I’m not a marriage counselor, per se, I’m just a pastor.  But when I have counseled couples having problems, I’ve learned that some of the best counsel to give to a couple having difficulties in their marriage is that “they are not alone”.  Another thing that couples needs to hear is that marriage is hard work. 

This is what the Bible is doing in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.  In this passage of Scripture the Apostle Paul tries to encourage brothers and sisters who were single and had the gift of singleness to stay single.  As he encourages singles to stay that way, he does so by sharing with them the hardship of marriage: “So I don't want you to have any concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, that is, about how he can please the Lord.   But the married man is concerned about earthly things, that is, about how he can please his wife. His attention is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord's things so that she may be holy in body and in spirit. But the married woman is concerned about earthly things, that is, about how she can please her husband. I'm saying this for your benefit, not to restrict you. I'm showing you how to live a noble life of devotion to the Lord without being distracted by other things.” The Bible is telling us that those who are married need to be preoccupied with each other. He says in verses 33-34, “But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” Both husbands and wives are preoccupied with the earthly needs of each other—as they should be.  Paul begins verse 32 by saying, "I would have you without care." He was trying to free the Corinthians of the anxiety that marriage would cause. Paul is essentially saying, "I'd like you to have a carefree attitude about serving the Lord because marriage causes anxiety when it comes to serving the Lord!”

Many years ago my wife Debbie and I needed to make a run to Home Deport to return an item.  On the way home my wife says she needs to stop past a store and pick up a jar of hair conditioner for the girls.  I really needed to get home to finish working on my Sunday morning sermon in addition to a message I was going to be preaching at another church that evening.  Before I even had a chance to ask her which corner drug store she wanted to go to, she told me she wanted to go to Walmart.  I thought to myself, “To get a single jar of hair grease?”  So off we go to Walmart and end up spending more time and money than we planned. 

Not long after that our church had a Valentines Gala sponsored by our Women’s Ministry.  Since our women were hosting this event, I was looking forward to relaxing and leaving the work to my wife and her team.  The event was planned so that married couples could reserve a room to spend the night at the hotel where the gala was being held, and so Deb and I were on our way to check into our room.  We barely get two blocks from our house before Debbie said she forget something.  We drove back to get it.  As we were leaving for the hotel the second time and were about two blocks from the hotel, she said “Man!  I forgot something else!”  I thought she was kidding.  After being convinced that she wasn’t, we returned home and retrieved what she left behind.  On our third attempt to make it to the hotel we were successful and checked in. However, as we were unpacking, Debbie discovered that she left her “gold clutch purse.”  Of course her outfit wouldn’t be complete without her gold clutch purse.  Yes, I returned all the way home to get it.  Paul begins verse 32 by saying, "I would have you without care."  You see, Paul wanted his single readers to think twice about marriage because with marriage comes stress and anxiety and nervous tension and pressure…all which can obstruct one’s ability to serve the Lord full focused.

Paul says, “He who is married cares about the things of the world; how he may please his wife." (v. 33).  I can tell you after over three and a half decades of marriage, that pleasing one’s wife is a challenge.  What’s a husband to do when you get home from a hard day of work and the first thing that comes out of your wife’s mouth is “Do you notice anything different?”  How do you answer that? How does a Christian, Bible believing, truth-telling man respond when his wife asks a question like, “Do you think I’m fat?” Then there are the other questions, ‘Where are you going?  Where have you been?”  My mother used to ask me those questions!  Must I subject myself to this kind of interrogation as an adult in my own home?  Yes! Then there is the relationship you have with your in-laws that must be endured.  Paul writes, “he who is married cares about the things of the world; how he may please his wife.” Remember, the Parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14:17-20?  In parable Jesus said, "Come; for all things are now ready" (v. 17).  But there was one man who replied, "I’ve married a wife, and because of her, I cannot come" (v. 20). 

Marriage is hard work but if you are married, do not be discouraged.  God, who created marriage, gives couples what they need to have a joyful, fruitful marriage.  Here is the key.  Get saved.  When you become a follower of Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit comes to make His home in you.  Your body, the Bible says, becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell the Christian, the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian (Acts 1:8).  But not only does the Holy Spirit indwell you and empower you, the Bible tells us that He controls you (Ephesians 5:18).  When you are not indwelled, empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are doomed to failure in your marriage. 

Much of the Bible Points content comes from the sermons of Pastor Chuck Brooks who serves as pastor-teacher of GraceWay Church, 2001 North Rolling Road, Baltimore, MD.  You can listen to or download many of Chuck’s sermons at www.mygraceway.org or keep up with the events sponsored by GraceWay on our Facebook page.