Monday, June 23, 2014
Five marks of a strong marriage
We really don’t know how Aquila and Priscilla treated each other in little things, this couple living in Corinth when Paul found them. We don’t know whether Aquila served his wife by helping with household chores. Someone said, “The most important four words in a marriage are, ‘I’ll do the dishes.’” We don’t know whether Priscilla told Aquila often how proud she was to be married to him, even if he never made it into the Bible. We don’t know whether Aquila opened the door for Priscilla before they walked into their house. Prince Philip said once, “When a man opens the car door for his wife, it is either a new car or a new wife.” Not so, your Prince-ness! I believe real men open doors for their wives. But I digress. I would suggest that we do know five truths about this ancient couple’s marriage that we should apply in our own. They were willing to be uprooted for the sake of the church. These two moved a lot, from Corinth to Ephesus to Rome to Ephesus in order to serve the growing church. They worked together as equals. They were truly one flesh and they were always mentioned as a couple. Marriage should be like that, that whether we are together or separate, others think of us as one. The unity candle is a great picture of what marriage is positionally from the beginning, but it takes time and work and humility for that picture to become a reality. It reminded me of a couple in their nineties who died recently. Every morning for 70 years they held hands at breakfast. Their eight children said they had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart. When Helen died on the evening of April 12, her husband Kenneth quickly began to fade, and he was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died 15 hours later. They cared for others more than they did themselves.
We see that in the way they take Paul in, not just as a fellow worker in the tent-making trade, but into their home. We see it in the way they opened their home to the church, in nearly every place they lived. We see it in the way they ministered to Apollos. They were not intimidated by Apollos’ great eloquence and learning. They weren’t concerned that they might look foolish approaching this bold preacher with a word of encouragement and correction. They cared more about him than they cared about how they looked or were perceived by him. Also, they were gracious in their approach. “They took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.” They talked to him, alone, with patient explanation of God in a way that changed the man’s life. They were workers.
Aquila and Priscilla were yoked together through marriage and yoked with Christ through salvation, fully engaged in following His lead. Paul called them “fellow workers in Christ Jesus.” You couldn’t aspire to a more fulfilling life than the one described in that phrase. They took risks.
Paul wrote that Aquila and Priscilla “risked their necks for my life.” A great marriage is sometimes marked by risks for the sake of Christ and His church. Hudson Taylor said, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”
Which of these five marks of a strong marriage would you agree to work on, starting today?