A little over a year ago, I started a nine-month, in-depth Bible study on marriage called “Wife of Noble Character.” There was a tremendous amount of excitement that filled me when I signed up for this study, because while my marriage was doing pretty well at the time, I knew that it could always be better. I wanted to learn everything I could learn about having and maintaining a Christ-centered, loving marriage. I wanted to put in the time and the energy to help safe guard my marriage from the many pitfalls that cause so many marriages to fall apart. I wanted to saturate myself in God’s Word and the wisdom that is found within so that in all things regarding my own marriage, I would be walking in the truth and living love to my husband at all times.
Sound like a pipe dream to you? A bit unrealistic you think? Does it seem like a shot in the dark to have and maintain a Christ-centered, loving marriage? If you’ll give me the next fifteen minutes of your life to read what I have to share, I pray that God will take the lessons that He’s taught me, translate them into your marriage, and bring a bit of tangible hope, truth, and freedom. Are you up for that? Alright, here goes.
Allow me to begin by saying that I know that I am young. Some of you know me well, and others of you have never seen or met me in your life. Here’s my disclaimer: I am young, and I’ve only been married for 5 ½ years. Much of my audience when it comes to the Bible studies I teach and the readers of my blog are much older than I am and come to the table with a lot more life experience. Before you write me off altogether, though, I want to invite you to receive a few of the truths of Scripture listed below.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 2 Timothy 4:12
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24
OK, so resumes aside and perceived life experience out of the way, let me share with you a few things that God has taught me about marriage over the course of this past year.
#1 – Marriage was established and created by God. It needs no improvements or alterations made to His original plan. It needs no redefining. His original intentions are just as good today as they were in the Garden of Eden: One man and one woman for life, with God at the center. What He created, He also called very good. We should follow suit. If you’re single, the TOP thing on your priority list in a spouse should be that they know and love Jesus Christ. If you’re married, the truth you may need to hear today is that when God created marriage, He intended it to be far more about your holiness rather than your happiness.
#2 – Every marriage is composed of two sinners. You’ll either have selfish sinners or humble sinners, but you can be sure that there will be sinners in the equation. Because marriage consists of two sinners, there will inevitably be offenses. Every spouse has the ability to choose humility in the face of offense. I’m not suggesting that it’s easy. In fact, I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t. It’s hard. There are times when it feels next to impossible. Consistently putting your spouse’s needs before your own is probably the hardest obedience you will ever be called to in this life. It’s a selfless love. It’s a “you before me” mentality. But I’m here to tell you today that I learned that it’s possible.
#3 – “Love is giving of yourself to meet others needs, whether they deserve it or not, and expecting nothing in return.” That is the biblical definition of love. That is the love that Christ calls us to in marriage. That is the kind of love that He expresses to you and I every single day. However, somewhere along the way, we began to adopt the world’s definition of love, one that requires less from us and is much easier to swallow. A love that states, “As long as we both shall love.” Stop and read that last phrase one more time. Notice that it’s not the commonly used phrase in wedding vows, “As long as we both shall LIVE.” One letter is changed in one word, and you have an entirely different meaning. The truth is that “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a) It’s not dependent on the other person’s behavior, but rather on your choice to be loving.
#4 – This is perhaps the one thing that I learned that impacted me the most. Are you ready for it? Release your spouse of all your expectations of them, and learn to expect only from God. Let that one sink in for a few moments. What would happen in your marriage if you started doing that? If there’s one thing I know to be true it is that God NEVER disappoints. Not ever. Humans will always disappoint us, even when they don’t intend to. If we choose to allow our every need and expectation to be met in Christ, how much more freedom would be present in our homes? How much less arguing and strife would there be? Because when we choose to expect only from Christ, here is what happens: He fills our cup to overflowing, and then any other good that we might receive from others is simply overflow. Overflow. My cup runneth over. (Psalm 23) When you allow the Lord to be your Shepherd, you want for nothing. When you expect your physical, spiritual, and emotional needs to be met in Him, they will be. Every time! There is joy to be found in this!
While I could share countless other lessons learned, I’ll stop at these four. Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart. Marriage is hard work. Marriage requires steadfast commitment to selflessness. But hear me loud and clear: Marriage is a blessing. Marriage, God’s way, is good. Marriage refines. Marriage strengthens.
I would love to hear from you, today. What has God taught you about marriage?