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By Dn Victor Loo

If you ask a dozen people what success is, you will probably get twelve different answers. Some people measure success by money, others measure it by comparing their accomplishments to those around them. Success is relative to something. The man who measures success by money (perhaps he marries a wealthy man’s daughter) is never truly successful. He may have a million dollars and by his standard, be more successful than a man who only has a thousand dollars. However, he is a failure compared to the man with a billion dollars! So how do we measure success in Christian marriage? The answer is that success is measured in relation to what God (who is the originator of marriage) intended marriage to be. Success in Christian marriage is living out that purpose for which God had instituted when He joined Adam and Eve together in the paradise of Eden. 

Although the marriage institution is supposed to be more solemn, more binding and more permanent (because it is a covenant made by the marriage couple before God and men) than any legal contract, we see many break-ups in increasing trend today. I know of two cases of such break-ups happening to my peers. In the first case, the marriage did not even last through a year. The husband left the wife for another woman when the wife was diagnosed to have cancer, and he felt the burden oftaking care of her too great for him and his career. In fact, they had 7 to 8 years of courtship. In the second case, the husband was discovered to be a heavy gambler (he spends $600 a week on toto alone). He owed people money and cheated his business partner and is now awaiting court order. His in-laws persuaded the wife to leave him and they are already separated for months. They have 3 young children. Marital problems can happen to any couple if they do not give priority to their marriage. Success will not come naturally. In fact, if no conscious effort is put into the marriage to make it a growing experience, indifference will set in, conflicts and problems will arise.

Marriage was instituted by God for (i) mutual help and companionship (Gen 2:18), (ii) procreation (Gen 1:28) and (iii) a model on earth of our marriage with Christ in heaven (Eph 5:21-33). Every marriage should thus fulfil all these purposes.

Firstly, the husband and wife must realise that God has chosen them for each other and each is responsible to help the other to grow spiritually, socially, emotionally and etc. Most couples have the tendency to think that we are answerable only for our own life and not our spouse’s, which is wrong. In marriage, we are to be one another’s keeper. I really appreciate my wife’s candid remark one day when she asked me whether I prayed for the family. I replied that I prayed for the family everyday; for safety on the roads and for those who were sick to get well. She asked further: “Is that all? Why didn’t you pray for my spiritual health, do you know that I am spiritually very dry? Why didn’t you pray for the children’s salvation also? Do you want them to be lost?” I took that as a rebuke from above, and may the Lord forgive me for my sin of omission. Yes, I need to pray for my wife’s spiritual well-being too and not just the physical. In fact, her concern also helped me to wake up from my own spiritual complacency. Prov 27:5 “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Prov 27: 17 “Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” In addition we should encourage and support our spouse to use his or her talents to serve the Lord. I thank God that Grace could serve alongside with me in many areas of my service, for example, the YF and the Thomson NBC just to name two. While I serve up front, she would serve behind at the kitchen. On the other hand, when the group has not arrived at our house, I would help look after the children while she prepares the food. In this way there is mutual help and support and make service for the Lord even more rewarding!

Secondly, the marriage must bring forth fruits in terms of children in due time. Psalms 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD and the fruit ofthe womb is His reward.” In order to have children, there must be constant intimacy between the husband and wife. They must set aside time for one another, and a good practise is to go to bed together each night. Researchers discovered that couples who delayed having children in their first few years of marriage will find difficulty to conceive when they finally wanted them. Thus do not put off for too long to have the 1st child. My recommendation is 6 months to a year, at the most. God wants and enables us to have children because He wants the mark of God (we are created in His image) to be transferred and to populate the whole earth. Although bringing up children is an awesome and insurmountable task, they add vibrancy and bring lots of joy and fulfilment to the marriage when we serve God together as a family. Unless for medical reasons, every married couple should have children because God specifically commanded Adam and Eve in Gen 1 :28 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

Thirdly, we must safeguard our marriage and protect it at all cost from disintegrating. The attacks may come in the form of personal conflicts and interest, taking each other for granted, career advancement, in-laws, etc. However, in Eph 5:21-33, the Lord showed us His supreme example of how the relations shall be handled. There must be unconditional love, forgiveness and submission to one another, just as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.

Successful marriage demands effort but not perfection. In fact, God designed marriage to be a refining process that He can use to develop us into the man and woman He wants us to become. By applying God’s Word faithfully in our different roles as husband and wife and parents, we grow in patience, love and submission to one another and unto the Lord. Marriage enables me to understand and practise what sacrificial love is, and to appreciate what the Lord has done for us on the cross of Calvary. Grace and I have been married for only 9 years (time flies) and together we still have a lot to learn about marriage, about each other and how to raise a godly Christian family. A good chapter to read on Christian marriage is Elder Khoo Peng Kiat’s “Biblical premarital counselling” in Rev Tow’s book entitled “Counselling Recipes through 40 years pastoring”. I have found it to be practical and edifying.

Quote: Even if marriages are made in Heaven, man has to be responsible for the maintenance.-Kroehler News.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

November 19 & 26 - The End of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10