Love by God to Love Your Spouse
About the Guest
Do you show your spouse grace? Grace, according to authors Tim and Darcy Kimmel, is giving someone what they desperately need, but don’t especially deserve. Tim and Darcy know what it means to give and receive grace, and share some grace moments from their own marriage.
Do you show your spouse grace? Tim and Darcy know what it means to give and receive grace, and share some grace moments from their own marriage.
Love by God to Love Your Spouse
Bob: It’s not enough for a husband or a wife to have love for a spouse in marriage. Tim Kimmel says, “It has to be the right kind of love from the right source.”
Tim: The difference between a marriage that is filled with love and a marriage that is filled with grace—it’s not that my love for God is what I give to Darcy—it is: “God’s love for me is what I’m giving to Darcy.” What we tend to want to do is say, “Okay, I’m going to take the love that I have for God, and share that, and be the kind of love that I have for Darcy.” That sounds great; doesn’t it?—except, it’s a recipe for disaster because it’s still my love. My love is limited love.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Tim and Darcy Kimmel join us today to find out how we can have a marriage that is filled with grace.
Sounds good; doesn’t it? We’ll talk about it. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, I have known our guests today for more than two decades. You’ve known them longer than I have.
Bob: Wasn’t until I read their latest book that I realized that Tim has a background in hairstyling. Did you know about that?
Dennis: You know, I somehow—
Bob: Did you miss that part of the book?
Dennis: I somehow missed that part.
Bob: Well, you’ll have to ask him.
Dennis: I know when he was—he wrote a book called Grace Based Parenting. I knew that one of his kids had their hair—I don’t know—was it neon? What was it?
Darcy: It was a Mohawk.
Tim: That, too, and a Mohawk.
Bob: But ask him. After you introduce him, ask him about the hairstyling.
Dennis: Well, I do know the story. First of all, Tim and Darcy Kimmel join us on FamilyLife Today.
Tim, tell us about braiding Darcy’s hair.
Tim: Well, she had gone on a trip to visit her mother, and we had young kids. Two of them were girls—long hair—left me in charge. I did my best. But apparently, one of her friends ratted-me-out—that it was just a nightmare what I’d done with the girls for church.
Bob: I’d say “ratted-you-out” implied what the hair looked like. [Laughter]
Tim: Yes, right.
Dennis: In other words, it was not an A-plus braid.
Tim: No, no; it wasn’t even a braid. I didn’t know what I was doing. So, Darcy got back. She heard about this and said, “Look,”—we put the kids to bed. She said: “tonight, after we put the kids down, I want to teach you to do something, even if you don’t do it well. It’s going to be better than what you’ve been doing. I want to teach you to French braid hair.”
That night, after we put the kids down, I was very concerned that—I thought, “Has she got camo?” or, “Is somebody is going to come and steal my man-card or whatever if they catch me doing this?” One of my friends came over and said: “Look, I’m just looking for junk in her hair. Don’t worry about it!”
But anyway, I put a fire in the fireplace. We had some music on, from back when we were in college.
She was sitting kind of cross-legged, going—and I followed her instructions. It hit me: “When you look at a woman’s braided hair, going down the back of her head, it looks like two strands of hair overlapping in kind of a herringbone style.”
Tim: It looks like two, but I was holding three in my hand. As I was weaving them together to look like two—it looked very beautiful—I thought: “You know, when we weave Jesus into our marriage, people are seeing two—but there are three there. And He makes all the difference in the world.”
Dennis: He does. You guys have been married 41 years—have four children—give leadership to Family Matters®. You’re the President of that, and you guys have been on the Weekend to Remember® speaker team for 26 years.
Tim: We have.
Dennis: Any idea how many couples you’ve spoken to over those 26 years?
Darcy: Thousands. And it’s been one of the most exciting ministry opportunities that we’ve ever had. It’s—
Darcy: —with FamilyLife and those marriage weekends.
Dennis: Well, it’s a great privilege to have you guys on the team and, also, talk about your book, Grace Filled Marriage. Now, a lot of listeners have heard about your other book, Grace Based Parenting. What I wanted to ask you, Darcy, is: “Can you illustrate what grace looks like, coming from Tim? How has he given you grace—in an instant / in a moment—in your 41-year-old marriage?
Darcy: Well, I think, as so many other couples, we come from different directions. We’re very different. Of course, we didn’t realize how different that was until we got married. But I am a planner—I am a detail person. Tim is much more spontaneous. He doesn’t—you know, he doesn’t care what’s around the corner. He just wants to go and look. I like to know what’s around the corner before I turn that.
