“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, RSV).
The apostle Paul gave this instruction to all believers in Christ. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out that these words also create an excellent guideline for husbands and wives to apply specifically in their marriages. While imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II, Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to his niece, who was engaged to be married. In “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” Bonhoeffer gives this counsel:
Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your heart. … From the first day of your wedding till the last, the rule must be: ‘Welcome one another… for the glory of God’ ….That is God’s word for your marriage.
What a great application! The Greek word used in Romans 15:7 is proslambano, translated as “welcome” in the RSV, and as “accept” in the NIV. Proslambano means “to take to one’s self; to take as one’s companion; to take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart.”¹
Certainly, proslambano is something to offer to our spouses–especially to them! Continually, we can welcome our spouses as we receive their presence with warmth and gladness. We can receive them with kindness and grant them access to our hearts. Instead of sensing rejection or mere tolerance, our spouses can live “welcomed” by our spirits.
As our spouses interact with us, what do they encounter?