A Treasure Problem
About the Guest
Most conflict is caused by misplaced desire. Paul David Tripp calls it a "treasure problem." There's something you treasure more than your spouse or God. The good news is, none of us are naturally equipped to be good at marriage. It takes the Holy Spirit to make marriage what God intended it to be.
Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. This vision has led Paul to write 17 books on Christian living, produce 14 teaching series and travel aroun...more
Most conflict is caused by misplaced desire. Paul David Tripp calls it a “treasure problem.” There’s something you treasure more than your spouse or God.
A Treasure Problem
Bob: When you got married, you made a vow to love, honor, and cherish. Paul David Tripp wants to know—just exactly who are you loving, honoring, and cherishing in your marriage?
Paul: “I have a list of things that I think will make me happy—that I think the good life is about—and your job, as my spouse, is to deliver those to me,”—that’s not a marriage. That motivation of marriage is not driven by love of you [the spouse]; what’s it driven by?—it’s driven by love of me. I’m in the center of my world, and I know exactly what you need to do in order to make me happy.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 8th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So, are you more focused on how your spouse is not sacrificially loving you than you are on sacrificially loving your spouse?
We’ll think about that today with our friend, Paul David Tripp. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’re going to hear Part Two of a message today from a guy who was pretty transparent about the fact that he had an anger problem that controlled his marriage for a long period of time after he was first married.
Dennis: Yes; and it cost him dearly in an argument with his wife. [Laughter] Do you want to share the story?—because some of our listeners may have missed it from yesterday. [Laughter]
Bob: This is a great line! So, Paul David Tripp, who is whom we’re going to hear from today—he is an author and a speaker / he’s been a guest on FamilyLife Today—he was one of the speakers onboard the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise, back a couple of weeks ago. He shared this many times, but it’s a classic story—in an argument with his wife, he kind of arrogantly and self-righteously looked at her and he said, “You know, 95 percent of the women in our church would love to be married to a guy like me.”
Dennis: To which his wife said—
Bob: She just smiled at him and said, “Well, I guess I’m in the five percent.” [Laughter] That kind of took the air out of his helium balloon at that moment; right? I mean, it was one of those moments where God got his attention and showed him his own pride and his own arrogance and helped him see what was controlling his heart.
This whole message we’re hearing this week, Dennis, is about how what we treasure in our heart is what controls our lives and our relationships; ultimately, it reflects on our relationship with God.
Dennis: And you don’t think of going on a cruise—on a big ship with 3,000 other people—to get a spiritual wheel alignment, but it can sure happen.
Bob: It does; yes. We wanted to make sure that our FamilyLife Today listeners had the opportunity to be on next year’s cruise.
When we got off the boat, back in February, we were more than 70 percent booked for the 2019 cruise. I went to Tim Bell, who directs the cruises, and I said, “We have to save some cabins for FamilyLife Today listeners who may want to join us.” He said, “Well, we better get to them quick.”
We expect this cruise will sell out in the next few weeks. If you are interested in joining us Valentine’s week of 2019—with Juli Slattery, and Voddie Baucham, and Ron Deal; Colton Dixon is going to be onboard / we have a number of concerts—we have a bunch of stuff—Alex and Stephen Kendrick are going to be there with the movie that they’re going to be working on this summer. We’ll see an early version of that movie, next year, on the cruise. If you’d like to join us for the 2019 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, you need to call today—get more information / reserve your stateroom—1-800-FL-TODAY is the number—that’s 1-800-358-6329.
You can find out more about the cruise, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. We hope you’ll make the call and be with us. It’s a great weeklong getaway.
Dennis: The speaker you’re about to hear, Paul David Tripp, is a best-selling author. I want to promise you something—actually, it’s a warning. He wears steel boots, and he’s about to step on your toes.
Paul: Your marriage will always be victimized by or enhanced by what you treasure.
I want to address wives in the room—you know who you are. [Laughter] This may not be you, but you’ll be able to relate to the example. Let’s say you’re the wife and you have attached your identity, and meaning, and purpose to the order, beauty, and cleanliness of your home. That’s not a bad thing; but it must not be a source of identity, meaning, and purpose—that means this good thing has risen to a level of importance that should never be.
