By Rudy and Osharye Hagood
There is something wonderful about a perfect gift. When God created vegetation, day and night, wild animals, crawling things, he declared each of those things to be “good.” Yet God outdid himself when he gave us a spouse. God even got an “amen” from Adam, who said, “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). In his own image, male and female, God created them, giving them dominion (care and management of, concern for, and rule over the earth), and God declared it “very good.”
Husbands and wives are a charis from God. Charis is the Greek word for grace, and it means “gift” or “freely given.” Spouses are good gifts, given that God’s grace may abound from one to the other; a husband and wife are greater together than they are individually. God gives us what’s good, and we are called to give grace to our gift (our spouse), as grace was given to us.
Good + Grace = Great (that is, Very Good Marriages).
God’s heart for us is to excel, not merely exist, in our marriages. But all our marriages, like our lives, are unavoidably tainted by the evil one, and we all detour away from the “very good.”
So, what do we mere “humans being” (see our January/February 2023 article, “Marriage Beings and Humans Being”) do in response to these detours and distractions? It’s simple: Let us return to God’s pattern. Take what God has made that is good (our marriage), add his grace, and watch God make it great.
Practice Daily Grace
While creating man, God declared for the first time that something wasn’t good. (“It is not good for the man to be alone”—Genesis 2:18.) So, God gave grace to good and made it great. God freely gave man the gift of companionship. We are charis from God for one another.
Anything God creates is good, and then (when) he adds grace, it becomes great. This is God’s divine pattern.
Marriage was good when we received it, but the fall changed that. We need grace to return to the image of God to care for it, to be concerned about it, to lead it, and to protect it.
Here are some simple, yet serious, ways to practice daily grace:
- Laugh, talk, and pray.
- Remember who you are and whose you are.
- Humble yourself before the Lord.
- Serve your spouse.
- Remember that both you and your spouse are image bearers.
- Look not only to your interests but to your spouse’s interests.
- Seek to understand your spouse.
- Be kind, merciful, and forgiving.
- Seek to learn something new about your spouse.
- Seek to be known by your spouse.
Add Grace to What Is Good
When we were engaged, we thought the lumps in our throats and the goosebumps we felt were a sign of God’s grace. Well, it turns out that goosebumps and good gifts (grace) are not the same thing.
We may have had goosebumps when we said, “I do,” but we had no inkling of what God’s grace would do in our marriage. A seed is good, but it can’t be great until we add soil and water. In the same way, a marriage is good, but unless we add grace and mercy, it cannot be great.
If you are like us, you and your spouse had no idea how many times the two of you would get in the way of very good. So, our advice is to add grace. Paul said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Put Effort into Grace
Couples need to keep it simple by returning to God’s pattern. Take what God has made that is good (your marriage), add grace, and watch God make it great, which means a very good marriage. (That’s precisely what God intended in the beginning.)
And while we encourage you to keep it simple, we are not so naive as to think grace is always easy. And to avoid any misunderstandings, grace can involve effort but it isn’t something that can be “earned.” Grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy all have effort and action embedded in them. The effort required by grace might simply be to listen, but it can feel like the weight of a mountain. Jesus provided us grace by using his effort to get to the cross. God took the only One who is good (Jesus), added grace (the cross), to bless us with salvation (great).
Good + Grace = Great. As we have all received grace, let us all give grace to our spouses.