Written by Agnes Ip. Artwork by Christine Hwang.
1 Corinthians 7:32-40
What makes sweet love turn sour or bitter? How can you protect passionate love from deteriorating? Those were the questions I asked myself at the age of 16 after seeing my parents’ marital relationship fall apart firsthand.
My parents found true love in their youth and got married according to their free will. Their marriage life was somewhat sweet but mostly bitter. Their relationship was filled with tension, yelling, fighting, blaming and discontent. After my mother had an affair with her business partner, they separated. At 16, I had to draft a separation contract for my parents and stand witness as they signed it. Can you imagine how I felt and how anxious I felt about my future romantic relationships?
Since I didn’t know how to find a godly husband and I didn’t think any human being could guarantee his/her love for a lifetime, I turned to God for help. I prayed to skip the trials of dating with the hope of dating only one “chosen” man before getting married. And guess what? God answered my prayer! I married my husband when I was 23, and we are still happily married till this day!
Paul teaches that a married couple can’t totally focus on the Lord’s affairs. Their time and interest will be divided in pleasing their spouse. Like my parents, when each partner has a different life direction, their marriage will suffer. Only when each partner belongs to the Lord (v 39) can both parties obey God with a united heart, empowered by His sacrificial love to forgive and love each other.
I was blessed that God granted me a husband who shares the same belief, values and vision with me. For example, money is a major killer of many relationships, but it does not kill ours. My husband supports my ministry work even in the face of extreme financial difficulty and reminds me to trust in the Lord’s providence. Since we both put God first, we learn to overcome our differences regardless of our stubbornness and selfishness. In this way, we help each other to “live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (v 35).
1. What is at the center of your relationships? Do you consider the things of the Lord before the things of man?
2. How can you help those around you to live with undivided devotion to the Lord?