Yesterday I was privileged to give the charge to the bride and groom at a friend’s wedding. Here it is in full.
1. Celebrate the Difference
The psalmist recognized: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I’m sure you’ve noticed He also made us different, as different in personality as we are in looks. And like opposite poles of a magnet, opposite temperaments attract. Ann and I are vivid examples of that! Of course, we need common interests to share: common beliefs are critical; in addition, a common culture, shared pursuits, and desires, all aid in making us one.
But when it comes to temperament and talents, we admire in others those things that we lack, and we fall in love with someone different: someone who displays our missing qualities.
However, the differences that attracted us to each other can eventually exasperate us, because we each do things differently. Then I may try to make the other over into my own image. If I’m successful, the difference that attracted me fades, and the source of my excitement is lost. I may venture elsewhere to fill the void.
The disordered way in which she loads the dishwasher—compared, of course, with my efficient arrangement, is not the time for irritation and rebuke. No, it’s a time to rejoice that the vitality I most admire is still in the house and relish that happy incompatibility.
To respect the other this way honours God
2. Persevere Through Hardship
Job warned: “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”
Our culture of easy divorce promotes lack of commitment. It encourages the attitude: “If it doesn’t work for me, I can always leave.” At the first sign of trouble, it’s too easy to consider the marriage has failed and bail out.
But an old adage tells us: “A ship’s captain doesn’t learn his craft on a calm sea.” Enjoy the green pastures and still waters God will provide that nurtures your love. But also remember James who considered it “pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Marriage is not built holding hands on a glassy sea, but by perseverance through the storms that erupt upon it. That perseverance will deepen and mature your marriage, and forge the bond that lasts a lifetime.
Christ faced the conflict and the cross to ensure for us an eternal and secure relationship with Him. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Conflict exposes our level of readiness to sacrifice for the one we love to ensure our marriage stays secure. Joy can be the outcome of conflict, for happiness is the by-product of service.
To serve the other this way honours God.
3. Mirror Christ’s Commitment
Recall Jesus: “being made in human likeness—took on the very nature of a servant.”4
My devotion to my wife or husband measures my devotion to God, for the first purpose of marriage is to reflect God’s faithfulness to His own. How I serve my partner betrays what I really believe about Christ’s sacrifice for me. So Paul admonishes us: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Now, practising this belief not only strengthens marriage, our fervency of faith is also the greatest legacy we can pass to our children. Like us and your parents, your family will likely proliferate and bring joy beyond imagination. They will learn the reality of God’s love and grace to us all by your joyful and persistent commitment to God—by showing, not telling. Outworking our intimacy with God is necessary, not optional, if we wish to draw our children to faith in God.
Unlike Christ’s sacrifice for us, our destiny is not once to die for those God gives to our care. It is a far greater challenge: to live daily for them. May those who come behind us find us faithful.
To live for them this way honours God.
So, “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”