We not only need a strong relationship with God, but we also need a strong relationship with other people. God describes this as a relationship that is needed to make us whole.
Personally, it took me awhile to understand that my wife is a gift from God, made especially for me, and I for her. Each time I wrap my loving arms around her, I can unwrap and reveal the wonderful gift He gave to complete me. Each day I choose to remember this truth brings a new and exciting day where I can serve her and bring joy into her life.
Our adversary, the Devil, wants to destroy God’s precious gift of marriage. He knows that if he can break up a marriage, he is destroying what God has created, as well as adversely affecting all those in the household. This cascading effect flows out of broken homes into schools, the workplace, places of worship and the government. For Christians whose homes are destroyed, the damage affects how people see God through His broken children.
Here are some things to understand about marital relationships:
The relationship is not about the individual, it’s about “us”. When God makes a marriage, He makes two into one. Jesus emphasized this in Matthew 19:6 when He said "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." What happens to one, affects the other. If one chooses to hurt the other, he/she is only hurting himself/herself. A marriage relationship is not a 50/50 performance based partnership. This becomes a stumbling block for many, especially when one person in the relationship does not meet the other’s expectations. A marriage becomes strong, when both parties give and serve. Marriage is about love without conditions.
The Devil will continue to try to drive a wedge between the married couple for the rest of their lives. The wedge can be a conflict that is something serious or something trivial. The wedge, no matter how small, can affect the relationship in a substantial way, but only if the couple allows it. Conflicts in marriage do not have to cause disastrous problems. These conflicts can actually make a marriage stronger. When the wedge presents itself, the couple should step aside and let the wedge push the two closer to God.
Marriage works best when the couple has a goal that is shared and they choose to work together toward that goal. There is an image that is painted in 2 Corinthians 6:14 of a yoke used by a pair of farm animals. A wise farmer would never put a donkey and an ox side by side to pull his plow. He would never get a straight line out of them. I’ve seen many believers marry unbelievers, who are clueless as to why they continue to have conflict.
When raising children, the marriage is more important than parenting. Raising children is an important responsibility of a marriage, but it should not be the focus of the relationship. The children are a wonderful and exciting part of the relationship, but the focus should always be the man and the wife. I’ve seen many marriages become dominated by the children, to the point where the children become a wedge. There is an old child’s tune that goes “<boy> plus <girl>, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes <boy/girl> with the baby carriage.” There is a profound moral order here that is getting messed up. It’s what I call “ready, fire, aim.” Marriage should come before children, not as a result. If we get the order right, children become a blessing to the marriage, not a mistake.
Jesus put an exclamation point on the importance of marriage, when he revealed His miracle working power at the wedding in Cana. No matter where you are pre-married, married, un-married, divorced - Jesus can be the miracle you need in your life. He can turn a bitter or tasteless relationship into a sweet and joyful one.
Seek Jesus’ words. Seek His heart. Seek His forgiveness. Receive His miracle of a new life and marriage.
Pastor Jay Merritt