Marriage conversations often resemble a battlefield better than an embrace. The guns are on automatic while each side recounts the great evils the other has committed. No doubt, the shots ring true as each side has sinned against the other grievously. The pain is real; the sin obvious. Each side plants their flag and declares, “I’m not moving until you…(fill in the blank).” In other words, “I’ll change when he changes.” Of course, in this situation, change rarely occurs, except change for the worse.
It is deeply true that our spouses are often undeserving of us treating them well. The thing is, for the Christian, it’s irrelevant. What do I mean?
One of the most precious truths in the world is that of justification by faith. We are declared by God Almighty to be “Righteous! Justified! Perfect in His sight!” by faith in Jesus Christ. How can this be? Through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and His perfection is accounted to us. We are perfectly righteous in Him. As 2 Corinthians 5.21 proclaims, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Here’s the fabulous realization: In Christ God treats us as if we are perfect – even though we aren’t. What does this mean for marriage?
In Ephesians 5 husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. A husband is to cherish and cultivate his wife as he does his own body. Likewise, a wife is to told to submit to and respect her husband as Christ does the church. These are high callings!
And what about when your husband seems incredibly unrespectable? What about the times when a wife seems unlovable? What then? It is here that justification by faith works its power. We are called to treat our spouse in accordance with how God has treated us and not what they deserve. After all, God has not treated us as we deserve, but as Christ deserves.
When the Christian couple puts the grace of justification by faith into practice in their marriage, everything begins to change. The wife is loved, served, and cherished unconditionally because of God’s grace to the husband. The husband is supported and honored unconditionally because of God’s grace to the wife. God willing, peace, intimacy, and joy begin to sprout in the marriage, and, most importantly, the gospel is glorified.
May the grace of justification by faith transform our marriages, and may our marriages reflect the grace of God to the glory of God.