How to Have a Kingdom-First Marriage
Be clear with each other what the purpose of your marriage is
People get married for all kinds of reasons, but a Christian marriage must have one purpose as the guiding and uniting principle of their marriage—to honor and glorify Jesus through their marriage.
Be honest couples, if you were asked, what’s the purpose of your marriage? would you struggle to answer or maybe say love, family, good things?
- “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
- “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36)
For some of us, this may sound unfortunately weird and awkward, but couples, can you purpose sometime today to simply ask, how do you think we are doing in bringing glory to Jesus in our marriage? What things could we change that would enhance his reign in our marriage?
Embrace the King’s design for marriage
There is the second clause in that Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10) God has a blueprint for marriage. He designed it. Here is a summary: Husbands, love and lead your wives sacrificially. Wives, submit to and respect your husbands as friends, lovers, and companions. Husbands, we resist God’s design when we fail to love our wives as servant leaders. Wives, we resist God’s design when we usurp our husband’s leadership or fail to respect him.
We cannot ask for God’s blessing in marriage when we refuse to accept God’s blueprint for marriage. But when Jesus becomes King in a marriage, husbands become better husbands and wives become better wives and that marriage finds renewal in God’s kingdom.
Apply the gospel to your marriage every day
“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
This is the secret weapon in a Christian marriage that will keep love and commitment alive. It begins with a self-understanding of who we actually are. I am a sinner. The gospel begins with the harsh reality of my own depravity and guilt. The marriage experience will urge us to minimize our own failures and to maximize those in our spouse. But the gospel does the opposite. It magnifies my sin in my own eyes which minimizes, by comparison, the sin of others, including my spouse.
Here’s a way to know if you are applying this principle: who is the biggest problem in your marriage? Be honest. What do you think? If you think the biggest problem is your spouse you are not applying the gospel to your marriage. How helpful to say daily, I am a sinner married to a sinner. This helps so much in the rough patches. If two spouses each say, “I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,” you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.” The gospel brings humility. The Bible provides a blueprint. The glory of the King is the ultimate purpose.
Here’s the encouragement. Spouses who are motivated to honor Jesus by being a godly spouse become better and better husbands and wives. They’re more joyful in their marriages. But this joy is a paradox. It reminds me of the old saying, “I looked to Christ and a dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove and it flew away.” If you leave here determined to be joyful in your marriage, you likely won’t be. If you leave here more committed to finding joy and meaning in Jesus, you may have a happy marriage. We only get the one as the by-product of the other. Or to say it another way, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
 Timothy Keller, Meaning of Marriage, p. 48.
 Ibid, p. 64.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2017 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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