So, he has been very gracious to me in being patient with me—not taking me too fast / too far when—
—especially in ministry—you know, there are a lot of things that you don’t know in ministry. So, he’s been very patient with me. That’s grace, coming from him, because it drives him nuts! [Laughter]
Bob: Patience is an aspect of grace; but Tim—as you describe it in the book—grace is bigger than just being patient; isn’t it?
Tim: Yes. Grace is giving somebody something they desperately need but don’t necessarily deserve. That’s what happened at the cross when Jesus intervened, in time and space, for all of us. He gave us grace.
But when I look at our marriages, I think we tend to lead with the word, “love.” Love is an intrinsic part of just about anybody’s life. That’s what we share—our vows of love—but I think the missing ingredient, in most people’s marriage, is not love. I believe it is grace. When they bring God’s grace to center-stage—now, that love can endure and get stronger.
Bob: So, if God’s grace is giving me what I need but don’t deserve—then grace, in a marriage, is when we give one another things we need but don’t deserve?
Tim: Yes. I think the problem with us, human beings—even us, Christian human beings—is that, when we get married—like it or not—we tend to keep a tally sheet in our hand. We’re keeping score as we go. We feel that that is completely legitimate, even though we would—to our dying breath—say, “We love each other incredibly.”
But because we are keeping score, it’s easy to start to think, “You know, I don’t think they are pulling their part of the deal on this”; or we start a quid pro quo arrangement. This is the antithesis of the way God deals with us. So, all we’re saying, in this book, is: “Why don’t we treat our spouse the way God treats His spouse—with grace?”
Dennis: And the tally sheet can work well into the marriage as long as the feelings are there to overwhelm your spouse’s deficit;—
—but when the feelings are gone, or they ebb away, you’ve got a problem, at that point, of: “How am I going to relate to this other broken person who’s not meeting my needs?”
I looked up a definition of grace from my Logos Bible study Software, which I really like. It says, “God’s grace confronts our rebellion and our indifference with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless.”
Dennis: I like that picture—that it’s God responding to us, in our indifference and our rebellion—and what spouse hasn’t had indifference to us or rebellion to what we wanted to do?
Darcy, I’m thinking about you—you know—you’re throwing out anchors, left and right, for Mr. Free-Spirit over here you’ve been married to for more than four decades. He, sometimes, can look at you and go: “She’s in rebellion. She won’t follow me.
“She won’t go where I want her to go when I want her to go.”
Darcy: Right. I mean, I can irritate him to no end; and I know the buttons I can push. Sometimes, I want to push them because I want a little payback—you know?—on him. [Laughter] But, I mean, that’s not being gracious. That’s not giving him what he actually needs—it’s giving him what I want him to have.
Dennis: And what you guys are calling us to do in our marriage—is calling us to allow Jesus Christ to live in and through us and express that inexhaustible forgiveness and the ability to bless another person—
Tim: Bless another person—
Dennis: —when they don’t deserve it.
Darcy: —when they don’t deserve it.
Tim: —when they don’t deserve it.
Bob: And I think one of the key things you point people to, early-on in the book, is the fact that a lot of couples—in a marriage where there is conflict, where there is chafing, where you’re just not syncing-up the way you’d like to—they think, “Well, we just need to try harder to make our marriage work.” You’re saying, “That’s a recipe for failure.”
Tim: Absolutely because the punch line of this book is probably one that—when I say it, a lot of people are going to say, “That’s a little abstract for me”; but what we tend to want to do is—I say, “I’m going to take the love that I have for God, and share that, and be the kind of love I have for Darcy.” That sounds great; doesn’t it?—except, that it’s a recipe for disaster because it’s still my love for God. My love is limited love. Give it the right circumstances, and it’s going to wane.
The difference between a marriage that is filled with love and a marriage that is filled with grace—it’s not that my love for God is what I give to Darcy—it is: “God’s love for me is what I’m giving to Darcy.” This is very different, Dennis; but when I let God flow through me—now, it’s coming at her—now, she has the infinite, all-powerful love of God working through me.
I’m still a vessel, walking on feet of clay.
I quote you all the time, saying, “God picks up crooked sticks and draws straight lines, all the time.” You’ve said that over and over again, Dennis; but that’s what I’m talking about. I am a crooked stick, but God can do something in us—that it’s a game-changer, all the way around.
Bob: Yes, if your source for loving your spouse is your internal reservoir of love, you will run out of that quickly; right?
Darcy: Oh, so soon.
Bob: But if your source is tapped to the inexhaustible supply—that you talked about in your definition of grace—then all you are is a conduit for the grace of God to flow through you.
Dennis: I had a conversation with a man recently. He’d been married a couple of decades to his wife, and they had hit a wall. He said, “We had a breakthrough in our marriage because I ultimately came to the conclusion: ‘I could no longer do what she needed me to do. I couldn’t love her the way she needed to be loved.’”
