1 Peter 1:3–5 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
First, Peter begins with a prayer of praise to God the Father. Thankfulness is a great engine of joy. One who is thankful will know joy. Yet to seek joy without thankfulness is to seek rain without clouds. Thankfulness brings forth joy.
Second, as those who profess Christ, we must be thankful to the Father: “ And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17 (ESV) ).
Third, it is interesting that in Colossians, the directives for marriage come immediately after the command to be thankful to the Father in everything –word or deed. Perhaps one reason marriage is so difficult is that we isolate from the directive to be thankful. Ask yourself: have you expressed thankfulness this day, this morning for your spouse? Do you think that your lack of thankfulness has affected your marriage? If you are not thankful to the Father, what does imply about your understanding of the Father?
Fourth, we must not neglect the great privilege we have in having access to God the Father in our Lord. We mistake the Father greatly when we think of him of outside of Christ. When we comes to the Father by Christ, we come as a child of adoption and thus we are welcome (Rom. 8:14-17).
Fifth, our Father has expressed mercy toward us – he gave us his Son. Yet, how often and how much mercy have you extended to your spouse. Our Lord directly ties the mercy of the Father to the command that we show love and mercy to our enemies: “35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35–36 (ESV)). If you must love your enemies, we can it so difficult to love your wife or husband?
Sixth, we have a hope. Marriages often lose hope – because the hope is placed upon the wrong point. We are never commanded to hope in the response of other human beings? In fact, we are cautioned directly against placing our hope other than upon our Creator. Our true hope – the living hope granted by God is based upon the work of the resurrection. When we place our hope on a man or woman, we are bound for disappointment. Even worse, we have given to our husband or wife something which belongs to God. We must show love and care and service toward our spouse, but we must rest upon God.
Seventh, our inheritance – our true object of hope – lies beyond any corruption or attack of this world. Children will do this: They will hope in happiness based upon some toy or game or party – and they will be gravely disappointed. God has so rigged the world that it is subjected to vanity (Eccl. 1:2). He loves us so greatly that he seeks draw us off of the world and onto him alone. “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17 (ESV)). If we have been disappointed by a marriage, perhaps we have made the marriage an end in itself, an idol rather than an opportunity to sacrifice ourselves and our agendas to the glory of God.
Eighth: the permanence of our inheritance contrasts sharply with the temporality of marriage: The inheritance will not fade; but marriage is not so. In marriage, we promise only to remain for this life. God has subjected all things to futility – and our lives will end in death. Marriage is parable – not the reality. Perhaps God has permitted pain and disappointment in marriage so that we would force our hope and our gaze above the creation: to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
Ninth: God is the one guarding you and guarding the treasure. We take hold of God’s protection by faith: We merely plead our dependence and in so doing we are rescued. One reason we find ourselves ruined in this life, is that we seek to stand independently of God. And so God, as a good Father who cares more for our good and wisdom and his glory than for our ease, will permit us great sorrow and pain until we realize that it is by faith a true dependence and trust upon him that we receive good.
Tenth: a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. We are not promised this inheritance before the revelation of Jesus Christ. As for now it is faith and hope that we possess. We mistake his promise when we believe ourselves to be cheated because we have not received the promise in full. But the promise was never for today, for it is a promise in which we hope.
Application: Stop being disappointed in your husband or wife. Bring your faith and hope to God. The Father has provided a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He has not disappointed us in that promise. Stop trusting in something other than Christ. Stop hoping for something other than God’s glory to come. Realize that so much of your pain has come from placing your hope where God has not commanded: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21 (ESV)).
Read over the marriage directives: We are never told to hope in our husband or hope in our wives. We are told to them, to show them respect and love. We are told to give to them. We are even told to give to our enemies without hope of return (Matt. 5:43-48). We will not be disappointed when we live as God has commanded us. Our disappointment comes because we refused to live as he has commanded.
Consider how a right view of God, hope and service would transform your heart. On what ground would you harbor anger or resentment toward your spouse?
A final note: When both spouses obey God in this matter, the result is the absolutely free and joyous blessing of being loved and valued by one who treasures God and thus cares for me. Each may receive such blessing with pure joy, knowing that it flows from a greater love of God. And so, this is not to lose the joy of romance and pleasure and companionship. Rather, those blessings become grounded in the greater joy and hope of God.
Prayer: Dear Father, forgive me for seeking your blessings rather than seeking you. Forgive me for setting my hope of happiness upon a human being, when you created me to seek my happiness in you. Forgive me for making marriage an idol, when I was created for worship of you alone.
Give me the wisdom and strength to rejoice in you alone.
Forgive me for not loving my spouse in the way in which you have commanded me. Give me a heart that seeks to honor you in the way in which I serve and live with my spouse. May I truly repent of my sins in my marriage, may I seek the forgiveness which comes from you and the forgiveness I must seek from my spouse. May I also grant forgiveness readily and fully – as you have forgiven me for the sake of my Lord Jesus Christ.