Partners in the Gospel
Becky and I have received several wonderful, emotional emails from Ethiopia lately. To be honest, we’re homesick for Ethiopia. We long to see our friends face to face. We have a great driving love for them, just as Paul did for Israel (Rom. 9:3-4). We have found our relationship with them to be enormously enriching and life-enhancing.
Spiritual priorities have become preeminent in our life as a married couple. I think I am discovering a bit of what Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthians, “The time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none” (1 Cor. 7:29). I too am feeling the same sense of urgency. In the same book Paul says that an apostle has authority to take with him “a sister, a wife” (1 Cor. 9:4). Note the order: first sister, then wife! There is great wisdom here. Becky and I are deeply in love with each other. We are more crazy about each other today than we have been in 30 years of marriage. But just as importantly, and even more importantly from an eternal perspective, we are brother and sister, fellow workers, and fellow soldiers for Christ.
Just before his execution, John Perry wrote a letter to his wife from the Tower of London and signed it: “Your husband for a season and your eternal brother, John.” The happiest couples I know are those who are dedicated to something much bigger than themselves. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be taught in marriage enrichment seminars. It is learned in the crucible of life. It is a lesson Jim Elliott learned. He put it this way: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Such a keen sense of dedication to the cause of Christ!
To put it another way, Christian marriage is about Christ. It is not about self-fulfillment. It will involve more than a cursory relationship with one’s spouse. Can you pray and serve together for the needs of others? Do you help each other discover and develop your gifts? Becky and I have developed a “no-nonsense” approach to our marriage. We count the effectiveness of everything we do in terms of the expansion of the Gospel. We are learning how to spend our time. We have set aside time for ministry – whether it’s entertaining guests at Bradford Hall or taking mission trips abroad. Our prayer is, “Lord, make us saltier so that we might make others thirstier!”
My friend, will your marriage count for eternity? It can. Don’t buy into the gospel of self-fulfillment. Find your fulfillment in living for others and in partnering together for the Gospel.
September 23, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.