The Greatest Marriage in the Bible!


The Greatest Marriage in the Bible is Christ and the Church!

We have looked at some good marriages, some bad, and some ugly marriages in the Bible. Now we have the greatest marriage in the Bible – Christ and the Church! And what we can learn from it.

The Mystery of Marriage

We often think about Ephesians 5:22-32 as being primarily about marriage. But in Ephesians 5:32, Paul talks about a profound mystery, This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

God didn’t create marriage, and then decide to have Jesus model that through his relationship to the church. He did the opposite.

First, there was a relationship between a Holy God and the people He loved.

Then, He instructed us about how to live in a marriage relationship by looking at ourselves compared to Christ and the Church.

That concept is a great mystery to many people. They have never discovered the ultimate purpose of marriage – to portray the love of Christ through Christian marriages.

Marriage is not primarily about making you happy or being in love. You can be happy and in love when you live out that grace relationship, but that is not the purpose of marriage.

When I receive and understand God’s unconditional love for me, His acceptance of me, just as I am, His complete, unlimited forgiveness of my sins…
                 ... then I will have a heart that loves that way, that accepts others, and that forgives again and again. God’s intent for marriage is that I display the most complete and purest form of all of those qualities.

"In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins,
for without it no human fellowship,
least of all marriage, can survive." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

New Marriage!



This couple shares about the change in their marriage since coming to LIVING WELL.

Me, Marriage, and the Culture


Who me?

I don’t know what to do….The problem is too big, I can’t do enough to help….I don’t have anything to offer…. They just need to do what is right….My marriage isn’t that great….I’m not a counselor or a pastor.

These thoughts are the common reaction when a person is challenged to be involved in the big issue of our day - strengthening marriages.

As Christians, we often focus exclusively on one area, such as evangelism. For non-Christians, many believe that everyone should have the freedom to do what they want and that their personal lifestyle doesn’t affect me.

Others beliefs and behavior affects all of us. Most of all, the life of a Christian has a profound impact on a person’s openness to Christ. Evangelism often bounces off hard hearts because Christians don’t want to be involved personally in another person’s life.

Research clearly shows that the breakdown of the family brings poverty, higher rates of juvenile delinquency, higher rates of failure in school, and higher rates of broken relationships. The problem belongs to all of us! The problem is very close to God’s heart.

God called on the people in Ezekiel's day, I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land…. (Ezekiel 22:30a)

He was calling for two groups of people - some to build and some to stand in the gap.

Some are equipped or called to build the wall of protection for the family. Some will stand in the gap.

Living Well is building. We have already produced training workshops for churches to build marriage strengthening ministries. We come alongside churches to build those ministries. We build into the lives of many couples through personal two-on-two guidance and through classes.

God may be calling you to be one that stands in the gap by mentoring a younger couple or older women/men mentoring younger women/men... or working on marriage strengthening programs…. Supporting those who build.

One Person Can .....

The Bible talks about the older training the younger. A mentor is not a teacher or a counselor. A mentor is someone who shares their experience. Every person has experience that he can share with someone else - mentoring.

Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. Anonymous

We can be intentional about spending time with a younger couple - encouraging them, listening to them, praying for them, believing in them.

Every Christian that is involved in a church can ask the leadership to include classes/ministries to strengthen marriages. Some can even offer to lead a class or help with a class.

You can support those who are building the walls to preserve marriages and families - support them in prayer, in donations, and by adding your voice of affirmation.

Perhaps, most importantly, you can do all that is possible to strengthen your own marriage for the sake of others who are watching - and they ARE watching.

…. by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:15 CEV)

Please see our next post - This Road Leads to .....

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bibles, part7


New love is the brightest, and
long love is the greatest, but
revived love is the tenderest thing known on earth. 
Thomas Hardy

In the U.S. today, according to research, at least 90% of Americans believe infidelity in marriage is wrong. Yet, infidelity/adultery/affairs emerge over and over in marriages. Behavior does not reflect a person's verbal opinion but it reflects the values of a person's life.

In 1988, research found that 77% of women and 64% of men said that adultery had been relevant to separation or divorce.

The most common belief is that people who have affairs aren't happy in their marriage. Shirley Glass (author of NOT Just Friends) writes, In my data, 56 percent of men who entered into affairs said they had ''happy'' or ''very happy'' marriages, compared with 30 percent of women. For men, the strongest predictor for having an affair is their attitudes and values about monogamy. For women, it's marital unhappiness.

Bad marriages don't cause infidelity;
infidelity causes bad marriages.
Frank Pittman

When a person marries, he is saying "yes" to one woman and "no" to all other women in this world. And women are doing the same. Somewhere along the life of the marriage, a man or woman forgets the commitment of his/her vows and allows his mind and emotions to consider an involvement with another person.

In our culture today, many people spend more time with a person of the opposite sex in the workplace than they do with their own spouses. Being faithful in marriages takes diligence. If I ever believe that I am immune to the attention of the opposite sex, then I am in danger.

Jerry Jenkins wrote a great book many years ago about protecting your marriage. I first read the content as a series of articles that he wrote for Moody magazine. He later put them into a book and it has been republished more than once. The book is Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It. He clearly shows how easy a person can slip into an affair, especially in the workplace. He also shares what he has done to protect his marriage and what each of us can do.

In the Bible, God gives us a great example of a couple with an extreme situation with infidelity. Hosea and Gomer exemplify the relationship between God and His people. He tells the story of the unfaithfulness of this bride and how her husband chases after her. The story is to show God's faithfulness to His people, even when they are unfaithful, how He chases after them and never stops loving them.

