“In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.]”—I Peter 3:7 (AMP)
Unity. God has mad respect for it. Deuteronomy 32:30 says that when the Lord surrenders them, two can put 10,000 to flight. Amos 3:3 reveals that when two are in agreement, they can walk together. Ecclesiastes states that two are better than one (8:4) and when two lie down together, they will be warm (Ecclesiastes 4:11). Matthew 18:20 assures us that where two (or three…but since we’re talking about marriage, I’ll stick with two to keep everything in its proper context) are joined, God is in the midst of them. Again, because of the kind of power/accessibility that comes with it, God takes unity very seriously. No wonder Christ said in Matthew 19:11-12 (Message) that, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” In other words, marriage requires a certain level of spiritual maturity; one that, it appears, due to the divorce rate, both in and out of the Church, many do not want to make the commitment to do ON THE FRONT END in preparation for it.
Recently, an email buddy of mine was asking me my advice on some questions that she should ask marry couples who would be “ministering” at her church. Off top the Holy Spirit told me to say (Luke 12:12), “They should name the biblical couple that the most resonate with and the Bible verse that holds their marriage together. If they can’t do that, they don’t need to be ministering (to the masses) on marriage yet.” And, I stand on that. I Corinthians 3:1-3 (NCV) says, “Brothers and sisters, in the past I could not talk to you as I talk to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as I would to people without the Spirit—babies in Christ. The teaching I gave you was like milk, not solid food, because you were not able to take solid food. And even now you are not ready. You are still not spiritual, because there is jealousy and quarreling among you, and this shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world.” We all know couples who can’t seem to act like they’ve got some sense. The woman is semi-stalking the man; the man is always picking a fight with the woman. Family, this is not how God ordained relationships, let alone marriage, to be.
A couple of nights ago, I was telling one of my prayer partners that I’ve been having this recurring dream that I keep trying to get out of bed, but my husband keeps pulling me back down. “Not yet, Shellie. Lay with me a little longer.” For the longest, I didn’t get what that meant, but I do now. The first few years of marriage is very similar to having a baby. When a couple is first introduced into the world, they are fragile…they are needy…they require special care. Right now, I can be up at (shoot, what time is it right now?) 6:59am writing these because I am single. I am unmarried, so I can care about the things of the Lord. Oh, but when my prince comes, his concerns will become a major concern of mine. (I Corinthians 7:34) A part of the reason why I don’t “cosign” on the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing anymore (aside from the fact that it’s NOT biblical…you are either single/married/divorced/widowed) is that while I am single, I want to be REALLY SINGLE…to enjoy all that the status has to offer. I don’t want to be married with resentments or regrets all because I was consumed with a man, whether literal or fanciful, all of the time.
But it appears that God is giving me A LOT of information on marriage in this season, and so I know that I am about to make a transition. Therefore, I have to learn how to be more flexible, more adaptable, more compromising, more understanding. My mother used to say that if you can’t live with your family, you are not ready for marriage. I’ll go even further. If you cannot get along with people—not the fake you, but the real you—period, then you need to wait. A lot of what single life does is teach you how to relate to others…on the job, at church, on the basketball court, during spinning class…you feel me. If you can’t find ways to relate to people in those arenas now, please do you, your future spouse/children and the community at large a BIG FAVOR and wait.
That’s what I love about the lead scripture for this lesson. It encourages married men to live with CONSIDERATION, INTELLIGENT RECOGNITION and HONOR for their wives. Why? Because as two being one (Matthew 19:6), they are able to be joint heirs in grace (mercy; clemency; pardon) with God. We all need grace. Grace keeps us from being carried away by strange doctrines. (Hebrews 13:9) Grace is what helps us in times of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Grace is what gives us the ability to edify others. (Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6) GRACE (THROUGH FAITH) IS WHAT SAVED US (Ephesians 2:9), and I believe it is what, when properly applied, will save a lot of our marriages; not just love…not just sex…not just companionship. GRACE.
Oh, but you have to be spiritually mature to know that, and this time of singleness is when you should really try to grasp that reality. (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message)
Men: Again, God said that you should be willing to live CONSIDERATELY with your wives. That means that you should be willing to take her feelings into account; that you carefully and deliberately think about how what you do and say will affect her…that her needs matter to you. However, the Bible also says that you should “dwell with them with understanding” (I Peter 3:7-NKJV), or as the Amplified puts it, “with an intelligent recognition” of the purpose of marriage. I can name about three husbands RIGHT NOW who are ANYTHING (and everything) BUT recognizing or “acknowledging or accepting formally a specified factual or legal situation” their marriage. I’m willing to bet a big part of it is because they did not allow God to show them the purpose of marriage in the first place…on the front end. To recognize something, you have to have seen it, first.
