That Perfect Married Couple

By Kathy Pollard

Do you know that perfect married couple?  They look happy together.  They’re always holding hands and seem to have it all figured out.  People look to them for advice.  They’re the hashtag-relationship-goals of social media.  I could name some couples that fall into this category for me.  I’m grateful for their example of marital bliss, and their PDA posts make me smile.

Neal and I are not that perfect married couple.  A superficial glimpse might make it appear that we are.  We do hold hands.  We do say nice things to and about each other on social media.  We’ve been asked to teach the occasional marriage seminar.  And so every now and then someone will remark on our relationship as being “exemplary” or some other thoughtful description.  I thank them because I appreciate their kindness but inwardly I cringe and think, “Far from it.”  We agree to teach about marriage because we can study what God’s Word has to say about it.  After nearly 27 years together, we can share some lessons we’ve learned from experience (some of them the hard way).  But we have had our own struggles and are still learning and growing, one year at a time.  We’ve hurt each other and let each other down.  As a wife, I’ve been guilty of lying, betraying, sulking, and manipulating.  Some of those hurtful things I knew I was doing in the moment.  Some of them I only realized later when I looked back over my behavior.  Our marriage has had rocky times because of the pressures of trials.  And our marriage has had rough patches because of the consequences of our own choices.  We’ve had to practice forgiveness, patience, and grace.  No, we are not that perfect married couple.

But we are a married couple and our God is perfect.

I’ve been reminded of this truth a couple of times this week.  Take a look at these “perfect” couples.

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I met this couple last night.  They got married at ages 15 and 17, and have been married for 55 years.  I asked them separately what has held them together for over half a century, especially since they started out so young.  Without hesitating, each of them said, “God.”  For them, it was as simple as that.  When they were standing together again, I pointed out that they each gave the same one-word answer.  She laughed and said, “Without God, I would’ve kicked him out a long time ago!”  They went on to add other advice, like the importance of giving 100% instead of 50/50 (and making that determination each new day).

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I met this couple two nights ago.  They’ve been married for 67 years!  It didn’t take long to figure out what has held them together.  She told me their first date was at Mammoth Cave.  He nodded and said, “I should’ve left her down there.”  He shared their secret to commitment:  “Divorce never crossed our minds.  Murder did, once or twice, but divorce was never an option.”  We all laughed and they looked at each other with a twinkle in their eyes that gave me a glimpse of the young couple they once were.  I loved their sense of humor and strong faith (made obvious by supporting a gospel meeting on a weeknight).  I imagine 67 years has given them a few stories of hardships and struggles but they are still together, still sharing some laughs, and still holding hands.

These are the real, perfect married couples.  I don’t know them well enough to see beyond the superficial.  But I do know that they’ve entrusted their marriages to their perfect God.  How blessed we are to enjoy life together, find reasons to smile, and keep holding hands despite our imperfections!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Eph. 3:20).

Never Good Enough

Some people are just hard to please.  No amount of effort is enough.  No task is done right.  Even thoughtful gestures or gifts are received in such a way as to let you know you fell short somehow.  Trying to please the hard-to-please person is wearying.  After a while, I don’t even want to try.

I wonder if some have this view of God.  They feel like they can never serve enough to please Him.  No sacrifice is great enough and no amount of effort will satisfy His demands.  This view of God is not biblical.  Yes, He wants us to be “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1).  Yes, He wants us to put Him first (Matt. 6:33).  And yes, He even wants us to strive to live as righteously as possible (Gal. 5:19-21).  But He is very pleased with our efforts to do just that.  How do I know?  Two words:  blood and grace.

Blood.  We’re all going to sin (Rom. 3:23).  Even the most faithful Christian will stumble (1 John 1:8).  Instead of being hard to please, God made it possible for us to still be pleasing to Him.  “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  We don’t have to worry about never being good enough because the God we serve is faithful and righteous to forgive.

Grace.  Day by day the blood of Christ is washing away my imperfections, and day by day the grace of God is strengthening my heart (Heb. 13:9).  Right after we’re told that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, we’re also told that we “are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).  Instead of being hard to please, God has given us this beautiful gift (Eph. 2:8).  He gives this gift of grace to us in abundance (2 Pet. 1:2).  And He wants this grace to give us confidence, knowing that we can turn to Him for help at any time (Heb. 4:16).  Troy Woolery, a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute, said, “When we’re lacking, grace fills in the gaps.”

“I’ll never be good enough.”  This sentiment causes some nonChristians to put off obeying the gospel because they feel they’ll never be able to measure up.  It causes some Christians to want to quit because they feel like they can never get it right.  Who wants the nonChristian to reject salvation?  Who wants the Christian to give up in despair?  It’s not God.  Instead of feeling like we can never be good enough, He wants us to know that He has made us more than enough.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

(Rom. 8:37)

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Are Christians Your Favorite People?

Have you ever spent time around a couple or a family that ridiculed each other?  Whether it was under the guise of teasing or flat-out verbal lashing, you could feel the tension and contempt.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it.  I don’t like being around couples that mock each other in such a way as to make a point.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t like being around families that have nothing but scorn for one another.  It makes me want to run away.  And it’s just so sad.  Where’s the love and respect?  What have they experienced together that created such bitterness?  It makes me shake my head.

May Christians never treat each other in such a way that our non-Christian friends shake their head.  The church is the household of God (Eph. 2:19), and we’re to treat each other brotherly, sisterly, fatherly (1 Tim. 5:1,2).  We’re to “love one another with brotherly affection” and “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).  These aren’t just words to read but actions to put into practice!  How does the world SEE us loving and honoring fellow Christians?

In an effort to keep from being seen as harsh and judgmental, we’ve gotten good at extending grace to the worldly.  Let’s not neglect to extend grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ as well.  Instead of being quick to publicly point out what Christians are doing wrong or how they’ve let us down, shouldn’t we be working hard to show the world that fellow Christians are our favorite (John 13:34,35)?

I just don’t think that “fighting the good fight” means fighting each other.  In the same chapter, Paul warns against those who have an “unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction” (1 Tim. 6:4,5).  In the same chapter, Paul encourages us to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (v. 11).  That’s how we “fight the good fight of faith” (v. 12).  That’s how we “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14).

Because we have received grace, let’s freely extend grace to all, Christian and non-Christian alike.  Let’s draw the world to Christ by showing them something they’ll want to have for themselves.  I’m naturally drawn to couples and families that are kind and loving toward each other.  I want to be with them.  I want to learn from them and share in their joy.  What an opportunity we have as Christians to attract others to Christ by the way we honor, promote, love, and lift up each other!

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10, emphasis mine).

Thanks to Christa Bassett for the photo.
Thanks to Christa Bassett for the photo.