Hosea and Gomer's story is one of the ugliest marriages in the Bible, but it also shows that ugly marriages can still be redeemed and restored. The very first thing God ever said to Hosea tells us about his unlikely marriage. 

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” So he married Gomer. (Hosea 1:2-3a). 

Some believe that God was commanding Hosea to marry a woman who had formerly been a prostitute. Others contend that taking an adulterous wife would merely refer to marrying a woman from the northern kingdom of Israel, a land which was guilty of spiritual adultery. 

Whatever her past, he found his heart drawn to her in deep and unselfish love. God directed him to take her as his wife, and so it was that Gomer, became the unlikely wife of the this young preacher.

Somewhere Gomer became dissatisfied in her marriage and became involved with other men. She was extremely unfaithful. God uses the marriage of Hosea and Gomer as an illustration of His relationship with the nation of Israel as she ran after idols, other gods. 

Gomer may have had a man supporting her or a series of prostitution encounters. She ends us broke and homeless. She is for sale in the slave market.

The ugly part of this marriage is easy to see. But the good is beyond what any of us can imagine. We are not saying that God calls everyone to go to such great lengths after one partner has left and been promiscuous. But in their culture, women had very few ways to support themselves. She was being sold as a slave.

God shows us some strong marriage qualities through this relationship.

FOREVER LOVE

God tells Hosea not to give up but to go after the love of his life. Buy her back, take her home. Hosea did that.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods… (Hosea 3:1)

FAITHFUL

Hosea was faithful, even though Gomer was unfaithful. He shows us what God does for each of us. He is faithful, even if we are unfaithful. Hosea had an undying love for his wife. God has an undying love for us.

FORGIVING

How many times should a husband or wife forgive? Some contend, “If I keep forgiving I simply affirm him in his pattern of sin.” Or “If I keep forgiving, she’ll think she can get away with anything she wants.” Others say, “If I keep forgiving, it’s like putting my seal of approval on his behavior.” Or “I can’t take another hurt like that. If he does that one more time, I’m leaving.” Those are human responses.

Listen to the response of the Lord Jesus. You see, Peter had asked the Lord this same question: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” The Lord’s answer was, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21, 22). That is a great deal of forgiveness. In fact, Christ was simply saying in a captivating way that there is no end to forgiveness.

We can love like that.
We can forgive like that.
We can bring the hurts in our hearts to Christ.
When we fully forgive, our minds will be released from the bondage of resentment that has been building a wall between us, and we shall be free to grow in our relationship with each other.

God can restore your marriage - even if one person has been unfaithful. In fact, your marriage can be better than it has ever been before! We have seen it happen!

Resources for overcoming infidelity:
FamilyLife
Focus on the Family
Smart Marriages page (not just Christian resources)

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come.

For previous posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Hosea and Gomer

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bibles, part6

"I couldn't work with my husband [wife]!"

Some couples declare that their marriage would not survive the stress of working together also. We work together in our nonprofit ministry right now and have worked together earlier in our marriage in another career.

We love working together. We like the teamwork that we developed in marriage transferring to the workplace. Most importantly, however, is the teamwork of ministering together in church and in our nonprofit.

During college and early marriage, we wandered from church. In our late 20's, God brought us back. A few months after being involved again and studying God's Word, we started ministering together ..... and we still are. We have worked together in ministry almost continuously for over 30 years.

As we have worked and trained in the marriage ministry area, we began to see many other couples working together in that field and advocating teaching as a team. Although we have usually taught in the same class or seminar, we would take turns on the sessions. Now, we teach most lessons as a team, both of us studying, both of us getting up together speaking back and forth.

For us, the teamwork of teaching as a team is a visual demonstration of what we believe.

PRISCILLA and AQUILA

We have a great example of a marriage team at work and in ministry with Priscilla and Aquila. They were companions, friends, and work-mates. It takes a mature relationship to be able to work together.

Worked Together

They worked together making tents. Paul first met them as he looked for a place to make tents himself. He ended up living with them, staying in Corinth for 1 ½ years. They became good friends and they heard him teach extensively. [read their story in Acts 18:1-4, 18-20, 24-26]

Grew in the Lord Together

Not only did they live and work together but they suffered exile together. Then they both came to know and love Jesus Christ together. Now they were one in Christ, and His love made a good marriage even better.

 Every relationship is strengthened through the oneness of the Spirit. Marriages can move to a new level through that oneness if both people know the Lord on an intimate, personal level.

Think of it, eighteen months of intensive Bible study under the greatest Bible teacher in the early church. How Aquila and Priscilla must have grown!

Sharing the Word together strengthened their love for each other and their spirit of togetherness. Christian marriages will be all be strengthened when husbands and wives read and study the Word together.

Served the Lord Together

When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, they accompanied him, and he left them there when he embarked for his home church in Antioch.

Aquila and Priscilla may not have been public speakers, but they were students of the Word, and they loved to share it with others. They were willing to invest the time necessary to take one young man, Apollos, under their spiritual care and pour into his life the things of Christ. And as a result of this encounter with Aquila and Priscilla, he became an effective servant of God whom some of the Corinthians later placed on a level with Peter and Paul. [1 Corinthians 1:12]

When Paul left Antioch on his third missionary journey, he traveled through Asia Minor by land and returned to Ephesus, where he remained teaching the Word of God for approximately three years. During that period of time, he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians and said, "The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house." [1 Corinthians 16:19]

When Paul left Ephesus for Greece, they evidently believed God was directing them back to Rome. Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans from Greece on that third missionary journey, and he said, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house." [Romans 16:3-5].

