(Eph. 5:25-27, Prov. 21: 3 (NIV), Gen. 2:22-24)
Like we noted earlier, our earthly marriage is symbolic of the marriage of Christ and His church. That is why there is a spiritual dimension to the marriage institution or, indeed, any relationship.
Marriage is everything but ‘a necessary evil’ and may be classified into various ministry categories based on our disposition.
i. It is a ministry of service: one clear thing observed in Jesus’ life was His service to others even unto death (John 21:15-17). Jesus taught people, washed their feet, healed their bodies and made disciples. His life was about serving and adding value to lives.
A critical lesson we should learn is that the attitude of service is just as important as the act of service itself.
How willing are you to serve your partner in your relationship?
Jesus served people to the point of death. You can’t come into a relationship without thinking of adding value to each other. You are to serve each other.
ii. It is about the ministry of sacrifice: Have you ever thought about all that Jesus gave up in order to save us? (Phil. 2:6, Luke 9:24, Mark 10:45)
The Bible says Christ “emptied Himself” and “gave up” His heavenly and divine privileges. He gave up a perfect environment in heaven to come to earth to be a carpenter. Even his birth was humbling.
To sacrifice means to give up something that is valuable to you. It could be time, money or anything else very important to you. For a relationship to be great, it goes through a period of adaptation and flexibility. You make sacrifices here and there.
When was the last time God spoke to you about your spouse, not to talk of make a sacrifice in a matter?
You can’t come into a relationship hoping to keep your bad attitudes. You will have to give it up. You can’t eat your cake and have it.
Does work take priority over your very important relationships or are you willing to sacrifice for the comfort of others?
Again our willingness to make sacrifices in a way measures our spiritual and emotional maturity. Making sacrifices in relationships should not be dependent on the good behaviour of our partners.
iii. Our relationship is also a ministry of selflessness: Don’t go into a relationship thinking of just yourself (Phil. 2:3).
How much am I willing to take genuine interest in the things that matter most to my partner or spouse? Even if such don’t matter to me, how much do I put other people’s needs before and above mine?
These are critical questions.
iv. There is the ministry of submission: Submission here is in the military sense of the word which means to put yourself in rank (Eph. 5:21, Gen. 3:16). An army without the basic principle of submission is in disarray. Bible is against domination in relationships.
Submission does not mean “abdication”. The worst person to marry is a docile person. Submission is not in YES MA/SIR. The idea behind this kind of submission is OBEDIENCE – How obedient are you to God in the areas of sexual purity, lust, time management, your gifts, eating, giving? Submission is not the suspension of your brain nor is it the act of living in perpetual fear. It is also not putting your husband before your faith in Christ. It is not putting your faith in your husband and refusing to influence your spouse for the good of the relationship.
v. Finally, it is the ministry of empathy and compassion: Empathy and compassion are two sides of a coin. They move together. The problem today is that too many Christians believe the Christian life is supposed to be easy and free from difficulties. We have put on the entitlement mindset. Every time Jesus has compassion, miracle flows.
A man or woman who cannot be touched by the feelings of his/her spouse cannot keep a good relationship.