Living Your Marriage Covenant

To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

Do you remember those words… or similar words you spoke on your wedding day? All couples start out saying the right things. But words alone are not what makes love and marriage last a lifetime. It is all about living your marriage covenant.

We tend to enter marriage with a view that it’s a relationship of convenience, with an attitude of “what’s in it for me.” But marriage, as God intended it, is a sacred covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Understanding and living your marriage covenant out is crucial to a fulfilling and lasting marriage.

In the Old Testament, God made several covenants with His people. The act of making a covenant was no empty ritual, but a solemn and sacred event. Making a covenant required a ceremony in which an animal was sacrificed. The sacrifice was a symbol of the covenant relationship being entered into. And so living your marriage covenant costs a life.

The sacrifice symbolized the death of each party to the covenant (Hebrews 9:16-17). So it is in the covenant of marriage. Each party was saying in effect, “That animal symbolizes my death. As I enter into this covenant, I enter by death…death to myself. I am giving up my right to live for myself; I am living my marriage covenant by dying to myself.”

Each party is essentially saying to the other: “I will die for you. From now on, your interests and needs take precedence over my own. I no longer live for myself; I live for you.” Each lays down his life for the other. The covenant that secures a marriage is sacrificial and permanent. By dying to self you are living your marriage covenant.

Jesus Christ is the supreme example of what it means to live in a covenant relationship. Laying aside the privileges of deity, He came to earth and paid the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross to pay for our sins. Likewise, he calls us to a covenant that requires us, as husbands and wives, to give up our selfish ways and die to “self.” Each laying down his life for the other. Jesus was the greatest example of living the marriage covenant as He laid down His life for His bride the church.

The satisfaction of our own needs and desires is not primarily why we get married or stay married. Instead, each spouse’s actions are to have an “other” focus. Building a loving and fulfilling marriage requires sacrifice.

Do you acknowledge God’s truth that your marriage is a covenant that requires sacrifices to be made on your part? What are some of the sacrifices you need to make to live out your marriage covenant with your spouse?

Action Point: Today cultivate an attitude of sacrificial giving of yourself to meet your spouse’s most important emotional needs. Seek an opportunity to make a sacrifice for your spouse. And start living your marriage covenant.