…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
So many stories confuse our picture of what love is. Romantic love has been the subject of most popular music, much poetry and fiction. The message is often that the exciting feelings can last forever. Or that there is one person out there with whom everything will fall into place automatically. True love, people say, will complete a person. But if we have such high expectations, and if we aren’t very clear about God’s plan for romantic love, how can we avoid being swept up in the world’s songs and stories? Do you really want Jesus to be at the center of your future marriage? If so, how can you get started His way?
1. Wait for God’s Awakening
In the account of Eve’s creation, have you ever noticed how God prepared Adam? How do you get someone to notice something missing? God had said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18) God said as He announced His intention: “…I will make him a helper fit for him.” How did God get Adam to notice his own aloneness? God brought all the animal life He had created to Adam: “The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:20) By getting Adam to notice the animals with their corresponding mates, God alerted him to his own uniqueness and the fact that he had no one like him. Then God met the very desire He had awakened in Adam: “…the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)
The Bible’s Song of Solomon is a book about a fresh new marriage between Solomon and his bride, called the “Shulamite.” (6:13) Some have seen a parallel to God’s awakening of Adam in her poetic advice to the other “daughters of Jerusalem:” “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 2:7). The world urgently tells girls and boys to pair up as young as possible, but God's word does not. In fact, the Apostle Paul warns the Corinthians, “…those who marry will have worldly troubles.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) To avoid these troubles, don’t spend time worrying or fantasizing about a life that isn’t (yet) yours. We’re told not to be “…anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Faith in God’s timing and provision is the opposite of anxiety, and will save you much heartache.
2. Seek God’s Selection
Paul warned the Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) This is important advice for Christians in any relationship, but is especially critical when it comes to a marriage. Genesis 24 records how important it was to Abraham that his son Isaac have a godly wife. He sent his servant back to the country he came from, telling him, “…[God] will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” (Genesis 24:7)
Thinking again about the first marriage, remember that God went before them and became the first matchmaker. Before Adam was even aware of his need for a wife, it was God’s plan to “…make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18) If God wants you to marry (or marry again), at the right time He will show you the person He has chosen for you.
3. Fully Embrace the Mystery
The mention of God’s plan hints at a larger truth: Marriage is bigger than our personal satisfaction. Ephesians 5:31-32 and Genesis 2:24 explain: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Verses 21-33 explain in more detail. But as Ephesians 5:21 hints, mutual submission is a big part of the picture. A wife must be willing to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:22), and the husband must be willing to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Then, both will come to realize that marriage is a ministry. It is the deepest, most intimate and personal ministry we will have on this earth. When you commit to someone else in marriage, you are choosing someone to whom your ministry before God will be devoted for the rest of your lives together. Ideally, God will use each of you to accomplish His purposes for the other in a way no one else could. And He will use your union to accomplish His purpose in the world in a way neither of you could do alone.
Pray this week:
Father, I am committed to your provision, your timing and your purpose in singleness or marriage.
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