We do not know what happened, but somewhere, somehow, Aquila and Priscilla together risked their own lives to save Paul’s. His two friends were willing to give everything in the service of the Savior, even their lives.

Priscilla and Aquilla stand as an example of one of the great marriages of the Bible. Their names are always used together. They stood together, worked together, ministered together, and sacrificed together.

What an honor to be seen as a couple who glorified the Lord with their marriage!

"A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short."
Andre Maurois

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come.

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible, part5

And what we can learn from them!

Joseph, the husband of Mary, offers a stark contrast to the foolish Nabal of our last post.

Is there anything new to say about the most famous mother of all time and her husband?

We often analyze their faith and their responses to the angels who brought the amazing message of God's son coming to earth through Mary's womb.

Can their situation correspond at all to marriages today?

A woman today will not give birth to the Son of God. Most marriages today don't have the same cultural procedures that they had as a Jewish couple over 2000 years ago.

At that time, when a couple became "betrothed", they made a lifelong commitment. This engagement period gave the groom time to prepare their home. Then he would come to get the bride at any time for the wedding. The betrothal could only be broken by divorce.

Joseph illustrates a man of integrity at a crucial point in history. God describes the man that was to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:18-25).
 
Joseph was, in many ways, a remarkable man. He had many strengths that made him a great husband.

Think about how important this family was. We don’t know a lot about Joseph after Jesus was born, except that he was a carpenter. He was still leading the family when Jesus was 12 and got separated from his family.

But we don’t know anything about Joseph after that. He wasn’t mentioned when Jesus began his ministry at the age of 30. Most people think he must have passed away. Some people even think that Jesus had to support his family after Joseph died and that is the reason that he waited until 30 to begin his ministry.

Traits of Joseph in regard to his marriage:
  1. Followed GodThe Bible says he was righteous. He listened to God and he obeyed God. Any man today will be a better husband if he follows the Lord.
  2. CompassionateWhen he found out Mary was pregnant outside of marriage, he didn’t want Mary to be disgraced publicly, even though he thought she must have been unfaithful. He was going to divorce her quietly until a messenger of God came to him to explain the circumstances. A good marriage requires compassion even when we think that we have been wronged. We act in compassion no matter how great the offense. We want to do whatever is best for that person. I am more concerned with the other person's feelings than my own.

    Even when it was time for her to give birth, he went to great lengths to find a place for her in privacy. He cared for he with tenderness and strength.

    Fortunately, in our day, when it is time to give birth, arrangements have already been made at a hospital. But how does a husband respond when his wife says "it's time?" Does he respond with tenderness or is he gruff because his sleep was interrupted or he had to leave work? Does he respond in strength and know what to do at that crucial time or does he panic?
  3. FaithfulHe kept his promise of marriage to her, he followed through and married her. He was humble enough to suffer whatever humiliation might come his way because of Mary's pregnancy. When faced with a humiliating experience, does a husband remain faithful to his wife or does he become angry or leave her?
  4. Self-controlledHe did not have sex with her until after Jesus was born, so that she would remain a virgin in accordance with the Scripture. Today, we won't have that same circumstance that requires self-control, but we have many others. If a man is separated from his wife because of his work, does he use self-control to be sexually pure? When approached by other women, does he use self-control or does he take advantage of the opportunity? What if a wife is unable to have sexual relations because of physical problems, will he remain faithful to her?
  5. Good stepfatherHe treated Jesus as his son. He trained him spiritually and in a trade. Jesus became a carpenter like Joseph. We may not think of Jesus growing up with a stepfather, but he did. How many stepfathers show the kind of character of Joseph to a son whom he knows that he did not father?
Joseph serves as an inspiring role model for husbands and fathers today.

Good marriages don’t just happen; they take work. They take a devotion to the Lord, faithfulness, humility, self-control, and compassion.

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come.

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible, part 4

Learn from the mistakes of others, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself. Anonymous

When you think of a bad or ugly marriage, what comes to your mind?

We amy think of someone with a lot of irritations or disagreements or conflict. We all have problems and conflicts in marriage. As a young married couple, we may think that we are the only one that has that problem. Or only bad marriages have our problem.

Even couples with great marriages experience problems or irritations in their marriage. In fact, the majority of ALL marriages experience problems. Having a problem or conflict doesn't mean that something is wrong with my marriage. They mean that we are part of the human race.

After many years of marriage and many years of giving marriage counsel to other couples, we chuckle on the inside when we hear the complaints that people have. We have personally experienced most of the common problems and we have certainly heard all of them voiced by others. However, many people carry the burden of that problem alone, not knowing that it is very common.

The Top Ten Problems for Married Couples compiled from research compiled by Prepare-Enrich in 2008 (over 50,000 couples) are listed below. Each quality is followed by the percent of people who identified with the statement.

Top Ten Problems for Married Couples
  1. My partner is sometimes too stubborn. 84%
  2. Having children reduced our marital satisfaction. 81%
  3. My partner is sometimes too negative or critical. 78%
  4. During an argument, one person ends up feeling responsible for the problem. 77%
  5. My partner does not have enough time and energy for me. 77%
  6. I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner. 76%
  7. I wish my partner were more willing to share feelings. 76%
  8. My partner has some personal habits that bother me. 75%
  9. I have difficulty dealing with my partner’s moodiness. 73% 
  10. My partner and I have dissimilar recreational interests. 73% 
Knowing that these problems are common to thousands of marriages, we know that we aren’t the only one experiencing these issues.

