by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Editor's note: The following charge was first written for, and given to, Brother Swank's daughter, Crystal, and the man she was marrying, Greg Miller, during their wedding ceremony. We have given it a wider application, in the belief that it could benefit many Christian couples as they unite their lives in marriage.
To the bride and groom: ____ and ____, Jesus is your Lord. He has forgiven you of your sins. He has planted the hope of heaven within your souls. He has provided you with your Christian lifestyle.
You found Jesus through the Bible message. That Bible continues to govern your thinking and choices. You witness that you would not trade that Bible treasure for any alternative.
As you individually committed yourselves to Jesus, now you commit your marriage and home to His direction. This is your joy. This is your fulfillment.
You serve Jesus, not out of obligation, but out of gratitude for His sacrifice upon the cross in order to rescue your souls from darkness unto His marvelous light. You serve Jesus because He has proven His love to you.
With such a Savior as the sole foundation of your personal lives, you now embark upon the creative excitement of crafting a Christian family and home. However, since we live in a spiritually fallen world, there will be many attacks against your home and union. They will come from all quarters. You are already aware of this reality.
Nevertheless, you also know that the Spirit of Jesus within you is greater than all the foreboding threats. Therefore, you know you can overcome every obstacle for Jesus' sake and with His help.
Your Christian testimony in marriage will witness to keeping the Lord's Day holy. You already live out this joy. His day is given to faithful worship, Christian fellowship, deepening your understanding of Scripture, and renewing your souls for another week's labor.
Your Christian testimony in marriage will witness to recreation and leisure that are pleasing to God.
Your Christian testimony in marriage will witness to daily prayer and Bible reading, seeking to instruct your children in the ways of God. You will teach them early the message of salvation, interceding that they will live for the same Christ who rescued you from despair and sin.
Your Christian testimony in marriage will witness to giving and sharing, loving others and sacrificing for their good. You will delight in opening up your hearts and home to those in distress, those in need of a real friend. Instead of living for self, you will live for lifting others' burdens in the name of Jesus-for He has lifted your burdens.
Your Christian testimony in marriage will witness to growing older gracefully in Jesus-growing in divine wisdom and in perception of God's will, and seeking out ways to serve Jesus that are lowly and humbling. While the rest of the world wakes up each morning to gather for self, you will awaken to help someone in need of Jesus' love. While others go to rest at night counting their belongings, you will go to rest counting your blessings in serving.
Your Christian home will be used of God as long as you yourselves are laid upon His altar of caring and compassion. Your Christian home will be lighted by heaven's smile as long as you remain faithful to one another and loyal to God's holy way.
Few have discovered this treasure. Few houses are homes. Few marriages know real happiness and contentment. But yours will be different, because yours will be cupped in our Father's hands-for you have asked Father to craft your love for one another and for your children.
J. Grant Swank, Jr., pastors New Hope Church in Windham, Maine.
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