The clock read 7:24 am this morning. Toast is in the oven. Matt’s buttoning his collar, and I’m sitting with Abby on the bed watching him. He asks me a simple question about his hair. I respond with an irritated snap. He calmly asks for clarification. Frustrated, I respond with an annoyance. We go back and forth for a few moments, Matt, calm as usual, me, full of attitude. Sure, I could use the excuse that Abigail was unusually up in the middle of the night, then up early this morning. Sure, I could say that I hadn’t had my quiet time yet. Truth be told though, I had forgotten that Christ has saved me from sin, that my marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, and that I should show love towards my spouse despite how I’m feeling. Sniff, sniff, the toast burnt… but Matt and I talked. We hugged and kissed, and he left with a smile. I have so much to learn about being a loving wife. That is why I continually desire to read books like this.
This month I am reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. I’ve read five chapters so far and am totally convinced that this is a must-read for all currently married couples and those who hope to be married someday. This book takes a biblical view of what marriage is and how it should function in a believer’s life. You can enjoy this book FREE online by clicking the title above. (so now you have no excuses for not reading it!). There is no possible way that I could summarize the entirety of what I’ve read so far; instead, I will share with you what I believe are the most convicting and meaningful points.
Marriage is the doing of God and the display of God.
We must remember from the being of creation that marriage was God’s design and idea. He not only created Eve for Adam, but He gave her away as the first bride! God Himself said that marriage is when a man and woman leave their parents and cleave to each other. God is the one who performs the one-flesh union. We NEED to understand that it is GOD who places two people together as one. When we grasp this truth, it should solidify that marriage is permanent. The reason that God holds marriage in such high regard is that it is a picture of Christ and the Church. This is a covenant relationship that God will never break. As Christians, we must hold a high view of marriage because we are the example to the world of God’s relationship to His people. God will never leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we must have the same attitude towards our spouse.
Living Vertically, then Bending Outward
Piper explains that this is the ideal to aim at in marriage: “Two people humbling themselves and seeking to change in godly ways that please their spouses and meet their physical and emotional needs – to please them in every good way.” Because our marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, we must remember that God has forgiven us our sins and justified (looks at us just as if we’ve never sinned) us. When we remember this foundational and remarkable truth it helps us forgive and love our spouses. God gets glory when two different and imperfect people have a life of faithfulness to each other by relying on Christ despite the circumstances. Piper encourages husbands and wives to permanently weld into their conscience that: “God has forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14). These truths are greater than any problem in your marriage – believe it with all of your heart – then bend the love and forgiveness you’ve been shown toward your spouse.
Forgiving and Forbearing
God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. “Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). Don’t insist on your own rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
To bend God’s grace from its vertical position outward will make it possible for affections to flourish in a marriage where they seem to have died. When we can comprehend that we are chosen, set apart to be holy, and loved, all by the Creator of the universe, we are on the road to be able to forgive. We must get our life and joy from this truth and pray that it would be the heartbeat of our life and marriage. Col. 3 says that these inward truths lead to the outward demonstrations of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, and forgiveness. Notice how these are quite similar to the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. We should show these qualities to everyone around us, but especially our spouses. Piper speaks of these in detail. Check out what he has to say about them yourself!
One last thought on forgiveness, “If you are quick to anger, instead of being long-suffering, the root is probably lack of mercy and lack of lowliness. In other words, being chosen, holy, and loved has not broken your heart and brought you down from self-centeredness and pride.”
Again, I encourage you to check this book out. Let me know what points stood out to you!!