This past month I had the privilege of performing a wedding ceremony for a wonderful young couple. I am excited to see how the Lord leads them on their new adventure together. As part of their ceremony I reflected on Colossians 3:12-15. Here Paul gives instruction for relationships between all believers but I believe that the truth Paul lays out in this passage can especially be applied to the marriage relationship. Here Paul says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” If you ever wonder why we do marriage it’s because of what God did in Genesis 2. There God brought a man and woman together and the two became one. Verse 24 instructs us, “For this cause (or this reason) a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife.” God gave marriage and Scripture gives us reasons why He did so. One reason is found in Ephesians 5. There we see that God gave marriage as a picture of what Christ’s love looks like for His bride, the Church. But God also gave marriage to give us opportunities and we can see from Colossians 3:12-15 what those are and how we can take advantage of them.
For starters, marriage is an opportunity to remember our need of the gospel. On our own we cannot reach the standard Paul gives us in these verses. Apart from Christ we won’t have this compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience he speaks of. We will always fall short. This is why we have the gospel. God knew that man could not reach His standard so He sent His Son, who lived this life perfectly, without sin, yet He went to the cross. At the cross, Jesus was punished not for the things that He did but for the things that you and I have done; for all of the ways that we have fallen short. Jesus died so that we would not only be forgiven completely and have eternal life but also so that we would be given new hearts. At salvation God takes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh; hearts that bear the fruit of Colossians 3. Marriage is a high calling. It’s a calling for the husband to be Jesus to His wife and for the wife to be Jesus to her husband. The only way to live up to this calling is through Jesus. We need Him to fulfill these things.
Marriage is also an opportunity to show the grace of the gospel. There are two ways in which Paul says to show grace. One is by bearing with one another. I hate to break it to any newly-wed couple but expectations won’t be met. People snore, they have bad breath, toilet seats are left up, we get tired and cranky, we forget things that we should remember and fail to fulfill promises but Scripture says “bear with one another.” In doing this we show the grace of our Lord who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He bears with us because in spite of how we fall short of His expectations He loves us.
Paul also instructs us to forgive each other. At the cross all was forgiven. Everything from our past, present, and future sins were paid for and done away with at the cross. The words, “I’m sorry” probably come up more times than “I love you” in a marriage. We must be ready to forgive. Paul says, “If there is the slightest complaint then forgive it.” He goes on that we should do so, “in the same way that the Lord forgave you.” We have been forgiven infinitely and graciously. We’ve been forgiven in ways that don’t make any sense. Marriage is an opportunity to choose to forgive even when it’s hard knowing how God has forgiven you.
Finally, marriage is an opportunity to be thankful. We can love because God first loved us. We can bear with one another because Jesus bears with us. We can forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We have more than enough reason to be thankful. If we want to be thankful we must first remember all that we have in Christ and then second see all that He has given us in our spouses. Marriage is a gift from Him. Remind yourself of that when days are hard, look to show your loved one your thankfulness each day, and take advantage of the opportunities God has given you in your marriage.
Thankful For This Gift, Pastor Rudy