He said, “The breakthrough came when I admitted, ‘I couldn’t do it, but God could.’”
Tim: But God could.
Dennis: And what we’re talking about here is the filling of the Holy Spirit. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. He came to produce fruit in your life. In Galatians 5, where it mentions the fruit—the first one is love: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness”—that’s what the Holy Spirit came to produce in and through you to exhibit that to your spouse.
Darcy: We thought a lot about Bill Bright as we were writing this book because he always married the Holy Spirit—the filling of the Holy Spirit—with our salvation. So many times—we get saved, but we forget that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live out that salvation—especially, in marriage because, as Bob said, we get to the end of our resources so quickly.
Then, we think: “Oh, I just got to try harder. I’ve got to read another book. I’ve got to do this. Let me see my checklist.” It’s very discouraging for couples that give it their all; and yet, they are not tapping into God’s power.
Bob: It can still seem abstract to folks to be talking about drawing on your own internal reserves of love versus drawing on the love of God to flow through you. We can understand that in terms of a metaphor; but in terms of how we do that on a daily basis, Darcy, how can you tell when you are utilizing resources that are outside of you rather than resources that are inside of you?
Darcy: Well, I can tell by the result—it’s usually a lot more positive. Every morning, I try to fill up my heart with God’s Word because it’s true / it’s powerful. It reminds me of how much God loves me. That’s my model for how I am to love Tim. That helps me—then, of course, prayer. I mean, you just cry out to God.
You just say: “I can’t do this! I don’t like him, let alone love him, right now. You’re going to have to love him through me.” And God is faithful.
Dennis: Practically—a young couple listening to us or, for that matter, a couple that has been married for some period of time—how would you—and again, we’re trying to move the abstract to the concrete—both Bob and I here—trying to tangibly illustrate this: “How would you coach somebody, in the heat of the moment, when your spouse has disappointed you? You are ticked off, you’re angry, you’re disappointed; and you want to get back at them. You want to put your fingers on the scales and say, ‘You’re wrong. I’m right!’ How do they, at that moment, allow Jesus Christ to live in and through them?”
Tim: Well, I’m going to give you my answer to this. It’s a simple thing—that, if you go to this every time, it’ll guide you.
Everything she wants to do back to him—just ask yourself this question: “Is that how God treats me when I push His buttons like this?” Is that what God does with me? Does He write me off? Does He let me have it? Does He vaporize me? Does He marginalize me? Does He punish me? Does He give me the silent treatment? No.” Just simply treat your spouse, in that moment, the way God treats you when you act the same way. That has been our guideline.
Dennis: And the way you find out how God treats people is you get in the Book.
Tim: You get in the Book.
Darcy: You do. You have to know about God and His love.
Bob: And that’s really—as I was thinking about how I’d answer your question, I was thinking back to what Darcy said, at the very beginning: “It’s what your life is filled up with that is what’s going to come out.” If your question is: “In the heat of the moment, how do you rally?” Well, at that point, we’ve got to find out: “What are you filled up with—
Bob: —“in the heat of the moment?” Because, if you wait until the heat of the moment and go, “I better come up with something Christian to do now,” that isn’t going to work.
You’ve got to be so filled up with God, on a daily basis—on a moment-to-moment basis—that when you get provoked, what comes out is the God that you’re filled up with. That’s where I think being in the Word, spending time in prayer—those kinds of disciplines, as you fill up with Jesus—then, when the time comes, that’s what you’ve got to pour out.
Dennis: And as you find out how God treats you.
Tim: It is. But don’t you think a lot of the people just say, “I really didn’t want to hear that answer” because we’re a Google® generation?
Bob: “I want a technique—I want an app for that.”
Tim: “I want an app for that. I want to Google, ‘Best practices.’ Give me two or three things, and I do it.” And I think this is why we all fall short—this is about relationship. A grace-filled marriage starts with a grace-filled relationship through the Savior.
It goes back to the cross. This is about the gospel—with sweat all over it—that’s all we’re talking about.
Dennis: Yes, you are saying, “You cannot impart”—and I remember Howard Hendricks saying this in class—he went to Dallas Seminary too.
Dennis: He made the statement, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.”
Tim: That’s exactly right.
Darcy: That’s right.
Dennis: So, it means that you have to be a partaker in the grace of God. I’m just sitting here and I’m thinking: “There has to be a listener, who is going, ‘I don’t know what you four are talking about. I’m lost.’” They don’t know the grace of God. They don’t know Jesus Christ. How do they become a partaker of grace, Tim?
