A brother I respect dearly recently asked me for a Zoom meeting. He’s also a minister of the gospel and he got married before I did. “What is the greatest lesson that you learnt for your marriage?” I didn’t have to think so much to give him the answer. This is perhaps the greatest factor that has helped our home to weather all storms and heat in the past one year. It is equally the greatest principle that will sustain the joy and peace of our home for the next hundred years.
Throughout our courthsip, as we practised oneness and synchrony in all the important aspects of our future marital life, we developed many principles which we adopted as the laws that will govern our marriage. If you think about a constitution, you’ll be close to understanding what I’m talking about. And we started using that constitution long before we married so that we could get used to it and be able to hit the ground running from the first day of matrimony. Laws of conflict resolution, laws of family finance, laws of in-law relationships etc. But of all the laws, there’s a particular one that swallows up all others in its importance and usefulness.
For many years we had read 1 Peter Chapter 3 verse 1-7. You probably can recite it off hand . “Likewise you wives, be subject on to your own husbands… Verse 7 was introduced with the same word. “Likewise you husbands…” But you know for all these years, many of us never took notice of the word “Likewise”. Ordinarily, no one begins a fresh thought with that word. If someone says, Likewise, he must have described something prior.
We were shocked to realise that towards the end of Chapter two, the apostle Peter had unveiled the life of a man. He was a man who knew no sin despite living in a sinful world. He knew no sin not because everyone around him behaved well towards him. He knew no sin not because there weren’t many opportunities to sin. He knew no sin because it was the choice he made. And there was no guile once found in his mouth. Whenever this man was insulted, sometimes by people he could easily incinerate, he would not answer back as though he was powerless. Whenever you mistreat him, he will never issue a threat. He was such a strange man. This was the man Peter was pointing to when he said Likewise you wife; Likewise you husbands.
In a moment our eyes opened. Really? So God expects me as a husband to act exactly like this man in my marriage? God expects my wife to act like this man in our marriage? I am expected to know no sin on account of this marriage. This marriage is not supposed to be the reason for me to sin. And as I was learning, there can be no sufficient excuse. I won’t be correct to say, “well, I was provoked by my wife, that’s why I said unprintable words about her which a christian ought not to say.” “Well the reason I always shout back at my husband and show him no respect is because he has been following other women.”
The reason any of this won’t be a tenable excuse is because this man we’re asked to be like was provoked too; yes his bride was always going out with other men and yet he knew no sin at any of those moments.
In other words, my duty to be like this man is not dependent on my wife’s good behavior, actions or inactions. Even when she’s so badly behaved, I must be like this man towards her. Waaooh!
Her duty to be like this man has nothing to do with me being a loving husband. It ought to be a personal decision. A personal consecration. After all, being like this man is also the requirement of inheriting the kingdom of God. Ought her therefore to premise her quest to inherit that kingdom on my own unpredictable behavior and choices? Will that be a smart thing to do?
There are certainly many who entered marriage as “Christians” but who were changed to monsters – someone we can no longer recognise – on account of that union. Many have lost the kingdom of God because of what their marriage turned them into.
As this light dawned on me, I made a very serious decision: marriage will not take the life of Christ from me! I will live each day in that union being like Jesus. If ever my wife insults me, I will not insult back. If she ‘suffers’ me, I will not issue threats – threats of withdrawing my financial support or other forms of support or even my love or communication.
If there is any time that she’s sure to get any money she requests, it is at those moments when I believe she’s not treating me right. I’m more conscious at those moments to ensure she doesn’t interpret my NO as my way of getting back at her.
At the greatest volatile moments in the last one year, this was what kept me from misbehaving. And of course it helped us to nip what could have been many great fights in their bud. My question was always, “how would Jesus have reacted to this kind of situation?” The truth is that it takes two people to fight. If one person throws a big insult and the other person refuses to respond, that seed of possible world war 3 will have no place to germinate.
I don’t know about you, but for me it is a great shame to be called a Christan and not behave as Jesus would. Any time I fall below His standard, I feel a great sense of failure. While I will usually repent quickly and keep pressing after him yet again, I will first really take myself to the cleaners. That’s my value system and I think it ought to be the value system of every genuine follower of Christ.
My wife has long joined me in this quest of labouring to be like Jesus at all times. It’s getting more beautiful each passing day. And you know what, it’s easier and better if the two in a marriage place themselves on this duty – the duty to talk like Jesus, respond like Jesus, react like Jesus, love like Jesus, submit like Jesus; regardless of what their partner chooses to do.
If you’re yet single, look for a partner who has this kind of passion. It is the surest guarantee of a successful marriage. Not a passion to be woke. Not someone who is proud to have a sharp mouth and haughty spirit. And surely not someone who treats sin with levity. But someone who has a deep-sitted desire to be a reflection of the life of Christ at all times.
Peniela Eniayo Akintujoye.