I love to cook good food. The best foods take research, planning, and practice to truly delight a gourmet. Imagine you are a chef in a top culinary school preparing to be the star of your own restaurant. You would pay careful attention to learn and hone every skill you could to make sure your restaurant is a success, yes? How about your marriage?
God is the gourmet who owns the best culinary school where He invites you (and your future spouse) to train to be the star of your own marriage, in which He will either be delighted or … well, you don’t want to go there, although far too many do.
What are the three secrets to great French cooking? Butter, butter, and butter, according to the chef movie “No Reservations.” What are the three secrets to great marriages? Faith, hope and love. (Did you think I was going to say love three times? Nope!) Let’s take a look.
Faith: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What is this substance, this evidence? It is simply trust of God’s character, His word, and His promises. This trust is best built through relationship with Him. He designed you and marriage, so go to the source and drink deep of the pure water!
Hope: You start with faith, learning to know and trust Father God through becoming friends with Jesus, which makes God’s strength and character available to you in difficult circumstances. This repeated drawing on His strength and character builds in you the ability to handle hard things calmly without complaining. In other words it develops your ability to love, which works the rest of His character in you. His character in you produces hope that will be fulfilled because of who Father God is and because His love is pouring through the Holy Spirit into you. (Romans 5:1-5, 1 Corinthians 13:4)
Love: You must be remade by Father God’s unconditional love. He pours it over you and massages it into your soul so you will live it to others, namely your spouse. So what is it? This love calmly and kindly bears tough situations and abuse. This love seeks to fulfill the needs of others. This love is humble and behaves well. This love thinks good things and rejoices in truth. This love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. This love never runs out and never says, “That’s it! I can’t take any more! You are going to pay!” Never. Ever. I’m serious. This love is deeper, stronger and longer than actual displays of spiritual gifts and power. This love is the beginning of eternal perfection. This love is real maturity. This love is the foreshadow of eternity, the taste of what your soul cries for from the depths of your being, and the promise that you will know Him as He knows you. Your family, friends, work and everyone else you come in contact with are your training team until your spouse shows up and becomes your primary training partner. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
Faith, hope and love. And the most important is the love which ties them all together. I hope you train well in these ingredients under the Master Chef before your spouse shows up, because that’s when the training goes to advanced courses. What will you say to your spouse if you have to go back and repeat basic courses when they are ready to hit the advanced courses? If there are any areas needing work, any areas you have hidden or are slacking off in, they will show up really fast!