Marriage & Unconditional Grace
Genesis 2:22-24 - Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of the man” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
The Importance of Marriage to Each Spouse
Could it be that God has created marriage, the most intimate of human relationships, for the purpose of refining us, chiselling off our selfish human nature, and making us more “other-centred”? Isn’t this what He means when He says that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son ...”)? How best to make us “other-centred” than to give us a spouse, very different from us, to hone us into His image?
The Importance of Marriage to God’s Plan for Mankind
Marriage also has purposes beyond each individual marriage that relate to God’s plan for mankind. In fact, there are purposes outlined in Genesis:
Christian marriages are to reflect God’s image:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
Each individual is created in the image of God. However, a married couple has a unique capacity to reflect His image as husband and wife. When we recognize our purpose is to reflect the image of God, we see that we have an opportunity to be a witness to a lost world.
Be Fruitful & Reign
The other purpose for marriage is to multiply in number and reign:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28a).
According to this verse, children are a gift from God and with them comes great responsibility: children are to be raised in His “likeness.” (Though many married couples do not have children, they still have an opportunity to disciple others to conform to His “likeness.”). Married couples are to “subdue” the earth. To accomplish this requires good stewardship in the physical realm over that which God has given. It also requires diligence in the spiritual realm. Together married couples are to be “soldiers” directed by God to accomplish His intentions on earth.
The Permanence of Marriage
Marriage is intended to be permanent:
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (Matthew 19:6)
Marriage is intended to be permanent since it was established by God. Marriage represents a serious commitment that should not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. It involves a solemn promise or pledge, not merely to one's marriage partner, but before God. Divorce is not permitted except in a very limited number of biblically prescribed circumstances.
The Mutuality of Marriage
Marriage is a relationship of free self-giving of one human being to another :
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:18,19)
The marriage partners are to be first and foremost concerned about the well-being of the other person and to be committed to each other in steadfast love and devotion. This involves the need for forgiveness and restoration of the relationship in the case of sin. Mutuality, however, does not mean sameness in the role. Scripture is clear that wives are to submit to their husbands and to serve as their "suitable helpers," while husbands are to bear the ultimate responsibility for the marriage before God (Ephesians 5:22-24; see also Genesis 2:18, 20).
The Exclusiveness of Marriage:
Marriage is exclusive:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in His heart. (Matthew 5:28)
This means that no other human relationship must interfere with the marriage commitment between husband and wife. For this reason, Jesus treated sexual immorality of a married person, including even a husband's lustful thoughts, with utmost seriousness ( Corinthians 7:2-5). As the Song of Solomon makes clear, only in the security context of an exclusive marital bond can free and complete giving of oneself in marriage take place.
Marriage As a Witness to the World
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35).
Marriage is a significant institution by which a lost world can see Christianity in action. Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships in which husbands and wives learn to model Christ’s love. Marriage is the 18-year training ground for children so that they can also love “one another.” Marriage provides a unique opportunity to reflect Him as a couple. Marriage provides a platform for accomplishing God’s intentions for mankind.
Grace - Vital Part Of Marriage
“Out of his fullness, we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” (John 1:16)
Grace is a vital part of how God expresses His love for us. But, too often, marriages lack this one key ingredient. Ironically, many spouses are more likely to show grace to people they don’t know well than they are to the husband or wife that God is calling them to love deeply. Much of what hurts or disappoints you in marriage is caused by an absence of grace.
Grace means desiring the best for your spouse, even when he or she may not deserve it. If you’re really going to love your spouse like God wants you to, you’ll need to follow God’s example of giving grace. Regularly reflect on the incredible grace that God has given to you through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Then let your gratitude compel you to let God’s love flow through you, empowering you to love others – such as your spouse – gracefully.
Recognize the graceless ways you currently see your spouse and replace those distorted perspectives with the truth.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14: )
Ask God to show you how you limit the love you express to your spouse or tie your love to conditions that your spouse must meet before receiving it. Thank God that He doesn’t withhold His love from you when you don’t measure up His perfect standards. Regardless of how you behave, God loves you completely. Ask God to help you shift your focus from trying to protect yourself in your marriage to do what’s in the best interest of your spouse. Pray that God’s grace – which saved you – will also transform the way you treat others, especially your spouse. Ask God to teach you how to view your spouse from His perspective.
Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”(Luke 17:4)
Obey God’s command to forgive your spouse whenever he or she hurts or offends you, and rely on God’s help throughout the process. Don’t let resentment and bitterness build up in your marriage and block the flow of grace between you. Instead, make a habit of forgiving so God’s grace can flow freely within your marriage.
Give your Marriage a Significant Purpose.
The need to know that we’re significant (that we have intrinsic worth and value) drives everyone in life. Help meet your spouse’s need for significance by encouraging him or her to join you in seeking ways you can serve together to build God’s kingdom on Earth – from volunteering at your church or in your neighbourhood to donating regularly to a charity or ministry that works for a cause you both support. Ask God to help you bring out the best in your spouse as you work to contribute to the world together. Affirm your spouse, give your spouse your attention as often as possible, and hold your spouse accountable to living faithfully.
Find the Freedom to be Different.
As an agent of God’s grace in your spouse’s life, you can help both of you enjoy the freedom that comes from using your differences to complement each other and communicating openly and honestly in your marriage. When you extend grace to your spouse, you both then become free to candidly communicate deep thoughts and feelings to each other and to process the foolish choices each of you makes so you both can learn and grow.
Motivate each other to build Character Muscles that will make your Marriage Stronger.
Giving grace to each other naturally motivates you and your spouse to want to grow into stronger people – and when that happens, your marriage will become stronger. A grace-filled marriage makes it easier for you both to pursue character that is distinguished by faith, integrity, poise, discipline, endurance, and courage.
Enjoy how Grace Strengthens each of your Hearts.
Once grace begins flowing freely between you and your spouse, God will use it to give you both hearts that are humble, grateful, generous, and willing to serve – all qualities that can keep your marriage strong.