A Sense of Belonging

My beloved is mine, and I am his (Song of Solomon 2:16, esv).

We all start out in life as selfish, prideful people, wishing the world would revolve around uswhat we want, what we need, what we think is right, what we hope will happen. That’s just one of the reasons that the introduction of marriage into our lives is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Along with all the happiness and joy it can bring, marriage is a crucible of human behavior that cuts away at our entrenched selfishness.

In marriage, our underlying nature is exposed and laid bare. So if we’re surrendered to the work the Lord is doing in our hearts—while paying attention to what’s being revealed about us—it’s where we learn to convert the rawness of this discovery into a lifestyle of giving and serving and spending ourselves for the sake of another. Marriage is one of God’s primary methods for making us better, making us different, and teaching us how to “make love.”

When I say the words make love, please understand what I mean. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was executed in a World War II concentration camp for defying Hitler, once said, “It is not the love that makes the marriage, but the marriage that makes the love.” Love is what we create within our homes when we sacrifice the overbearing demands of our inborn selfishness in exchange for the privilege of being unselfishly owned by our wife or husband.

If you’re like most human beings, right now you’re thinking, Owned? I don’t think so. And that’s a very natural reaction—as well as being the problem. We’re not willing for anyone to “own” us, to get the upper hand over us. But mutual ownership is the power of biblical love. Being able to say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his,” is the pinnacle of marital happiness. It’s how love is made.

Can I just remind you that first of all we are owned by Christ? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). You and I do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Him. And every time we forget or resist this fact—every time we consider His ownership of us an affront to our independence—it doesn’t turn out well.

So since God’s ownership of us is a proven precedent in Scripture—and since we’ve learned through personal experience how much better life goes when we keep His name at the top of the page—what is really so unreasonable about adding another name to that list? Christ owns you, and now your spouse owns you. You bump down in the batting order. And the reciprocal ownership we experience in marriage is a gift that cuts away at our selfishness.

The oneness of marital love does not mean the end of you, but rather the priority of us. And that is how love is made.


  • We are all naturally selfish. Name a recent instance where you realize selfishness hindered love in your home.
  • What is one specific way you think the Lord would have you put your spouse’s preferences over your own this week?

Lord God, Your design for marriage is a wonder to me. Your wisdom in having us willingly walk into an experience where our weaknesses are sure to be brought out into the open is nothing short of amazing. Thank You for continuing to sanctify, redeem, and restore us. Thank You for this sweet context within which You do the work of cutting away selfishness in us. As we continue living it out, may You give us the grace to be patient with one another and to yield ourselves in humility, that You would create a deeper level of love in our home. In Jesus’ name, amen.