E-mom at Chrysalis has invited us again, this first Monday of the month, to join her in discussing all things marriage. Let me let her explain it better:
July: Open Topic
I'd like to invite you to share your own thoughts on marriage too. Please join us for Marriage Monday on July 7, 2008. Our community of Marriage Monday bloggers is a diverse group of joyful, Godly women. We are young, old, seasoned, and newlywed.
This month our topic is wide open, so write your heart out. Feel free to discuss Christian marriage from any angle you deem relevant and God-honoring.
After you leave your link, consider taking some time to visit the other participants. You'll be blessed!
I was prompted to talk about the "covenant,"--the actual word itself, and the other one we sometimes interchange with it, you know,..."commitment." Please consider my heart, thoughts, convictions, and study concerning this, below.
What’s the difference between a covenant or promise and commitment? Is there a difference? To God there is. Let’s look at these words in relation to marriage. Tell me how your outlook has changed, if any, in the end.
Hubby and I decided that we would make a marriage covenant, rather than a commitment. We even had The Covenant Marriage of Honey and Hubby written on the invitations. It was important to us to convey that message, like it was important for us to have a Christian wedding where Christ was the head and where we spoke of what His Word said about marriage. We also wanted to show the parallel between our marriage and Christ and His bride, the church. So why was our choice of words ‘covenant?’
Commitment is defined in Webster in context as a pledge to do something; dedication to a long-term course of action; engagement; involvement. It sounds good doesn’t it? What would be wrong with using this word? Nothing really, except for the fact that while it sounds good and has good intentions at its root, it can be broken. Some people, in fact, think nothing of breaking a commitment if things don’t quite work out the way they wanted them too. Oh, they mean well. Don’t we all? But, have you ever had someone break a commitment to you? How can this happen? God is a God of assurance and sovereignty. His Word is concrete, unlike the definition of commitment alluding to something you may wholeheartedly want to do and may even say you’re going to do, but there are no real guarantees. What’s the difference then, as asked before, between commitment and a covenant and/or a promise? Can covenants be broken? The real answer is, because of our sin nature, anything, yes including a covenant, can be broken (See also Numbers 30:1-16). But at its core, this was never meant to be, and when you did break a vow or covenant, not just anybody involved could do it, and there were severe consequences when or if one did. If we took the words (covenant and promise) seriously, there would be a distinct difference and reaction to the meaning of these words versus the other. Promise is defined as an oral or written AGREEMENT to do or not to do something; a VOW; something promised. Webster defines a covenant as a BINDING and solemn agreement to do or to keep from doing a specified thing; compact; a formal, SEALED contract; theologically, the promise made by God to humanity and the relationship it established, as described in the BIBLE. Do you notice a difference yet?
God honored and took seriously covenants and His promises in the Bible. He honored covenants in the Old Testament and His promises throughout it. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6B (NIV) says “When you make a vow to God (or before God), do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.” The NLT version says “So when you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to Him. It is better to say nothing than to promise something that you don’t follow through on. In such cases, your mouth is making you sin.” That’s serious business. If it hasn’t been quite that serious to you before now, make it that serious. PLAN beforehand to obey God and follow through. Plan to never break your promises before Him and the person you’re vowing to. (Check your Bible’s concordance to see how vow was used as a noun and verb.)
One of the covenants God made in Genesis about never flooding the earth again still holds strong till this day. And we expect that, since He is God and He can’t lie or go back on His promises, that this covenant will never be broken. God also made a covenant with Abraham about his son Isaac, that Isaac would be the son of the promise (the line from which the Messiah would come). The covenant was kept and His promise came to fruition as the Bible clearly spells out. These are very important instances in Biblical history, in our history as well. There are many more instances of God making a covenant or man making a covenant with another man. It was expected that when God made a covenant, it was something that He was BOUND to do, that it was a “done deal.” People knew God could be trusted, that He WOULD follow through.
If we are to model our Lord, shouldn’t we do our best to not just make commitments, but make covenants that we have no intention of breaking? We should be asking God for whatever it takes to keep a covenant and make it just as real in our lives as it is with Him. We should go into our marriages or wedlock (a compact, pledge; an offering or gift—hmmm, this seems to be similar to a covenant, don’t you think?) with the intention of not only never getting out of it or even thinking of that, but telling ourselves that getting out of it is not possible. It needs to be something we honor with the same seriousness and completeness as God did His. Can we do that? We’re not God. Obviously not, but a covenant can be made between two people who’ve made this promise before God, and your commitment to the covenant is honored by God who, if He is the head, can BIND and SEAL this agreement. We CAN stay married for a lifetime. We can, and we MUST. We must be a unified and Godly testimony, by living out our covenants, to lost or dying marriages wherever we go.
Satan has fed marriages in our world lies. “It’ll never work out. You’ve got too many problems.” “He’s not like you thought he would be. Just leave.” “She’s not as nice as when you first met her. You don’t have to put up with that.” “The grass is greener on the other side. Trust me.” “Too many years with the same person is boring. You’re not the type for that.” “If you just do this or that, they’ll never find out. Listen to me.” The lies and the list go on and on. These lies are marriage destroyers. Remember though, covenants can’t be broken (or shouldn’t be) so what do you do when you’re bombarded with lies? Hold on to the promise that you made. Recognize a lie when you hear it. Go to God’s Word to see what the Designer of Covenants and Marriage has to say about these things. Ask Him to help you honor and obey His Word. Get to know the God of covenants and promises intimately. See what these things truly meant to Him. Trust Him because we can’t trust our flesh. Find ways to honor your mate and start afresh every day. Pray for yourself and your spouse daily. Seek any help you need in aiding you in keeping your promise. Ask God to drive out the voice of the enemy (the hater of marriages and a covenant-breaker himself) and replace that voice with His voice and truth.
Let me end this by saying that I was once in marriages that God had not put together. Although I didn’t want to be responsible for being the covenant breaker in either case, I was responsible for not waiting on the Lord and His choice for me so that keeping a covenant would have been easier and aided by God. I know the difference now, thank God. He is a God of second, third, fourth, a million chances. When I finally received gratefully God’s choice for me, I wanted and was ready to make a covenant. We both made the choice to not let divorce or separation be an option. We don’t want the threat or possibility of that. We want to model Christ and His marriage to the church in our marriage. God loves the church. He gave Himself for it. What more of a sacrifice can one make for another? God, help us all be covenant keepers.
Be abundantly blessed in your marriage today and for the rest of your lives!