Please note, this is the continuation of my previous post, “The Heart of the Matter Part One“. (Please consider reading part one before reading on further.) Here, I would like to continue to address the struggle most Christian girls experience with their desire for marriage and the discontentment that can arise, when that desire is not met.
Thirdly, our desires and our affections should be set on Christ, not marriage.
Here is a quote by Hannah Whitall Smith that I would like to share with you. It is a little bit lengthy, but it was a help to me and I hope an encouragement to you too.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14) “By being ‘crucified to the world’ Paul meant that he was dead to it. …To be dead to a thing must mean that that thing has no power to attract. And this is what is meant in the Bible by ‘taking up the cross’. It is to become so dead to the world (that is, the lower plane of living) that its power to tempt is gone. It is to have our affections so set on things above, that merely earthly things have lost their charm.”
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
“To have our ‘affections set’ on anything must mean that we love that thing; and if our affections are set on the will of God, we must love His will. It is impossible that God’s will should seem hard to a man whose affections are set on it. It may be accompanied with hard things, but in itself it must be a delight. Our Lord could say, ‘I delight to do thy will. O my God!’ because He was dead to everything that was contrary to His Father’s will. His affections were set on the will of God; and until our affections are similarly so set on the will of God as to delight in it, we have not ‘taken up the cross’ in the Scripture sense at all.”
(Hannah W. Smith, The Commonsense Teaching of the Bible p.115)
Our affections, our heart desires, our love, should be set on Christ. Does this mean that you never have any other desires? No. Does this mean it is somehow wicked to want to be married? Certainly not. But what we thought was so dear and precious and even important to us before, in the sight of Him, fades completely. He is more precious than that desire ever could be. And He is more lovely than its fulfillment in our lives.
I think many young girls can be in danger of believing that marriage will somehow make them happy and content, when otherwise, they weren’t. But this idea is false, not to mention rather covetousness.
What is covetousness? “To desire ardently (especially, something that another person has); crave; long for.”
I know many young girls who reek of covetousness, when it comes to this subject of marriage. Girls who literally hate weddings, because they themselves haven’t had their own. They are envious of what God has chosen to given someone else, and even bitter. Just because you don’t have a statue of Buddha sitting on your desk, doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty of idolatry. Not according to the Bible. Many girls’ innocent desire for marriage has become an idol in their heart. And although they might not even verbally say it, feel like God isn’t good unless He gives them their desire for marriage. This is scary.
Are you covetous? Longing for something that isn’t in your possession? Is your heart coveting something that isn’t yours? Or maybe even something that the Lord hasn’t seen fit to give you yet? (Like marriage.) Are you maybe even coveting someone that doesn’t belong to you? (Like a specific person you might admire or maybe just the desire for a husband in general.)
What do you usually talk about?
Where does your mind oftentimes wonder?
What seems to make you more excited than anything else?
What (or who) are you always excited to talk or think about?
If we answer these questions honestly, I know it would reveal where our hearts truly are.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Why are we able to be content with “such things as ye have“? (Such as singleness) Because we have Him. He has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us. He is that life-long companion most young women have both dreamed about and yearned for. He is that friend. He is the one who can hold your hand through the hardships of life. To comfort your pain. Who accepts and loves you just as you are. The one who adores you and seeks to capture your heart. The one who will be faithful to the end. The one who you can trust no matter what. “We can face anything, if we face it together.” This is Christ.
Fourthly, our heart motivation for wanting to get married shouldn’t be derived from selfishness, but actually from love.
And here is what I mean by that. A lot of girls have silly infatuations towards someone they admire and label it as “love”. Just because you “like someone” doesn’t mean you are “in love” with him. Love is so much deeper than this.
And in the same sort of way, some girls hold an infatuated idea of what marriage is. And their dreams and hopes and imaginations for what marriage will be for them, are usually, at the core, selfish.
Marriage will make me happier.
Marriage is my romantic dream come true.
Marriage will make me feel loved, cherished, and accepted.
Marriage will make me feel secure.
Or marriage will change my current unhappy circumstances.
