As we once again look at marriage, it is easy to see that these principles can carry over to all of the relationships in our lives … work, family, friends, and neighbors. But for singles and single-agains, these principles are especially important. So let’s dive in.
If you are single, and especially if you single-again, the strongest principle that can be incorporated is to recognize that it is actually a marriage of three – husband, wife and God. Making God the center and highest priority of a marriage is the key to making it work and when it hits a rough patch, it is the key to preserving it.
Why is this so important for single people to understand? Statistics show that upwards of 90% of people will say that, if given the opportunity, they would prefer to be married. And even for whom this is not in the cards, they will most likely find themselves in friendship and fellowship with people who are married and these principles will provide a good foundation on which to come alongside them in Christian friendship. It will be important for you to hear the rest of this blog through this filter.
Often at weddings, particularly Christian weddings, we’ll hear the bride and groom affirm that God will be the focus and center of their marriage. But as the honeymoon fades (as it does), they soon forget these affirmations as they tend to refocus on their needs and what is or isn’t being met by their spouse.
Part of the problem is that couples honestly have no idea or commitment to what it means to have a God-centered marriage. Nor do they understand the incredible freedom that comes with it. The couple may consider themselves to be committed Christians, but their marriage is effectively agnostic.
Safety in Numbers
Prioritizing God in marriage means knowing him in our hearts and reflecting him in our actions. Practically speaking, every day we have a choice. We wake up and we make a conscious choice to love God and love our spouse. Every day – the action of a conscious choice. It is a marriage of three.
You cannot make God a priority in your marriage if you, as an individual do not have a personal relationship with Him. Bible study, prayer, and corporate worship have never had so little value in our society as they seem to have today. But these are the essential things if we desire to have a genuine relationship with God. As we have talked about in previous blogs, these are important habits to build during our singleness. A strong foundational God-walk sets a marriage up for success and makes the road somewhat easier. We cannot count on culture being our aide.
• We cannot know God outside of how He has revealed Himself to us through his word.
• We cannot communicate with Him outside the vehicle of Holy-Spirit-saturated prayer.
• We cannot experience full communion with Him apart from his people. If we are to keep God at the center of marriage, we must know who He is and that is only possible through regular access to Scripture, prayer, and worship.
We cannot have God as the priority of our marriage
if we will not have him as the priority of our life.
I love this description of the Holy Spirit written by Josh Squires, a contributor to John Piper’s desiringGod.org
Knowing God means knowing his fellowship through the Holy Spirit. Christ has sent his Spirit to be with his people and to dwell in their hearts (1 Corinthians 3:16). This incredible fellowship never ceases to be. Not even when the born-again are sinning, and playing like enemies to the Lord, does the Holy Spirit leave us. A partial fulfillment of the promise of God is that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). Though there may be times when we grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), or God removes his countenance from us and we feel as if we are alone, the believer, in fact, always has access to him. The Holy Spirit brings comfort (John 14:26), peace (John 14:27), and conviction (John 16:8). And when we do not know how to pray as we ought, he intercedes for us with groans too deep for words (Romans 8:26).
As we walk with God, we are never alone. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and helps us go through every aspect of our lives, including marriage. This means we can be free from our own hurts and fears. It also means we don’t have to avoid conflict in order to preserve the marriage, nor do we invoke conflict in order to create a false sense of intimacy. It means as we navigate marriage, we (and our spouse) have an eternal advocate who helps us separate our fears and pain from truth. He helps us keep perspective.
We are also free from having to defend ourselves — we can take those things to the cross, giving them to God — even when we don’t have the words. It means as we walk through marriage with this person we have chosen to do life with, we are free to learn from our spouse, to hear God’s conviction from them, to ask for forgiveness when we have misstepped and to grow together in Christ. We are free to rest in the Father’s control over our lives and marriage.
Even when we do not understand why our spouse acts the way he does, or when events happen that seem to shake our marriages to their very foundations, we can cling to the truth that God is in control and we can rest in his comfort.
This weekend Christopher spoke of 5 principles that need to be incorporated into a strong marriage. It is easy to recognize that these principles are also key to remaining in Jesus and maintain a solid God-walk, regardless of one’s marital status.
STEEPED in God’s WORD – Acts 18:26
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
• Steeped in God’s Word is such a great way to remind us that we are to be immersed in God’s Word daily. We are to encourage each other to remain, to pray, and to stay in community.
HOSPITABLE for God’s CHILDREN – 1 Corinthians 16:19
19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla[a] greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house
• Again, we are to stay in community. We cannot count on culture to support or shore up our marriages. We must remain in community with other believers, with mentors, and with others in strong marriages. Iron sharpens iron, as do strong Christian marriages build other strong marriages.
AVAILABLE for God’s CALL – Acts 18:3
3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
• We are here to follow God’s lead. God brings us together. He helps bind us to another to create a union that can impact the kingdom. Marriage is a reflection of God, of his kingdom and it should be a light to a society that often doesn’t value marriage.
BOLD for God’s TRUTH – Romans 16:3-5
3 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.
• Ah, to be BOLD. Standing in God’s truth. We are to know what we stand for. We are in or we are out. When it comes to God’s Kingdom, we are to do marriage God’s way. We don’t get to pick and choose our obedience.
INVESTING in God’s KINGDOM – 2 Timothy 4:19
19 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus…
• Marriage is to be a place of service, not just satisfaction. We often look to marriage to be a source of comfort and joy for us. We find ourselves confused or discouraged when they are a place of suffering and service. While marriage is certainly meant to reflect the joy and satisfaction of our union with Christ, it also will be a place of intense trial, temptation, and discomfort — all on the path to growth and refining us to be more like Jesus.
Finally, the best advice I ever received was that in marriage (as Christians, even) we are meant to be more Holy, than Happy. Most certainly happy can, and hopefully will come with it, but marriage is often about sacrifice. We are giving up our oneness to become a union of three. In laying down our lives for our spouses, to listen before we speak, to respond in love rather than in wrath, to own our part of sin rather than point it out in others — we are able to reflect Christ’s goodness and his character back to our spouse and to the world.
Remaining in Him