Some of you can’t “recognize” marriage because your parents were never married. Some of you can’t because, while they may have been, it was jacked up. Some of you may have been poorly educated on marriage or you’ve let pop culture educate you on it (or the lack of a need for it). As a single man, right now, this would be the time to have God reveal to you the purpose of marriage and/or if you are meant to even be married. The Bible says that marriage is to be honorable among ALL (Hebrews 13:4). Some of you may be better off “honoring it” by not entering it. If you are selfish, insensitive, inconsiderate, disrespectful, chauvinistic, demanding, abusive (which simply means “abnormally using something”), promiscuous NOW, marriage is not going to minimize those things…it will only magnify them.
Now, that doesn’t mean God can’t change you. I am a LIVING TESTAMENT to the power of God when you let him take over your life. (2 Corinthians 5:17) But, I will also testify to the fact that it takes really hard work to go from “wounded” to “healthy”. To be a godly person, you have to be willing to work at it…DAILY. And, I’m just gonna be real with you: I have accepted the reality of a poem that I wrote many years ago: “And since I’m a queen, I’m gonna start to flaunt it. Can’t balance a crown on my head and be on my back, too.” We are supposed to live like we are a part of a royal priesthood. (I Peter 2:9) While single, QUEENS CAN’T BALANCE CROWNS (WHILE) ON THEIR BACKS…AND NEITHER CAN KINGS.
How can you “recognize” the importance of physically honoring me as your wife, when you don’t even do it now as my friend or “significant other”? If you are too selfish, too demanding, too promiscuous (and remember, sleeping with ANYONE who ain’t your wife INCLUDING ME is the spiritual definition of promiscuity) to care about my needs and feelings…to take into account how your decisions will directly affect your witness to me NOW, how can I trust that you will miraculously…on your own…do better later? Discernment tells me that I can’t…and shouldn’t. Shoot, I love myself and the Bible says that my “love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” (Philippians 1:9) This is the time for you to get really honest with yourself, to let the truth set you free (John 8:32) to the reality of if you are currently marriage material. If you’re not willing to make the character investments, you don’t deserve the “favor” (wife) pay off.
Women: The Word says that we are to be joint heirs with them in grace. A graceful woman is “characterized by elegance or beauty of form, manner, movement, or speech”…she’s “elegant”…she’s “beautiful”…”becoming”…”CONTROLLED”…”elastic”…”harmonious”…”poised”…”PRACTICED”…”refined”…”skilled”; she is “characterized by charm, good taste, kindness, and generosity of spirit”. That is not an easy feat. NOW, as single women, is the time to grasp hold of these traits. It takes practice to be elastic and harmonious (if you already get on your friends nerves, you can pretty much guess that you will get on your husband’s); it takes DAILY SURRENDERING to become kind and to have a generous spirit. This is why Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV) tells us that, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Praise. I was recently telling someone that I knew I wasn’t going to be ready to be married to someone until I was able to praise him and he was able to praise me the way Solomon and the woman he so lovingly spoke of in Songs of Solomon did (chapter 4:1-15 and 5:10-16). A man can compliment you, but it’s the praise of a godly husband that you should desire. That comes from someone who discerns that you fear God and that you respect his role in your life. When it comes to those things, your charm and beauty have very little to do with it.
A lot of women are putting far too much energy on hair weaves/dye, colored contacts, plastic surgery, diets (eating right and exercising are the best diets, BTW), clothes and lingerie, and I’m here to tell you: J-Lo, Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, Jessica Simpson, Melyssa Ford…they’ve ALL been left by a man—on more than one occasion. If all a man is interested in is how you look, he doesn’t have spiritual vision. KEEP IT MOVIN’. However, if all you’re interested in is how you look, guess what, ma? You can’t “see” too far as well and so you need to stay single for awhile longer, too. One of the things that we are to be to our mates is “spiritual surplus”. With us in their lives, they should be able to gain access to so much more (good and purposeful) than they had before we came onto the scene.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that the Bible calls wisdom “her”? (Proverbs 1:20, 8:1, 9:1) Our husbands should be able to come to us and we be able to talk about more than nails, purses and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (gimme a break!). We are to be a source of knowledge, discernment, (godly) judgment and discretion. They should be able to come to us and have us provide enlightenment, reason, and intelligent information. How many people right now come to you for advice? That’s a good way to judge your current “well of wisdom” levels. I don’t go to people who seem to be worse off than I am. A GODLY MAN will use the same kind of measuring stick in selecting a wife. You want a godly man? Focus right now on being a gracious woman so that when the two of you are joined, your prayers will not be hindered…so that the favor that you bring him will cause his “clout” with God to be effective…that is how to earn the praise of a man.
Well, that’s it for now. Shoot, if you really think about it, that should be enough….for now.
Men, make sure to be CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS today. Women, make sure to carry yourself with an AIR OF GRACE. It’s makes for good husband/wife-in-training practice, and practice makes perfect…or at least happy and healthy. 🙂
©Shellie R. Warren/2009