Perhaps the most retaining force by which we are able to hold someone in our hearts, is the affection which Jesus feels for that person. Paul had this yearning for the saints in Philippi: “…your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now… He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart…” (Philippians 1:5-7) The “affection of Jesus Christ” creates a yearning in the heart, enabling us to bond with people as Christ does.
Over the past four decades of walking with Christ, I am blessed by many who have been my “partners in the gospel” – those who held me in their hearts and encouraged me to run the race unto completion of the “good work.” Beloved, our hearts were meant to hold one another.
A lesser known Bible personage is a man named Epaphras. Paul comments on the fruitfulness of the Colossian church, how they had “understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras.” This learning was not simply informational, but experiential; they learned it from a man’s life. What an honor it is when another person gleans from my life, to understand the grace and truth of God in greater measure!
The highest honor for me is when my wife is chiefly blessed by our union.
“Epaphras…a bondslave of Jesus Christ…always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you.” (Colossians 4:12-13)
Being yoked (a bond-slave) to Christ will result in your being yoked to others. Intercession (laboring in prayer) will be a natural outflow – a deep concern on their behalf for God’s will to be made manifest. We cannot carry the whole world on an intimate level, only those whom God assigns in a particular season. There is one person however, that transcends every season, who must remain at the core of concern in our hearts. That person is our covenant partner, the one to whom we solemnly vowed.
I’ve often heard this appraisal of a spouse in a difficult marriage: “I don’t feel any affection; the chemistry just isn’t there.” One of the first questions I ask is: “Are you interceding for him/her, asking to see them in the same way that Christ does?” We need to invite Holy Spirit to reveal and convict, of any heart obstruction that we’ve allowed to sabotage our heart-connect, both with God and with our spouse.
When it’s just you and Jesus, alone in prayer, can you grasp the affection that Jesus feels towards your spouse? In the realm of your marriage, this is the fire from which all other fires catch their flame.