Marriage is not about our happiness. It’s actually more about our wrongness being made right (aka sanctification) in order to reflect the glory of God. Nothing does it more beautifully than God-ordained marriage.
Sanctification is not about making us feel good about ourselves, it is about us being conformed into the image of Christ. Do we think that comes easily? It does not.
We have to let our spouses be used by God in that painful process of burning away the flesh. That takes humility and obedience.
When a husband and wife willingly participate in this God-ordained sanctification process, the marriage will be happier for both. But when one or both rebel and insist on being “right,” the marriage isn’t nearly as pleasant.
Marriage isn’t meant to be a competition. We are actually on the same side, lovingly and patiently helping each other grow into the man and woman God created us to be.
But, in reality, we are all prone to sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:8, 10).
Between those two sentences is verse 9, the glorious way out of sin’s bondage:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty blind to my own issues. For most of us, it’s easier to see the sin of others than it is to see our own. Maybe that’s why Jesus talked about specks and logs in Matthew 7:3-5.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that God puts people in my life who have the same or similar sinful leanings I have. “The issue” is initially much more noticeable in someone else than it is in me. But eventually, the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to see inside my own heart where there’s a pile of the same ugly mess!
In marriage, once the initial “love is blind” infatuation fades, husbands and wives become increasingly aware of specific sinful propensities in each other. As a matter of fact, the one person I spend more time with than anyone else, who sees me and knows me at my worst, likely knows me better than I know myself. But he patiently nourishes me, “[f]or a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.”
That’s the way Christ loves us. Though He sees and knows all, He works patiently to complete the good work He has begun.
My husband and I often preface our confessions with something like this: “I’m sure you’ve already noticed this about me, but …” Those confessions aren’t necessarily about something we’ve “done.” It is actually more often an honest assessment of our thoughts and motives. That’s where the battle against sin begins.
It is described in James 1:12-15:
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
It starts with wrong desires that are entertained before being acted upon. Oh, that we would recognize the sinful thoughts and inclinations, and confess them before they become “deeds.” It’s like cutting off the head of a snake before it has a chance to strike.
But what if only one spouse in the marriage is willing to do this? Then love by example.
Something else to think about...God even uses one spouse’s rebellion to mold, humble, sanctify the other spouse who is seeking to walk in obedience to God’s Word.
All that God has to work with is us – imperfect, sin-prone people for whom He gave His son to ransom. For those who love God, He uses all things to form us into the express image of Jesus.
Romans 8:28 is often quoted, but it is incomplete without verse 29 which explains the purpose referenced in the preceding verse.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Marriage is about reflecting the glory and purpose of God. Let it be what it is.