25 September, 2022

Your Spouse Is Not the Main Thing

by | 1 September, 2022

By Rudy Hagood 

I can hear it like I’m still sitting in her living room. My mother-in-law, Mama D., was saying, “Keep the main thang, the main thang!” Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (English Standard Version). Well, bless the name of the Lord and let the church say Amen! Yet, a word of caution for both husbands and wives: Your spouse is not the main thang! Yes, we should be “very married.” Yes, the best gift we can give our kids is a great marriage. And yes, our marriages need to be a priority in our lives, but that priority is never to supersede the preeminence of God in our hearts. For it is common to drift from gratitude of our gift (our spouse) to worship of our gift.  

THE BEST THING 

I have found good things hinder our worship more often than bad things. Jesus stated, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Jesus lists several “good things” in that verse! Jesus is saying there is no discipleship if anyone or anything is above or even on par with our mental, emotional, convictional, or sacrificial commitment to the Lord. The moment anyone or anything exceeds or parallels God, our identity takes a drastic shift. Even in, and maybe especially in, marriage, we must be vigilant that our identity is in Christ alone, not in our spouse! 

Former NFL great Jerry Rice said, “The enemy of the best is the good. If you’re always settling with what’s good, you’ll never be the best.” As followers of the most high God, overindulgence in “good things” is frequently what gets in the way of what’s best in our lives. We must, of course, be wary of the major pitfalls of life, but what is equally destructive in our marriages and Christian walk are those “good things” that blind us from focusing on the best thing. When our identity transitions from child of God to spouse of . . . or parent of . . . we go from gratitude of our gift to worship of our gift.  

The phrase “the enemy of the best is the good” has both haunted and saved me since I first heard it. I mention this concept in the context of marriage because the gift of a spouse is a “good thing” but not the best thing. The best thing is a rock-solid, passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith and the foundation of our family. Marriage may form the foundation on which the family stands, but we must stand on Jesus as cornerstone of that foundation. Jesus must be the identity by which we are defined. When we have these two things in the correct order, the entire edifice of children and extended family have the proper foundation and identity. 

THE RIVALS OF THE BEST 

I will get more personal in my expression. I love Osharye, and l also love to love Osharye. She is my Osharye-amore! Since this is my truth, I must be ever mindful to make sure I don’t allow my heart for my blessing to become a rival for my devotion and adoration for my creator and sustainer Jesus Christ!  

This is not a new idea. This thought goes back to the roots of our faith in the Old Covenant, to the Ten Commandments:  

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).  

From the beginning, God has desired a distinctiveness in our affections toward him to the point that even things in heaven must not rival his position in our hearts.  

THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE 

Just as God should have no rival in our hearts, so too no other human should be a rival for our affection and love for our spouse. Even in well-intentioned marriages that failed or that are currently failing, the decline generally did not begin with an affair, abuse, pornography, or neglect. Most often it began with allowing a good thing in one’s life to supersede their blessing, which is their spouse. From there the husband or wife slips further into more detrimental behaviors, such as in the list previously mentioned. The good thing could be ministry, work, a project, or even family.  

When God said, “leave and cleave,” he was teaching us the enemy of the best is often the good. It can even be our care and/or attention for our kids that causes us to neglect the foundation of the family, the marriage. And as with our faith, if Jesus is not the cornerstone of the marital foundation, that foundation falls apart and brings down the entire structure. Yes, we are to have strong relationships with our parents and our kids, but among our human relationships, the marriage relationship is to be the strongest. I just want us to see that a slight tangential shift in our attention eventually will deprioritize our spouse in our lives, and our marriages will slip from what God intended.  

Marriage and identity are protected when we understand that the enemy of the best is the good. If you’re concerned that focusing on God will somehow hinder your marriage, remember that God calls husbands and wives to love and respect each other (Ephesians 5:33). Focusing on God brings our marriages into perfect and pure clarity.  

I still can hear Mama D. saying, “Keep the main thang, the main thang!”  

Rudy Hagood

Rudy Hagood serves as lead pastor with University Christian Church in Los Angeles. He is married to the lovely and dynamic Osharye Hagood. He is a graduate of Hope International University and Southwestern Christian College.

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