During a great and encouraging conversation recently with my wife, Rachel, she said something about marriage that jumped out at me. In the flow of our dialogue, she said – almost anecdotally – three words that my ears heard with bold italics: the last battleground. When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, “It’s easier to humble yourself before God and others outside your home than it is before your spouse. That’s why marriage is the last battleground of humility.” So true.
Whether you get along naturally in your marriage, or it's a lot of work – or you’re somewhere in between those two extremes – you’ve come to see that marriage is the most vulnerable of all human relationships. As a godly older man recently told me, in his younger days he used to think that being “one flesh” referred exclusively to the sexual relationship in marriage. Over time he’s come to see it means more than just that. We both agreed by laughing together about this insight. No further theoretical pontification about the topic was necessary.
To be married is to be vulnerable. To be in a marriage – a healthy one – is to continually make yourself vulnerable. We stand “naked” before our spouse emotionally, mentally, habitually, attitudinally, vocationally, socially, and spiritually. And if humility – the humility of Christ – is not the chief ingredient of the recipe of your life as man and wife, the aroma of your home won’t smell pleasant. If consistent and true confession and repentance are not the practical harmony of your marriage, the daily melody will always feel “off.” If the gospel of grace you shout “Amen!” to at church and read about and receive in your “quiet time” is not being extended to your spouse, walls will inevitably form and sinful hiddenness (= pride and guilt) will become the default and defining nature of your matrimony. This is why we need the Holy Spirit daily challenging us in and through His Word. And this is why we need – and must have – people in our local church who are agents of the Spirit, challenging us to live what we know in that Word. Lives and marriages survive – even thrive! – only when they are regularly connecting with other believers in our community of faith who are pursuing Jesus daily. Such are the practical implications of marriages and lives that are passionately gripped by the gospel.