10 Ways to Make (Your) Marriage Count for Eternity
It is the grace of God that sustains marriage. Marriage is not something to be wasted, but so many today—even professing Christians—do waste it. Marriage should glorify God but so many don’t; so many are wasted. Two things waste marriage: neglect and ignorance of God’s purposes in marriage. In tonight’s revival meeting message, Bro. Don Currin brought out 10 things that can help make (your) marriage count for eternity and not be wasted.
- Believe that it is God’s will to conform you to Christ. Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to die to self and grow spiritually, conforming to Christ. God makes no mistakes; your marriage partner is the one you need.Compatibility, on which popular dating site eHarmony stakes its claim, is nothing. No one will truly be compatible for you; what matters is to marry someone you will be equally yoked to. The key is to trust God to work all things—even conflicts and hardships in marriage—for your good IF you love Him (Romans 8:28). God will move in a marital conflict for His glory. God is at work for your very sanctification in marriage. Reconciliation throughout marriage is tough; our flesh does not lose a leg quietly. But we come out of such conflicts more like Christ—or we should. Yield to God in your marriage; trust Him. God will use your marriage to conform you to Christ. What may be helpful is for you to compete with your spouse in thoughtful self-denial. See who can die to self first.
- See that marriage should mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32 expresses this beautifully: “This mystery [of marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The interactions between two spouses reflect Christ and the church. Portray Christ and the church, then, well. Sacrificial love for your wife, husbands, and speaking truth to her and lavishing her with love show Christ’s love for His church. Wives, your unconditional submission to your husband (except when he tells you to sin) and loving, devoted yielding portrays the church’s submission and respect for Christ.
- Recognize that God intends marriage to bear witness to the gospel. The ultimate goal of marriage is to exalt the Savior; it is not self-fulfillment or sexual gratification. Marriage should show the glory of God in salvation, for who but God could cause a husband to sacrificially love his wife and a wife to submit joyfully to her husband? Your godly, Christ-centered marriage is a great witness to lost relatives and lost children.
- See that your companion’s character flaws and physical handicaps are God-given ministry opportunities for you to develop greater love for your spouse and so serve the Lord your God. The presence of a man of God in a home can be a conduit for God to bless and heal spiritually and/or physically his wife, and vice-versa. God’s providence is behind even the flaws and illnesses of your spouse—again, we come back to Romans 8:28. Consider the preacher McQuilken, who was the head of one of the most eminent Bible colleges of his time. He left this prestigious post against the advice of many godly friends to care for his wife, who was dying of Alzheimer’s. This illustration from Bro. Currin’s sermon struck close to home with me. I had three great grandparents to die of Alzheimer’s, one of whom was a woman. As one called to full-time pastoral ministry, one of the greatest dangers I will face once married is to neglect my spouse for the work of the ministry. But every married Christian’s primary ministry is to his or her spouse before anyone or anything else! For in serving your spouse, you serve Christ. Such a beautiful truth. Notice the profundity of McQuilken’s words: “I don’t have to serve my [ailing, dying] wife; I get to serve my wife!” Praise God for such an attitude! And may God bless each of us with the same attitude.
- View yourself as the beneficiary of glorious providence, not as a victim of a bad choice. Marriage is a blessing. If you marry, marriage is the will of God for your life. Marriage is a permanent blessing of God! Romans 8:28, again, is true even in marriage. As Nick Saban said in a press conference after the national championship game, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” Don’t have a victim-mentality; realize that your spouse is a blessing from God.
- Believe that you can more effectively serve God with your spouse than without. Robbert Murray McCheyne once said to his wife, “The Christ in me will not fight the Christ in you.” Oh, if all married Christians would realize this and cling to this truth! Oh, if every Christian would cling to this truth! Christ is not divided, nor should believing spouses be divided! Don’t serve independent of your mate; involve him or her in your Christian service. The wife can so aid her husband spiritually! Bro. Don’s very personal illustration at this point really struck home with me. More and more I realize that marriage is a companionship, a lifelong commitment to companionship between two people. What strikes me here—and I am thankful for Bro. Currin’s illustration of this very truth in his life with his wife—is the importance to let your spouse be there for you. Be open and transparent your spouse. To put it biblically, be one flesh!