The critical issue between couples who have strong marriages and those who don’t is their commitment to each other and their responses to the issues that bother them. The issues can be obstacles in marriage but they don’t have to be.

A block of granite, which is an obstacle on the path of the weak, becomes a stepping stone on the path of the strong.   Thomas Carlyle

Unfortunately, when we read about marriages in the Bible, God doesn't give us a little side commentary with an explanation of what went wrong, what they should have done, and how they should work it out.

What He does give us though are principles of how to relate to others (all of which also apply to the marriage relationship) and specific instructions to husbands and wives. And He gives us the Holy Spirit to show us how and when to apply them to our situation.

One very interesting example of marriage in the Old Testament is that of Nabal and Abigail. Their story is recounted in 1 Samuel 25. We don't pretend to know all of the in's and out's of what was happening between them or in their culture at that time.

The story centers around Nabal who is a very wealthy but foolish man. After David and his men had protected Nabal's workers in the fields, David requested some provisions from Nabal. David was on the run, trying to avoid Saul. They were in the desert and probably out of supplies. Nabal denies David (through his messengers) any food or other provisions.

Nabal doesn't know who David is, doesn't care, and, basically, tells him to get lost. Nabal had plenty but didn't even bother to check out David's account of the situation or who he was. Nabal's men knew that Nabal had offended David and his men. They appealed to Abigail, hoping she could smooth over the situation.

Even if we didn't know any more of the story, it is obvious that Nabal is greedy and brash. It appears that Abigail had smoothed things over more than once. She probably had at least eight out of ten to those "top ten problems." The guys knew who to go to about the situation.

Nabal's offense made David so angry that he was about to go kill Nabal and all of his men. Sounds really ugly.

When Abigail heard what had happened, she jumped into action. She went to David with  two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep, roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs. She approached David humbly and took responsibility for the whole problem. She knew all about David and offered an apology and praise to him.

David accepted her apology and the provisions. It probably didn't hurt that she was also beautiful and intelligent (1 Samuel 25:3). Abigail did all of this on her own. She didn't talk to Nabal first but she didn't hide it from him. When she got back that night, he was drunk. She waited until the next morning and told him. After hearing the situation, Nabal went into shock or a coma. He died 10 days later.

When David heard about what happened to Nabal, he didn't hestitate to ask Abigail to marry him. He ended up with a beautiful, intelligent, and wealthy woman.

So ..... what do we learn from that marriage story? At least, these three principles:
  • First, a wife sometimes has to balance her husband's surliness. Food helps.
  • Second, humility smooths over lots of offenses.
  • Third, God honors our faithfulness to Him and generosity with others.
We are not suggesting that God is going strike your spouse dead if he acts foolish. We all act foolish at times. We can still have a godly and respectful response.

Good marriages don’t just happen; they take work. They take commitment. They take humilty.

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come.

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible, part3

As we continue to look at THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible, we can learn from them.

Adam and Eve had the first marriage in the Bible. They had a perfect environment to succeed. They walked with God in the garden. In the last post, we saw the principles of marriage, which God have them.

But something went terribly wrong. Satan came to divide and destroy their relationship with God and with each other. They believed his lies and sin entered their lives and the earth. Unfortunately, most of us still believe those same lies and still suffer the consequences.

Problems that occurred in their marriage and still happen today:
  1. Lack of leadership
    As Eve and Satan have this dialogue, Adam says NOTHING.

    She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6b

    God held Adam responsible for the sin. He was with her and also ate the fruit. We see God address Adam first about the sin. Also, in Romans 5 in the New Testament, the Bible says that sin entered through the first Adam.
  2. Shame
    Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:7

    Before the fall, they were not ashamed but now they feel shame. Shame is a result of the fall and sin and is not from God. God’s intent is not for us to try to shame another person. The emotion of shame is from the enemy. Godly marriages and healthy relationships are not built on using shame to motivate another person, our spouse or our kids.
  3. Fear
    Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10

    They hid because they were afraid of God. God does not want us to be afraid of Him. In fact, several places in Scripture, he tells us not to be afraid of Him.

    This emotion of fear was never intended to be part of our relationships with other people or with God. That kind of fear is from the enemy. Fear is on the opposite end of the spectrum from faith.

    We are not to use fear as our motive for how we interact with God or with other people. Using fear or anger to get a behavior we desire is not a godly way of relating to others.

    When Adam said he was afraid of God, we know that Adam now has a distorted view of God.
  4. Blame
     And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ” The man said, “The woman you put here with me —she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:11-12

    God addresses the sin with Adam first. When he asked Adam about it, what did Adam do? He blamed Eve and God for giving Eve to him.

    Sin – blame – shame is a pattern in life. This pattern is not from God; it is from the enemy.


    If we blame whatever has happened on another person, what are we saying?

    We are saying that it is not my fault; I didn’t do anything wrong. If I blame others for what happens, I do not take responsibility for what I have done, for my part. If I don’t think that I have done anything wrong or take responsibility, how teachable am I? Not at all teachable. I don’t need to learn anything if I didn’t do anything wrong.
  5. Life is Hard
    No matter who we are or what our role is in life, it is going to be hard. For Eve, her role in life is that of a wife and mother – she was about to undertake the task of populating the earth. Sin gave her something hard to drive her back to Him.

    To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16

    She was to have an increase in pain in childbearing as a mother. As a wife, she would have a desire to control her husband and he would try to rule over her (not lead). She would have no other option but to cry out to God in her pain.

    Adam’s role was that of being a farmer to provide for his family.

    To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

    God gave him the garden to tend even before sin entered. The hard part is not just working but now the work would be extra hard. Now, when he farmed, he would have to contend with weeds. At some point, bugs become part of the challenge and, then, the weather.