Tim: When we realize that the God who made us—realize that there is no way we could have relationship with Him because of the sin in our own life—that He loved us enough to intervene, in time and space—take on human flesh, climb up on a cross, and ask us to marry Him on a cross—and He gave His life as a substitute for our sin.
When you simply just put your faith in what He did on the cross for you and say: “Jesus, I need you. Please forgive me. Set me free from my sin,”—just like that—He enters our life, and He does set us free.
In the process, we get all of God too; and we get all of His grace. He says: “Now, let Me grow My grace in your heart. Let Me transplant My heart into you.” When we do—I mean, we’ve been at it 41 years—but the first few decade or two of ours, it was a lot of autumn season and winter season in our relationship—but as we let God continue to grow in our life—
Dennis: And to that person who wants to do that, right now—
Dennis: —take his hand or her hand in yours and put it in the hands of God to explain—
Bob: Do what you did with Darcy—back in the car, back when you were kids—because you—our listeners don’t know this—but you were the one who led your wife to Christ, prior to you guys getting married; right?
Tim: That’s right. We were—
—she was 15, and I was 16. We were just on the front-side of my own faith.
If you’re here—and you are listening to us, right now, and you realize: “The missing ingredient in my life is this grace,”—but even bigger—“it’s Jesus,”—you can invite Him into your life, right now, simply by faith. Just repeat this prayer after me in your heart—just say: “Dear Jesus, I need you. I know that I’m a sinner; and because of my sin, I’m lost. I know now that You love me, and You gave Your life for me. So, please forgive me. Come into my heart, Jesus, and make my life new. Amen.”
If you just prayed that prayer, God heard you. He took up housekeeping in your heart. He wants to set you free.
Dennis: And He forgave you.
Tim: He forgave you.
Dennis: He declared you, “Not guilty.” You mentioned that—
—on the cross, Jesus Christ asked to marry us. He paid the dowry.
Dennis: He paid the price to get us into heaven and into a relationship with Almighty God. In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, verse 17, as a listener, if you just prayed that prayer, you ought to write this address down—2 Corinthians 5:17. It says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.”
Dennis: And it goes on to talk about how all of this is the result of God having reconciled us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is not—this is not a fable. This is not just some kind of story. This is God—who became a real person, dwelt among people, went to a cross, died, defeated death,—
—and today is seated at the right hand of God, the Father, and can offer you eternal life because He has defeated death and has died for your sins.
Bob: At our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, we have a link to something that’s called, “Two Ways to Live,” that maps out for you the options that are in front of everyone of us about how we’re going to live—whether we are going to live a performance-based life or a grace-based life. It really does break down to those two options.
If a listener will go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “Go Deeper,” in the upper left-hand corner of the page, you can find out about the “Two Ways to Live” and make sure that you are living the right way—the way that God designed us to live.
While you are on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, look for more information about Tim and Darcy Kimmel’s new book, Grace Filled Marriage—great book for couples to go through—maybe read through together. It’ll give you a healthy perspective on what God’s design for marriage is all about and how it fits with the message of the gospel.
Again, the title of the book is Grace Filled Marriage.
Let me mention one other thing: Our team, here at FamilyLife, has noticed that a lot of listeners have started using the FamilyLife Art of Marriage® small group study—getting together with four or five other couples and going through this material, once a week—having some great discussions around the issues we face in marriage.
We thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if, this summer, many of our listeners would make it a goal to get together with a group of four other couples and go through The Art of Marriage small group material in six-sessions?”—so twice in June, twice in July, twice in August—and you got it done. It’d be a great way to spend a summer. And we thought, “I wonder if there is something we could do that would help nudge folks who think this a good idea to go ahead and say, ‘Let’s do it.’?”
Here is what we came up with: If you will get the small group kit—which includes workbooks for you, and you get a couple of sets of workbooks for two other couples—
—we’ll include two more sets of workbooks for the other two couples you are going to invite; okay? And you don’t have to wait until the summer to do this. If this fits for your small group and you want to do it between now and the end of May, you can do that, as well. But the offer is good this week. If you want to take advantage of this special offer and get the four free workbooks for your Art of Marriage small group study, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “Go Deeper,” and the details are right there; alright?
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “Go Deeper.” You’ll find the information you need there; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I want to know about the special offer on the small group study for The Art of Marriage.
Mary Ann and I are going to go through this, this summer, with another couple as we take them through premarital preparation. We think this is good material for them as they consider marriage. So, again, get more information, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Now, today’s program has been made possible because of listeners, just like you, who have been listening for a while and who have said: “You know what? FamilyLife Today has been helpful in my marriage, in my family; and I think it is important that other marriages and families continue to have a chance to hear this program on this local radio station.”
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And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow as we continue our conversation with Tim and Darcy Kimmel about what it means to have a grace-filled marriage.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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