Have you ever known a couple that was married for a long time that appeared to have a great marriage and then you find out they’re getting a divorce? What a HUGE disappointment! We well remember one couple that shocked us when they divorced. They appeared to have it all together. This caused us and many, many others to wonder, “If their marriage can’t make it, what hope do we have?” … “How can we finish well in our marriage, if they can’t?” We were feeling disillusioned, to say the least.
Someone once said, “The problem with getting great things from God is being able to hold on for the last half hour.” Obviously, this couple (and many others) couldn’t.
What is it about finishing well in our marriages that’s so difficult? We’re often able to “run the race” well in the beginning and sometimes even for many, many years. But sadly, too many marriage “partners” stop persevering when times get tough, or they fall into temptation and veer off in another direction. They then rationalize that, “God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy” so they feel justified to take another road.
But is that truly God’s way or is it more a case of their reasoning that, “Surely, God would want” them to go in this different direction? We’d best be especially careful when we personalize what God would or wouldn’t want as it pertains to our marriages! There are eternal consequences involved.
Finish Well in Your Marriage
We encourage you to be intentional in working to “FINISH WELL” in living out your vow to be faithful to the end of your physical days here on earth. Make it your lifelong goal. Don’t allow that, which looks better than what you have, pull you away from doing what is right.
Conduct yourself in such a way that not only do YOU live true to your promises, but you live as an example to those around you of how a person of integrity conducts their life. O how this world needs people who are willing to live exemplary lives that will inspire others! We need marriage heroes.
“Who are the heroes of today? Look around. There are heroes in our midst, carefully disguised as ordinary people. All around us are husbands and wives, from every walk of life—who have made a commitment and have decided to stick with it. They may win no medals for staying married in an age of divorce, but that doesn’t matter. Lest we forget, a special reward is promised to those who are faithful to the end.” (Dr Ray Pritchard)
In the light of eternity, God can use us as examples of faithfulness to those who hunger to see this.
“The sooner we realize we’re called to be examples in our marriages, the sooner we will begin working harder at following God’s script and seeing our marriages grow in new ways.” (H. Norman Wright)
It’s important to note that you aren’t responsible for your spouse’s actions, but you are responsible for yours. And perhaps your actions will eventually inspire them in positive ways. Who knows but God? Please make this a matter of prayer.
Being Promise Keepers that Finish Well
God tells us in the Bible:
“See to it that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ IF WE HOLD FIRMLY TILL THE END THE CONFIDENCE, WE HAD AT FIRST.” (Hebrews 3:12-15) “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
May we be promise keepers through to the end! Christ was faithful while here on earth. He was able to confidently say, “It is finished.” Because it was. He had completed everything He needed to accomplish here on earth. He gritted through to finish well; and that is our goal, as well, as we follow his example.
The Apostle Paul said:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7)
Some of you can relate. You are tempted to give up fighting “the good fight” like others are doing around you. Life is hard and it seems unfair. And sometimes it is. We live in a fallen world. So, it’s natural to want to give in when you see others, who haven’t been faithful, enjoying life more than you are. But has God called us to take an easier road just because “everyone else” is going in that direction?
A Lesson From Asaph
We see in the Bible that Asaph struggled with this same temptation in Psalm 73. He saw everyone else prospering around him. Others, who were evil appeared to be doing great. And yet he wasn’t. So, he wrestled with the dilemma, “What’s the use in staying faithful? I might as well give in and at least enjoy SOME pleasure.”
He talks of their arrogance, which puzzled him. It seemed that God should smite them instead of allowing them to prosper. He says,
“Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure. In vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.”
However, as he pondered all of this, he eventually came to a different conclusion. Asaph said:
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped. I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man. They are not plagued by human ills.”
But then he goes on in his reasoning and comes to this insight:
“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me TILL I ENTERED THE SANCTUARY OF GOD; then I understood their final destiny.”
You know, sometimes we just can’t make sense of what God allows to happen. But just as Asaph, by entering “the sanctuary of God” we can come to the place of greater understanding and steadfastness.
Making Sense of It All
In this faith walk, here on earth, you (we) are told to,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It comes down to realizing as Asaph, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” It’s a matter of going back to the Lord —trusting His heart and looking to Him to lead us so we follow His plan. He knows the beginning from the end, and we do not.
There is more to life than what appears on the surface. God wants to work in you and through you and us to do His good will and display His power and attributes to those around us who need to see faithfulness in action. That’s what we hope you will join us in doing —in living out the gospel “with and without words” faithfully—trusting God and holding on to FINISH WELL!
The Challenge to Finish Well
One pastor made the following statement, which we believe is true:
“The most important day of your marriage is not the first day—your wedding day. It’s the last day —the day you or your wife [or husband] dies, and you have loved and served her [or him] like Jesus till the very end. That is the most important day of your marriage.”
And it is. We realize that. It’s easy to let down our guard and get caught up in treating each other in ways we shouldn’t. Just this week we heard of several older married couples that are doing just that. They are forgetting to “be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving each other.” They are forgetting to give each other the grace God gives us—that which we are called to do.
But then we realized, so are we! God convicted us. We have been stepping into this trap in small ways. But we know it can grow from there, as it has for the couples we mentioned. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us see this!
Easy Marital Traps
Sometimes we allow ourselves to be too busy to be kind. Sometimes we just want what we want when we want it. We act like sinners married to sinners. (And when we act this way, we are!) But this can lead to all kind of bad attitudes and actions. Do you find this true for you as you interact with your spouse?
If so, we hope you will do what we did. We stopped. We talked about our own unhealthy interactions; and then we prayed that God would help us to quit making such a big deal out of stupid, petty stuff. Unless it lines up biblically, it’s all stupid, meaningless stuff. We asked Him to remind and empower us to be kinder to each other and less snarky. We want to finish well and enjoy the trip more along the way. And as others see this, we want to inspire others to do the same!
So, to this end we pray for you (as we pray for us):
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
May you finish well in your life and in your marriage. And may the Lord someday say to us, as it pertains to how we conducted ourselves in our marriages, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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