When the going gets tough, the tough stay right where they are. (Ephesians 5:31)
Commitment is the very breath of a healthy marriage. The Spanish explorer, Cortez, knew the importance of commitment and insisted on it from his men when they landed in Mexico. The plan was to invade the land of the Aztecs, but when he saw the crew’s fear and hesitation, Cortez gathered them all on shore, set fire to the ships, and said, “Now there can be no turning back!” That is the kind of commitment needed in marriage.
We live in a world of “throw-away” marriages. If it doesn’t work, we can always throw away the relationship and find another! Affairs of men and women in ministry headline newspapers and top the evening news. Why? We have forgotten just how serious God is about commitment.
Jesus tells the story of a man who found a valuable pearl in a field. The man immediately sold everything he had to buy the field in order to gain the pearl. If the pearl was worthless, the man would be left with nothing. He was, however, willing to take the risk and make the commitment. For marriage to be all God intends it to be, we must be willing to do the same.
Be committed to God.
Every Sunday, words of commitment roll easily off the tongues of men and women in pulpits across the world, but true commitment to God demands a radical obedience every minute of every day – no matter what – even when we are tired and caught off guard, even when it seems justified or deserved. Many marriages are in trouble because we expect our mates to meet needs that only Jesus Christ can meet, but the reality is that Jesus Christ is either Lord of all, or he is not Lord at all – and he is enough!
Be committed to your mate.
Commitment is not based on feelings, nor can feelings build a solid marriage. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that love is the basis for marriage. Love is not the basis for marriage. Marriage is the basis for love! If you are hanging on in the midst of a tough marriage, remember God is well aware of where you are and will provide everything you need to succeed. Someone once asked Napoleon to explain his defeat at Waterloo. The warrior replied, “The British didn’t win because they were better trained, larger, or more equipped. They won because they fought five minutes longer!”
Faithfulness is the foundation of true commitment and knows no boundaries in the marriage relationship. We are to be faithful physically, mentally, and emotionally. Failure in marriage is the result of wrong priorities and wrong choices. Your mate is your number one ministry, your greatest opportunity for Kingdom service. When our priorities are askew, we are operating in our own strength and wrong choices will surely follow.
I wonder what battles we have lost because we gave up just a little too soon! Hold on to your commitment to God. Hold on to your commitment to your marriage.
Accept your mate and change yourself! (Colossians 3:13-14)
The marriage relationship has a certain dynamic. If one person in the relationship changes, the entire relationship must change. We keep trying to make sure that our mate is the one doing all of the change.
I approached marriage and my new husband like buying an old house. I could not wait to see it remodeled. Over the years, the Father and I have often held different points of view and had different opinions about how a marriage should be run and how my marriage should look. I once presented God and Dan with an actual list of changes I felt Dan needed to make. Neither one was pleased.
For months, I desperately tried to implement those changes – with little success. I might as well have walked around spouting, “Isn’t Dan lucky to have married the Holy Spirit?” Well, let me assure you that my “Change Dan” plan did not work. In fact, the harder I tried to change things, the more set in concrete they became. Then I finally discovered the harsh reality: I just wanted Dan to be more like me!
We really can be different without being right or wrong. We need to celebrate the differences that add spice to a relationship instead of letting them rip us apart. It is almost humorous to realize that the things that we try so hard to change are the very things that attracted us to our mate in the first place. He used to be carefree, but now he is irresponsible. She used to be determined, but now is stubborn. He was once more concerned about inward qualities than outward appearance, but now he’s sloppy. You get the idea!
What would happen if we unconditionally accepted our husband or wife? What would happen if we took the energy we waste trying to change our mate and used it to change our own life? Accept your mate and ask God what changes you need to make.