on the cross and he geared up his garb, wrapped it around his waist, got a bucket of water and a towel and he walked around and he scrubbed all of his disciples' feet. And he says do this, what you see me doing, do for one another. So, do we serve each other? Now, speaking allegorically about the feet, are we willing to touch our friends' dirty feet? What I mean is like, are we willing to get dirty with our friends and get into the muck and the mire of life and the painful things and serve them? [Jennifer] I know you said this in the beginning, but had our friends not done that with us, the people who became our friends by serving us, if we didn't have that, we wouldn't be here today. [Aaron] And Jesus wants us to do that. He wants us to be willing to touch our brothers and sisters. Like spiritually, physically, emotionally, that we are part of their lives so close that, and for the purpose of cleaning and washing and purifying. [Jennifer] As you're saying that, cleaning and washing, I'm thinking like, we are all part of one body, okay, and if, let's take my body. My hands don't say I'm not gonna touch your hair, I'm not gonna wash your hair, and so I just go without washing my hair for a year, that would be really nasty. [Aaron] Yeah, if you had off-balance hygiene, you would not be approachable as a woman. [Jennifer] Well so take it in light of the body of Christ and his bride, who he's coming back for who should be spotless and blameless-- [Aaron] Is going to be. [Jennifer] And beautiful, then we should be willing to serve different parts of the body for this reason. [Aaron] And this doesn't mean that we serve the ones that can serve us back and serve the ones that we click well with and serve the ones who are easy to be around. We serve all of them. [Jennifer] So I keep going back to this picture of a body, I know it's funny, but-- [Aaron] That's what the Bible uses! [Jennifer] As you're talking I'm like you're right, so like, my hand can reach back and scratch my back but my back can't really do much for, [Aaron] Your back can't do much for-- [Jennifer] For anything. [Aaron] Yeah, your hands do that. [Jennifer] But it is holding me up, so. [Aaron] There you go. [Jennifer] This is just really interesting. [Aaron] But that's what we do, so are we servants? Are we servants? Christ, he says he didn't claim the royalty and the fame that he could've. Instead, he came as a servant, humble, as a child. [Jennifer] And the Bible tells us to walk as he walked. [Aaron] Yeah, so do we have that heart? Is our heart to lay ourselves down for our friends? [Jennifer] So hopefully those listening are just right along with us going yes, we're gonna serve our friends today. What are some practical ways? What does this look like, what are some ways that they can serve? 'Cause maybe they want to serve but now they're just wondering okay, how do we do that? What should they know? [Aaron] Well, I think of just some simple practical things, helping them. Do they need help with anything? [Jennifer] Well you have to know their needs. [Aaron] You have to know their needs. So shooting a text. Last year I tried getting in the habit of randomly texting friends from our community, just saying hey is there anything you need? Often they say no, but then there's time where they're like actually yeah, like we could use this or we really need a date. We've just been in the thick of having new children and we have not had a date in weeks. [Jennifer] So babysit your friends' kids so they can go have a date. [Aaron] Yeah. Maybe they're just, maybe there's some sickness. Hey, can we come over and just clean your house? Just wanna, we're gonna clean your house. You relax, we're gonna bring you food and I'm gonna scrub your toilets and I'm gonna clean your floorboards, and I'm gonna do your dishes, and just relax and you don't have to worry about it. Those are physical needs, those are just things that all of us would love. Like, if someone just came over and cleaned our house sometimes, I would be so-- [Jennifer] Or yard work. [Aaron] Or just came over and I'm like hey, so-and-so's in the backyard mowing the lawn. [Jennifer] Awesome. [Aaron] That would be so cool. [Jennifer] The other day, we've been trying to consider what we can do for our neighbors and how our neighbors are just right there-- [Aaron] Yeah, our actual neighbors that live nextdoor to us. [Jennifer] Every day, that we see. And we were leaving our house and there was a little bit of snow that piled up on the driveway, and one of our nextdoor neighbors was push brooming the snow out of another neighbor's driveway, she's an elderly woman, and I just thought how cool, he's amazing. Like, way to go. And that inspired Aaron to then go to her nextdoor neighbor and do the same thing for her. [Aaron] Well, you did actually encourage me to do it, which is good 'cause we're a team. And I went over there and it took me 20 minutes to go sweep her, the snow off of her driveway, and it's another elderly lady, and she was actually walking out to go to her mail and it was, her driveway was so slippery. [Jennifer] Oh, really? [Aaron] Yeah, and so I was like hey, can I just take this to the mailbox for you? It was like, right across the street and she was like yeah, absolutely. It was awesome. It was just a little thing. [Jennifer] So when we serve people like this, it brings blessing for those who are on the receiving end, but it also sets an example. It inspires people, it makes others want to do nice things and be thoughtful and serve and be the hands and feet of Christ. So I think that all around, it's so important to be servants. [Aaron] So I just wanna end with one more scripture to close out this topic before we pray for them, and it's the reason why we would want to do any of this stuff for brothers and sisters in Christ. For our married couples that we're friends with, for those that love God and are part of the body. In John 13:35 it says, "By this, all people will know "that you are my disciples "if you have love for one another." And in first John, John says, "Do not love "in words only, but in deed and in truth." So we show our love by the things we do for each other. And that kinda love should be so supernatural that when the world sees how we love each other, they will know that we're disciples of Christ. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] And in John 17, Jesus says, "The world will know "that God sent me by the love you have for each other." So not only will they know we're disciples of Christ, they'll also know that God sent Jesus. [Jennifer] So we have to be doing this. [Aaron] It's the ministry that we have in the world. [Jennifer] It's the ministry. [Aaron] It's what our whole book's about, actually. [Jennifer] Yes, yeah. Which, a great-- [Aaron] Not to plug it, but I'm plugging it. [Jennifer] No, but since you went there I'm just gonna say, it comes out in June, you guys, and a great way to encourage your married friends is go through this book with them. [Aaron] Ooh, that's a cool idea. [Jennifer] I know they can't do it now, we're gonna be going through a series leading up to the book launch, but I just feel like if couples can be going through this book together and asking each other questions about it and saying what ministry are we doing for God's kingdom? Oh my gosh, I just, my mind is blown by just-- [Aaron] The movement that would start. [Jennifer] Yeah! Yeah, it's incredible. [Aaron] We're excited about it. We thank you for joining us today. I pray that these seven ways to encourage your married friends blessed you, and I pray that it charges you or excites you or it gets you moving in the direction of unity in the body. More and more marriages and Christians in general would just be unified in loving each other in this way. [Jennifer] And don't wait. It's not next week or the week after-- [Aaron] Today. [Jennifer] Start today! Just do it. [Aaron] Alright, so before we close out, we've been committed to praying for you at the end of each episode, and so we're gonna pray for you. [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for the friends in our lives. Lord, give us a heart of encouragement for them. Give us words that will affirm them and give strength to their marriage relationship. Show us how we can love our friends better and help them know You more. May we be witnesses in this world by how we love one another and walk with each other in truth and in light. Help us be more vulnerable and open with our friends. Help us to create an environment where our friends feel safe being vulnerable and open with us. May we use what You have given to us to bless them. Inspire our hearts with creative ways we can serve them and confidence that our purpose as friends builds Your kingdom. Please keep the enemy and his evil schemes away from our friends. Do not let his plans of destruction prevail. Protect our friends' marriage and fortify them, O Lord. Give us hearts to see our married friends walk strong and faithful. In Jesus' name, amen. [Aaron] Amen. Alright, so we thank you for joining us this week, and we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.