Choosing the Right Person: What About …?

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What about age differences?
What if a young lady is older than the man who wants to marry her? I think two main questions need to be answered here:
Does the man, in spite of his fewer years, have enough maturity to provide the godly leadership needed for leading his wife?
Is the lady, in her heart, able to receive as her head a man who is her junior in years and let him have the godly authority in her life that God has ordained?

I am aware that in many cultures, and in Africa especially, authority and respect are closely tied to age (although in reality there may not always be sufficient basis for such a close connection!). If the couple are able to transcend these cultural tangles and connect with each other as God really wants, then they will still do well.

Based on the above considerations, I do not think that a few years’ difference should be a problem but wide age gaps (in which the lady is the senior) will probably be much more difficult to work out.

What about differences in tribe and race and caste?
In certain parts of our world, this is a common obstacle that prospective spouses face within themselves and from their parents. Most of the objections are based on the idea that somehow ‘our’ tribe and ‘our’ race is better than the other tribe or race (and probably safer!).

But this is simply not true. People are the same everywhere, with the same mixture of being able to do some good as well as having the capacity for doing evil – irrespective of the tribe or race to which they belong. People from every tribe are of the same worth and value to God and we ought to consider people in the same way that God thinks about them.

Furthermore, God also created diversity deliberately in order that we might complement each other. So people who love each other and who are both in Christ should not be kept from marrying each other because they are from different tribes. They are free to marry.

Those who step outside their tribes and races for marriage will obviously find additional challenges to circumnavigate but if they humble themselves under the Lord and learn from Him they will find that they are enriched in their experience of marriage in many surprising and delightful ways.

What about money?
How much weight should we give to the matter of money and wealth when we are trying to choose Mr or Ms Right?

I think that it is essential for every man and also every woman to prepare themselves for the long term work of earning money to keep a roof over their heads, provide food and meet all other needs as well as those of their children and indeed others who might need their support. Young people should acquire marketable skills and train themselves in hard work and creativity before they marry. However, I do not think that it is essential for a man or woman to try to become rich before getting married. Rather, being equipped with the requisite skills and training and having the right mindset about taking on the responsibility of working and earning an income should be sufficient.

Finding Mr. Right

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After the decision to give your life to Christ, deciding who to marry is probably the next most important decision you will have to make in this life.  There may be so many men you admire and like (or who admire and like you!) but how can you know which one is ‘Mr. Right’ for you?

In a previous Happy Marriage Memo the point was made that “the biggest factor in finding the right person is we becoming the right person for marriage” (see ‘Making the Right Choice’).

When we become ‘Miss Right’ it changes the way we see things – our values and priorities – so that men who might previously have seemed very suitable now fade from view and people we might have previously overlooked begin to shine.  We are now able to ‘see’ the Mr. Right God is showing us.

What is your mental picture of a ‘Miss Right’?  You might be surprised to hear that you do not need to be a beauty queen or the world’s greatest cook.  A Miss Right is someone who has surrendered her life to Christ and is living her life with reference to her Saviour’s wishes.  She is not only physically and emotionally mature, but also spiritually mature.  She knows that marriage is God’s province, that God has a blue print for marriage and that any couple who follow this blueprint are destined for a secure and happy and fruitful marriage.  Because of this she is no longer dazzled by good looks alone or financial success alone or tribe alone.  She is now dazzled by a man who knows and loves and seeks after God.  Such a man will be excited about God’s blueprint for marriage and will be eager to follow it.

Proverbs 31:30 tells young men that “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

We can paraphrase this for those of us looking for Mr. Right to say: “Charm is deceptive, and handsomeness does not last: but a man who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

There’s nothing wrong with being charming and handsome, of course!  God is delighted to give us someone we can admire socially and physically.  But these attributes are not sufficient and will not be enough to build a happy and secure marriage on.  Go for the absolute necessities first:  is he born again?  Does God’s word matter to him and affect his day to day decisions?

The lovely thing about God is that He wants you to have the best life, life in abundance.  Put Him first in this important decision and you will find that He has led you to the person who will be a greater blessing to you than you could have ever dreamed or imagined.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (Matthew 6: 31-33)

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Seeing Clearly Before You Choose

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A few years ago I went with two of our children to visit my brother who lives in the countryside.  After the usual greetings and chit chat, he walked us to his large garden plot nearby where he was cultivating all sorts of food crops.  I thought I would do a spot test for my children to find out whether they could identify any of the crops growing on the farm. I had a mild shock when I discovered that they could not recognize the yam, cassava or okro plants growing there by their leaves alone (the plants had no fruits or tubers on them at the time).  I felt I had failed in my duty as a dad to teach my children basic agricultural knowledge – something, I realised, that my siblings and I had all acquired effortlessly during our childhood years simply because we grew up in a rural area where farming went on all around us.

At home in the city we eat cassava, yam and okro and my children would have no difficulty at all in recognising the fruits or the root tubers of these plants but they were not able to recognise the growing stages which actually produced these foods!  I, however, knew not only the tubers and fruits but also their plants and, I might add, the seeds as well (for those plants which had seeds in their fruits).  Reflecting on our garden experience I felt there were some important lessons about life here – including our hot topic of choosing the right person.

We need knowledge to be able to make the right choices.  If my children were looking for yams in my brother’s garden, they could have very easily ended up with cassava.  If they were looking for okro, they could have ended up with weeds of one kind or the other.  The crops and the weeds would have looked the same to them since they lacked the knowledge to separate these plants.  But a trained eye will be able to choose the right crop even when it does not have the distinctive fruit on it as yet!

All men and women are not the same in character. Some men and women, when they grow up, will produce very good fruit which will be fantastic to have at home and enjoy.  Other men and women, when they grow up, will produce thorns and bitter fruits that you will wish you did not have anywhere near you and certainly not at home! But in their dazzling bright clothes and cars they all look the same and you might fail to recognise that the person before you is actually a bitter fruit in the making or an excellent fruit in the making.  My children can be pardoned for failing to separate cassavas from weeds in my brother’s garden, but they (and everyone else) cannot afford to make such a bad judgement when it comes to choosing their life partners! It will be too costly. So how can we see well enough so that we can choose right?

Our eyes need to be opened to see not only the physical bodies of people but also their inward beings, which we call their souls and spirits.  How can this happen?

  1. Come to the Lord.

When you come to God through Jesus Christ, He will open your eyes. Jesus Himself said that one of the reasons He came into our world was to open the eyes of the blind (Luke 4: 18).  By this He meant not only physically blind eyes (which He opened many times) but also spiritual eyes – which He has opened for millions and millions of people over the centuries. “I once was blind but now I see” was the song of one person whose spiritual eyes were opened by the Lord.

When you pray and ask Him, He will open your eyes.

  1. God’s word also helps us to separate yams from weeds:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

All men and women are NOT the same in character.  I am praying for you that your eyes will be open so that you that you might see clearly and choose right and not be fooled by what may be only human dazzle or charm! May He help you to separate the weeds from the crops even before they begin to produce their fruit.

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