As spring unfolds, many couples are planning their weddings. So many decisions need to be made: from location to flowers to photographer to what to wear, what to eat, whom to invite and to who we should have perform the ceremony.
During my 40-some years of ministry, I have had the privilege of uniting many couples in marriage. One of the talks I give before having the couple recite their vows is entitled: “Marriage is for Holiness, not Happiness.” Just the mention of the title usually sends a murmur through the crowd and a questioning look to the couple standing in front of me. I can just see their minds thinking to themselves “Why did we ask this guy to marry us? What a kill-joy!”
As the talk continues, I often see the couples start to relax and begin to understand that holiness and happiness are not mutually exclusive. They are not adversaries, they are allies. In fact, they build on each other.
Henry Drummond, in his excellent book “The Greatest Thing in the World,” writes “There is only one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping, but what God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.”
God wants us to use the challenges, joys, struggles and celebrations of marriage to draw us closer to Him and to grow in spiritual character. A spiritual character is lived out in love and kindness.
In essence, God intends marriage to be a refiner of Christian character more than a place of carefree and challenge-free romanticism.
My hope is that as a couple listens to this message, they are starting to understand that any situation that calls them to confront their selfishness has enormous spiritual value, and with the insight learn that the real purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness.
Yes, happiness will be the by-product of holiness. Perhaps that may be why I should change the title of my talk to “The Happiness that Follows Holiness.”
So how do we find true Biblical happiness? By being holy and giving love and kindness to our spouse. The Lord himself said in Acts 20:35 “…He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way — it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.”
The beauty of God‘s creation is that when we know God and invite Him into our lives and into our homes and marriages, He brings a soul-fulfilling joy that transcends any contemporary idea of happiness.
Do you seek true happiness in your marriage? Then seek to be holy as God is holy. Let Him move you toward your spouse. Serve each other, cherish each other and sacrifice for each other. Don’t miss a single opportunity to demonstrate kindness or speak a word of affirmation. In doing so, you will invite God into your life, home and soul, and you will find true Biblical happiness that comes by being holy.
Pastor Don Morris
Timberline Christian Counseling Services: