Marriage & the Gospel
The problem is we think too often that God exists to make our marriages great, but our marriages are meant to proclaim that God is great. If those two ideas are confused, then marriage is not the powerful display of the gospel, but a powerful display of our own selfishness. We must let this sink deep into our souls: marriage is not ultimately about us. It is about God and His glory and the display of His gospel. Our greatest concern ought to be whether or not our needs are being met, but whether or not we are displaying the gospel of Christ.
Husbands, realize that sacrificial, sanctifying love is not conditioned on her deserving it. The working assumption in this passage is that your wife, like you, is a sinner. That is why she needs to be washed in the Word. Jesus didn’t say, "I am going to wait for people to deserve my love and sacrifice, or I am going to make them earn it." He sacrificially loved to the point of giving up his life on the cross. Your wife will not be perfect and may not deserve your love, but guess what? It doesn’t matter. Your love for your wife must not, for the sake of the gospel, ever be conditional on how your wife acts. The 50/50 marriage ("I will love her if she loves me, we split life 50/50, marriage is give and take") is a defamation of the cross. You are called to love with a relentless, powerful, and particular love, regardless of how your wife treats you.
As much as you seek grace for your marriage, God is even more ready to give it. The reason is that if your marriage is really about the gospel, if it is meant to display the majesty and beauty and power of the gospel, if God’s glory really is at stake, then you can be assured that God is absolutely invested in your marriage. If there is one thing that God is most passionate about, most committed to, relentlessly devoted to – it is his own glory. Isaiah 48:11 says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” And because his glory is in part reflected in your marriage and tied to your marriage, he is completely willing to do a powerful work in your marriage that your marriage might powerfully witness to His greatness. You may feel overwhelmed, stuck, or simply a failure, and to be honest, on our own this is where each of us is. But do you realize that the God of this world, the Creator of marriage, the one for whom marriage is a witness, is interested in your marriage and is heavily committed to seeing it grow for his own glory?”
- Spend some time reflecting on the Gospel, particularly on the fact that Christ's love and sacrifice was not predicated on our worthiness. How does that challenge you to love and sacrifice for your spouse, especially when he or she doesn't deserve it?
- Confess to your spouse your failings to love with a Gospel standard. Ask for their forgiveness, and seek their wisdom on how you can grow in Christlikeness.
- What do nonbelievers think about God because of your marriage? Would they say that he is greatly displayed in your marriage?