“Have a good and godly marriage that shows the world Christ's love through how you sacrificially love and serve one another.” John Stange
Some years ago, as I was studying that first marriage in the book of Genesis, I stumbled on something I’d never seen before. Part of God’s original plan for the first couple, (pre-sin/pre-fall), was that they were to work together. Adam’s responsibility was to “subdue” (Genesis 1:28) the new creation and Eve was created as a “helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:19).
There are innumerable compatibility tests for couples considering marriage. Let me save you some money. If a couple is unable to work together and don’t understand sacrificial serving, it’s doubtful that they should get married. Children want to be served; adults are servants. A vital test of adulthood and maturity is whether you are a servant. A healthy marriage is not just two lovers, it’s two servants.
For the past week, Jane has been visiting her parents in Texas as she has for nearly twenty winters. The first few times, Jane didn’t want to go. Our children were young, money was tight, it added more responsibility to my already very busy life. But I insisted. Why? I knew that it was important for Jane to spend time with her parents and it was a great break from the responsibilities of motherhood.
There’s nothing that I enjoy more than serving Jane Carson. Please understand, I’m not the ideal husband. (Sometimes I think I was raised by wolves 😊). Growing up without a mother and with an addict Father, I was naïve of many basic relational skills. I didn’t have a model of what a godly husband and father are, but I have this great Book and a wonderful Holy Spirit Who continually opens my eyes to my many shortcomings. Every year I read at least one good book on marriage. Usually, I don’t learn anything new. I’m just reminded of what I’ve forgotten.
As you know, I’m not real handy. I’ve been the source of humor for many over the years for my lack of knowing how to use tools. Yet, even with my long list of ineptness, there’s a lot that I can do to serve my wife. So, I use the skills I have…and I study my favorite subject – Jane – to learn what is important to her. For example, making the bed is very important to Jane. (It’s not to me.) But nearly every morning I make the bed because I know it means something to Jane. I also know that encouragement is very important to her, so I continually look for ways to encourage her.
I look for ways to give Jane a break. When our children were younger, I loved spending time with them (still do), so I’d often take them with me as I ran errands, or we’d go on a lunch date. I like to cook so I try to do it when I can. Jane’s “love language” is serving, so Jane finds serving very fulfilling. Early on we discovered that sometimes I need to serve Jane by protecting her from herself. She doesn’t have a good “No” and would nearly kill herself serving others. There are times that I’ve been the one to say, “Honey, that’s not something you should do.”
A chronic complaint of troubled marriages is selfishness. We’ve been fed a diabolical lie by a narcissistic culture that fulfillment comes from being served. That’s not what Jesus taught. He commanded us to be a Christian counter-culture: “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:26-28).
To be honest, Jane spoils me rotten and I work hard to do the same for her. That’s a key to a fulfilling marriage. This July it will be 35 years. It truly has been a continual Honeymoon. Have there been tough times? Absolutely, but God’s grace is always sufficient. And if you want to have a healthy marriage, you must take your instructions from the Designer’s original blueprint.
Recently, I read a wife posting on Facebook requesting advice for making her hubby “more than just sandwiches” for lunch every day at work. But she was mocked and berated for the simple act of making lunch for her husband. Feminism has flunked out when it’s now vile to make your husband a sandwich. The national media picked up on the story and reported that she was told she was nothing but a “slave” and a “1950s housewife.” She was “weird” for demeaning herself to make lunch for her husband. Then it got angry and hateful. Here are some of the other responses: “Your husband is a grown up and you’re not his mother” “I make my husband the same thing he makes me. Nothing!” “Stuff that, hubby is a grown man. I already do his laundry and keep his children alive.” “Our advice is to stop making his lunches.” “My role is childcare during working hours and that’s it.” “He’s lucky if I decide to make dinner some nights.” “I was married for 20 years and my favorite packed lunch for my husband was called a ‘Get it Yourself’ with a side order of ‘I’m not your mother’.” “I didn’t sign up for that at the altar.”
How heartbreaking! What miserable individuals. In this case, they were all women but sadly, I’ve seen the same and worse from too many men. What really weighs on me is that I’ve observed Christian husbands and wives with that type of attitude. It’s vile and unchristlike.
If your marriage is unhappy and unfulfilling, please look in the mirror first. And don’t say something childish like, “I’ll serve and be nice to them when they serve me and are nice to me.” What are you three!
A Christ-honoring marriage is one with two committed servants – a husband and wife who realize that they’re serving the Lord Jesus by serving each other. What kind of marriage do you have? Are you a servant?
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