In marriage, Tim and Darcy Kimmel say, love can only take you so far.
True, when we marry, we share vows of love, and genuine love is critical to the relationship between husband and wife. But there’s a missing ingredient—perhaps the most important ingredient—in many Christian marriages, and that’s grace, Tim told the 1,550 attendees at the annual Prestonwood Marriage Conference in January.
Using just a few props—balloons, a helium tank, and a deck of cards among them—Tim stalked the stage, talking, joking, quoting a key Scripture here and there, occasionally with Darcy at his side.
“I’m trying to frame the conversation and provide some common language for the discussion,” Tim explained before taking the stage, and once the Kimmels took the stage, they never veered from the core message of their book Grace Filled Marriage.
“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 that will be the kind of love I have for Darcy,’” Tim said. “That sounds great, doesn’t it? Except it’s a recipe for disaster because it’s still my love, and my love is limited.”
Love is an intrinsic part of anyone’s life—we seek it, we give it, we think of it as the core of our relationships.
But God’s grace to us and through us gives us what we need to be truly graceful toward our spouses.
“When we bring God’s grace to center stage, love can endure and get stronger,” Tim said. “We can treat each other the way God treats us. But you can’t do it without God—it’s supernatural!”
The Kimmels, who lead the Family Matters ministry in Scottsdale, Arizona, have four children, all grown now. But when the kids were younger, Darcy and Tim searched for books to help them raise their kids well.
Much of what they found were books built on “sin management,” Tim said, that seemed to be another term for legalism. They wanted something else.
“One day, Darcy said, ‘Tim, think about it: God is a parent. I wonder what we’d find if we studied God and His role as a parent in the Bible.’ Once she said that, we realized there is a theology of parenting and you don’t have to dig to find it.
“It’s through His grace. It’s about treating your kids the way God treats you. Why don’t we do the same thing?” he said.
That led to Grace Based Parenting. And if grace is at the center of the parent-child relationship, shouldn’t it be the critical element in spousal relationships, too?
The Kimmels began doing their research, reading some of the most popular books on Christian marriage.
“We looked at the standard books that unpack some verses—Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 7—but we decided we weren’t going with any of those,” Tim said. “Smarter folks than us had already weighed in.
“People obeyed those passages, but I don’t think you’d want a marriage like that,” he said. “So we started looking at the grace that emanates from God’s heart through me.”
In Christianity, grace is giving someone something they desperately need but don’t necessarily deserve. The greatest example is Jesus at the Cross—the perfect, sinless Son of God taking on our sins and our punishment so that anyone who believes in Him will be saved and spend eternity with God in heaven.
He gave us grace.
God pours out His grace continuously. He forgives our sins. He blesses us and our families. When life overwhelms us, He carries us.
“So the question we had is why don’t you treat your spouse the way God treats His? He doesn’t control us, or browbeat us,” Tim said. “We need to look at our spouse through the lens of grace. He can help us look at our spouse that way, the way God does.”
Of course, we’re not God. Where He is selfless, we are selfish, even to our closest loved ones. We have an internal tally sheet, Tim said, keeping score on our spouse. Inevitably, there are times when we think they aren’t doing quite as much as we are, leading to anger, resentment, hurt feelings.
“This is the antithesis of the way God deals with us,” he said.
Tim and Darcy aren’t strangers to life in North Texas—they moved here just days after their marriage so Tim could study at Dallas Theological Seminary.
“It was basically our honeymoon,” Tim said. “We got married in Annapolis, Maryland, and we got here eight days later.”
Helping Christian families in their sometimes rocky walks with God has been their ministry from the beginning, and the opportunities still excite them decades later.
“The thing that lights me up is life transformation,” Tim said, “because that’s when the Holy Spirit shows up!”
Shawn Callander, Minister of Marriage and Family Life, said the feedback to this year’s conference has been incredibly positive, more than any other year he can recall.
“That night, people were posting their reactions on Facebook: ‘A great evening!’ ‘Marriages need more grace!’ ‘Show the Father’s love to your spouse as He shows His love to you. It’s unconditional!’”
Many Christians still struggle with legalism, Shawn said, even though the Bible is unmistakably clear.
“I think it goes back to Ephesians chapter 2—‘By grace you have been saved.’ That’s the whole premise of the Gospel right there. We’ve been saved through faith, a free gift of God, and not by works.
“It’s not something we can purchase or earn. It’s God reaching down from heaven, not us reaching up.”
“I think the couples in our church can really understand this concept and take hold of it,” he said. “If we can see our spouses through the lens of grace, that changes everything!”
Published: January 31, 2017
Author: Michael Young
As believers, we are called to give of our talents – not only financially, but also our spiritual gifting through volunteering. We have safe and secure ways to give and opportunities to bless others through legacy giving, and a myriad of volunteer opportunities.
Prestonwood offers many ways to use your gifts and talents in serving others – from cameraman to choir member, technician to teacher, parking attendant to prayer warrior. Click here to find out more.
Besides opportunities to watch services, we’re pleased to provide a variety of incredible opportunities to plug in to resources for young believers and mature Christians.
Miss a Sunday Worship Service? Want to catch up on a sermon series? Click here to see past recorded services at Prestonwood. Search for titles, filter by speaker or series, or browse by dates.
To find out more about the ministries at Prestonwood, click on any of the links below.
Through our LifeGroup Bible Studies, small-group ministry, every person who comes to Prestonwood is provided an opportunity to build key relationships that can last a lifetime.
Find a Group
We want to help men, women and students recover from emotional, physical, relational and spiritual wounds through the power of Christ. Through classes, small groups and individual discipleship, the Life Recovery Ministry will help people pursue, overtake, and recover a life of peace and purpose.
We are a dynamic congregation, with people from all over the North Texas region who have come together for a common purpose—to study God’s Word, to worship Him, to do His work, and to reach the world with the Gospel message.
We unapologetically value six core areas in the life of our church. Together, these shared values identify who we are, rally us toward all that we desire to accomplish, and unite us in fellowship.
No matter which campus you attend, you’ll find warm smiles to greet you; vibrant, worshipful music to lift your soul; and powerful teaching from God’s Word that will transform your life.