September 26, 2012

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Spouse



I find this article made by Lois Amari answers a lot of questions regarding of our future spouse. Enjoy :)


The first thing to keep in mind when choosing your spouse is that you need to avoid a bad choice at any cost. Look around you: you see very happy marriages, somewhat happy marriages, and miserable marriages. You may not end up with the best choice, but you can easily avoid a bad choice that results in a miserable marriage.
  
It is difficult to give an advice or write an article on how to choose your spouse. Choosing a spouse requires more than just a mental exercise and application of principles acquired from home, from previous experiences, and even from the Bible. It requires the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But application of biblical principles will help you avoid bad choices.  The following principles will help you at a minimum avoid a bad choice, but I believe they can also help you to choose the best.


Soul Mate vs. God’s Will

Many singles have dedicated their lives to an endless pursuit of a soul mate. A soul mate is the perfect partner who will bring them continuous happiness. But does a soul mate really exist? I believe it is a teaching created by the world and is far from biblical. Here is why:

1. One of the most important tests used when evaluating the validity of a teaching is to ask: “Does it work?” If we just look around us, we know that in the overwhelming majority of marriages, the spouses are not really soul mates in the strict definition of the word, or at least in the definition that single people have in mind. Why is that? 

Marriage is an institution made of sinful men and women. Both are selfish and seeking their own happiness, and at the same time they are different from one another. They are different biologically, physiologically, and emotionally, and they are different because they are simply two different people. What we long for in a soul mate can only be achieved if we marry a robot with no feelings, no wishes, no opinion; a robot designed to be 100% compatible with us and programmed with the ability to understand us - even when we don’t understand ourselves, a robot who doesn’t run out of battery and has no programming glitches and whose mission is to serve and please us at every instant of our life.



We need to grasp the reality that our spouses are not robots, but imperfect human beings with distinctive and unique personalities.

2. The desire for and search of a soul mate is self-seeking. It is based on the belief that my spouse exists to serve me, to meet my needs, and to make me happy. The Bible warns us from being self-serving and self centered: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).

3. The concept of soul mate doesn’t call for spiritual growth and change. God wants the believer to change and become more like Christ day after day, and marital challenges help in achieving this. A 100% compatible person – a soul mate- may hinder the spiritual growth in marriage. We are called to change. We are not called to enter into marriages where our personality goes into retirement and our spiritual growth ceases. In his book “Sacred Marriage”, Gary Thomas writes, “What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? In his book, Thomas explains that marriage helps to transform us and make us become more holy because marriage teaches us truths about God, it teaches us how to love and respect others, it exposes our sins, it helps build the spiritual discipline of perseverance, it builds our character, it teaches us how to forgive, it can build in us a servant heart, and in good marriage, it can foster good prayers, make us more aware of God’s presence, and help us develop our spiritual calling, mission, and purpose.

4. Although marriage is designed to be permanent, separated by death alone, it is not eternal.  Jesus said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Marriage is an earthly organization, and it is important to keep this in one’s perspective. This limited earthly life that will pass so quickly doesn’t warrant a perfect partner – a soul mate. Eternal perfection is found only in heaven.

5. Only God can be our soul mate. That deep longing in our heart for a soul mate is really a longing for Christ. The world is trying to substitute Christ with a soul mate. The concept of soul mate is built on a human need to be loved and accepted unconditionally and this love and acceptance can only be provided by God. In “Scared Marriage,” Gary Thomas writes, “Some of us ask too much of marriage. We want to get the largest portion of our life’s fulfillment from our relationship with our spouse. That’s asking too much. Yes, without a doubt there should be moments of happiness, meaning, and a general sense of fulfillment. But my wife can’t be God, and I was created with a spirit that craves God. Anything less than God, and I’ll feel an ache.”

The concept of a soul mate is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is the world’s attempt to replace Christ. Having said all that, let us not confuse the concept of a soul mate with God’s will. On the contrary to the worldly teaching on soul mates, the Bible clearly teaches us to seek God’s will.  When we seek a soul mate, we tend to evaluate potential spouses by comparing them to our perceived notion of what our soul mate looks like. We look for those who will make us happy, who will meet our needs, and serve our agenda. On the other hand, when we seek God’s will, we don’t rely on the flesh, but rather we seek what pleases Him and we strive to hear His voice and rely on His guidance.


