New year celebrations can be pretty ridiculous. After all, it’s only a new number. We went from 2014 to 2015 at precisely 12:00am January 1. Numbers and time frustrate me with their restraining, constraining measurements. Clocks and scales are not my friends. Time. I can never seem to keep up with it, though it successfully takes its toll on me. The wonderful part about eternity (and having an eternal perspective) is the fact that there is no time in heaven. As I see it, eternity is not endless time — it is that time completely ceases to exist. Poof! I love that!
In spite of my aversion toward time, idiotic new year celebrations, and yes, even resolutions, a new year is a great time for reflection. This is a marriage-themed blog, so I will offer some wise marriage resolutions borrowed from a dead man to end this blog series.
Continuing to glean timely wisdom from times past, here are three rules for a happy marriage by cherished dead man, J.C. Ryle. Below each rule is my two cents highlighted in blue.
The first is to marry only in the Lord, and
after prayer for God’s approval and blessing.
The first rule (or resolution if I may call it that) does not pertain to those of us who are already married. Hopefully, dear married readers, you are married to a believer. If not, do not fear. 1 Cor. 7:14 says: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…” You can be a sanctifying influence on your spouse.
The second is not to expect too much from their
partners, and to remember that marriage is, after
all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.
This is a biggie! I know every woman wants to marry someone like Jesus: a man who will love them unconditionally and never get sarcastic, impatient or neglectful. I’m reminded of a book Mike and I read before we were married. What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp is an excellent source for marriage help from a Christian perspective. It is scriptural-based, not Freudian like too many other evangelical marriage manuals. Too often, we expect to have an angel for a spouse. Expect a sinner instead, but one saved by grace, a work in progress, started by God Himself. Just like your sinful but redeemed self. This is humbling.
The third rule is to strive first and foremost
for one another’s sanctification. The more holy
married people are, the happier they are.
Going from rule 2 to rule 3 is a great segue. (Numbers are useful after all!) God’s purpose in marriage is refinement and holiness. We’ve read other dead men recently and they, too, have pointed out duties of spouses. Those duties include spiritual helps of recognizing each other’s sins and helping to mortify them. We first realize we married a sinner. Which reminds us that we are sinners, too. Then we help each other put that sin away, under the blood of Christ our Savior. He is that first person in our marriage. We are bound together in Him. The dynamic of marriage is to be a display of God’s love.
These three rules sum it up nicely, don’t you think? They remind me of T.S. Arthur’s words: the divinely beautiful arrangement which marriage enforces. With that said, it is time for this blog series Dead Men Know Best: The Wit and Wisdom of the Puritans (and Other Dead Men) on Marriage to end. I pray that you’ve learned much from these historic brethren while enjoying this holiday season. Perhaps you’ll refer back to them, peruse the aforementioned publishers, and find much space for them in your home libraries.
J.C. Ryle’s work can be found in its entirety on Grace Gems: Three rules for a happy marriage.
Happy New Year and HAPPY MARRIAGE!
P.S. In keeping with my rebellion against time, this was not posted in a timely manner, which would have been on January 1. Thank you for understanding.