    He now has to work hard to farm – by the sweat of his brow. When Adam had to contend with all of these weeds, he would remember what it was like in the garden and cry out to God for help.

    No matter what our role in life is – husband, wife, father, mother, or whatever kind of work we do – life is hard. Life is painful. God wants us to cry out to Him when the marriage is hard. He wants us to come to Him when we are hurt or we are in pain. 
What do we learn from The Good and The Bad of the first marriage?

We learn God’s principles of marriage; his perfect design – leave, unite, oneness, intimacy.

We learn some common problems that now occur in all marriages. We have identified them. That gives us hope – it’s not just my marriage; it’s very common in marriages.

But we don’t have to keep repeating those problems. We know the root source; we can see avenues to deal with them through God’s word. We have his Presence. He has promised to be a part of this covenant relationship. As we allow Him to work in us and through us, we can be successful! We can each have a good marriage.

Good marriages don’t just happen; they take work. They take commitment.

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come .....

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible, part2


THE GOOD - ADAM AND EVE


The Bible starts with a marriage and ends with a marriage. The place to start in contemplating marriages in the Bible is the first marriage. The marriage started good; God designed it and put it into place.

In the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7, 21-22a), God made man and woman in His image. He hand-made each of them, not just speaking them into existence.

God put humans (men and women) at the top of His creation. He put the highest value on us – not based on what we do or don’t do – just because He made us. He chose humans to be created in His image.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

Man and God had a relationship. But God said that man needed a relationship with other humans too. He needed a physical earthly family. He helped man to see his own need by parading the animals by – none were like him. Then he made man’s perfect complement and brought her to the man.

Adam was excited about Eve. He received Eve as God’s perfect gift. Not based on anything she had done, but on his confidence in God as a giver of good gifts.

Creation of Adam and Eve
by Jean Fouquet
We now have the first wedding and marriage. (Genesis 2:18-20, 22b)

We see in this first marriage the principles that God gives us for a good marriage – and a godly marriage.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  Genesis 2:24-25

1. Leave – we leave our family of origin (the family we grew up in) and form a new family unit. It doesn’t mean that we don’t still love our parents and siblings or that we don’t respect them or spend time with them. But it does mean that our new family comes first, before our family of origin. My spouse is my first place to share emotional ups and downs. We are independent from our families financially.

2. Unite – or cleave. We join together into a new family unit. A husband and wife become a family. Whether you have children or not, you are a family. We are to be united for life.

We can only stay united for life if we are committed. Commitment is the key not only for staying married but for having a good marriage. Commitment means that I am committed to the very best for my spouse.

If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.   F. Burton Howard

3. One flesh – that phrase “one flesh” carries the idea of “one life lived together.” We are still two individuals with different personalities, but we live our lives together.

As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two. Thomas Adams

One illustration of that would be a “three legged race.” You have two people, joined together, going the same direction, towards the same goal. You run in harmony; you run with a rhythm. The race isn’t a sprint; you can’t see the goal line. The race is a marathon. Sometimes one of you may need to support the other one more. Then at another time the other one may be more of the strong support for the pair.

If you don’t agree on the goal or direction for the race, the marriage, you will head in different directions and not make progress, you won’t be moving forward. If you are going in the same direction but you don’t work together, you may get to the goal but you will have done it at your own pace, with your own rhythm, without supporting each other, without communicating. The race will be harder; you will be more fatigued. You will feel alone, not part of a team.

One flesh is the oneness of marriage. You are not alike, but you are like-minded. The oneness of marriage is part of the covenant relationship that God has joined together.

When a couple speaks their vows, it is not a man or a woman or a pastor or parent who is the main actor – the main doer. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. The world does not know this, which is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually. And Christians often act like they don’t know it, which is one of the reasons marriage in the church is not seen as the wonder it is. Marriage is God’s doing because it is a one-flesh union that God Himself performs. John Piper

4. Intimacy – they were naked and not ashamed. There was an innocence in their lives. There was transparency between them, physically and emotionally. Spiritually, they displayed the character of God to each other.

You can go back and look at those qualities of strong marriages in the previous post and see that most of them fall under one of these four principles that we see in God’s design for marriage.

Adam and Eve’s marriage began as a good marriage – God’s best. God gave them and us the principles to be successful in marriage.

More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come...

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

Marriages in the Bible, part 1


"They have a good marriage."

When we say that statement different images come to our minds. For some people, they think of a couple who talks to each other kindly or talks a lot to each other. To others, it means a couple that seem happy all the time.

When you think of a good marriage in the Bible, who comes to your mind?

Descriptions of marriages in the Bible are actually pretty much non-existent. What we do have are incidents that are recounted between husbands and wives – the good and the bad. Over the next few posts, we will look at several marriages in the Bible - the good, the bad, and the ugly. We will see what we can learn from them.

People have different definitions of what it means to be happy in their marriage. Obviously, even if both the husband and the wife had the same idea, it would be easier for them to be happy. Having a good marriage doesn't mean that you are happy all of the time though. You may even be unhappy with each other on a regular basis.

Here is what some research says. It is based on the findings from assessments of over 50,000 couples from all 50 states.

