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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Glory of God in Marriage

By Justin Edwards

You have been called of God to lay down your life for this daughter of his—period. - Paul Washer

My brother, are you glorifying God in your marriage? What evidence do you have this is so? Do you love her like Christ loves the Church? Let me ask this question another way: would you want Christ to love the Church like you love your wife? Would you want Christ to treat the Church like you treat your wife? Very poignant questions, yes? Before I continue, I hope you take a moment to read the January article, Husbands - Love Your Wives.

I had the privilege and blessing to listen again to Paul Washer's message, The Glory of God in Marriage. What an admonishment and exhortation to examine myself whether the love of Christ is evident in me through the love for my wife. I don't remember the last time I listened to this, perhaps a year ago, but listening to it this time seemed to have a greater effect on me. I do remember appreciating the message the first time, but looking back, it may have been more of a matter of soaking up knowledge rather than applying it. In any case, I can say there has been fruit over this past year in laying my life down for my wife, but today I am more resolved than ever to love her, please her, sanctify her, serve her, and sacrifice my life for her more and more each day. And with the grace of God and submission to the lordship of Christ, I will be able.

But what about you, dear friend? What is the condition of your marriage? Especially you who work in the ministry of God - how is your ministry to your wife? Does she come before the ministry of which you believe you have been called by God? Before getting into Brother Washer's sermon, I'd like to point out a critical passage of Scripture from 1 John 4:20-21:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Let us dwell on this Scripture for a moment. Do you realize there are men who profess to know God and love God, yet they hate the brethren, their enemies, and/or their neighbor if not by their words then by their actions? They believe they are called and serving a ministry of God, but their ministry to those around them is of the devil. My dear friend, let me warn you - if you do not have a horizontal relationship of love, grace, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion for those around you, I can assure you that you do not have a vertical relationship with God, having been the benefactor of His love, grace, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.

Love is not an option nor is forgiveness an option for the believer. The Scripture says you are a liar if a professing believer does not love his brother or sister, or enemy or neighbor, or your wife, dear friend. If you are proud, angry, lacking love and forgiveness, and hostile to your family while being committed to a so-called ministry, then you are a liar. You are a hypocrite, my friend. You are walking in darkness and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6). Is this you, dear reader? Are you living a lie?  Yes, you?

This article is written for any reader, whether man or woman, husband or wife, single or married. But I want to hone in on married men, especially who consider themselves a teacher, a preacher, or are involved in some type of ministry. Whether this ministry is a church, a parachurch, evangelism, or a website or blog - is your wife and family your most prized possession on this earth, and are you submitted to this greatest ministry for which God has called you - your bride and children?

I want to draw out a few quotes from Washer's message to show how serious the business of marriage is with God. Let's get right into it:

Washer said as he opened his message:

...if you were my top employee and half the income of my company was because of you and yet you were also my son-in-law and you mistreated my daughter there wouldn’t be a place on the face of the earth that you could hide.

The point that I am trying to make with this is this. You are fearful about your ministries? You take great stock and great pride in the fact that you are a careful servant of the most high God? Don’t think that is a great thing. Beware how you treat his daughter. Beware how you treat his daughter because I want to assure you that although your ministry might mean more to you than his daughter, your ministry does not mean more to him than his daughter.

Do you understand that your bride is the daughter of God? And you will be held accountable for how you treat and love, or mistreat and hate, His daughter? The daughter of the Most High?

Washer continues:

The spirituality of a man can be determined by so many things and most of them are not wise. You want to know the spirituality of a man? Look at his wife. You want to know the spirituality of a man? See how he acts in her presence when no one else is around. There you will know the extent of this man’s profession.

This is most revealing. We should tremble at the thought of judgment before Almighty God if we should treat His daughter differently behind closed doors. Men may very well treat their wives with respect in public and put on a show before men, exalting themselves as servants of God for the world to see. But what about at home? God sees you. Does He see a true bondservant of Christ when no one else is looking? Does He see you pouring your life into your bride, loving her unconditionally, being a living sacrifice to her, and serving her as Christ humbly served His Church and laid His life down for her? Or does our omniscient God see you berating and belittling her? Does He see you beating her with Scripture, condemning her as unworthy, and abusing her with your religiosity and holier-than-thou facade? God sees you.

With respect to the perfect will and providence of God, Washer continues:

Now in light of that truth, let’s look at the boasts of some ministers.

