25 Mar 2017

Settle Down for the Gospel

In the last few blog entries we talked about God’s perfect design, man’s role, and woman’s role. God created man as the head and woman as his partner/helpmate. Despite their unique differences, it says in the Bible that marriage is part of His plan for both genders:

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24 [NKJV]

Yes, as early as Genesis 2, God set marriage of a man to woman, and a woman to man. Not man to man, or woman to woman. Again, our original blueprint is to marry someone of the opposite gender.

The term “joined” in Hebrew is dabaq, meaning “physical proximity and loyalty”. In Greek, the word is kollaó, which means “to bond/glue together, which is figurative for an intimate connection in a soul-knit friendship”. That means that when man and woman become husband and wife, they will physically leave their families and be glued together, being and working as one.

But wait, you say. If the two genders God created have distinct roles, how can they be and act as one? That’s what we’ll answer today. The build-up of this series started from Godly courtship, the uniqueness of man and woman, and now ends with Godly marriage. As our first speaker KC Cheng said, “The purpose of marriage is to glorify God.” How do we complete that? By being together for the Gospel of Christ.

Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” – 1 Corinthians 9:5 [NKJV]

Let’s deal with this topic right out the gate: It is not a written rule in the Bible to remain single when you serve the Lord. Contextually, 1 Corinthians 9 was Paul’s personal defense against the scrutiny of the arrogant, legalistic Corinthian believers. Specifically, in verse 5, Paul clarified to the Corinthian believers that the other apostles of the Lord, Jesus’ siblings – who also followed Him after His death – , and Peter were married. Despite this arrangement, they were all doing the Lord’s work!

Prior to this, he discussed principles of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. Concerning the unmarried and widows, however, he merely posited a personal opinion about how they were to live with regard to the Lord’s work (vv. 25-39). These verses are not to be taken out of context and made into a hard rule to stay single or widowed. Paul’s point was that, either single or married, we are to be devoted to the Lord’s work (vv. 28, 35, & 39-40).

Now that we’ve dealt with that, how can a married man and woman be together for the Gospel?

Go deep into the Word of God

Future husbands and wives, in order for you to know your true roles and apply them, you must seek these in the Bible! Don’t seek them from TV shows and cultures that dictate a very twisted view of God’s plan. Women are not just to be homemakers and the sole caretakers of the children, while husbands only provide and aren’t involved with their children.

Men, as we’ve learned throughout this series, be the head God designed you to be. Love, lead, provide, and protect her as Christ did His church (Ephesians 5:25-29). As early as your singlehood, selflessly prefer others interests over yourself. If it’s your rest day and your sibling needs help with an errand, help them! Lead a Bible study or a DGroup. Contribute to the expenses of your family in any way you can. Keep your family and friends safe from harm! These are just some ways you can practice headship in your singlehood.

Women, be obedient and respectful (Ephesians 5:22-24&33). How can you practice this in singlehood? Submit to parental, corporate, ministerial, and government authorities, as long as they don’t go against Biblical principles. If you can’t submit to these people, how much more can you submit to your future husband?

Respect other people’s decisions and choices, even if they don’t really align with what you think is correct. If you see someone wearing a mismatched top and bottom, don’t immediately criticize. Remember, Jesus Himself never coerced people to believe Him. If they didn’t agree, in respect, He let them go (Mark 10:17-27 and John 6:60-66).

Extend Christ’s love

33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world — how he may please his wife.”- 1 Corinthians 7:33 [NKJV]

In marriage, a spouse’s priority next to God is their partner. Yes, the goal is to serve God together, but this overflow is to manifest as well in their relationship as husband and wife. As Paul observed above, a married person is also focused on how to please their spouse.

One of the privileges a married couple can enjoy is sexual intimacy with each other. In earlier verses, Paul advised that married couples enjoy this, only denying themselves of it during a time of prayer and fasting, so they would not fall into sexual immorality (vv. 1-7). Specifically, if the wife wants to be intimate with her husband, and the husband wants to be intimate with the wife, they are to selflessly give of themselves to please the other, not themselves (v.4).

This doesn’t just apply with sex, but with other activities as well. Men, if your wives want you to listen to how their day went, no matter how much you want to zone out with the television, listen to them sacrificially. Women, if your husband had a really rough day and doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t force him. You’ll only push him away even further. Talk to him about an agreeable time of space, then let him approach to you willingly. Remember that Christ gave Himself up selflessly and willingly for the good of the church.

Future husbands and wives, this practice starts as early as now, not when you’re married. Singles, understand one another in your differences, no matter how petty or major the issue. If someone wrongs you, believe the best in them. Forgive them, and if necessary, be reconciled with them. Think about their best, not just yours. Those moments will be practice for when you are already married.

Live out the Gospel of Christ

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” – Philippians 1:17 [NKJV]

As mentioned earlier, the purpose of marriage is to glorify God. In the verse above, Paul was speaking to the Philippian church about living and being united in the Gospel of Christ. However, his insight here also applies to married people as well.

When you find your significant other, service to Christ does not stop there. In your uniqueness, both of you are united to glorify God. How? By raising up Godly children (Proverbs 22:6), serving one other selflessly (Philippians 2:3); ministering to others (Philippians 2:4) as well; and – most importantly – loving God above anyone and everything else (Matthew 10:37).

Allow me to end with the story of the apostle Peter and his wife. According to Scriptural accounts (Matthew 8:14-18, Mark 1:29-34, and Luke 4:38-41), Peter was married because he had a mother-in-law. Can you imagine the brash, impulsive Peter leaving his own wife for 3 years to be with Jesus? Some women wouldn’t agree to that, but his wife did! Later on, she joined him in his apostolic work as his Biblical partner and helpmeet (1 Corinthians 9:5). Peter’s wife is never once specifically mentioned in the Bible, but perhaps she was the inspiration of 1 Peter 3:1-7. She must have been an internally and externally beautiful woman (vv. 3-4), chaste and reverent to the Lord (v.2), holy and submissive (v.5). Clearly, she knew the importance of devotion to God above everything else, even her marriage.

Peter was not negligent here as well. According to church history, his wife was martyred before he. As she was being led out to her crucifixion, Peter did not fight the guards unlike years ago in Gethsemane. He finally understood that the furtherance of Christ’s gospel was the top priority, even if it meant the death of his wife. Peter instead comforted her with, “Remember the Lord.” After his wife’s death, it was his turn. Peter gladly accepted his martyrdom, even requesting to be crucified upside down. He believed he was not worthy to die in the same way as his beloved Lord, Jesus.

Despite their differences, Peter and his wife were solely devoted to the Gospel of Christ. Together as husband and wife, they turned those who observed them to righteousness, even if it meant the selfless sacrifice of their own lives. They best represented a married couple whose highest goal was to glorify God as His man & His woman. As we bring this series to a close, it is our prayer, dear reader, that you and your future life partner bring Him glory in a similar way, through transformed lives in Jesus’ name!

 

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Aldren Ninalga

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