Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. For there is no work, reasoning, knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you are going.Â Â Â Â Â Ecclesiastes 9:10 (HN)
Jody and I started our publishing company in 2004 by buying out all the books published by Pacesetter Bible School at the time. Since then weâ€™ve had to learn a number of lessons about how the process of producing books works. Many of those lessons are the same as youâ€™d learn in any business.
Weâ€™ve learned that you have to focus, something that weâ€™ve only really learned over the last year or so. Thatâ€™s why you wonâ€™t find us involved in so many things. Our business is our ministry, and weâ€™re practicing keeping our eye on the ball.
Weâ€™ve learned that the idea of people with various gifts working together isnâ€™t just for the church. The 1 Corinthians 12 model is quite important in business as well.
But thereâ€™s something that I have learned over the years that has only been reinforced by our experience in the book business: You never get anywhere looking for what you can get by with. You have to be looking for the best way to do each thing.
This is a lesson that seems obvious once itâ€™s stated, but we often donâ€™t apply it in our relationships. If you look for what you can get by with in your relationship to God, youâ€™re going to find that your relationship is slipping away. If you look for what you can get by with in your marriage, youâ€™re going to find your marriage slipping away. Come to think of it, if you look for what you can get by with anywhere in your family, such as with your children, youâ€™re going to find things going downhill fast.
But letâ€™s look at the way we talk about marriage in the church. Isnâ€™t our approach often to ask what we can get by with? What is an acceptable excuse for divorce? Where does scripture say I canâ€™t do ______? Does scripture actually command me to _________?
I donâ€™t know about you, but in my experience, most conversations about marriage center around questions that are phrased that way. Weâ€™re asking what we can get by with, not what the ideal is that God has for us.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will cling to his wife, and the two of them will become one person.Â Â Â Â Â Genesis 2:24 (HN)
Thereâ€™s your ideal. How close is your marriage to making you and your spouse one person? Thatâ€™s a mildly loose translation of the Hebrew one flesh, but thatâ€™s what it means. Thereâ€™s no your money and my money because youâ€™re one person.
Now I doubt few, if any, of us manage this ideal. But can we be satisfied with getting by rather than taking aim at the ideal?
I do want to say something to the folks out there who are in bad marriages. It takes two to make a marriage. If youâ€™re in an abusive situation, then someone is not pursuing that ideal of one flesh. Donâ€™t settle for a perversion of Godâ€™s ideal by staying in such an ungodly situation. When we try to preserve such a â€˜marriageâ€™ weâ€™re doing a disservice to the ideal of Godâ€™s love. Jody and I were watching Fireproof (movie starring Kirk Cameron) the other day, and at one point the father of the lead character starts talking about Godâ€™s love and how that should be reflected in his marriage. God loves him even though he doesnâ€™t earn or deserve it. Even though his wife isnâ€™t responding, he should continue to love her. But thereâ€™s a reverse of this. Our love for one another should be a demonstration for others of what Godâ€™s grace means in action. When we model an abusive marriage, we pervert this witness to Godâ€™s love.
Because YHWH loved you and because he was keeping the oath he swore to your ancestors, to bring you out with a strong hand and to ransom you from slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Â Â Â Deuteronomy 7:8 (HN, my emphasis)
Finally, as someone who lived many years single, and then got married in middle age, let me say something to single people. Whether you are a man or a woman, you are Christâ€™s bride. You are joined to God. There is provision in scripture for those who are not married. There are even moments when singleness is mentioned very positively (1 Corinthians 7:8-16).
Remember this: God is not hindered in his work by our circumstances. Singles, especially women, are often seen as particularly vulnerable to the devil. But if you are following Godâ€™s plan for your life, and if you cling to Christ, you are as safe as anyone. The ideal in that case is your covenant with God. Donâ€™t neglect it!
Let marriage be honored by everyone â€¦ Â Â Â Â Hebrews 13:4a (HN)