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Hard Work

February 23, 2017

My wife and I have been married more than 45 years.  Almost from the beginning we’ve been told that “marriage is hard work.”  I wasn’t comfortable with that phrase 45 years ago and I still don’t like it.  While it is certainly true that being married will mean that a significant portion of your time, emotions and energy will be devoted to your spouse and family; and while it will lead to actions and decisions that are vastly different from your old single ways, I feel that calling marriage “work” starts you off on the wrong foot.

When we call marriage work we create an unhelpful dichotomy.  We are effectively given two choices.  We can spend time, energy and emotions on the “work” of marriage; or we can breeze into marriage feeling that little or no changes in the way we live our lives are needed.  The choice presented is hard work vs. little or no work.  I can’t imagine anyone being naïve enough to believe that, at the moment they say “I do” their lives won’t drastically change.

Think of it this way; I know a lot of people who have significant hobbies.  Some love to rebuild and race cars, others love fishing, or singing in church choirs or with worship teams.  Still others enjoy travel or singing in barbershop quartets.  The list could go on.  To be good at any of these activities consumes time, money, and emotional energy.  Yet I don’t think I have ever heard someone say “fishing is such hard work.”  Simply put, when we really love someone (or something) whether we should put energy into it is the last thing on our minds.  Using a financial metaphor, the investment in a good marriage produces a rate of return untouched by anything in our world.

My thought spun to this last night in our Bible study.  We were looking at 1 Peter 5 and the discussion of elders.  We were told that being an elder should be assumed willingly, even eagerly, and not by compulsion.  Having been an elder in five churches I am well aware of the effort and emotions it takes and, yes, even some of the heartaches that come.  But I can’t help but think that what Peter was saying was “if you view this as work you are already in trouble.”

I tend to think that this applies to all Christian ministries, be it evangelism, serving on church committees, helping the poor, the elderly or ministry to children; or even serving behind the scenes on things like cleaning the church building.  It is hard work only if we compare it to doing nothing at all.

Peter, Jesus, Paul and the rest of the Bible introduce us to something entirely different.  We are given marching orders that the world had never seen and still has trouble understanding.  We are to be humble servants who trust in God to use all that we do in ways that please Him.  With this mindset we can not only avoid the burden of “work” but find that we can be shaped and changed to the better in ways that we’d never have imagined.

There are some young married couples in our church and just a short time ago another couple got engaged right in the morning worship service.  If I would give any advice to them it would be this:  Never think of all the time, effort and emotions you put into your marriage as work.  Think of it always as a life-long adventure with all kinds of peaks and valleys; and think of the partner God has given you for this adventure as your greatest treasure.

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From → Christianity

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