Now what’s going to happen? Well, you’ll follow people into rooms, making sure they don’t make that room look like somebody actually lives there. [Laughter] You’ll take, personally, the crumbs on the kitchen counter—you’ll say to yourself: “I can’t believe it! I do, and I do, and I do for my family; and every day they crumb me.” I mean, it’s sort of like you’re thinking that everybody in your family is carrying around this Ziploc® bag of crumbs; and it’s a plot. They say: “You crumb her at 2,” “I’ll crumb her at 3,” “You crumb her at 7”; “Yeah!” [Laughter] Listen, dear—you’re insane! [Laughter] You’re just drop-dead gone; because something that’s a good thing has become a ruling thing, and it’s victimizing your marriage.
Don’t sit there smugly, guys—you’re next. [Laughter]
Let’s say you’re the man in the marriage; and in ways you don’t realize—this just breaks my heart / I think there are hundreds of thousands of Christian men, who don’t realize this—your circle of treasure is your work. It’s where you feel important; it’s where you can be a contributor; it’s where you actually get rewarded for what you do; it’s where you have a little bit of responsibility and a possibility for advancement.
Now watch this. That means, as you drive home, you’re driving away from your circle of treasure—sadly, your family exists outside of your circle of treasure. This is heartbreaking to me. There are hundreds of thousands of Christian men who, when they punch off of work, punch off on life. By the time they get home, if they were able to be honest, what they really want is to be left alone. There are thousands and thousands of men in this situation. Their idea of a good night is just not being bothered.
In case you don’t realize it, that’s not okay.
That surely doesn’t come close to any kind of biblical definition of love. So your wife greets you at the door and she says, “Dear, I have to talk to you about my day.” You’re already a little bit nervous, because what’s actually going on in your heart—you don’t care about her day / you actually don’t care. You would much rather her act like she didn’t have a day: “Just live a day-less existence, and that’ll make my life easier.”
And she says: “I went out for lunch with seven of my girlfriends. It was the most amazing conversation I’ve ever heard in my life! I have to tell you, in detail, what all seven of those girlfriends had to say.” [Laughter] You’re thinking, “Put bamboo under my fingernails.” [Laughter] And so you’ve learned the skill—because you don’t actually care—you’ve learned the skill of advancing the conversation without actually listening. She launches into her description of this conversation—here’s what you hear: [Babbling sounds]
You’ve learned how to keep this going—she goes, [Babbling sounds]. At the break, you say, “And what happened next?” [Laughter] You didn’t hear what happened before! Now, she thinks you’re listening—she goes [Babbling faster]. At another break, you say, “And how’d that make you feel?” [Laughter] You can keep this going for a while. Actually, in your brain, you’re doing fantasy football. [Laughter]
Now, I tell this in a humorous way; but guys, look at me. What I described is not okay. It’s not okay to be in a marriage and have your highest treasure to be left alone. It’s not okay to not care about this life of this woman to whom you are covenantally committed.
It’s an awful thing, when somewhere down the years, the wife finally realizes: “He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care for me. He doesn’t care about my life.” Think about what it’s like, men, to be in an intimate relationship with somebody who can’t give you
15 minutes of listening without being irritated, without being impatient, without putting you down some way.
You see, over here, this woman [concerned about crumbs] is convinced she’s been singled out for the particular suffering of living with a community of slobs. She doesn’t have a slob problem; she has a treasure problem—she doesn’t realize it. And this guy over here thinks that he’s been cursed to live with this ridiculously talkative wife. He doesn’t have a talkative wife problem; he has a treasure problem, and he doesn’t realize it. Your marriage is always going to be victimized or enhanced by what you treasure.
Now, what Jesus says is, “Why would you want your marriage to sit in the middle of this kingdom of earthbound treasures?” I put my heart in the hands of things it will never deliver—the creative things of earth will never satisfy your heart. Listen, brothers and sisters, we need to say this again and again: “Earth will never be your savior,” “Earth will never be your savior,” “Earth will never be your savior.” I’m driven by anxiety-bound needs—most of what I call needs are not needs at all—it’s creating havoc in my marriage. Jesus said: “No, no, no. Don’t live there; seek My kingdom.”
One of the sweetest things Jesus said, in His time on earth, as He stood before His followers and said—I love these words: “Fear not, little flock.” “Fear not, little flock, for your heavenly Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus didn’t shed His precious blood to make your little kingdom work, but to invite you to a much better kingdom.
