I was reading an article recently in which the author quoted from a book by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. The title of the book? Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. The quote didn’t particularly impress me, but the title of the book caught my attention.
We live in a culture where we like that “one thing.” One easy way to do everything…answer every question…fix every problem. So I did an internet search for “one thing.”
On the first page alone there were ten websites/articles listed with “One Thing” in the title. There was even a website named “the1thing.com.” It promotes a book entitled TheONEThing, and has a blog, podcasts, training, webinars, and even “Free Stuff.”
Next I did an internet search for “one thing” and “marriage” together. Again I found ten websites/articles with those three words in the titles on the first page of the search results. All of them had different ideas about what “one thing” makes or breaks a marriage.
Here’s one example: “Keep those rose coloured glasses on.”1 Another “expert” wrote: “If you can approach your spouse with vulnerability, you can make any relationship stronger.”2 Yet another suggestion was: “You and your partner need to make the life-long commitment to do your own, individual, personal growth and self-discovery work.”3
I’m not saying any of these are necessarily bad, though the last one does seem to me a formula for a short, unhappy marriage–not a happy one. But there is a reason that in spite of pages and pages of internet wisdom, marriage in the United States is at an all-time low and divorce at an all-time high.
This could have something to do with what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:19-20: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’”
Since God created marriage, what does He say is the one thing necessary for it to be joyful and happy? Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 3:10-14:
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (bold mine)
God’s Word says the one thing we need for a blessed life and marriage is Jesus.
Paul tells us it begins when we surrender our lives completely to Him. He says he wants “to know Christ” and “the power of His resurrection.” For our marriage to be truly blessed, we must begin by giving our lives to Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15:2-4, Paul explains clearly what Jesus has done for us: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Paul also tells us the good news that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). This is the one thing we must all do to have the wonderful life and marriage God intends for us. (To learn more about how to do this, see Meet Jesus.)
Paul not only wants to be saved, however. He also wants to participate “in His sufferings” and become “like Him in His death.” That’s what he wants for us, too. But what does that mean?
He tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Because Paul made this his one thing–to live for Christ–he could write in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” He makes it clear this was his single purpose in life.
When we follow this example–to integrate everything in our lives into the single purpose of living for Jesus–it will be the greatest source of success for our marriage. And this begins with committing our lives to Him.
It has often been noted that anyone who has accomplished anything significant in this life has had this consuming singleness of purpose. Let our one purpose be to live for God’s purpose.
Missionary C. T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Wouldn’t that be a great purpose statement for your marriage?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching, and talk about what God taught you through it.
♦ Have you given your lives and marriage completely to Jesus? (See Meet Jesus to find out how. I have purposely included this in both the teaching and here.) If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord, there is no use in going any further. We all must begin here.
♦ Have you committed your lives and marriage to follow Jesus fully? Have you committed yourselves to study and live His way? He will not be your one thing if you are not doing this. Jesus says this clearly in John 14:23-24: “‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’”
We have created a free tool to help you with this, even as you spend this time together. You can find the tool here: Couple Connect.
♦ Close your time together in prayer. Ask God to help you make following Him the one thing in your life and marriage.
Until next week, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,