Marriage will ____(this), or marriage will ____(that) for me.
Is marriage all about you? Are you hoping to get a husband, just for the happiness and fulfillment he may give you? This isn’t real love.
I would like to share another quote with you from Hannah Whitall Smith. This quote is on love. Real love.
“We must remember, however, that a great deal of what is called love ought really to be spelled s-e-l-f-i-s-h-n-e-s-s. [selfishness] People love their own enjoyment of their friends more than they love the friends themselves, and consider their own welfare in their intercourse with those they profess to love, far more than the welfare of the so-called loved ones. It has been said that we never really love anyone until we can do without them for their good; and, measured by this test, how few there are who really love.”
“The law of love can never be a cherishing of self at the expense of the loved one, but must always be the cherishing of the loved one at the expense of self.” (The Commonsense Teaching of the Bible p.141)
True love, is Christ’s love. A love that doesn’t think about self at all. A love that is never motivated by selfish wants or needs. Marriage isn’t something to enter into selfishly for your own pleasure, although I think the majority of people do. The first motive for marriage, should be a love for Christ. A love that desires His will over our own. (Whether that will is marriage or not marriage.) Marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride. And when a marriage is derived from knowing His will and in His timing, it can be such a pure and beautiful testimony. The second motive for marriage, should be out of real love for that other person. Not a selfish desire to please your flesh, but from a desire to please that man and fulfill his needs. To be his helpmeet. To love him, to honour him, and to accept him as a gift from the Lord, and also as your “new ministry”.
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Girls can also be in danger of thinking that marriage will somehow magically change them for the better. But this simply isn’t true. Walking down the wedding aisle doesn’t suddenly warp you into Cinderella. Sorry girls! Haha J Marriage changes your circumstances and your position maybe, but it doesn’t necessarily change you. If you are discontent before you are married, you will be discontent after you are married. If you are selfish before you get married, you will still be selfish after you get married. Marriage is joining yourself to another fleshly human being. And through Christ, it can be wonderful. But, everyday life goes on after the honeymoon. And you are still you. The girls I have known that were discontent and unhappy in Christ while they were single have still been just as discontent and unhappy married. It is sad. Marriage doesn’t change the state of your heart. And instead, now I see a marriage that is struggling, and a husband that feels frustrated, because she is trying to take something from him, that he simply cannot give.
Only Christ meets the deepest needs of our hearts. That is a place reserved only for Him. Girls have a strong need for love. This is how God made us. We naturally need and yearn for affection. But human love can only take you so far. And while human love is imperfect and selfish at best, Christ’s love is perfect and unselfish. He satisfies like no other, every time. He desires us. He draws us to Himself. He seeks our hearts. He is a friend that is closer than no other. And His love is forever.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” (Psalms 62:5)
And fifthly, the Lord knows what is best for each of us individually, what brings Him the most glory, and is the greatest furtherance to the gospel.
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:8)
If we can honestly say that our whole desire is Christ and that His will is our delight, as David did, then surely we would be accepting of that will, whatever it might be. Even when that will crosses ours. What if marriage wasn’t His perfect will for you? What if He needed you single? Not many are even willing to consider that an option. I don’t think anyone believes I Corinthians 7, where Paul says it is better to be unmarried, in serving the Lord, than married.
“But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (I Corinthians 7:32-34)
This isn’t to say that marriage isn’t a godly calling, or that you cannot serve the Lord married, but we should be willing, if He asked.
Letting Jesus direct our lives, from the biggest decisions to the smallest details, is peace. It is sweet to trust Jesus, because He is trustworthy and because His love is towards us. His plans are good, not evil. If He chooses to withhold a desire from your heart, it is withheld in love.
Psalms 84:11 says-“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Are we able to say, as Paul did, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20: 24)
Shouldn’t this be, without question, the purpose and heart cry of every Christian? There shouldn’t even be anything to weigh that desire with. He is both worthy of our best and worth seeking after with all our hearts. He should be our goal. Our whole desire. To the point that we count nothing dear unto ourselves, but that we may win Him.