Dear radio friends,
Last week we were talking about the blessing of a godly marriage. We spoke last time of some of the spiritual callings that we have that we must fulfill if we are to experience God’s blessing in our marriages. We said last time that one of the prime spiritual graces that we must continually desire is to be obedient, for the blessing of God comes in the way of obedience.
But there is another spiritual grace that we must cultivate if we are to experience the blessing of God in our marriage. That grace is contentment. Open your Bible to Hebrews 13:5, 6 where you have one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible on the truth of contentment. We read, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Now, what is so interesting here is that that beautiful truth of contentment is in the context of marriage. Look at verse 4: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” God had just spoken there of marriage and, especially, of the purity of marriage, purity along the lines of the sexual aspects of marriage.
Then the Word of God speaks of contentment. Certainly we may deduce from that that contentment, the grace of contentment, for those who are married is to be found in the way of living in their marriage in obedience to God. That is the way they experience contentment in all of their life.
We must be content. Contentment is the grace of being satisfied in the Lord’s provision. Contentment is faith which understands that my life is not by chance but that it is all controlled of God and that God has purposed an eternal love to save me and to work all things for my good. Contentment is having your heart set on the kingdom of God and enjoying the peace of God in your soul. That is contentment.
We have so much! Yet we are filled with discontentment. The cure for our discontentment is not a monastery, but we must look to how we live in our marriages, in this blessing. A covetous man cannot see God’s blessing. And covetous men and women are angry men and women. They cannot have what they want and they blame each other that they cannot have it and they have much strife.
To experience God’s blessing in a marriage we must practice contentment with what the Lord has given to us. Let me read some verses from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 17:1, “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” “Full of sacrifices” means that they have all kinds of animals and wealth to bring all kinds of sacrifices. Better is a house that has just a crust of bread and peace than a house that is filled with all types of material advantages but has strife. Very often when things become the center of a marriage there is much strife.
Look at the Word of God in Proverbs 15:17: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” Better – did you hear it? Consider with me a little boy who comes in hungry for supper and he says, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” And she says, “Stalled ox. That ox that your father had that he’s been preparing, fattening for the slaughter. We’ve slaughtered it. We’re going to have prime rib of ox. We’re going to have a wonderful dinner.” Then the little boy says, “Mom, at the supper table are you going to talk to Dad? Is Dad going to talk to you? Or are you going to argue. Are you going to say to me, ‘Pass your father for the peas, he’s just asked for them,’ but not talk to him?” Then the little boy might say, “Mom, instead of the prime rib, do you mind if I go over to Johnny’s house tonight? They’re going to have herbs. They don’t have much. But they love each other over there so much.”
Do you have contentment with each other? Do you live in contentment? Do you set your heart upon more and more things, and as you set your heart upon more and more things, do you find more and more strife and division in your home?
Are you content with each other? Are you dissatisfied with the wife God gave you, with the husband God gave you? So long as that proud dissatisfaction remains in your heart and that unloving criticism remains with you, you cannot expect God’s blessing.
If you become bored with each other, if you begin to look over the fence, if you begin to have a critical attitude with each other, if you cannot bend any more before each other, then you will not experience God’s blessing. The blessing of God is to be found in obedience and contentment.
Then there is another word that begins with “c.” That word is commitment.
Turn in the Bible with me to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 2:14. We read, “Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.” I will not go into the context here. It is just that statement, “Thy wife is thy companion and the wife of thy covenant.” She is your companion, your fellow spiritual traveler. And you have entered a covenant, a contract. You have sworn allegiance, that you will walk to Zion together, helping one another on your earthly pilgrimage.
Now Malachi is accusing the husbands of his day of treachery, playing the part of a friend, pretending to be nice and loving but actually working destruction. They were doing that by divorcing their wives and marrying other, beautiful, young women.
So the Word of God says we must be committed to our marriages and to each other. We must see each other as fellow spiritual pilgrims. We have taken a vow before God and that vow must not be spoken lightly. We have signed a marriage contract, a license, because we realize that there will be periods of conflict and boredom, and that mutiny will want to be in our souls. So we must have commitment by the grace of God. We must reflect the faithfulness of God to each other.
Marriage may be compared to a room that you enter and there is no exit except the door marked “Death.” For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, till death us do part. Those words must remain. For every Christian, marriage is a lifelong bond. Why? Because marriage reflects the bond of God’s covenant that He has made with us in Jesus Christ, and God is faithful. Over His Son and the cross, He swore, “to the end will I be faithful.”
So we bind ourselves in a marriage witnessed by God. Looking into the future on our wedding day, with the Word of God open before us and rings on our fingers, we vow that no matter what comes, we will be faithful to each other and love each other with the unfailing love of God. We say that we will love each other not of ourselves, but in God and out of His great faithfulness and mercies which are new to us each morning.
Every struggle from that moment of marriage on can be used either to create separation or, by the grace of God, to draw us closer together. God, by His mercy, uses those very struggles which would divide to create intimacy in our marriages, to give to us a blessing beyond our ability to understand on our wedding day. That is waiting for you in the future. You have not exhausted them yet – even if you have been married for fifty years. You have only begun. Those blessings await you. Deeper truths of the faithfulness of God will be brought to you.
Then we may grow together in the love of God.
