My beloved students in Christ,
I write to you, as this old year is winding down, and we count off the hours before a new one, to remind you of the best gift God has given you. It is not your gift to preach. It is not your gift to counsel. It is not your gift to be compassionate or to apply wisdom or to distill all the theological and Biblical wisdom you have or will glean and pour them into the life of a needy person, as worthy as that is. Here is your best gift:
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord ” (Proverbs 18:22 ESV).
For, my beloved student in the Gospel, you may succeed in the ministry and fail at home and you will be counted as a failure. Yet if you succeed in home, and cherish the wife the Lord has given you, and fail or falter in every ministry endeavor, no matter how much you desire to succeed, you will be counted as a tremendous success.
To have both is a unique blessing of God that you should plead for in your prayers. Yet if I had only one of the gifts I would prefer to be a success as a husband if an ignoble nobody as a pastor (this is in the world’s eyes, mind you; for if you are a success as a husband, you are bound to be a success as a pastor). For the Church of Jesus desperately needs both your model and your stability so that you can minister those other gifts. Oh, I plead with you, beloved student of ministry, do not neglect the best gift to seek the lesser ones. If you do, you will lose them all.
[pullquote]Oh, I plead with you, beloved student of ministry, do not neglect the best gift to seek the lesser ones. If you do, you will lose them all.[/pullquote]
Yes, this is a warning. It is a warning that I give to my son, so I give to you, too, in love.
As you set out with goals for your new year in seminary, or perhaps graduating and heading into ministry, remember that she must be the first in your goals: to husband her, to literally cultivate the godliness and worth of her life, displaying it in your home, adorning your own life with her, and cherishing her wisdom and insights which God has given to her.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV).
Treat your wife with dignity and respect. Approach her as the queen of your home and the regent of your heart, surpassed only by the King of your life and marriage, the Lord Jesus.
She will do you good. She is more precious than any accomplishment or accolade in this life. Nothing compares to her for she is the very living representation of the faithfulness and goodness of God to the believer.
“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:10-11 ESV).
I have taken this moment to rededicate myself to my own best gift. Yet in sharing this with you, I do myself great danger, set myself up for attack from the evil one, which can bring great calamity upon the Church. We all do that who minister and are married. Yet we must live as pastors, married pastors, before the Church and the world, whatever danger there is. For the world needs to know that God’s best gift really does exist. And she is sitting right next to you…or, should be.
Happy New Year to all of our students, men and women, married and single. I have a message on my heart for each and all, but this one was consuming me from my studies this morning. Let those of us who are single, or who are female students, pray the more diligently for our seminary colleagues who are men as they minister to their wives. No subject in our seminary can replace that primary study. And the marriages all around us do effect each of us. So let us remember the marriages in our midst in prayer. Seek blessing on the men as you pass them in the halls or see them in the class. Ask God to give them hearts of devotion for their wives. Pray that God will grant them patience. Plead that they will see that the best gift is the wife, the pinnacle of creation that has been given from heaven to bless his life and thus to bless many, many others through the generations For such is the cornerstone of our society, as you know from your own parents and as may be the longing of your own hearts.
So now unto Christ Jesus, our Husband in the Church, we give all glory and seek all blessing for our families in seminary today.