Just over a year into marriage the truth of my needing of Jesus and the Spirit’s grace to make me more like God’s Son has only become more obvious. God’s Word shows us our faults and shortcomings in such a gracious way. It’s such a blessing to see where I’m selfish, for example, and then realize that that’s irrelevant concerning the status of my relationship with the Lord because God has already adopted me into His family and as His child because of His love for me… in spite of my selfishness.
Implementing this grace and forgiveness into marriage is quite the more difficult task because I am not love as God is (1 John 4:8), I do not forgive perfectly as my Father does (Matthew 18:21-31), and quite frankly sometimes if I stop and reflect on all the thoughts that have gone through my head and the words out of my mouth I feel like Paul when he wrote to Timothy saying that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15).
After listening to countless sermons while driving or working over a year ago as I attempted to learn from the Lord and others while preparing for marriage, reading recommended books, and have innumerable conversations with people I look up to and admire, I really think that I thought I was going to be a great husband. Sarah and I had barely even had a disagreement. Life was easy.
A year later I’m only more thankful for my beautiful wife to wear as a crown, but I realize more and more that marriage is also a tool that our good Lord uses to show us our faults, and even more so to display God’s grace, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and forgiveness, and forgiveness, and forgiveness. Last week we were blessed to have Brandon and Ann Kiracofe stay with us. In the midst of conversation they mentioned the great principal that a successful marriage has nothing to do with how much we sin. We are going to sin consistently. Instead it has to do with how much we forgive. Marriage is provided to display the Gospel. Part of the Gospel reveals that regardless of the amount of a person’s sin, Jesus will save those who make him Lord and trust in His righteousness on their behalf, not their own. Likewise, a biblical marriage has nothing to do with our sin toward each other, but how much we hold to our promise and commitment to each other “til death do us part” as we live a marriage of grace and mercy expressed by forgiveness. Thank you Sarah for modeling this for me over and over again so that I can learn by your example. As mom told us last week when she described us, Iron (Sarah) sharpens iron (me!).
All this to say that I fall short and need the Lord’s guidance. I was ignorant of what it means to be a husband. I need help! Sarah got me a book called “The Godly Home” by Richard Baxter. I’ll make some posts attempting to relay the many points that the Lord’s servant provides. In the introduction, J.I. Packer prefaces the book by saying that Baxter has the intention of each family being a miniature church, with its male head (husband/father) as the pastor (spiritual leader/provider).
One of the things I hope to better understand and act upon is the fact that Jesus alone changes Sarah. I just glanced through this great article (http://theresurgence.com/2011/06/20/an-excellent) that describes a wife who is excellent is “forged not found.” The Lord is in the work of sanctification (making people more like Jesus and Holy). But it’s his task. I just have a responsibility to be used for the joyful task of doing his pleasurable work. As Brodie and Jenn’s pastor mentioned at their marriage ceremony a month ago, I’m to “scrub her down with grace” (Ephesians 5:26).