Marriage, you understand, is not an end in itself. It has been given of God for this purpose, first of all, that we might taste and see that in Christ God has taken delight in us. Marriage is intended to give us to understand something of the abiding blessing of Christ and His love for us in the cross. Marriage is, so to speak, a private school in which we are taught of that love of God and grow in that love of God – a love of God which says one to another, “I will accept you even if at times you frustrate me, even though you come to me with a sign on your chest, ‘Deny yourself and wash my feet.’ ” That is how your wife came to you. I hope you saw that. That is how your husband came to you on that day. He had on his chest the call of Christ to you: “Deny yourself and wash my feet.” Did you see it?
You learn the meaning of the true love of God by going through the daily realities of life together and going to God for your strength. Then you experience that love that does not flicker like a candle, but a love which grows stronger through the trials and difficulties that God sends to you. Then you emerge from that school better equipped to love the saints outside of the classroom, outside of your marriage.
You study your partner. You say, “What are her greatest needs? What are her weaknesses? What are her moods? How do we bring conflict to resolution in a God-glorifying manner?” And your desire is, “How can I satisfy my wife?” Your desire is, “How can I please my husband?” Both are sold out to please God. Then you have the ingredients for a blessed marriage.
You will also witness God’s faithfulness in the gift of children. I chose those words very carefully. I did not say that you will experience God’s faithfulness in the blessing of children. But I said in the gift of children and in what those children represent. This is not the essential blessing of marriage. Not first. If God withholds children from a marriage, that does not mean that that marriage is unfulfilled. That is human thought, not biblical. God’s will for our life never leaves us unfulfilled. There is a notion that if a couple cannot have children, then the purpose for their marriage is not attained. That is not biblical, that is not true. Sometimes God works His way with us past comprehension. We sing in Psalter #211, “Thy way was in the sea, O God, thro mighty waters, deep and broad; None understood but God alone, to man Thy footsteps were unknown; But safe Thy people Thou didst keep, Almighty Shepherd of Thy sheep.”
But God also blesses our marriages with children, which is a witness to us of His faithfulness to bring forth His church. He gives to us the blessing of a family life. He entrusts to our care children of the covenant, purchased in the blood of the Lamb, whom we are called to rear in His name. That is a blessing. Children are a blessing. God brings to us the reality in our children that we have been made the children of God. And God teaches us something of His love for His children in giving to us children. As you bear your child on your heart, God bears His children on His. As you would suffer none to harm your child, so God shall not allow any to hurt His church.
To show you His Fatherhood, He makes you a father. To cause you to see His wisdom and to teach you to pray fervently, He gives you children.
Finally, the blessing of a godly marriage is that it makes the hope of eternal glory in Christ burn in your soul. Heaven is pictured as a marriage: the marriage of the Lamb and His bride, the church. Then that marriage shall have perfectly come. Therefore, the marriages of God’s people picture the heavenly and abiding truth of the perfect union of Christ and the glorified church. That is why human marriages pass away when the reality comes.
In heaven, said Jesus in Matthew 22, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven. Our life now in marriage is given to stir up in us the eager anticipation of that perfect bond that we will enjoy in eternity as Christ’s redeemed bride. We are made companions, spiritual pilgrims. Our goal and our hope is not here on this earth. Our satisfaction cannot be found in the earthly, in farms or homes, possessions and business, pleasures. But our fullness of joy is at the right hand of our heavenly Father. There we experience a perfect love which knows no end or measure. There all of our shortcomings, our tears, and our sorrows are wiped away. In heaven we shall be embraced by the Lamb of God. We shall enjoy such pleasures beyond imagination. We shall receive the richness of His mercy and grace.
We go through this present life, married in the Lord, bearing one another’s burdens. We go through the sorrows of this life, perhaps the death of a child, financial woe, sins and troubles. We experience that old man of sin in us which bothers us. It bothers us much in marriage. But as we go through all of these things, we say one to another, believing husbands and wives, “Honey, this world is not our home. We can’t stay here. Up, flee to the mountains. Let us place our faith in those things that are set before us at the right hand of God. Let us remember that the Lord will destroy this place, this present Sodom and Gomorrah. He is building for us a building not made of hands, eternal in the heavens. A godly marriage will make us eager for the perfection of marriage at God’s right hand.”
Is that true for you? These are the blessings of a godly marriage. The blessings, you see, are not counted in terms of money, square footage of the house in which you live, your standard of living, the car you drive. The blessings of marriage are deep, abiding, enduring, lasting. They are blessings that we carry with us through the grave. They are the blessings of the love of God, the faithfulness of God, and the desire to be pleasing to God. These are the blessings of a godly marriage.
Marriage has been compared to two streams joining. They converge at one point with great force. There is foam and spray, but eventually a river emerges broad and deep, blessing those who are by its side. God brings blessing when He joins two, husband and wife, in the deep love of God. He makes their life to be a broad, restful stream, satisfying not only themselves but many others around them.
Your marriage, which began at the altar, must end at the graveside. In between will be laughter and tears, anger and joy, heartbreak and heart leap. As the Lord brought you together, the Lord will see you through. May you ever turn to Him who was and is and is to come. May your marriage give you to understand a little bit about what it means when God calls you “Hephzibah, my delight is in you.”
Father, bless Thy word to our souls. Amen.