“ But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” – Malachi 2:14 (ESV).
The expectations God has for marriage are likely radically different from our expectations for marriage. God expects that marriage will place us under the mutual spirit of love. The Bible makes it clear that when a man and woman join in marriage, they become one. And the controlling factor of their oneness is their mutual commitment to care for one another’s well-being for as long as they both live. This commitment to love means that we must do everything possible to bring out the best in a mate rather than the worst. When we marry, we are choosing to serve God by serving the needs of our spouse. Over time, we even have to learn how to keep the marital commitment from rivaling our commitment to, and dependence on, the Lord.
Second, God’s expectation is that marriage will change us for the better. Scripture doesn’t tell us to make sure our spouse loves, respects, and gives us all the affectional, financial, and physical satisfaction we need. The Bible never promises that God will make our partners into the kind of people we pray they will be. Marriage by its very nature demands our own spiritual growth. To have true spiritual connection in marriage, we need to grow spiritually. A God-designed marriage will produce faithful love, honesty, moral courage, true humility, and incredible patience.
Third and perhaps the most important of God’s expectations for marriage is that marriage will be a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church. God’s expectation is that husbands and wives will develop an enduring love by keeping their eyes on the “marriage” between Christ and His church. After urging both husbands and wives to see their distinct roles defined by the relationship between Christ and the church, the apostle Paul wrote: “As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” (Ephesians 5:30-32).
These expectations of God lift us above ourselves, and call from us the kind of love that has its source in God.
A good marriage is not a contract between a man and a woman, but rather, a sacred covenant between three; the man, the woman and God. A biblical covenant is built on God’s sovereignty. That’s why a marriage begins to move away from God’s blessing when one or both parties turn away from acknowledging that God is in charge. The Lord knew what He was doing when He gave each of us the mate we have, and a marriage is not just about the person we vowed to love, honor and cherish. It is also about the vow we made before God on our wedding day.
God designed marriage to be a shelter in the midst of the storms, not the center of the storm. He gave us our mates because He knew it wasn’t good for us to be alone.
- After reading this devotional, what expectations need to be changed to align with God’s expectations for marriage?
- What can you do this week to better align with God’s expectations for marriage?