Derek gave four steps that can lead you into God’s highest will for marriage. Listen to find out how you can apply biblical principles in marriage and experience the unity and joy God intends for your relationship.
In my last two talks on this theme, “God Is a Matchmaker,” I’ve been sharing with you the conditions which you must be prepared to meet if you really desire to experience marriage on the highest level of God’s will.
First and foremost, you must walk in the light of God’s Word, the Bible. This immediately rules out marriage to an unbeliever. If you are a committed Christian, you are not free to contemplate marriage to anyone who is not also a committed Christian.
Then in my talk yesterday I outlined three steps you need to take. First, believe in God’s purpose for you. Live out your life on the basis of faith. The righteous shall live by his faith. That includes every area of our lives.
Second, commit your body totally to God. Place your body, without reservation, on the altar of God’s service. And when you place your body on the altar, the altar sanctifies that which is placed upon it and you have a body that has been made holy by meeting God’s conditions. And of course, it’s so important that believers enter marriage with bodies that have been sanctified by fulfilling God’s condition.
Third, be prepared for death and resurrection. I pointed out, and I pointed it out mainly on the basis of personal experience, that anything that God really blesses usually has to die and be resurrected. So when you’ve made these commitments and taken these steps and everything seems to die on you, don’t be discouraged. There’ll be death in the fall, but resurrection in the spring. Just have the faith to wait through winter till the spring comes and you’ll be delighted above all that you’ve never expressed or believed with what God resurrects in your life.
Today I’m going to outline four more steps that can lead you into God’s highest will for marriage. First, cultivate right friends and right fellowship. That’s extremely important. This is included in walking in the light of the Word of God. In the first epistle of John chapter 1 verse 7, John says this:
“If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
I’ve spoken earlier about the fact that the Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. So, walking in the light includes walking in obedience to the written Word of God. And John says if we do that, if we walk in obedience to God’s written Word, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another. That is we have fellowship with other believers who are also walking in the light. And He says the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us, continually cleanses us from all sin. We’re kept from sin through our obedience to the Word of God. We’re sanctified, we’re set apart to God. We’re placed in an area where Satan cannot touch us. Remember then, the light is God’s Word.
Now, the kind of fellowship that we have is very decisive in this matter of marriage. Because in most cases, though not in all cases, marriage develops out of friendship. Normally, a person marries someone with whom they have to some degree become friendly, at least. So, if we have the wrong friends, it’s very probable that we’ll end up by marrying the wrong kind of person. But if we always cultivate the right friends, if our friends are other committed believers with the same goals, the same faith, the same commitment as ourselves, then it’s very much easier for God, out of those friends with whom we fellowship, to provide us the mate of His choice.
All right, the second step that I’m speaking about today is this: realize your value. It always grieves me when Christians don’t appreciate their own value, when they belittle themselves, underestimate themselves, and even speak critically of themselves. I’m sure they don’t realize what they’re doing, but they are really criticizing God and His workmanship. For in Ephesians 2:10, Paul says this:
“For we are His workmanship [that’s God’s workmanship] created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
We are God’s workmanship, His new creation. The word “workmanship” in Greek, that’s used by Paul there, has the sense of a created masterpiece. It’s the Greek word from which we get the English word “poem.” Now poem suggests something beautiful and creative and I believe that’s the right association. In Christ, God creates us anew as a masterpiece of His creation. No matter what we may have been before we came to Christ, in Christ, we are God’s masterpiece. So my advice to you, if you are contemplating marriage or praying about it, don’t make yourself cheap. Realize how valuable you are. Particularly, I would say this to young ladies: Don’t make yourself cheap in your attitude and relationship to young men. I’ll tell you this as a man, that if a young man gets something cheap, he probably isn’t going to value it very highly. Any young man that’s worth marrying is not interested in a young woman who throws herself at him. That doesn’t mean you have to be proud or standoffish, but it does mean that you have to live in such a way, and act in such a way that that young man can see your value—because you see your value. It’s unlikely that anybody else will value you higher than you value yourself, so set a high value on yourself. Not out of natural pride, but out of faith in the fact that you’re God’s new creation, you’re His masterpiece. Don’t throw it away.
I had an interesting experience recently. I inherited some Chinese dishes and plates and so on from my family that went right back to the beginning of this century and we kept two of these plates on a shelf. One of them was a little cracked and we didn’t think much about them. One day we had an appraiser come in and when he saw these, he kind of gasped. He said, “Do you know what those are? Those are from the Ming Dynasty,” he said. “They’re at least six hundred years old.” Well, we had no idea whatever of what we had in our home and I think it’s like that with some Christians. They don’t realize what value they have. They just feel themselves put up on a shelf and left there. They don’t realize that they’re God’s workmanship, so never undervalue yourself. Realize your own value.
The third piece of counsel that I wish to give you is this: be prepared to wait. Waiting is one of the tests that faith nearly always has to go through. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 1, which is one of my favorite verses, Solomon says this:
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...” (NASB)
Well, that includes marriage. There’s an appointed time for marriage in your life. Don’t jump the gun, don’t be too eager. Maybe you’re getting a little older than the average age at which people marry today and you’re thinking, “Well, God has forgotten me. He’s passed me by. I’m going to have to do something”. If you do something in that attitude, you’ll almost certainly do the wrong thing. There’s a beautiful verse in Hebrews 6 verse 12 I’d like to give you:
“Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (NIV)
Bear in mind it takes more than faith to inherit what God has promised. You begin with faith, but then there comes patience. In other words, you have to wait for God’s time, for God’s provision. Don’t be hasty, don’t be impatient. God has a time. Somewhere on His divine calendar there’s a day marked for your marriage. Cultivate patience, don’t be hasty.
The fourth piece of counsel, the last one today: be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14 says this:
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (NASB)
The mark that you’re living as a son or a daughter of the living God is this: That you’re continually led by the Holy Spirit. That’s a continuing present tense, all who are being continually led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. So you need to cultivate being led by the Holy Spirit.
One of the prayers that I’m always praying is this: to be in the right place at the right time and I’ve discovered that the only one who can enable me to achieve that is the Holy Spirit. As I’m sensitive to the Holy Spirit, He puts me in the right place at the right time. See, somewhere down the road, God has an appointment for you with His chosen mate for you and you don’t want to miss that appointment, I’m sure. But unless you’re led by the Holy Spirit, it could be that you would miss the appointment. Cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in small things, in big things.