Make Sure To Be Spiritually Compatible

The worst choice you can ever make is marrying a person who doesn’t share your faith and your spiritual passion. The Bible says:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."  (2 Corinthians 7:14-17)

It is your responsibility to ensure that your future spouse is a Christian.  “This is so important, and not to convince yourself that she is because she goes to church or likes your ‘spirituality’ or she's interested in spiritual things - but, is she a Christian?(Daryl Bell). To know if a person is a Christian we need to personally examine them to see if they are in the faith, the same way one needs to examine oneself in accordance with the biblical teaching: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

It is not only enough to ensure that the person is a Christian but to know if that person is spiritually compatible with you. There are five spiritual areas that we need to examine other people in light of before we pursue or accept to enter into a relationship with them:

1. Does the person love Jesus? Does he have a passion for Christ?  Is his goal in life to live for Christ? Another question to ask to determine if you are spiritually compatible is “Does she move you closer to God or farther away from Him - do you desire Him more with her in your life?” (Daryl Bell)

2. Does the person believe and follow the words of Jesus – the Bible? Farida Kirokis suggests asking the person, “What does the Bible mean to you?  Do you believe in the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the scripture?  Is the Bible the only authoritative guide in your life?  How important reading the Bible to you and when you read the Bible, do you feel that God is talking to you through it?”

It is very important to marry someone who takes the Bible seriously and whose behavior is driven by biblical values rather than by emotions or worldly principles. Apart of having the Bible as the final court of arbitration on every single matter, there is no guarantee that one’s marriage will last.

3. Is the person in communication with Jesus? Does he enjoy spending time in the presence of the Lord? You may be familiar with the saying, “There is no danger on the greatest sinner who is on his knees, but there is a great danger on the greatest saint who doesn’t pray.” In today’s society, it is very dangerous to marry someone who doesn’t pray. Without prayer, a person has no way to resolve conflicts, calm his emotions, seek wisdom and obtain answers to help him to become a better person. In “Prayer: The Secret of Lasting Marriage,” Dennis Rainy writes of the discipline of praying with his wife, “That discipline has helped resolve conflicts, kept communication flowing, and, most importantly, acknowledged our utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as the Lord and Builder of our family.”

4. Does the person like to become more like Jesus? It is important not to be satisfied with oneself but to always strive to be more like Christ. It is much safer, in my opinion, to marry a person with personality flaws but who wants to change and become like Christ, rather than a person who seems flawless and who is satisfied with himself or herself and has no desire for further spiritual growth. After all, all the beautiful traits of a personality are not inherited by genes, but are a result of the work of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

5. Does the person like to serve Jesus? Does he have a passion to win souls for the Lord?  Is this person involved in the ministry?  In his book “Choosing God’s Best”, Dr. Raunikar writes, “Watching how other singles minister is one of the best ways to evaluate their character before pursuing them or being pursued in courtship.” 

The above five areas are important tools to examine spiritual compatibility. If the person has passion for Christ, passion for spiritual growth, passion for the Bible, passion for prayer, and passion for ministry, you can be assured of the person’s spiritual condition. There is no danger in marrying such a person.


Remain In Your Calling


The general biblical principle is to remain in the calling that God called us to. We are not to neglect the spiritual gifts that the Lord gave us, but to utilize them to the fullest for the glory of God, as Paul admonished Timothy:  “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1Tim 4:14) and “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). And we are not to abandon the ministry that the Lord called us to but to fulfill it, as again per Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry ” (2 Timothy 4:5).

The instructions to Timothy are applicable to all believers as the Bible makes it clear that all believers must use their spiritual gifts that the Lord has given them: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). This is simply God’s will: to faithfully use the spiritual gifts that God gave you and to fulfill your ministry that God entrust you with. Remember that when we stand in front of God, we will not give an account on who we married but whether or not we were faithful in using the talents the Lord has given us.

Therefore, it is important to ask: Does this relationship calls for the abandoning of God’s calling for my life?  Daryl Bell advises to ask further: “Do the two of you have the potential of a greater ministry beyond what you do individually? That is, does your faith come alive and are you able to complement one another to produce fruit for the kingdom beyond what you could do as two singles.”