Top Ten Strengths of Happy Couples from research compiled by Prepare-Enrich in 2008. Each quality is followed by the percent of happy couples who agreed with the statement. [we will look at negative patterns later]

  1. We feel very close to each other. 93% of Happy Couples
  2. I am very satisfied with how we talk to each other. 95%
  3. When we discuss problems, my partner understands my opinions and ideas. 78%
  4. I can express my true feelings to my partner. 96%
  5. We compromise when problems arise. 83%
  6. Our togetherness is a top priority for me. 83%
  7. Even during disagreements, I can share my feelings and ideas with my partner. 78%
  8. I am satisfied with the amount of affection my partner gives. 68%
  9. We find it easy to think of things to do together. 81%
  10. My partner is reliable and follows through on most things. 75%
Each quality will look different in every couple. For example, the statement “I am very satisfied with how we talk to each other” does not describe how the couple talks to each other. We may be satisfied with the way we talk to each other, but someone else may not be satisfied if they had the same communication pattern that we have. It’s not necessary that we determine exactly what a good communication looks like. But we do know that there are principles that contribute to a good pattern.

However, more than that, the Bible gives us lots of guidelines about marriage relationships. Some of those guidelines include a description of what to get rid of in your language. So, whether I think it is necessary or even whether my spouse thinks it is necessary, God says it is.

For example, God says to do everything without complaining or criticizing. Both the husband and the wife may complain. They may think that it's okay to complain. But God says that it is not part of the behavior of some who follows Christ. So, it's not okay to complain. And we know His directions for our lives are always what are best for us, whether we realize it at the time or not.

All of that to say, when we look at marriages in the Bible, we will see some positives and we will see some problems. In those positives and those problems, there are Biblical principles that are connected to them. So, we will look at the principles as we go through the marriage examples.

In looking at a good marriage, we will start at the beginning – Adam and Eve. They had a good marriage that went bad. More to come ....

For other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Priscilla and Aquila
Part 7 - Hosea and Gomer

Coasting through Marriage

We like to ride bikes.  We ride some old Schwinn's, inherited from my parents. We go about three miles, turn around, and come back along the same route.

The route that we use most often is mostly flat but has a few small hills on it. There is one hill in particular that has a good long incline. As we go up that incline, I have to pedal harder and harder. I put it in the lowest gear by the time I get to the top. But on the way back, it's a breeze. Put it in high gear and let her fly!  

I love those times of coasting on my bike. But I have learned that the part that really helps me get stronger and healthier are those uphill climbs. I have to keep going, no matter how harder it is. The more often we ride, the easier those uphill climbs become. I have even been able to make it all the way to the top without low gear!

Marriage is not a lot different from biking. To make it stronger, we have to work hard on those difficult parts. If I quit and turn around, I haven't made any progress to my destination. I haven't gotten any stronger or healthier.

Many couples try to coast in their marriage. They don't take the time or effort to work at it or spend time together as a couple. If you are coasting, you are going downhill!

There is no neutral in marriage. You are either working and strengthening your marriage or you are coasting and weakening your marriage.

The most common habit in which couples find themselves is neglect - not just neglecting each other but also neglecting the marriage. Even a small effort to go up the hill is progress. Start by taking some time to do something fun, just the two of you - no kids, no friends. Remember .... that is why you got married .... because you had fun together, you enjoyed each other.

You can get to that place again - enjoying each other. But coasting won't get you there. Make your marriage a "No Coasting" zone. No more neglect!

Generosity - Marriage and others...


He who gives when he is asked  has waited too long. 
Author Unknown

Generosity between spouses is a key element to a happy marriage, according to a study by the National Marriage Project.

In essence, Generosity is the amount of giving that goes on within a relationship, which can mean anything from making your spouse a cup of coffee, to ordering flowers or providing a backrub.

In the study, couples who reported a high amount of Generosity in their relationship were five times more likely to say their marriage was "very happy," compared with those who reported a low amount of generosity. All couples in the report had children.

50% of women and 46% of men who reported above-average generosity in their relationships described their marriages as "very happy."

On the other hand, just 14% of each sex with below-average generosity in their relationship described their marriage as "very happy."

One of the researchers, W. Bradford Wilcox said,
Generosity works best if you give your spouse something he or she likes, signaling to your spouse that you know them, and are trying to do things for them that are consistent with your understanding of them.”

Generosity always involves sacrifice - giving up something important to me whether it is my time or resources. It is not giving him something that I don’t want anymore. It is not giving her something that didn’t cost me something - time, money, or thoughtfulness.

Generosity is paying attention to the real needs and desires of my spouse. I don’t do something for him that is important to me, but I do something that is important to him. I have to study my mate to know what is meaningful to him.

Generosity means I put my spouse’s needs and desires before my own needs and desires.

Generosity shows through the manner in which the time or resources are given, not the quantity. A truly generous act or gift requires no response - the only motive is the expression of love from the giver, not expecting anything in return.

Want to take your marriage to a higher plane of happiness?

Practice Generosity daily.

WITH OTHERS

Generosity is impossible apart
from our love of God and of His people.
But with such love,
generosity not only is possible but inevitable.
John MacArthur

Generosity by God’s people goes much beyond giving our money. It is demonstrated by giving ourselves to others, whether it is someone we know or someone in need.

Generous actions may be helping someone that is stranded on the highway or helping a mom and her stroller/kids/diaper bag get out of the store and into their car. We may never see them again.

Generosity is shown in more subtle ways as well - sitting and listening to someone’s story with our full attention, whether we find it interesting or not. We do it as an act of love.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
. Proverbs 11:25

HAPPY HOUR

We love to go to Sonic during “happy hour.” If one of us is out doing errands, we always bring a drink back for both of us. Smiles result.    

What about all of the other hours during the day? What brings smiles?

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour." Anonymous

Our happiness is a matter of perspective on life, but also on habits that we develop.

