Proverbs 31:10, 23

10Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies… 23Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.

As we begin this new year, I want to deliver a couple exhortations regarding family life, first marriage and then children. The book of Proverbs regularly extols the blessedness of marriage. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” (18:22). “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:14). When God created Adam in the Garden, it was God Himself who declared that the man alone was not good. Consequently, God put the man to sleep, crafted Eve from one of his ribs, and presented her to the man. God created marriage and blessed it – for the mutual advantage of both husband and wife. A man who finds a virtuous wife finds a treasure more valuable than rubies; and a woman who finds a righteous man derives great honor from her marriage to him.

While the Scriptures extol the blessing of marriage, they regularly extol its dangers as well. Marriage in itself is a blessing for the world, a good gift from a generous God. However, an unhappy marriage is a curse. Hence, when I have done pre-marital counseling, I regularly tell couples, “The only thing worse than being single and unhappy is being married and unhappy.” So Solomon warns us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov 12:4). And even as a wife who causes shame is a misery to her husband, so a husband who causes shame is a misery to his wife. When David was determined to destroy Nabal’s entire household because of Nabal’s folly, Nabal’s wife Abigail pleaded with David, “Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he; Nabal [Fool] is his name, and folly is with him!” (1 Sam 25:25) Better not to marry at all than to marry a foolish man or woman.

As we commence a new year, therefore, give heed to a few exhortations. First, single, marriageable men and women – so develop your character that should God see fit to bless you with a spouse, you prove a blessing to your spouse and not a curse. Rarely does marriage radically transform the character of a man or woman; more commonly, marriage reveals your character. Marriage takes the musical chords you have been playing while single and plugs them into an amplifier. Hence, if you are indulging selfishness or impatience or lust or greed or anger now, that spirit will plague your marriage. Consecrate your life to the service of Christ and cultivate a godly character that you may prove a blessing and not a curse to your future spouse.

Second, married men – so develop your character that your wife be proud to be married to you. Your wife is called to respect you. So be respectable. Cultivate such wisdom and godly character that others want your counsel, solicit your direction, and imitate your character. A wife doesn’t want a husband who follows in her wake but a husband who loves her by leading her, providing for her and protecting her. Earn her respect by stepping up to the plate and doing so. Push yourself and stretch yourself to be a better man.

Finally, married women – so develop your character that you make it easy for your husband to love and lead you. Ground yourself in Christ and imitate Lady Wisdom in Proverbs. Routinely take the log out of your own eye before attempting to take the speck out of your husband’s. Beware being a dripping faucet. Beware being cold sexually. Beware exposing your husband’s faults to others. Make his home a haven to which he may return regularly with joy and not resignation. Enable your husband to put his full trust in you.

Reminded that marriage to an honorable man or virtuous woman is God’s good gift to us, let us confess that we often fail to cultivate the character necessary to be a blessing to our spouse; and, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.