Marriage IS Work

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”

Proverbs 18:22

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday and the events of the day prevented me from doing any writing at all where I could celebrate her publicly by writing about her life. This morning as I was reading from the book of Proverbs I came upon verse 22 of chapter 18, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” which immediatley reminded me of the gift I have been given in my wife. Most married couples and almost every divorced person I have ever counseled with can tell you marriage not only takes work but that marriage in and of itself IS work. Marriage by God’s design is a vocation, meaning it’s a full time job, with no vacations or weekends off. Marriage is a union between God, one man and one woman and the primary purpose being both spouses working to get the other to heaven. When marriage works you have a beautiful picture of sacrificial living.

Immediately some might say, wait a second here, we aren’t responsible for our spouse’s salvation and that is absolutely and unequivocally correct, as only Jesus saves. Yet, God has chosen us as His representatives to carry the message of His hope and love into the world. As the Word of God makes plain in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” Yet, just as there are mysteries within the godhead there are mysteries as well within the marriage relationship.

Read the words of the apostle Paul who the Lord used to write some of the most read and studied passages in all the Bible on marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 the apostle Paul writs, “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife.”

Save your husband or save your wife? Regardless of how you might interpret 1 Corinthians 7 you can’t argue with any success that the apostle Paul is making it clear that husbands and wives actions have a major impact on their spouses spiritual life. Peter echo’s the same thought when he penned these words in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” You can’t read Peters words and not see that the relationship between a husband and wife impacts the relationship we enjoy with God Himself.  

It’s been well said, “marriage wasn’t intended primarily to make us happy but holy” which isn’t to imply that you cant be happy and holy simultaneously. On the contrary, it’s well documented that the holiest people make for the happiest people for the simple fact the word holy means, “whole or complete.” It’s holy people who aren’t lacking and still searching for something or someone to fill their incompleteness, and is why holy people are so attractive to those who are searching in the first place.

One of the game changers moments in my own marriage relationship was coming to the understanding that every good marriage not only takes work but IS work. Couples working together to help each other love God which will result in loving other people thus fulfilling all the law and the prophets. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “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, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

In the same way 99.9% of all marriage problems are due to selfishness, successful marriages are a byproduct of putting the needs of our spouse over our own. If you are married, ask yourself a very important question today, “How am I helping my spouse get to heaven?” If you are single you can ask the same question regarding your family members and friends. It makes no difference if your spouse knows Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. It’s not up to me and you to save our spouse, but it is our responsibility as well as our privilege to help every person we can get to heaven by sharing God’s love with them by both the things we say, the way we treat them and by the things we do with and for them. Great marriages aren’t, “give and take” but “give and give” knowing in our giving is the receiving. Thats why our bible says plainly, “it is more blessed to give than receive.”  

Just like salvation is a choice, marriage is a choice and both are binding! By being binding when our emotions try to kick in to impact the choice we made we can hit the default button as it were and remind ourselves the choice was already made, its past tense. It’s no longer will I or will I not stay married but rather, what will I do to help my spouse glorify God? How will I help my friend get to heaven? The beauty of choice is that it is disconnected from feelings. On the day a couple stands at the altar, they make a vow before God that made them both individually as well as collectively accountable to Him as well as reliant upon Him for His help.

In almost every wedding ceremony we say things like “for better for worse, for richer and poorer, and in sickness and in health so help me God” before ever having to make any choice in fulfilling our vows that take work to do so. It was a promise we made, a decision in advance of our fluctuating feelings and emotions that we would commit the rest of our lives to help them make it to heaven. Don’t let the devil trick you into making a permanent decision because of a temporary problem. Keep this in mind today. In each of our lives, other peoples eternal salvation is the cooperative work of heaven and earth. Let’s commit to do everything we can each day to work together, to do all we can, to take as many people as we can to heaven one day. After all, it was Jesus who said in His father’s house are many mansions. There’s plenty of room!  

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all."

Proverbs 31:26-29


Michael Osthimer





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