On Friday and Saturday I was privileged to attend the wedding ceremonies of two couples where both the bride and groom each love the Lord more than the they love the person to whom they vowed to spend the rest of their lives as husband and wife.
Truth be told, I love weddings. As soon as the music starts my eyes fill with tears, my heart overflows with love, and my mind prepares to hear encouraging words and challenges from the pastor. Some of the greatest sermons are preached at weddings and these two were no exception.
In the first wedding, the pastor said something I was aware of, but phrased it in a way I had never heard before, “Your spouse is the beneficiary of your relationship with Christ!” This is a simple statement, but profound, so I used a dictionary to help me mull it over.
A beneficiary is a person who derives advantage from something. An advantage is a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position; something that helps to make someone or something better or more likely to succeed than others.
Wow! What a challenge! I’ve always known that my relationship with Jesus affects other people because as a Christian, I am commanded to love and serve others. However, because of the way the pastor stated and explained it, I felt a heightened responsibility to maintain a close relationship with Jesus for my spouse’s sake.
It is also true that my spouse is the direct beneficiary of my complacency, my wandering, my neglect or my laziness in my relationship with Christ. If I allow my love for Jesus to grow cold, my spouse is negatively affected.
If we want all of the benefits that Christ can bring into a marriage, that he desires to bestow upon our spouse, we must first make sure that we are, in fact, in a relationship with the Lord Jesus.
The prospect of a relationship with Christ is grounded in a love gift from God: God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NLT).
We enter into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way we enter into a marriage covenant: God woos us with the gospel — we hear the wonderful facts about Jesus. Then God draws us — our hearts soften toward him. Then we must choose — to commit our lives to Jesus, or not.
A choice must be made. We are not born into a relationship with Jesus. We cannot be a third party in someone else’s relationship, nor are we in a relationship by membership or affiliation. A relationship with Jesus is a personal and individual decision. Have you committed to be in a relationship with Jesus, submitting to him as both your Savior and your Lord?
When we commit to Jesus, our spouse is a beneficiary of that commitment. Because of our love for Jesus, we will strive to love the way he loves. We will serve as he serves. We will embrace holiness and humility. We will lift up our spouse’s needs above our own. We will practice, and perhaps even enjoy, being second; second to Christ Jesus and second to our spouse.
In the second wedding, the pastor quoted Solomon, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, 12 NIV).
Our spouses benefit from our relationship with Christ in innumerable ways, not the least of which is the assurance that they can rest in the knowledge that they are part of a strong cord. A cord that is not easily broken.
When our confidence is in God, the One who holds us secure, we can hold onto the promise that when the trials of life pull at us, our knot will not untie, it will be pulled tight. That when we cut each other with sharp and unlovely words, we cannot sever God’s love — it will hold, and it will hold us together. When the harsh blades of sin threaten to fray the fibers, God leads us forward in forgiveness. With God, we can do all things.
These wedding messages are either the most comforting words that newlyweds can hear, or they are the most disconcerting. They comfort us only if we are Christians, united with Christ, and leaning deeply into him. They alarm us if we are not Christians, because they set a bar too high to reach, let alone maintain, on our own.
Listening to these wedding sermons, how could I not ask myself: what advantage does Brian gain because of my relationship with Christ? What advantage do I gain because of his? What about you? Your spouse? And how many strands are in the cord which binds your marriage?____________________________________
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