Marriage, just like all of life, is meant to glorify God. It is meant to picture the loving relationship between Jesus and His church (Ephesians 5:32). God created marriage upon the pattern of Jesus and His relationship to His bride the church, so the goal is to live and love in such a way that God is glorified and the relationship between Jesus and the church are portrayed.
We all know that a strong, God-glorifying, Christ-centered marriage takes a lot of hard work and determination. It takes following the instructions of God, the One who created marriage in the first place. This kind of marriage does not come about by looking at the pattern of the world, but by looking at the pattern of the Word; the Word of God.
The building of a strong and lasting marriage is much like building a strong and lasting house. When you build a house you want to use materials that will make it last a lifetime. You want to work hard so that it will be built into something that will stand up to the test of time. And building a strong, God-glorifying marriage is no different. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Likewise we can say that unless the Lord builds the marriage, those who try to build it labor in vain.
The building of a marriage, just like the building of a house, must start with a strong foundation. And the foundation that is needed in marriage is Jesus Christ. There is simply no other foundation with which to build a marriage upon. Jesus said, "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys Me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25). The only foundation that will stand when the storms of life blow hard is the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. A commitment to Him as individuals and a commitment to Him as a couple is the only lasting, solid foundation that can support a marriage. He alone must be the rock.
But a house also needs walls: something that builds upon the foundation and adds structure and support. And in a marriage what adds that support is love. The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The love that a husband and a wife should show one another should reflect the love that God has shown them in His Son, Jesus Christ. A sacrificial love that seeks the other’s good above one’s own. It must be a love that is predominantly centered not in each other, but in Jesus Christ where you love one another out of the overflow of your love for Him.
Not only does a house need a foundation and walls, but a house also needs a roof; something to protect the house from rain and acts as a shelter in the storm. And in the building of a marriage grace and forgiveness serve as that roof. The Bible says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). The grace and forgiveness that the husband and wife show to one another should reflect the grace and forgiveness that God has made available through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is free grace that is not deserved or earned, but is freely and lavishly given. Grace that is not dependent upon each other’s performance or worth, but grace that reflects the blessings that we have been shown in Christ. Free and unearned grace must permeate your marriage so that it protects and shelters from struggles within and problems without.
When these things are done, a marriage will be made that will be strong and that will last a lifetime. But above all else, it will be a marriage that will bring glory to God!