The Grace of Life
“May you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18, NIV)
Several years ago, I made one of the best choices of my life: I decided to ask Royale to marry me. Wonderfully, she said yes and we began our preparations for marriage.
Over the years, we’ve learned some practical lessons that have made our marriage realise the kind of blessing marriage is meant to provide: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. ” (Proverbs 18:22, NIV)
Here are some of those lessons:
Love God more than your spouse. Royale and I love our marriage, but we don’t make an idol of it or each other. God has granted us life together for a time, and part of that relationship means we have a responsibility to shape and nurture each other’s spirituality. Marriage is a wonderful realm to mature as a believer and we’ve learned that as we each grow closer to God, our marriage grows all the sweeter.
Sanctify the everyday. Building a marriage isn’t all about special dates, holidays, or purchases of precious metals or gems. It is about day-to-day honouring God through obedience to His command for each partner to act in selfless sacrifice. Ephesians 5 provides all the details: husbands sacrificially love your wife just like Jesus loved the church and gave Himself up for her; wives respond in godly submission to your own husband.
Keep short accounts. To no one’s surprise, Royale and I don’t always act as we should. And we have learned just how deeply those acts of disobedience can hurt each other and chip away at our marriage. And so, we’ve been long committed to addressing our wrongs against each other as quickly and completely as possible. We learned early on that God says, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Eph. 4:26). Keeping short accounts mean no developing anger or bitterness; and forgiveness means no harbouring past wrongs and using them as weapons in future arguments.
Accept your spouse’s weaknesses as a place to serve. Being human and sinful, Royale and I each have weaknesses of personality, habit, ability or moral strength. We don’t have it “all together.” And this is where love in marriage needs its closest application. When we see any weakness in the other, God’s love helps us to step in and shore it up. We take care not to fall into the trap of expecting or demanding unattainable perfection.
Make the marriage your relational priority. God calls each marriage to develop its own unique identity and bond: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). What does this mean? It means Royale and I don’t make other relatives more important than us, other friends more important than us, or me more important than us.
Protect your union. In a sex-crazed culture, Royale and I are committed to guarding the treasure of marital love God has given us and we’ve established several practical guides that assist us. We’ve realised that God’s ways are best and since He places a high value on purity in marriage, then so should we.
Cherish your love. When Royale and I married, we were reminded that our life together would be short: “till death do us part.” Knowing that hasn’t cast a dark shadow over our marriage. Rather, it has helped us see each day as special and one to enjoy. Little things in life carry greater weight when lavished with gratitude and appreciation. We find our marriage bonding and building day by day through a shared joke or experience, a kind gesture, an act of service, a tender moment, a talk or walk, or a wonderful storehouse of other things.
We are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3), meaning we’ve both been brought together to live our days in a union blessed by God’s favour. If you’re married, I pray you can say the same. And if you aren’t married, learn these (and several other) lessons, as they all have application in your relationships.
Twenty-seven years ago, Royale and I said, “I will” and “I do.” Today, we still do and will do, by God’s grace. What a lovely twenty-seven years we’ve enjoyed together! I’m more excited about our marriage now than I could be that first day—I didn’t know then how wonderful it would be.