How to Have a Fruitful Marriage for The Glory of God


Last week, I wrote about palm trees and how they withstand storms. And I could not help but think about the fruit that palm trees produce.

The house where I grew up had palm trees that produced coconuts. Even though this fruit was difficult to get open, the effort was well worth it. I could not get enough of the delicious white meat found inside the hard shell. And I also enjoyed drinking its refreshing, watery milk on a hot Miami day.

Fruit produced on different varieties of palm trees are an important food source to the economy of many places around the world. Besides the coconut, these fruits include dates and acai berries, which have been found to help dementia and diabetes, among other things.

Our south Florida home also had other fruit trees that produced a bountiful harvest of oranges, grapefruit, and avocados.

“…like a tree planted by steams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither…” – Psalm 1:3

The Bible refers to fruit often. Jesus taught that we can know if a person is His follower “by their fruit”what kind of life they lived (see Matthew 7:15-20). Paul wrote that as believers and followers of Jesus, we will have the Holy Spirit living in us. And because He lives in us, the fruit of His Spirit will be evident in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-25).

The point is that if our lives and our marriage are committed to Christ, this will be evident in everything we say and do.

 

We read about this in Psalm 1:1-3: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”

God tells us in this short passage how we can have a marriage that will produce all the healthy and delicious spiritual fruit He desires for us. He is the Master Horticulturist giving us instructions for a marriage that “does not wither.” Instead it will be a marriage that “prospers.”

First, God tells us what not to do. We are not to “walk in step with,” “stand” with, or “sit in the company of” those who live wicked lives, sin against God as their way of life, or mock God and His ways. These three of types of people are the same. They all reject God and His teaching. They live how they want, even if it is in direct opposition to God’s Word.

Paul warns us strongly about this in 1 Corinthians 5:11: “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

God knows us. He knows that if we have regular involvement with people who teach and live in opposition to God’s truth, we will likely fall into their beliefs and ways ourselves. I have met so many professing Christians who live together without the commitment of marriage, or who live in homosexual relationships, who try to justify their lifestyle using Scripture.

If I began to spend a great amount of time with them and listen to their deceitful lies, chances are good I would soon begin to “see their point.” I would compromise God’s clear teaching. I would come to agree with them and begin teaching and even practicing things not in line with God’s clear instructions.

This is the wayward path God warns us against in Psalm 1:1.

First, we walk with those in opposition to God’s Word. This is listening to the lies they believe and live by.

Next, we stand with these “sinners.” We stop and take time to hear their deceitful, but logical sounding argument in opposition to God’s teaching. And we begin to agree that they may be right.

Finally, we sit down with the mockers of God’s ways, spend time with them, dine with them, and digest their wickedness. At this point, we have allowed ourselves to be led astray. We are no longer dwelling in the beauty and safety of God’s wings (see Psalm 91), but have entered the den of the roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

We must be very careful about this. Even building relationships with unbelievers in order to share the Gospel with them should be done with prayer and preparation in God’s Word. And we must be especially cautious about this in the relationships closest to us—such as marriage or business partnerships.

God warns us in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”

God not only tells what not to do, He also instructs what we are to do to have a fruitful marriage.

We are to delight in and meditate on God’s law. This refers not only to the Ten Commandments and the Law books of the Bible (known as the Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books), but to all of God’s teaching found in His Word.

The Hebrew word translated “delight” is “chephets.” It means to be excited about or to have a compelling desire for something. It is saying we cannot wait to open God’s Word and read it. We should read with a sense of great expectation that we will hear something from God that is vital to our life and marriage.

The Hebrew word translated as “meditate” is “hagah.” It means to digest something thoroughly. It’s more than just a quick reading, but going over it slowly in our minds so that it penetrates our minds, hearts, and wills more deeply. It’s allowing the Holy Spirit to help us understand it, and to see how we can apply it to our lives and marriage.

Thus the recipe for a God-centered and God-blessed marriage is to make certain His Word is at its center. We do that when we love His Word so much we spend the time to study it individually and together. Then, as God promises, we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3).

The Hebrew words translated “streams of water” are “peleg mayim.” This literally means “divisions of water.” It refers to a form of irrigation where a trench or canal is dug from a river to direct water to surrounding farmland.

When we study God’s Word and pray together we direct His truth and power into our lives and marriage. The promise from God is that these will indeed yield rich fruit. Fruit that will glorify Him. Our marriage will never wither because it is always enriched with God’s truth. It will instead prosper and flourish.

The Hebrew word translated “prosper” in this verse is “tsalach,” which means to push or move forward. When God and His Word are at the center of our marriage, we will always be moving ahead in our walk with Him. We can say with Paul as he writes in Philippians 3:13-14: “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.”     

So make the commitment to become a couple that is immersed in God’s Word. Then you won’t be tempted to follow the ways of the wicked, the sinners, and the mockers. Instead, you’ll be like one of those fruit trees that yield a bounty of fruit. That’s the natural blessing of a tree that’s planted in good soil by streams of living water.

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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

♦   Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what God taught you through it.

♦   Examine your marriage together. Would you say it is one that produces the type of fruit that God desires? If so, what can you do to make certain it continues to produce that fruit, and doesn’t wither? If not, what can you do so it does produce the fruit that God desires it to?

♦   What do you spend time putting into your hearts and minds? Is it the words and things of God, or the lies we find from the world on television, on the internet, in books, magazines, etc.? Do you spend more time in front of the television or computer, or in reading God’s Word or hearing it taught at church?

♦    Do you spend time together as a couple studying God’s Word and praying together? This is THE way to plant and fertilize God’s truth into your lives that will produce the fruit He desires for you to enjoy. This is why we have developed the tool for you to use to help you do this. It is free and can be found here: Couple Connect. It is free of charge, but it will cost you some time—time well spent.

♦   Close your time in prayer together. Commit to God and ask Him to help you do the things necessary for your marriage to produce fruit for Him. Ask Him to make your marriage thrive like a tree planted by streams of living water.

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Until next week, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,
David

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Tyler Shaw on Unsplash, (CC0), cropped/text added.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.