Dr. Cloud presents several other findings in his book about how people influence their emotional state in a positive way. Some of these include:

1. Happy people have faith. [See our last blog.]

2. Happy people have a calling. Having a job that you consider a calling from God, based on your talents, abilities, and passions, rather than seeing your job as a means to provide a living, or merely as a career path.

3. Happy people forgive. Unforgiveness can destroy a person’s life. Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiveness releases you from the person who hurt you.

4. Happy people pursue goals, God’s goals. What He calls me to do, He will equip me to do and provide. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

5. Happy people fully engage. Whatever I do, I do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. (Colossians 3:23)

6. Happy people connect. God created us for relationships. God has not constructed us to be fueled by accomplishments. He has constructed us to be fueled by love. (Dr. Henry Cloud)

7. Happy people don’t compare themselves. If I compare myself with others who have less or who I think are less gifted, then I can become prideful. If I compare myself to those who have more, then I have self-pity. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:4-5)

8. Happy people think well. I am vigilant about my thought life. Believing God’s truth about who He is, who I am, and not believing the lies of the enemy. I can assume good will and ask for clarification whenever people say something to me that sounds hurtful. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) A man's private thought can never be a lie; what he thinks, is to him the truth, always. Mark Twain

9. Happy people are grateful. [Read more here.]

Read more at our last blog post Couldn't Be Happier.

Couldn't Be Happier


We are wired to experience happiness, but we keep hitting the wrong buttons in our efforts to turn our happiness on.  Dr. Henry Cloud                    

How would most people answer this question "What do you think it would take to make you happy?" Most people are going to describe something that is different from the life they have now, a change in the physical circumstances - get married or have a child or get a better job or live in a different neighborhoold.

Achieving happiness is not an ideal found in the Bible. Or is it?

God is not concerned with my happiness. Or is He?

Money can’t buy happiness. Or can it?

Humans seek pleasure. I don’t think any of us would argue with that statement. The pleasure I experience becomes my own happiness ….. sometimes.

God designed humans to seek pleasure. However, I often sabotage my own happiness by pursuing pleasure in unsatisfying ways.

God’s intention was not to deny us pleasure; in fact, He created the world for our pleasure, “put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17b)

The problem is that I think I know how to find happiness. Pursuing my own idea of happiness often results in pain, not pleasure.

Think of the number of people who thought they found the love of their lives. Then, through the years, they are hurt and the "love of their lives" turn into their enemy.

We also see people who work to get a particular job, only to end up disappointed and disillusioned in that position.

Jesus said He came to give us a full life, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10b)

God wants me to find joy, peace, and contentment in my life on earth. He wants me to find them through a personal, intimate relationship with Him. That pleasure will not go unfulfilled.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about His search for pleasure and the meaninglessness of life. When talking about the summation of the book, Walter Kaiser explains, “No one good part of God’s good world will give fulfillment until a person comes to know Him.”

John Piper suggests that our ultimate pleasure in life comes from finding our joy in God. Why would we want anything less than the abundant life?

Too often we settle for a poor resemblance of pleasure and happiness. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “We are far too easily pleased.”

God cares about how I feel. The Psalms clearly show many expressions of despair and anxiety, alongside God’s comfort. (Psalms 55-56)

As I fill my life with Him, He can overflow into other lives through me. How do I allow Him flow through me to others? The avenues I pursue determine much of my happiness.

[See the next blog for details about this idea.]

Character of Marriage - Contenment, part3

The last two blog posts talked about contentment. [part1 and part2] What does all of that have to do with marriage?

THE CONTENTED MARRIAGE

Contentment in my life in general influences how content I am in my marriage. Much of contentment comes from how I view life. My emotional tie to how other people act towards me determines my happiness or contentment.

Proverbs 5 is a warning to stay away from the temptations of adultery. Verse 18 says “may you rejoice in the wife [husband] of your youth.”

As long as I think that there is someone out there that can make me happy or make me feel better about myself or make me feel loved, then I will be discontent in my marriage.

My eyes and mind will begin to wander. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Maybe it is greener because it is cared for. The grass on my side of the fence would be greener if I water it, nourish it, and care for it.

The same principles hold true in having contentment in marriage as being content with my house.[see last post] We can be upset and angry about our situation or we can learn to make the most of it.

No one can satisfy those needs in my life but God. As long as I am looking to my spouse to meet the needs of my life, I will be discontent. He/she will never be able to do enough or do the right thing.

When I seek God to meet the needs of my life, my marriage becomes a place where I give to my spouse out of what God has given to me. It is a place of giving, not of seeing what I can get.

Instead of thinking about and complaining about what I am unhappy with, I enjoy the good traits of my spouse. I express appreciation to my spouse for his strengths and his character. I notice what he/she does for me and for the family. I thank him for the little things and the big things. I take time to look at all the good in the person God has given me. I thank Him for giving me a perfect gift and I express gratitude to Him for His goodness in that person.

I think it takes many years for most couples to find contentment in their marriage. Their discontent usually comes from an uneasiness that they have on the inside. They keep looking for a way to fill that void, a way to find peace, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

If only people would act differently towards me, I would be happier.

If only people understood me or appreciated me or helped me more, life would be good.

When I get to that place of accepting my mate, appreciating him, thinking about all of his great qualities, a sense of contentment settles in. I quit looking for other options. I quit wondering if I made a wrong choice. I quit trying to change my spouse into who I think he should be.

I enjoy our time together, even if it is just riding in the same car, not talking, just being in each other’s presence.

It is really a golden place in a marriage.

