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Marriage Workbook

By Craig Caster

WEEK 1 - GOD’S PURPOSES FOR MARRIAGE

DAY 4 - GOD’S PURPOSES FOR MARRIAGE

In God’s design for marriage, He has given us some very important purposes, or characteristics, that we need to embrace in order to fulfill His will. The biblical principles below will set the course for applying the rest of this workbook. These will be referred to often, and are essential to having a successful marriage.

INTRODUCTION: THE MINISTRY OF MARRIAGE

When we hear the word “minister,” we commonly think of a pastor or person who works for a church. But the word includes more than those descriptions.

Fact File

The word minister is derived from the Greek word diakonos, which means a servant.

Minister - (noun) A servant or waiter, one who oversees, governs and fulfills.

Minister - (verb) To adjust, regulate and set in order; to serve, render service to another; to labor for the Lord as a servant.

So a minister is one who acts under the order of another, or who is subject to another to execute his purposes. As Christians, who are we subject to? JESUS! And as His children we are here to do His will.

So how does this apply to us in our Christian marriages?  It means that we are under the care and authority of Jesus Christ, who is one with God the Father, and that we receive our instructions from Him. God has given us our spouses and He desires for us to execute His purposes to and for them. You and I are ministers to our spouses, under God. This mindset will completely change your disposition and approach to marriage.

Have you seen your role as that of a minister?

In a marriage, depending totally on the Lord Jesus Christ is essential. We are not to promote our own will and wishes, but we are responsible to follow the Lord’s will and desire in our marriage relationships. Matthew 20:28 (King James Version) says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…” The same verse also reads, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Clearly, ministering and serving are the same, and Jesus is our example. Do not mistake “serving” as the worldly view of pampering your spouse, but serve by loving and tending to them according to God’s instructions. When we begin to see our marriages as serving God and ministering to our spouses for His purposes, we are headed in the right direction.

Since God created man, woman, and marriage, then we are to execute His purposes in that holy union. God has made husbands and wives to minister His will to one another. To see yourself in that role, as a minister under God, under His will to serve, is extremely important. If you have God’s perspective as a minister, you then won’t be arguing or asserting your own will, fighting to get what you want.  When you both have the desire to fulfill God’s will, as His ministers to one another, you will be a blessing and encouragement to each other.

Write out a prayer asking God to help you see yourself as His minister, and your spouse as your first ministry.

Read the following Scripture and describe in your own words how Paul and his companions ministered to people. What attitudes did they display?

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”

THE RIGHT BLUEPRINT

As ministers of God, we must know His purposes, what He wants us to accomplish, how to proceed, and how to minister to those He gives to us. Understanding His purposes also helps us recognize our daily need for God’s wisdom and strength.

Fact File

Purpose - an intended, or desired, result or goal.

When Christian married couples are asked what they believe God’s purpose is for them as ministers and spouses, in most cases it will produce many different answers. This is an indication of the lack of unity between husbands and wives in this area. To a certain extent, this is the main problem: when two people with the same task are going in different directions, confusion and many other negative possibilities can result. And the Bible shows us that this is not God’s plan!

1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”

Regrettably, the body of Christ has not given preference to training or discipling people in marriage. Many churches have never promoted marriage discipleship, or held classes on God’s instruction for marriage! Yet the churches are filled with people seeking marriage counseling. During our teen years, we undergo fifty hours or more of training to get a driver’s license, yet how many hours of training are required for getting married? None! Which is more important, driving a car or having a biblical marriage? The answer is obvious. And due to that lack of training, many couples, even Christian couples, can be a very negative influence on each other.

What happens when a husband and wife disagree and are not clear in their God-given purposes? Problems arise followed by tension, strife, and division. This, in turn, puts a strain on marriage and family, which is a devastating problem in the body of Christ today.

In Matthew 12:25, Jesus revealed a self-evident truth:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” 

Self-Examination 1

Take time right now to write out a prayer. Ask God, as husband and wife, to give you the grace to begin again in your marriage. Ask Him for the mercy to forgive each other for past mistakes, for not working in harmony, and to open your hearts to receive His instruction and work together as a team.

Husband:

Wife:

Read the following Scripture meditating on the attitudes that God desires for us:

Colossians 3:12-16, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

It is clear that the foundation for all we do must be an understanding of the purposes and plans that God has for us. This will be the topic of the following section. Once we embrace God’s authority, it is essential to follow through in practical ways. God is the architect, but it is our job to build the house according to His blueprint. When we understand what God is trying to do through us and within us, when we follow His design, we then understand why it is so vital that we have a right relationship with Christ.

Read the following verse and in your own words, explain how this verse can relate to you as a spouse and minister.

Ephesians 2:10, says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

THE FOUR PURPOSES

God’s purpose for us as spouses and ministers can be broken down into four areas. He wants to be glorified in our relationship; for us be transformed into the image of Christ; for us to meet the companionship needs of one another; and for us to raise our children according to His Word.

First Purpose: God’s Glorification

Fact File

Glorify – To reflect, to honor, praise, to give esteem or honor by putting Him into an honorable position.6

Our primary purpose as believers is to glorify God. In 1 Corinthians 6:20, Scripture says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The word glorify translates “to reflect”. As believers and ministers of God to our spouse, we are to act as His reflection to him or her.

Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

So Jesus says, “I want you to reflect Me, to glorify the Father in Heaven.” In your marriage, how often does your spouse see the reflection of God in your character or behavior? Are you concerned about that every day? Imagine how just this one biblical principle could change your relationship, if every morning you prayed, “God, I want my husband/wife to see You in the way that I act and respond, because Your desire is to be glorified in me.”

Remember, God is changing us from the inside, which is evident by our attitudes and behavior. Our transformation becomes real as we exhibit the very nature of Christ to those around us.

Self-Examination 2

Consider the attitudes that you are demonstrating to your spouse. Write out what words and behaviors do not reflect God?

Husbands consider this. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her.” This tells a man that his thoughts, words and deeds toward his wife are to look like Jesus’ actions toward the Church. This is a huge obligation He’s placed upon us. We cannot do this in our own strength, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Wives consider this. Ephesians 5:22 states, “Wives, submit unto your husbands as unto the Lord,” telling the wife that she is to treat her husband the same way she treats the Lord. Now, how many of you wives treat your husbands like you treat the Lord?

Action Plan 1

Write down any incidents in the last week in which you have misrepresented God. Next ask God to forgive you, and then go to your spouse and do the same. Note: don’t make excuses.

Second Purpose: Our Transformation

God wants us to be transformed. Isn’t it good to know that when Jesus Christ called you unto Himself, He didn’t say, “Go get cleaned up, quit doing all your bad things, then come back and I’ll see if I’ll accept you.” When God called us to Himself, He took us the way we were. Praise the Lord!

When God caught me, I was running a hundred miles-an-hour in the other direction. The amazement of my born-again experience was when the Lord was touching my mind and heart with the words “I love you and I want you,” I was thinking, “How can You want me?” It was His love that impelled me to receive Him, ask Him to be my Lord and Savior. He took me that way, but He did not want me to stay there.

I don’t know you, but I know you’re evil. I guarantee you that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23).  We come to Christ “still sinning” (Rom. 5:8), “without strength” (v. 6), and “enemies” of God (v. 10), but God says that from the moment you and I accept Christ, the journey of transformation, or what the Bible calls sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30), is just beginning. You and I should be able to look back and say we look more like Jesus today than yesterday. But many Christians are not even concerned about that, and do not realize how God’s process of sanctification works. Being transformed into Christ’s image is God’s plan and purpose for every believer.

The apostle John gives us an exhortation that links the keeping of God’s Word with being perfected or becoming mature.

1 John 2:5, “But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”

Fact File

Perfected- teleio (Greek), translates “to make complete,” which indicates that something is in process. “Particularly with the meaning to bring to a full end, completion, reaching the intended goal, to finish a work or duty.”7

The phrase “keeps His Word” means knowing His Word and doing it, then “the love of God is perfected” in us. To put it another way:

John 15:10, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love."

When we know His Word and desire to do it, we are transformed from the inside and the result shows in our behavior. In everyday situations, including the challenges of home life, God will use our spouse as His tool to reveal things in us that He hates; the sinful attitudes and behaviors that show up as we relate to one another. Did you ever consider that your spouse is used by God to transform you into the image of Christ? When we say or do some ungodly thing, we say, “You made me act this way.” But can we find that in God’s Word? No! God says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). That ungodliness is inside and God is using your spouse to bring it out, to show you what needs to change. When we claim our innocence, or blame them, we fail to take responsibility. It is vitally important that you and I understand as ministers that God is using the dynamics of our families to purge us and transform us into the likeness of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18, says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Fact File

Transformed- is metamorphóō (Greek), from which we derive our English word metamorphosis: to change into something entirely different, as a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Here it represents the thorough change as a Christian gradually transforms into the likeness of Christ, and comes to desire God’s will in all things.

Self-Examination 3

This verse gives assurance that God is at work, changing you. Can you trust Him and ask Him to reveal areas where you still need improvement?

In the space below, write a prayerful commitment to accept His perfect way of revealing the lack of Christ-likeness in you.

Read the following Scripture and write out what God promises to do in you?

Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

This good work is the process of becoming like Christ; in this case to be His disciple and the spouse He desires you to be.

Do you still have room to grow in this area?

We must be assured in our hearts that God uses the differences between husbands and wives as material for training in obedience to His will. Many Christians reject this truth because of their ignorance, not realizing that this is part of the sanctification process and plan. Marriage is a part of God’s training camp.

Many of the trials we face are by His will. He heats you up and brings your sin (un-Christ-likeness) to the surface. And if you don’t understand that He orchestrated this circumstance to reveal these things in you, not for you to blame your spouse, but for you to say, “Oh my gosh, Lord, yuck. This sin was here when You accepted me, you’re using this situation to reveal my sin so I can repent and stop doing it.” 

God is not allowing these circumstances so He can find out what is within us; He already knows and sees all, and still loves us. Praise Him! He is doing it so that we will see ourselves, and seek His help for change.

Proverbs 17:3, says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.”

Self-Examination 4

When these trials come, what are some of the ungodly attitudes and actions being revealed to you through your spouse, or children?

Isaiah 48:10, says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Jeremiah 17:10, says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”

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Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), 481.

7 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: #5048.