In the good providence of God, July 13th, 2018, I married my beautiful bride Dorcas. It’s been two years and a few months with some good lessons I’d love to share. One of the elders at my church asked me about a week to our wedding, what I looked forward to in marriage. I gave it some thought; I felt the rush to say sex! Well, I definitely looked forward to it, but I soon realized that might not be ultimate; it isn’t. I also felt the rush to say the fun of just being with the one I love, well, fun it is, but not always. Marriage gets really hard at times. It’s just like life! After thinking through some time, I said, “I look forward to dying to self on a daily basis so that I can sacrificially serve and love my wife.” You’d expect that from a guy who’s been feeding on almost every sermon on biblical manhood and womanhood, right? Right. But even this is not ultimate.
The truth is, I haven’t always been dying to self on a daily basis so that I can sacrificially serve and love my wife. In fact, one of the things that have been super clear is how selfish and self-centered I have been with my time, my desires, my wants, my money, my, my, my. Did you just see that? All about me! There are times I come home having spent money on self, and the heat inside my heart is evidence of just how selfish I am in my spending, I come in trying to justify myself. In one of the sermons on biblical manhood, Paul Washer says, I’ll paraphrase; you are not ready for marriage if you are not ready to be confronted with your selfishness. In other words, one of the reasons why many put off marriage is because they are primarily selfish. Here’s the interesting thing, the very thing I looked forward to, is the very thing I am failing in. So what?
Marriage is for faith
Hebrews 11:6 gives us a context of what faith is, “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (ESV). Simply put faith is believing that God exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. You see, my failures are meant to show me how insufficient I am, and are meant to lead me to God, by whose grace I am enabled to sacrificially serve and love my wife. Without God and His grace, the very thing that I am called to in marriage, as I am too in the Christian life is impossible. Without God, the marriage fails! I fail. Marriage has helped me see my need for God and of God. I need God at every point and in everything! If I do not have God as my ultimate, I will look for approval and satisfaction in people and things, which really is, at the heart of all selfishness. Only when my heart rests in God, can I then, serve and love my wife as I have been called to. It takes faith to rest in God.
Marriage is for the gospel
Resting in God is resting in the gospel. What do we do with our failures? We simply run to Christ who paid for all of them. I’m a mess, no doubt. I’m a work in progress, praise the Lord! I’m not perfect, Amen! I need the gospel at every point and in everything. How often do I need to be reminded that Christ died for my sin? He bore all of God’s wrath that was reserved for me because of my sin? That I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ, therefore, I stand justified! That Christ continues to intercede for me before the throne of God above! He is my strong and perfect plea, the great high priest whose name is love, who, ever lives and pleads for me? That I, who is a sinner, a wretched sinner, I’m reconciled to the God who is holy? Praise God for the gospel! Yet, the gospel is not just about pardon for sin! I am not only saved by the gospel, but I am also being saved through the gospel, and will finally be saved because of the gospel. In other words, I have been justified, I am being sanctified, and I will be glorified. To put that in other words, I have been saved from the penalty of sin, I am being saved from the power of sin, and will finally be saved from the presence of sin. Pardon for sin is our justification, but we are also being sanctified and will be glorified. Therefore, marriage plays a huge role in my sanctification and that of my wife. Both of us are a mess, and marriage does well to reveal how messed up we are. Not only do I need the gospel, but my wife also needs it as well. The gospel is also for sanctification. In our sanctification, we are being conformed more and more into the image of Christ, it is through sanctification, that I am able to sacrificially serve and love on my wife. And for this, I need the gospel. Without this understanding, I would be very judgmental and insecure. My wife, just as I am, is a work in progress. She is being sanctified as I am. She needs the gospel just as much as I need the gospel. Marriage brings us to the gospel, by showing us our daily need of it.
Marriage is for the glory of God
Marriage works because God makes it work! And He gets the glory. Just as in our justification, God is glorified, and in our glorification, He will be glorified, so is He in our sanctification. God made us for Himself, and when we live our lives in absolute reliance on Him, He gets the glory. He gets the glory by working for us to the end that He becomes ultimate in our lives –He is ultimate. When God is done with our sanctification, we will look exactly like Christ! That is glorious and is for the glory of God. He delights to conform us into the image of Christ. It is one of the reasons Christ died on the cross and rose on the third day. In the life of the Christian, nothing is a waste. It all works for our good and the glory of God, including marriage. The glory of God has a lot of implications in my life as a husband and for my wife. It is primarily what ought to motivate us to be what God has called us to be as husband and wife. If I will sacrificially serve and love my wife, it should be motivated by a desire to glorify God. It is the reason for which God created me, the reason for which I exist. Marriage exists for the glory of God. The glory of God is ultimate! Therefore, every part of our marriage, including our failures, is for the glory of God. I can continue resting in God, knowing that He works all things for my good, the bad, the ugly, the good…He works all for my good, and His glory, which is, our being conformed into the image of Christ.
In conclusion, my wife mentioned that she can’t wait to spend eternity with this brother –me. Well, neither can I. I look forward. I realize God has primarily entrusted me with the task of preparing my wife to meet her maker. How much grace do I need for that! Everything I do, say and think counts for eternity. Pray for me, and for many others like me, who are working alongside God to raise a godly family. That our faith would be strengthened, that our holding fast to the gospel would be evident, that our resolve to live for the glory of God would be a reality.
Grace and peace be with you.