Now, what does it mean to seek God’s kingdom in your marriage? Could you write ten pages on that right now?—could you? Could you write five pages? Could you write a page?—a paragraph?—a sentence?! I think we ought to have a sturdy resistance to using theological, biblical terms that we do not understand; because it makes you think that you have risen to a level you have not risen to in your Christian growth.
Well, I want to take you to a kingdom passage that answers the question. Turn, if you would, to Galatians 5. This whole passage kicks off with a discussion of what love is about, verses 13 through 15; and then it talks about the fact, in that struggle to love, I’m not alone; because I’ve been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Now, listen to verse 19: “Now the works of the flesh are evident:
“sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Look at that sin list. What unifies all those words?—they’re about what?—self. They’re about a life driven by self—“What I want, when I want it, how I want it, where I want it, my plan / my rules.” And what Paul says is—that kind of selfish, me-istic living doesn’t fit inside of the kingdom of God. It’s the culture of another kingdom.
And then he says this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” When you are reading in your Bible and you come across the fruit of the Spirit, what do think you’re reading? I would like to say to you something I think is important to say.
These are not, first, moral goals for you to achieve; because you have no hope whatsoever to turn yourself into this kind of person—none! These are gifts of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are treasures of such high and rare value. God harnessed the nature and controlled the events of human history so that, at a certain point, His Son would come and live the life we could not live, and die the death that we should have died, and rise again—conquering sin and death—and sent His Spirit to unzip us and get inside of us so that we could be this kind of people.
Now, if you want to know what the work of the kingdom of God is—between the already of your conversion and not yet of your home-going—if you want to understand what it’s like to seek God’s kingdom in your marriage, here’s what it means.
God, by powerful, divine, transforming grace, is working, moment by moment, to turn us into these kinds of people: “Oh, I love more; but I’m not there yet,” “I have greater joy than I once had, but I’m not there yet.” This is the direction of the kingdom of God. This is what God is doing. This is the King’s work, right here, right now, in your heart.
Seeking God’s kingdom means I make God’s treasures the treasures that I seek in my marriage. I don’t need to be right, but I pray for grace that today I would be a person of love. I don’t need control, but I pray today that I would splash joy onto my spouse. I don’t need my little definition of romance, but it would be wonderful if I would make peace and not war. “Fear not, little flock, your heavenly Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom,”—this is what He’s talking about.
Now think about this—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control—who would want to live in that kind of marriage? Brothers and sisters, this is the marriage of your dream! It’s yours by grace. [Applause] Run, run, run from the kingdom of self. Run, run, run for the kingdom of God. You say, “Paul, I don’t know how to do that.” Well, you get up every morning and say: “Father, I am a naturally unloving man. I naturally think of myself before I think of anybody else. And so, won’t You rescue me by Your grace this morning? Help me to think of specific ways that I can love my wife. Help me to think about where she’s discouraged, or where she’s overwhelmed, or where she feels alone, or where she’s burdened by life—where she needs encouragement. I want to enter those moments with love. Help me to be a person of love. Father, my default language is often more complaint than it is joy.”
Do you know what the DNA of joy is? It’s not very difficult—gratitude. Did you ever notice that complainers don’t have much joy? “Help me to be a grateful person.”
If you’re a man and you live in the normal Western culture chauvinistic marriage, your wife does most of the menial, despicable tasks around the house. She touches items of clothing that you don’t want to touch after you take them off because of the level of their toxicity. [Laughter] That’s why the hamper has your underwear all around it, because you don’t want to touch that stuff. You try to kick it into the hamper. She touches that stuff, because she loves you. How about writing her a note, with some flowers or some chocolate, and say: “I am very aware, just because of love, you do despicable things / things that are unlovely to do. You do them every day. I love you. I praise God that you’re in my life. I find joy in being married to you.”
If you’re a wife, whether you work or not, but you’ve had a hard-working man who, day after day after day, has labored for the welfare of your family, why would you take that for granted? Why wouldn’t you say in a note or a card that you put in his briefcase, or his book bag, or his lunch: “Every day you get up—you’ve done it for years—and you work for the welfare of this family. I love you. I appreciate you. I respect you. I’m blessed to have you in my life. I find joy in you.”
