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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 18:22

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, August 2, 2014

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
        and receives favor from the LORD. (NIV)

I come from a privileged childhood. My family was poor, living below what we would call Middle Class standards today, but my parents were happily married. My mother cooked and cleaned and loved us; my father, a housepainter, worked very hard (he is still working today, in his seventies), but he took us fishing on weekends and my brother and I played with him on the same softball team when we were old enough. For my brother and sister and me, our parents weren’t just a model of a happy marriage, but a model of marriage itself.

Martin Luther said that there was a saying in his day: Eyn kurtze freud und lange unlust, “Joy is short but bitterness lasts a long time.” It was the saying that more and more couples were using in his time to enjoy the physical pleasures of life without getting married.

But besides an epidemic of men and women breaking the Sixth Commandment, Luther also understood that there are many people who get married without recognizing what marriage is, and they are the ones who end up experiencing the “long time of bitterness” and who never really know what joy a marriage should be.

Marriage is a gift from God, blessing a man and a woman with a partnership based first of all on a shared faith in God. This is the foundation stone that can’t be avoided. Without it, the couple will not truly know the intimacy that will join them together at every part of their lives.

On this foundation stone, there are other things that the marriage itself will build and strengthen over time. There will be trust, respect, and they will learn to depend on one another for some things—but those things will vary from marriage to marriage, because no two couples are alike. They will learn to do things as a team, but that’s a skill that takes a lifetime to learn.

They will learn to be happy together, and they will learn self-control together. I remember asking my dad once about a car commercial on TV, and he said something like “That car would cost about ten times what I paid for our Chevy.” If he had sold everything he had—house, business, and everything—he might have been able to buy the ridiculous car I was asking about (I don’t even remember what it was) but he would have given up everything for it, and he wouldn’t even have had a place to park it. That’s true of all sorts of things in any marriage. If one member of the couple begins to imagine what it would be like to be outside that couple—whether from lust, or boredom, or curiosity, or whatever it might be—they are on the edge of a cliff that will mean a fall that will lose them everything.

There are legitimate reasons to end a marriage—infidelity, abuse, or abandonment—but husbands and wives must understand that they themselves break into these things when they let their minds and thoughts wander outside the marriage.

We must first of all recognize the blessings God has given us, and then we must learn to appreciate those blessings. That’s only the beginning of finding “what is good,” as Solomon says. A man and wife brought together by God have been truly blessed—and they can learn a lot about their role in marriage from Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. But more about that next time.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.