I have a burden for marriage ministry. I try to read every book about having a Christ-honoring marriage that I can get my hands on. If one of the reasons – perhaps even the primary reason – that God created marriage as a way for us to know Him, to deepen our relationship with Him, a way that simultaneously is reflecting Him to the world around us – then why wouldn’t we put forth as much effort into trying to make it as strong of a marriage as possible?
While studying, there seemed to be an underlining similarity – love fragile and must be carefully and purposefully nourished.
In Genesis 2 we see that God designed marriage. Gen 2:18 “Then the Lord God said ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper for him.’”
Gen 2: 24-25 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
The Bible describes the marital covenant as two becoming one. As one Christian author points out it takes two complete people to become unified. Marriage was not designed for two incomplete (immature) people to join together that all the gaps would be filled in. As contrary to our secular culture as it seems, your spouse was not created to COMPLETE you.
God, in His Divine Providence, did know who you would marry. But we are each responsible for our personal walk with Christ, and our own maturity as individuals.
Does God use our spouse to help us grow? Yes of course, but only as a tool to aid in growth. The responsibility is still your own.
One of my favorite quotes on the subject says that marriage “was designed, not to make you a whole person, but to give your wholeness a new range of experience” (Cloud & Townsend). We are not extensions of each other – we are our own unique individuals who are covenantally bound in unison before God. It is because of that unity that I can no longer think of my world only in the terms of how it affects me, but how it affects US.
Being so united with someone gives us ample opportunity to severely hurt the one we are supposed to love the most. Why? Because we are two sinners living in close proximity! Some of the most painful wounds on our hearts have come from our own family or spouse.
1 Peter 3:8-12 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”
To me, the realization of the frailty of love is terrifying. What do we do then? We love. Like Christ loves the church. Selflessly. We seek to love with Agape in every area of our life. Regardless of how we feel.
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Phil 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Also Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
James 4 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
We have to remember the Gospel – I am a wretched sinner, and Christ is a wonderful savior. Yes – my spouse has hurt me. Why? Because he is still a sinner. And I am still a sinner too. So in light of the Gospel, I have to remember that Christ died for sinners.
My sin from today alone would have been enough to have caused Christ to die. So sure, my husband may have snapped and said something harshly – but I killed Jesus.
Every day I fail to love Christ with my whole heart – and every day He forgives me and every day He loves me completely. So I can forgive my husband and love him completely.
Love is not based on how I feel. Even in a great marriage – the frightening realization that the feeling of love is fragile, that the blissful unified feeling can fade in a moment – our reality is not based on how we feel. Love is not a hole in the ground to fall into or out of.
Love is a choice that we can make because Christ loved us first.