What influence does your marriage have? Have you ever thought about it?
Last week, I shared how my parents and their marriage were used by God to help mold me. The marriage I now enjoy with Sabra is largely due to their godly example. And although they have both died, their influence continues to be seen in my life and marriage.
God wants to use all of our marriages in this way. He wants to use us to be His instruments in the lives of those around us.
I saw two other examples of this truth just this past week.
You probably have heard about the murder of Robert Godwin, Sr. Many people are killed violently every day that we never hear about. But what made Mr. Godwin’s murder newsworthy is that the killer posted a video of the act on Facebook.
What also made this story newsworthy was the response of Godwin’s children. Two of his daughters were interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN news. Debbie Godwin told Cooper that though she wanted the killer to turn himself in and face the consequences of his actions, she still forgave him.
Cooper was obviously impacted by her statement of forgiveness. He responded, “You do?” Another daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines then explained how she and her siblings could forgive the murderer of their father.
She answered: “The thing that I would take away the most from my father is he taught us about God. How to fear God. How to love God. And how to forgive. Each one of us forgives the killer. The murderer.”
Then Tonya explained that she could not forgive him if she didn’t know God as her God and Savior. And she expressed she had no feelings of animosity toward him, only sadness. She went on to say, “We’ve lost our dad, but this mother (of the murderer) lost her son.”
Cooper responded, “That’s incredible, Tonya, that…even in your time of grief…you’re thinking about them.” And Tonya told him that’s what their parents taught them to do and modeled it for them with their lives.
Cooper, seemingly impressed, then stated to her that she and her siblings represented their father “very well.”
I also think she also represented Jesus very well.
I also read this week an article about Rebecca Nichols Alonzo.* She is the daughter of Robert and Ramona Nichols. He was the pastor of Free Welcome Church in Sellerstown, North Carolina. He and his wife were both shot in their home by a church member. Rebecca’s mother died and her father was severely injured.
Rebecca says that she has been able to forgive the man who forever changed her life. How has she been able to do that? She says, “As a child, I watched my parents love, pray, forgive, and stand on the Word of God. If they had not forgiven and not taught me as a little girl to pray for our enemies, it would have destroyed me with anger and bitterness.”
Both of these stories had one thing in common, besides the obvious fact that children had lost their parents at the hands of a murderer. They both were able to forgive the killers. One of the reasons was because they all had been raised by parents who taught them to love the Lord and live by His Word.
Tonya Godwin- Baines said, “It’s not just that they taught us, they did it. They lived it.” Rebecca Nichols Alonzo said, “As a child, I watched my parents ….” That is why they had the faith to respond as they did. Their parents lived out God’s Word found in James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
This is the impact God wants our marriages to have on children He may entrust to us.
He tells us in Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” He reaffirms this truth in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
God also warns us about the consequences of not raising children according to His Word.
We read in Exodus 34:6-7: “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’”
If we do not teach God’s truth to our children through our words and actions, our children will follow their natural sinful tendencies. They will not learn how to give their lives to Christ and live for Him. And they will pay the consequences of our unfaithfulness.
This is also true in other areas of our lives.
Perhaps we do not have children, or our children are grown and living on their own. God’s Word tells us that our marriages are still to bring glory to Him, to show others how much He loves them, and to lead others to Him.
That’s what we read about marriage in Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
When we live our lives together as a couple according to God’s Word, then our marriages become His instrument through which He leads others to Himself. Our marriages bring glory to Him. We benefit with marriages that bring joy to us. This is the wonderful plan of God.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss things that stand out to you and how they apply to your lives and marriage.
♦ Think about your marriage. Is its purpose to bring glory to God and to bring others to Jesus? If not, how can you start doing this? If it is, how are you doing? How can you grow in this?
♦ As others think about you and your marriage, can you truly say they are able to see Jesus and God’s Word lived out? What can you do this week to make certain that this is the case?
♦ Close your time praying together. Ask God to help you study His Word faithfully. Ask Him to help you live that Word in every area of your life–your marriage, your family, at work, etc.–so that Jesus will be seen clearly through you.
Next week we will have a new teaching from God’s Word to enrich our marriages.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
- “Forgiveness: The Language of Heaven,” Facts and Trends Spring 2017 pp. 46-48.