“I had to put my family on the altar of sacrifice for the sake of the ministry. For the sake of the work of God I had to neglect my family. Couldn’t spend as much time with family as maybe I ought to have spent because I was busy doing the will of God.” 

You are making a declaration that God’s Word is not true. You are denying the very thing that God speaks forth in this passage. God’s will is perfect. That means, dear sir, you do not have to violate one aspect the will of God in order to fulfill another aspect of that same will. If in God’s good providence he has given you a wife and that is his will, then his will is perfect and you do not have to neglect that wife in order to carry out your vocation. And if you do you are either not understanding God or you are not really working for his kingdom, you are working to build your own, working to build your own.

What does this say about your ministry and family, dear reader? Have you sacrificed your wife and family for the sake of "ministry"? Do you not know that your ministry is a filthy rag to God if you have neglected your wife and family? You are without excuse, oh man, if you have sacrificed your wife on the altar of your kingdom! You will stand before the righteous judgment of God if you have sacrificed her, this precious jewel that God has given you!

It is true we must forsake everything to be the disciple of Christ (Luke 14:33). It is true that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). And yes, it is indeed true that we must love Christ more than our friends and family, even more than our own lives if we are to be His disciples (Luke 14:26). But, my friend, there is balance and these must be understood in context of the whole counsel of God.

If you have forsaken the spiritual and physical well being of your wife and family, you have not forsaken everything for Christ because you still hold on to your pride and unrighteous rule over others. If you deny love, grace, mercy, and patience to your wife, then you have not denied yourself and your control, will, and fleshly desires and given these over to the lordship of Christ. If you hate your wife, or are hostile, or are unforgiving, or are seeking unbiblical divorce from your wife, then you do not love Christ more than yourself because loving Christ more than yourself would mean you love your wife more than yourself.

As Washer says in His sermon, God does not need you or your ministry. He is Lord over all, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can thwart His divine providence (Job 42:2). If you are married or intend to be married, Lord willing, then there is no greater calling on your life than the calling to be the minister of your wife. Do you understand that? Any ministry of God will never take precedent over the ministry of your wife and family according to the counsel of His divine will.

So I challenge you, dear reader. There is so much more I want to say, especially since this article did not get beyond the first 20 minutes of Paul Washer's message. I hope and pray it has served to cause you to examine yourself to see whether or not your wife is your most important ministry. Entering into the main body of his message, Washer says, "God has called, from heaven God has called me to lay down my life, to die for this daughter that he has appointed, that he has ordained."  Have you died to yourself and are you laying your life down for the daughter of Almighty God, dear reader?

Are you glorifying God in your marriage? If you are not, then I call you to repent from your wickedness and cry out to God to show you more mercy than you have shown His daughter. What is the state of your marriage? If it is in shambles, there is no better time than now for you to be a man and seek reconciliation in your marriage, whatever it takes. You are accountable before God, my friend. He sees you, remember? Humble yourself and slay your pride, calling on the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your trespasses against your wife, and more importantly, your trespasses against God.

You may even believe you are not at fault for the condition of your marriage. God knows. See to it that you make every effort to restore your marriage as the very purpose of marriage is to glorify God. Forgive when forgiveness is not sought. Love when you are not loved in return. Be merciful when you have not been shown mercy. Cover with grace when grace has not been given you. Be patient when you are not shown patience. Be kind when you are persecuted. In doing these things, you will heap coals over the heads of those who have harmed you (Romans 12:14-21).

Are you glorifying God in your marriage? I pray you do glorify our great God and King, repent from any haughtiness, humble yourself before God, humble yourself to your wife, sacrifice your life to her, and be the godly man God has called you to be, no matter what.

So, my friend, there may be no more important message you may hear than this one given by Paul Washer. I challenge you to follow this transcript as you listen along. Listen to what he says, pay attention. Examine your marriage and your contribution to the glory of God in it. And know this, our lives purchase by the blood of Christ will cost us everything, but it will not cost our wives and families our love and duty to honor, cherish, protect, and guide them into the whole counsel of God.

Here's the audio: The Glory of God in Marriage - Paul Washer.

I always tell men this and it is so true. If after 10 years of marriage your wife is not any more pleasing to you than after the first year of marriage, it is you who have failed. You have been brought into the life of that woman in a sense to be her savior. - Paul Washer

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