- Understand that answered prayer depends on the honor you show to your spouse. Pray for God to reveal problems in your marriage—do not sin in your marriage. It is so important here to regularly pray with your spouse!
- Build a more loving and enduring relationship; don’t waste time on carnal indulgences, such as football or TV programs, or even your children or work! Let nothing supersede the importance of personal prayer! Don’t let your entertainment or worldly success in the workplace be more important than spending intentional time with your spouse in prayer! Bro. Currin mentioned one preacher who would go away with his wife once a month to a remote place and they would take prayer walks together. I think that is a wonderful idea; personal prayer walks are wonderful, but if you are married, take prayer walks with your spouse. If possible, do so more often (though maybe not in a remote place for a whole night) than once a month.
- Live out your role as husband or wife in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. “Do not be drunk with wine but continue to be being filled (original Greek) with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:16). We need the fullness of the Spirit for all things—including sacrificial love (husbands) and joyful submission (wives). Note that all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) are relational. Note that love heads the list. Love is not something we do on our own; love is something that God Himself by His Holy Spirit enables us to do.Trust in the Lord; don’t manipulate your spouse in your anger (which is a fruit of the flesh, same chapter). Respond rather in a Christ-like way. Pray for the filling of the Spirit in faith (Luke 11:13). God will keep giving to you (original Greek) the Holy Spirit in bountiful measure if you ask in faith, regardless of circumstance or (lack of) emotion.
- Live marriage to the glory of God. Recall Psalm 34:3-4 “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together! I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” What a beautiful verse for two spouses! Your marriage should bring glory to God and exude the grace of Christ to others, especially your family. Glorifying God should direct your every step in marriage and in life.
Is your marriage counting for eternity? Or are you wasting it? If you are wasting your marriage, confess to the Lord, for He is faithful and just to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
For those of you who aren’t married but have read all this and think, “How does this apply to me?” know that it does apply to you. Unless you are called to celibacy—and if you are called you are equipped—then you will one day be married. I’m in the same boat as you are, unmarried reader. Applying these truths now is what will be difficult. But we do need to apply these truths now so that we can apply them once we get married. If we cannot apply them now, we cannot apply them when another sinner like us enters the equation. Here are some practical things that I think will help us unmarried Christians prepare to be godly husbands or wives:
- Intentionally do all things to the glory of God.
- Pray continually to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Like the married people who pray this, we must thank God for filling us even when we don’t feel filled.
- Cultivate humility. Think of others as more important than yourself.
- Know what biblical marriage is,
- and begin praying that God would prepare you for a Biblical marriage.
- Pray also for your future spouse, that God would prepare them for your marriage. NOTE: do not pray for God to prepare a specific person for you to marry, for until you are actually married and the vows have been said, you don’t know for sure who you will wind up marrying. (Rather, pray saying “my future spouse” going in no further detail than that.) And also note that it is more important to pray that God prepare you, for if you develop godliness, then even if your spouse has serious sins (see points 4 and 5 above), you will be able to be a good spouse to them.
- Do not make poor decisions now that you will regret later. Be wise in your dating (or courtship, whichever term you prefer … for the Christian, the two should be one and the same); good resources here are Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl. Again, even now while you prepare for marriage, seek to glorify God in everything. (I really should post a blog on Biblical principles for courtship/dating sometime in the future.)
Thanks again to Bro. Currin for his sermon; I trust that God will use it to help us all be (or become) better wives or husbands. I also thank his wife for being his faithful wife for so many years. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them over this week, and I look forward to seeing them by God’s grace tomorrow. For those of you who can come, Eastside Baptist’s final revival service for this series of meetings begins at 7 PM tomorrow.