Some years ago, I was asked by some friends to speak at their 40th wedding anniversary and vow renewal. As I prayed and prepared, I decided to speak on four things that I have seen sustain all great marriages:
We will take some days to examine each of these, starting with faith.
Faith means that everything, including marriage, begins with putting God first. Serving as the theme for the entire book of Proverbs, 1:7 [ESV] says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Fear here does not mean recoiling in terror, but rather recognizing God as Father. Practically, this is respect and reverence, honor and humility, priority and purpose. Everything begins with God, and thankfully, through Jesus Christ, God gives us a new beginning. To those who fear the Lord and walk in wisdom, Proverbs 28:14 [ESV] says, “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
The heart of your relationship with God is your hearth. God’s heart is for you, and He wants your heart to be for Him. Why? So that as honor goes up, blessing comes down. God does not bless people, He blessed people whose hearts are for Him.
When it comes to marriage, everything starts with hearts. Jesus said that underlying every cause of divorce was “hardness of heart” (Matthew 19:19).
Grace and I did not begin our relationship in faith. I was a religious nominal churchgoer who did not know Jesus, and Grace had known the Lord from a young age but had some years of folly and wandering. After dating a few years, I came to the Lord and Grace came back to the Lord. We had to relearn how to have a relationship that was God-centered and God first. For those who have gotten it wrong like we did, we want to encourage you that God can make it right if your hearts are for Him. We recently celebrated 27 years of faithful marriage and can assure you that, without the grace of God working through honest hearts, everything would be different and nothing would be better. It is foolish to try and work on your relationship with your spouse until you have first devoted energy to your relationship with God. It is your relationship with God that meets your deepest relational needs, models for you healthy relationship, and gives you the resources you need – such as grace, the Holy Spirit, and forgiveness – to build a happy, holy, and healthy marriage.
How is your relationship with God, honestly?