Now, you’re moving in the same direction as the kingdom of God. God will never call you to do a thing without enabling you to do it. If He puts a Red Sea in front of you, He means for you to cross it—He’ll build a bridge, He’ll send a boat, He’ll give you the ability to swim, or He’ll part the waters.
How about peace? How about making peace and not war? How about stop being the grammar police? It doesn’t make any different if he mispronounces that word—for eternity, it doesn’t make any difference—leave him alone!
So what if she gets the history wrong in those stories? So what if she doesn’t tell them the way you would tell them, men—oh, historian that you are. [Laughter]
How about patience? Louella knows this is a hard one for me. How about gifting a person with the willingness to wait? You know what waiting does? I think this is a struggle. Waiting immediately announces to you that you’re not in charge; because if you were in charge, you wouldn’t wait. You have never once gotten angry because you had to wait for you.
We could work our way through the entire list, but listen to these words again: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” Who would not like to live with a person like this?
This is the marriage of everyone’s dreams, purchased for you by the blood of Jesus.
Look at this: “Fear not, little flock, your heavenly Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom.” Why would you want your marriage to live in that nasty, anxious, misplaced values, me-oriented kingdom of self that only leads to division, only leads to condemnation, only leads to judgment, criticism, and acrimony, when this has been offered to you by grace?
I would ask you: “What kingdom will rule your heart and set the agenda for your marriage?” [Directed toward heavenly Father]: “There are many times, at street level, where my kingdom is more attractive to me than Yours; and so won’t You meet me, by Your grace, and won’t You rescue me from me?”
You see, if Christ is right—and He is—by the way we’re wired, I don’t so much need to be rescued from my spouse. I need to be rescued from me.
Won’t you seek, even tonight, rescuing grace?—so that, in your heart, would be that desire to run, run, run from your little kingdom of one and run, run, run toward the beauty / the gorgeous beauty of the kingdom of God? Make His treasures your treasures in your marriage. Could there be for marriage better words than these: “Fear not, little flock, for your heavenly Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom”? That’s good news.
Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord, for the stunning wisdom of Your Word.
But we thank You more for the sacrifice of Jesus, who opened the way for us to experience such gorgeous treasures, and for the Spirit that lives inside of us, who battles on our behalf, even when we don’t have the sense to.
May we make Your purpose for us our purpose in our marriage. May we make our treasures Your treasures in our marriage. May we run toward Your kingdom and Your righteousness, by grace. We pray this in the sweet and strong name of Jesus, the Lamb, the King, the Redeemer; Amen.
Bob: That, indeed, is good news; and that’s Paul David Tripp.
And you know, you go back to Galatians, Chapter 5, and that list of the fruit of the Spirit and you ask yourself: “If that was what your marriage looked like every day—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control—who wouldn’t want that kind of a marriage?”—right?
Dennis: Well, that’s why we get married. We get married to experience peace, joy—
Dennis: —the love and trust of another person—to be able to have a conflict / work through it in a safe manner. We [Dennis and Barbara] don’t do it perfectly every time; but I have to tell you, Bob—after 45 years of marriage, I would not trade anything for where we are today with where we started 45 years ago. We were novices, just getting started in loving.
What Paul David Tripp did, on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise was—he’ll help you move out of the first grade of love—where you’re just starting out, and you’re kind of repeating the same year over, and over, and over again—and he’ll help you begin to graduate and move toward maturity. That’s what we’re looking for.
Bob: Well, and again, let me remind those of you who are listening about the upcoming Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise—it’s actually Valentine’s week of 2019. The reason we’re talking about it now is because we only have a few hundred cabins still available. More than 70 percent of our cabins are reserved; and we wanted to make sure FamilyLife Today listeners had an opportunity to join us as we head to Honduras, Belize, and Key West next year.
You can get more information by going online at FamilyLifeToday.com. If you’d like to reserve your cabin, you need to call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. We have a special offer going on right now that is good until March 19th. So again, if you need more information, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to join us. We have a great lineup for next year—solid, biblical teaching / great music—it’s a refreshing week away. Maybe it’s a special event for you, as a marriage—a tenth anniversary, a twentieth, twenty-fifth—whatever.
Come join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise next February.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to walk our way through the first half of Romans,
Chapter 12, with our friends, Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth, as we look at how this passage applies to the marriage relationship. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our friend, Mark Ramey, who helped out on today’s program. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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