by Mary Somerville
Not only does marriage mirror the unity within the Trinity, it reflects the mystery of the oneness between Christ and each member of His church (Eph. 5:31-32). The oneness we have with Christ is born of love. When you responded in faith and entered a love relationship with Christ, you became one with Him. You are His bride. Think of it, Christ, the eternal Creator and Sustainer of the universe who lived in resplendent glory for all eternity with His Father and the Spirit in heaven, becomes one with you. What a staggering thought! This love of Christ is the second model for the ministry marriage.
We love Him because He first loved us. This love is exclusive. Jesus alone is to be worshiped and adored as our heavenly Bridegroom. It is permanent and relentless. Nothing can separate us from His love-not the trials and cares of this life, not differences, not independent thinking or acting, not anything else that appears to be more loveable or attractive. This same devotion is to be our model in human marriage. It is to be broken only by death.
Imagine the joy that could be ours if our foremost goal in our marriage was to mirror the kind of love that Christ demonstrated for His church. Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Gal. 2:20). That is the goal that is placed before our husbands in Ephesians 5:25; as wives, we should likewise exhibit sacrificial love. The older women are "to admonish the younger women to love their husbands" (Titus 2:4).
Have you found that marriage magnifies your own selfishness and desire for going your own way? I have. We have to learn to love sacrificially like Christ. When we were first married I memorized 1 Corinthians 13:4-8-a passage that gives God's description of love's attitudes and actions. I prayed that God would help me to exemplify those qualities in my love for the wonderful man He had given me. I have to keep returning to this passage over and over again. It convicts me and puts me on the right path. If I want to have a good dose of conviction, I will fill in my own name and see if it fits in the place of love. When I see it doesn't, then I need to ask God to produce that love in me.
Love is patient, love is kind. Do I go out of my way to do kind things for my husband? Do I use the same kind, patient tone of voice with him as I do with others on the phone?
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Even when he gets all the praise and thanks, do I rejoice in his accomplishments, remembering that we are one?
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. Am I excused to be irritable and touchy at certain times of the month? Do I complain and want things the way I want them, when I want them? Do I rejoice in opportunities to sacrifice so that he can pursue his calling?
It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Do I hold grudges? Do I take offense and wear my feelings on my sleeve? Do I have pity parties?
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Do I hate evil in myself and work hard to kill sin? Do I pray for my husband's sanctification and rejoice to see God work in His life?
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Am I loyal even when the church shrinks or the ministry fails? Do I believe the best about my husband or grow suspicious? Do I trust that the God who allows riches or poverty, sickness or health, peace or persecution is the One who will cause all things to work together for our good as we become more than conquerors through Him who loved us?
Love never fails. Does my husband know that I will stand by his side anywhere through anything until death parts us, or our Savior returns?
With Christ-like love, marriage can be a foretaste of heaven on earth.
If you ever feel the temporary urge to give up on your marriage because your husband doesn't love you like Christ loved the church, then remember that God's love is out of His grace and not conditioned on our worthiness. He loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). It is most important that you love him no matter what. Love is the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the most important thing in the world. Everything else will pass away-faith to sight, hope to possession, but the love of Christ is stronger than death and will endure forever. It is the one thing that will never fail.
Having your ministry fail or any other severe trial can put a strain on your marriage. If that is the case, you should get help as a couple in that kind of a situation. That help should include biblical counsel and support from godly friends who will encourage you, and support you, and hold you accountable. Your marriage is more important than your ministry. If that fails, all else crumbles with it.