When you remain in your calling, you are choosing the glory of God. When you choose to abandon your calling for the sake of marriage, you are simply rejecting God’s calling to your life and choosing to live a life not optimized for his glory. Of course, it may be hard to predict who will be suitable for your calling and that’s why you need to pray and rely on God’s guidance. However, if a person doesn’t respect God’s calling on your life, asks you to abandon it, doesn’t encourage you to follow it, and doesn’t help you to fulfill it, then that person is a bad choice. No Christian can live a fulfilling life apart of doing what God called him to do, and therefore, it is critical that you don’t compromise in this area when choosing your spouse.  


Don’t Be Selfish: Suitability Is Two-Way


When we look for a spouse, the tendency is to ask “Is this person suitable for me?” But rarely do we ask ourselves: Am I a suitable spouse for this person?  It is very important not only to make sure that the person is suitable for me, but also to make sure that I am suitable for him or her. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves: Will I help this person become the man or the woman God wants him or her to be? Will I help the person fulfill God’s calling in his or her life? God’s will is not selfish. It considers the effects on other people, as Dr. Raunikar writes in “Choosing God’s Best”:  “Satan’s evil spirits tell us that we can do what we want and shouldn’t worry about the rippling effects of our lives on other people.  In contrast, God has not only our best interests in mind but also the good of all concerned.”

When we consider the interest of others, we are following the steps of our Master and we are seeking God’s glory, rather than ours.


Compatibility Is Not the Only Sign

The most important question is to know whether or not it is God’s will.  Dr. Raunikar writes, “Christians must realize that it is more important to be certain that a marriage is God’s will than to judge our suitability for marriage by love, attraction, or compatibility.  Our situations change and we grow through the years.  We cannot predict future compatibility on our own.”  In addition, “God’s knowledge and wisdom are far greater than ours.  He can see the entire landscape while we concentrate on a single valley.  We would be foolish to try to fit God into our mold and conform Him to our plans.  Yes, He did give us a brain, and we should be smart enough to know that God’s even smarter.


Presence of Peace

It is important to examine if you have peace about this relationship. In “Choosing God’s best,” Dr. Don Raunikar writes, “Learn to let the presence or absence of the peace of God in your heart be the umpire of your human relationships.  Satan’s evil spirits and your flesh can speak to you and even quote Scripture, but neither one can counterfeit God’s deep, settled peace. ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7).

Some may object to this because they may had have peace about past relationships that later didn’t result in marriage. These people may have confused true peace with emotions. Peace is not equivalent to the emotional feeling of love, but rather it is a deep conviction that this matter is from the Lord. The number one mistake I see is that this kind of fake emotional peace develops instantaneously before the person knows the other person and learns all the facts about the potential relationship. Peace without knowledge is not peace. It is like standing behind a closed door and saying I have peace that what is inside the room is beautiful and therefore I will buy the house. Peace is when having all the facts and information (the positive and the negative), and you still have conviction that the matter is from God and faith and trust in God’s further guidance in this matter, similar to the peace the Psalmist has in Psalm 47. He is aware of all the negative aspects around him, yet he has peace because he holds to the Lord’s promise: “Be still and know that I am God.” The rushing feeling of peace when you first meet a person is just an emotion. It is not from God. Beware of those who rush you and push you to make decisions without knowing the facts.

Also, learn to distinguish between the characteristics of godly peace and fake emotional peace. Fake emotional peace cripples the person’s ability to make good judgment. It doesn’t allow the person to stop and apply biblical principles. It puts the person under a guilt trip. It enslaves the person.  Dr. Raunikar writes that God’s voice “stills us, leads us, reassures us, enlightens us, encourages us, comforts us, calms us, and convicts us.  While Satan’s voice rushes us, pushes us, frightens us, confuses us, discourages us, worries us, obsesses us and condemns us.”

Finally, remember that our God is a god of order and not a god of confusion. If something is His will, He will provide peace to both parties. Never try to force your peace on the other person, or accept to enter into a relationship based on the peace that the other person feels. You too need to experience the peace of God. You too need to hear the voice of God.

The take home message, here, is never marry a person without having peace.  


Conclusion

Several biblical principles were provided in choosing your spouse. If you follow them, you will end up with a good choice. Ultimately, what is important is God’s will. It is not enough to apply the above and other principles, what is important is to pray and fast to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the person the Lord has chosen for you.

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