…The simple definition is to stay in a place longer than necessary, typically because of a reluctance to leave.
I’ve been thinking about this word lately and the impact it has made on my life. I love to linger in the presence of God. I love to linger in His Word when a particular verse jumps off the page into my heart. I love to linger with friends over dinner as the conversation deepens and hearts are united.
But there are other kinds of lingering that can have a damaging effect on our marriages if we aren’t careful. It’s lingering in the wrong place–lingering critical thoughts towards our spouse, taking a second look or lingering look at someone who excites us other than our spouse, lingering in the company of the opposite sex because you enjoy their attention.
The difficult part of this kind of lingering is that no one but you knows you do it except the Holy Spirit who lives within you. And many times we’re quick to justify or ignore His still small voice.
Why does it matter to guard our lingering habits? Because this is what it means to fulfill your wedding vows. We vowed to think the best, to be faithful, to be our spouse’s closest confidant in good times and in bad. We have to go after our sinful tendencies for what they are–an enemy trying to infiltrate our marriage union.
Many times the enemy isn’t noticed until much damage has already been done.
Frequent communications between husband and wife with honest answers are required to know what’s fully going on in the war.
Do you know where your spouse is being tempted to linger? It could be looking at Pinterest so much that they begin to covet what others have allowing a growing discontent with what you’ve both been given. It could be that your spouse is watching TV shows or movies that excite a lustful attraction in a way that doesn’t honor God. Or it could be that they are lingering at the water cooler discussing meaningless topics with someone whose attention they enjoy too much.
The important thing is to ask. Bring up this topic on your next date or evening alone. Ask your spouse in what ways are they being tempted. Then when they tell you don’t be surprised or react. Linger over what you hear and allow the Lord to give you His perspective. After all, we married a sinner who is tempted every single day, just as we are. If we aren’t aware of the temptations they face and willing to disclose the temptations we are facing, then we are setting ourselves up for defeat.
Linger longer in the Word, in God’s presence and in good conversation with your spouse. This is the best antidote for lingering in the wrong places.