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The Greatest Ministry on earth

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

― Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:13

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Marriage is the last relic of paradise left among men, and Jesus hastened to honour it with His first miracle”. I remember, in my childhood years, always being eager to get married. Up through high school and college, when many of my friends played around with short-term relationships, I was constantly on the lookout for a wife. Was I naïve? Foolish? My friends thought so, but I did not see it that way. And I still don’t. Marriage is not a foolish or naïve pursuit. It is an honourable and righteous pursuit. It is a godly desire for any young man to have. The problem in our culture is that children are not taught this, or not taught this well. We tend to either avoid these topics, or come down with a heavy hand when it comes to children, especially teenagers. The desire for a spouse is not a sin. It is God’s design. Children need to be taught that, and rather than admonished, they must be shepherded in their desires as they navigate the minefield that is this world. And so, I’d decided that if I were to commit to a woman, it would not be to fool around, but with an intent to – ‘till death do us part’. It would be to marry her. The thought of marriage didn’t intimidate me. You might say that this was because I wasn’t wise enough to see all the responsibilities it would bring. You’re probably right about that. To me, marriage felt like an awesome adventure. And so, as foolish as it may have seemed to others, I persisted, and the Lord honoured my desires. Now married to my beautiful wife Cinu for two-and-a-half years, I don’t think I’d change anything in the way I pursued marriage.

A friend recently asked me how I would sum up marriage based on these two years. I told him it was everything I expected and everything I did not. Two years may not seem like much but when I look around, especially in my generation, it’s almost like dog years. My wife and I are amazed at how rapidly marriages are falling apart left, right and centre. I’m reminded, whenever I pray, of the words of the Psalmist, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you (Psalm 91:7)”. There are so many couples who are no more than two or three years into their marriage, and it’s all falling apart before them. They hate it. They want out. Many couples seek out counsellors in hopes to save their marriages but end up being ‘counselled’ to file for divorce instead. Divorce has sadly become a medication prescribed by many secular counsellors to heal a broken marriage. A growing acceptance, in this generation, of divorce as being normative adds to the impulse to give up, by nullifying any consequences. The same voices of the world that called me a fool for wanting to get married, now urge married couples to give up. Never has the world been more anti-marriage in my opinion. Beloved, I can with all honesty say that I did not marry the perfect woman, and by no measure am I the perfect man. We fight, drive each other up the wall, act in un-Christian ways, and are tired more often than not. Two years together seems more than enough time to give up. So, it does not surprise me when I see marriages fall apart outside of the Church because outside of the Gospel there is no sufficiently justifiable hope or purpose in marriage. However, it shocks me when I see many Christians influenced more by the ways of the world than by the word of God, resulting in devastated marriages even among the community of saints.

We must not forget that marriage is not some man-made ritual. It is a holy and precious covenant instituted by God Himself. Even before the fall of man, God’s gift to Adam, was a wife. It is God who declared that it is not good for man to be alone. Marriage can never be a selfish pursuit. In Ephesians 5, Paul explains that the husband must love his wife like Christ loves the church. What a calling! To be like Christ in this regard, brothers, is to lay down your life for your wife. Is there a more selfless act than that? And wives, likewise, are called to submit to their husbands as they would do to the Lord. Sisters, is there a more selfless act on part of a wife than to submit wholeheartedly to her husband? “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh(Genesis 2:24).”

A couple can never find the fullness of the beauty of marriage in each other. We are all broken people in a broken world. Sin runs rampant everywhere. In order to establish our marriages on solid ground, we must look to the One who instituted such a covenant between a man and a woman. Let me leave you with three points as to why there is great hope in our marriages.

  1. It is good. How does knowing that help? Given any difficult circumstance in marriage, the tendency for the husband or the wife, is to complain about the downsides of marriage. It’s either a blame game or a dislike to the very institution of marriage. But we must remember that marriage isn’t a bad thing. Instead, it is very good. Why? Because God instituted it to solve something bad. It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18).
  2. It is the greatest ministry on earth. No other ministry on earth has been given the privilege of representing the Gospel as marriage does. The relationship between a husband and a wife is likened to the very relationship between God and His church. Marriage is not only a gift but a great calling. As stewards of the Gospel, we shine the light of God’s glory most if we have godly marriages. When a husband loves and cares for his wife to the point of laying down his life for her, people will be reminded of Christ’s love and sacrifice for His church. When a wife submits to the leadership of her husband, and follows him, people will be reminded of the church’s need to submit to the authority of Christ. Each husband and wife, hand in hand, hold the greatest opportunity of representing the Gospel in their marriage.
  3. Children. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5). Need I say more? A healthy marriage is indispensable to the sound growth of a child. Children will learn much about God and about the world by watching their parent’s marriage.

Therefore, you see, it does not surprise me when I see marriages fall apart outside of the Church because outside of the Gospel there is no sufficiently justifiable hope or purpose in marriage. I cannot find a shred of sustainable hope outside of the Gospel. Christ alone, is the sure foundation of my marriage. Apart from Him, everything would fall apart for me and Cinu. Thanks be to God for His faithfulness! Let us hold fast to the hope we have in Him, and He will guard our marriages for the glory of His name, and our good.

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