This is the easy part. Your life growing together in Christ is where the work really begins. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)
Hi friends. Catch your breath and pull up a chair. Believe me when I tell you I just read one of the best articles on marriage I have ever read. I told my friend that first shared it on Facebook, that I feel it should be required reading for everyone before they walk down the aisle. A lot of it should be common sense, but I guess it’s just so easy to get caught up in the blissful feelings of love and forget about mundane things like common sense. So I am sharing the entire article with the disclaimer that full credit for the authorship and ownership (and all rights included therein) of this article that appeared on boundless.org belongs to author Felicia Alvarez. And now without further ado, I bring to you this game changer in the litanies on marriage.
Your Future Marriage is Bigger Than You
When you first meet Ryan and Cyndi Livingston, you are immediately drawn in by their smiles and genuineness. They truly care about everyone. At church picnics, while everyone else is comfortably sitting with their group of friends, they spot the not-so-popular or new people who are by themselves and go chat with them. They are a young couple with three beautiful little girls, but you can tell that while they love each other and their children deeply, their main passion is Jesus. Their passion for Christ overflows into a sincere love for others.
I had the privilege of interacting with them multiple times each week at church functions, and every time I was blown away by how they served the Lord together. One evening in particular, as I watched this couple pray together with an elderly lady from our church, it dawned on me: This is how marriage should be.
Marriage should be about serving the Lord — about reaching people with the Gospel and impacting the world for Christ.
Yet we forget that simple truth so easily. We think life and relationships are about us and our happiness. But in reality, our future marriage is part of a bigger picture. Not only does it affect us as individuals, it affects our children, our family, our church, our community, our world, and it even affects eternity.
Start With the Right Outlook
I had always known that marriage was about Christ and His kingdom, but I had lost sight of it in my search for a spouse. I had forgotten that I wasn’t just looking for a roommate, a financial partner, a lover, or a father for my future children; I was looking for someone with whom I could build a godly legacy.
It saddened me that I had failed to apply this concept. In the past, I would date someone who was cute, had a good job, and went to church on Sunday — but his influence didn’t make me more like Jesus. Even though I knew he was pulling me away from Christ, I was so desperate for a boyfriend I would stay in the relationship.
Unfortunately, I’ve met many Christian girls who have also done this. Let’s face it: The pickings are slim, so we are happy to accept anyone who goes to church (even if it’s just once a month) and treats us semi-decently. It’s so easy to excuse the truth — that he isn’t the person God intended for you — because we want companionship, we want marriage. But a poor marriage could actually hinder you from doing all God has for you to do.
The Bible doesn’t say, “It is God’s will that you should be married.” Instead, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” Therefore, God’s will for all His children, whether married or unmarried, is sanctification.
Your future spouse will be the primary influence of your spiritual life, so choose carefully. We must remember that marriage will not only affect our children and community spiritually, but it will also significantly impact our own spiritual growth for better or for worse.
How to Find a Legacy Man, and Does He Even Exist?
At this point, you’re probably thinking that the odds of finding a godly legacy man are as likely as finding a leprechaun. Let me assure you: Godly men do exist. However, sometimes we don’t see them because we’re not focused on the right things.
Timothy Keller in his book The Meaning of Marriage shares some wisdom from his wife, Kathy:
Most people, when they are looking for a spouse, are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble. Not so that you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making…. When looking for a marriage partner, each must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging ‘new you.’
Bottom line: Don’t look for perfection, but do look for evidence of godly growth.
I’ve listed below some questions that, when answered humbly and honestly, may help guide you as you seek who the Lord has for you.
1. Does he love Christ the most?
If he loves Christ the most, you can be sure that love will extend into how he treats you and others around him. You will see godly fruit of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” in his everyday life (Galatians 5:22-23).
Fruit is the evidence of God working in a person’s life. If a man is growing in Christ, you can rest assured that he will lead with love, and you can confidently trust him with your life and future.
2. Does he encourage you to become more like Jesus?
In Sacred Marriage, author Gary Thomas writes, “We must not enter marriage predominately to be fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, or romantically charged, but rather to become more like Jesus Christ.”
Our goal should be to be with someone who spurs us on in our Christian walk and whom we can likewise encourage. This encouragement comes from his living out his faith by talking to you about what the Lord is doing in his life and praying and studying God’s Word with you.
3. Does he love you as Christ loved the church?
Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If he loves you as Christ loves the church, he will love you sacrificially and strive to put you first in his life before hobbies, friends and work.
4. Can you serve the Lord with him?
Our purpose in marriage is to multiply the kingdom of God, and that doesn’t just mean by having lots of kids. It also means by reaching the world for Christ. If you and your boyfriend are currently serving the Lord together, that is exactly how it should be.
I did not ignore these questions when I first met my husband, Tim. I took a different approach than I had in previous relationships by centering the relationship on the Lord rather than my own needs or wants. I asked myself, “Does this relationship have the potential for godly growth?” and “Based off what I know about this man, could I see myself serving the Lord with him for years to come?” The answer was “yes,” so we continued to seek the Lord together as a couple.
In previous relationships, guys had told me all the right things, but they never lived out their words. I then realized that it’s not so much about hearing the right answers as it is seeing the right answers.
The reason I trusted Tim to be my husband was because I had not just heard, but experienced each one of the answers. I had witnessed his leadership and servant heart on a daily basis. Tim led me to the Lord and made me a better, godlier person. Because I had seen the fruit of godly leadership, I had a peace that I had never before experienced in a relationship. The Lord affirmed in my heart that Tim was the one with whom I would build, by the grace of God, a Christ-centered legacy.
Summing It Up
A godly legacy is not built on shared hobbies, but on a shared pursuit of Christ. Marriage is bigger than us — it’s about more than satisfying our wants and needs.
From experience, I know it’s easy to get caught up in a consumer or holier-than-thou mentality when looking for a legacy, so be careful. Remember, you are not just looking out for your best interest, but also for his. You should want him to find someone with whom he can also serve the Lord. In fact, if it’s a wrong relationship, acting in his best interest might mean breaking up with him in a loving and gracious way.
You will never find perfection, but with the Lord’s guidance, you can find someone with whom to build a godly legacy. So date with that heavenly mind, and know that your marriage today will influence the generations of tomorrow.