Meaningful Marriage #3
Commitment to Marriage parallels our commitment to the Lord. These go hand in hand, and this commitment needs to be leading the way as we march into the world to reach others with the gospel.
While we need to be concerned about the influence our spouses will have on our spiritual lives, we must ourselves be committed to serving our spouses and helping them serve the Lord. Marriage shouldn't be all about “us.” We bear responsibility in glorifying God, but it is through service that we must lead. Our focus must be first on God, then on loving our spouses as Christ loves His people (Eph 5:22ff). Therefore, while we must be concerned about the type of persons we marry, we must equally be concerned about the influence we will have on our spouses. On a broad scale, we should not only want to be around the right kind of people for our own sakes, but we ought to want to be the right people for the sake of others.
Marital Dedication is not a 50/50 proposition. If that's how we view it, then we may feel justified in treating spouses in a lesser way when we think we haven’t been treated properly. Dedication is 100 percent! This means that even if a spouse fails or gives less than 100 percent, we are still responsible to give our very best. Our approach to marriage is not conditioned upon the way a spouse acts, but upon God’s will. This is because, as Christians, we are to approach all things with an attitude of service to the Lord, recognizing that we are coheirs of the grace of life (1 Pet 3:7).
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col 3:23-24).
This is an overarching principle for all that we do, and this should be no less true in marriage. It is the Lord Christ whom we serve, and therefore our treatment of our spouses and our commitment to marriage is built upon this principle rather than upon some quid pro quo with spouses.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:3-5)
This passage, though dealing with relationships broader than marriage, must still be applied within a marriage. Our commitment is to be like Christ, to have His attitude in everything (love and submission). Marriage should be about our spouses, then, not about “us.” As Christ did nothing through selfish ambition, so we must act in humility to serve them and their interests. If we make marriage about personal happiness, then likely we will act selfishly and end up destroying the marriage and the happiness of our spouses. Selfishness is always counterproductive. Make marriage about your spouse, not yourself, based upon the principles demonstrated by Christ in humbling Himself to die for our sins. In this way, for example, husbands can love spouses as Christ loves His body (Eph 5).
Again, marriage is a direct reflection of God’s relationship with His people. This is Paul’s primary point in Ephesians 5. After speaking of the submission of the wife and the love the husband is to have for her, Paul then says, “I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (v. 32).
One of the reasons God initiated marriage in Genesis was to showcase male and female as His creatures made in His image. He then used the marriage metaphor throughout Scripture to describe His relationship with His people — with Israel and then with His people under Christ. Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Malachi stress the importance of this principle as the people had committed acts of immorality with foreign gods. Now, marriage to Christ as His people is primary for the child of God. We are the bride of Christ, adorned for Him in covenant relationship (cf. Rev 21:2). Paul used marriage again as the illustration to show that we were made to be joined to Christ in order to bear fruit to God (Rom 7:1-4).
These ideas highlight the importance of marriage for God’s people. Marriage was made by God. He joins two together. Breaking the covenant and divorce is something God hates (see Mal 2:15-16). God intends marriage to reflect His own covenant relationship with people made in His image. This ought to help us realize just how important our commitment to our spouses needs to be. Marriage ultimately isn’t about us, but about God’s own commitments to covenant. Though God made marriage for mankind, He made it for the greater purpose of reflecting His image. May God help us to reflect it properly.