Man and wife
MATRIMONY…is a state of being married. It is a personal and relational institution established by God right from the get-go. He didn’t get past Genesis 2 before he said; “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (vs. 24 ESV). Leave and cleave! Becoming one flesh is God’s purpose and order. Sounds so simple, especially for a man and woman who love each other, maybe even love the Lord faithfully. But we have three enemies, any one of which can wreak havoc on the blissful union. They are of course; Satan, our fallen sinful flesh and the world system and attractions. Today, 50% or more of marriages end in divorce, even for Christians. That’s not even counting the trend of co-habitation, nor simply producing children with no commitment to be present in the family.
Having just celebrated our first sixty years of marriage, I started thinking about the various challenges and benefits from God’s plan for fulfilling his purpose for mankind. He said; “Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion (rule over) it” (Gen. 1.28 my translation). So there is great opportunity for tremendous success and joy. To me, there are three areas that present themselves on this marital journey. I think of them this way. You may have your own; share them.
Each one of these is an opportunity for God to work out his plan for the husband, wife and children, even the extended family. Let’s briefly look at each.
Challenges and benefits
Sacred ground—is so very special involving faithfulness, unity and worship as one. It is to be a relationship built on trust in one another while trusting God completely. The Lord ordained the marriage to be one of the most definitive reflections of his divine nature. The word tells us; “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” And it goes on to say; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5.24,25 NKJV).
Proving ground—is the arena you have been given to demonstrate what each of you are made of and what each can become. Synergy applies. One plus one equals three. Encouragement of each other during the ups and downs of your lives comes in to play here. There will be countless trials you will confront; some personal, physical, social, financial, spiritual and emotional. Personal growth is important in marriage. You are each other’s cheerleader, no matter what. No one can rise to great heights in their lives without the strength from another. And who best than the person closest and dearest to you? I have made many serious mistakes in virtually every area of my life. For Joanne to stand with me, even though she is hurting deeply, is cause to get up off the floor and re-engage the battle of life. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to help him up” (Eccl. 4.9,10 NKJV).
Fertile ground—All of the above creates an amazing family orchard for God to produce fruit, more fruit, even much fruit as described in John 15.1-12. (Read this now and meditate on it.) This is where abiding (being present and engaged) comes in to play. Just one area would be the spiritual discipleship of your children. Talk about a bountiful harvest for and into the next several generations! By abiding in Christ and as a father, abiding in your home/family, God can and will produce bountiful crops of spiritual fruit. And Jesus eventually wants to provide you with his joy, and he desires for it to be complete. Maintaining fertile ground in your heart will ensure this happens. Anyone into complete joy?
“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy law.” Sounds like a plan!