Gratitude is a handmaiden of contentment. An ever-growing attitude of gratitude will certainly make us more content since we will be focusing more on what we do have, both spiritually and materially, than on what we do not have. But contentment is more than focusing on what we have. It is focusing on the fact that all we do have; we have by the grace of God. We do not deserve anything we have, materially or spiritually. It is all by His grace.
Jerry Bridges

Character of Marriage - Contentment,part2

In my last post, I talked about the discontent in our culture today. Is anyone really content anymore?

The more things I see that entice me to buy, the more I want. The more I want, the more discontent I become.

The more I see other people's experiences, the more I want to have those experiences. The more I see other people's relationships, the more I want those kind of relationships. The more I see other marriages, the more I want a different marriage..... and on ..... and on........

I remember many years ago hearing someone warn, "Be careful what you expose yourself to - it can create discontent for a lifetime." I thought back to when my husband and I went on a cruise. I didn't have to lift a finger to do anything... no cooking but I had delicious meals in abundance ... no cleaning but my room was cleaned up every time I left it ... no planning what we were going to do for fun because there were many options available at all times ... didn't have to go to work, we were on vacation.

Wow, I could live like that and be happy.

But can I live without any of it and be happy? Can going on a cruise cause discontent? Can going into Best Buy and looking at TV's create discontent? Can watching another married couple together cause discontent?

Isn't it okay to want something different in my life?

What does real contentment look like?

True Contentment
Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good. A.W. Pink

True contentment comes as I find joy in what I have. It comes when I enjoy the material possessions I have instead of complaining or being dissatisfied.

Instead of complaining about my house, I become thankful for having a place to live and I make the best use of it. So, I will take care of it, clean it, paint it, and fix it up as much as I can. I recognize that it is a gift from God and I am a good steward of what He has given me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make plans or work towards a better house. But I am not angry or upset about where I live; I am not complaining. I am not neglectful of the house I have.

True contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. G.K. Chesterton

I have known people who keep thinking, "If I could just change ______________ , I would be happy." Or .... "If I could just have ____________, I would be happy."

They are continually disappointed or upset with their stage of life or relationships or financial situation. They think most people have a better situation than they do. They rarely enjoy what they do have. Some are not grateful for the good in the people that surround them. Or for some, no matter what their financial condition, it is never enough.

Life doesn't have to be that way.

Paul said it best in Philippians 4:11-12, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I have to ask myself, “what or who brings real satisfaction to my life?”

If I am looking to anyone or anything else apart from God to bring satisfaction to my life, I will never be content.

When I get to the place in my relationship with Him that He satisfies my life, then the rest of life is the icing on the cake. I am one of those people who actually loves the icing on the cake, but I wouldn't want a plate of icing. That would be too much, even for me. The icing adds beauty to the cake, but it isn't the substance of the cake. It's extra, a bonus! The substance of life is our relationship to our Lord, but He has given us so much more. He has given us many extras in life for our enjoyment.

My relationships give me extra joy; they are not the basis of my happiness.

A nice home brings gratitude in my heart; it is not something I demand or think I deserve.

A good savings account offers me the opportunity to give and serve more; it is not the basis of my security.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul. Jerry Bridges

What does all of this have to do with marriage?
See our next post!

Character of Marriage - Contentment, part1


Does anyone really experience contentment today?

That question was posed to us recently as we taught about contentment to a small group Bible study.

When I ask most people what contentment means to them, most people express the idea of having peace in their lives. A sense of peace is probably included in feeling content. Contentment goes beyond peace. Being content includes being satisfied with what one has.

When we compare what we have to others, we rarely compare ourselves to those who have less than we have. Invariably, we compare our life to those who have more.

When a child become dissatisfied with his life, he usually wants the clothes, gadget, or car that he sees his friends having. A child rarely comes home and says, "I am so fortunate. I have so much more than other kids at my school." It is usually more like, "All my friends have a car. Why can't I have a car?" He compares his life to those who have more, not those who have less.

I like electronic gadgets. I understand discontentment.

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. Socrates

In the New Testament, contentment most often refers to one’s financial status or physical circumstance.Looking back to the origins of discontentment helps us see the challenge of contentment today.

The Origin of Discontentment

Adam and Eve had the entire garden, all of perfection at their finger tips. Satan enticed them to be dissatisfied, discontent with what they had. He tempted them to want more. They wanted the one thing that God said that they couldn’t have – the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In Genesis 3:2-5, Satan challenged God’s Word to the first couple.
   The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 
  ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 

   “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Satan really was trying to say to them, “God is withholding something good from you. He has something that He doesn’t want you to have."

Satan still tempts us in the same way. Instead of taking stock of what we do have, of the abundance of what God has given us, we start wanting more possessions or different experiences.

Since the fall, mankind has become restless. He is not satisfied with what he has. He wants what he does not have.

Have you ever know people who are always looking for the newest, latest deal to make money?
...Or the quickest new way to lose weight?
...Or they are unhappy in the their marriage because they think that a different person would make them happier?

The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is – a questioning of the goodness of God. Jerry Bridges

What do we call that? That is coveting. We covet something we don’t have. We think about. We are unhappy or dissatisfied until we get it.

The antidote for covetousness is contentment. The two are in opposition. Whereas the covetous, greedy person worships himself, the contented person worships God. Contentment comes from trusting God. John MacArthur

We see discontentment in almost every area of life today.
“I want a bigger house.”
“I need a newer car.”
“I wish I had a (fill in the name of the latest electronic gadget).”
“Other women have husbands who will listen to them. I need someone who will listen to me; my husband doesn't listen."

What is true contentment?
And what does this have to do with marriage?

See our next post!