IF you are like me, you have a go at making your new gadget or computer programme work without reading the directions. The computer  programme has a plaintive, ‘Read me’, section and even a ‘Help’ key to succour the desperate: nevertheless, most of us push ahead on our own. There seems to be a ‘know-it-all’ streak in most of us – or is it that we simply must do it our way?

It does not matter much if we get tangled up in  cooking, gardening or computer antics, but it can  prove calamitous with friendships, courtship and  marriage. Self-will is not God’s will, and we need  to know the difference.

Why do relationships go wrong?

We haven’t to go far at our place of work or in our  street or, sadly, in the ecclesial world before we come  across a broken home. In today’s world marriages  or, even more, merely living together will, in up to  half of the cases, end in break-up.

How do you explain this? Do you think you will  be any more successful in your relationships? If you  do, why are you so sure?

Rock or sand?

I am not happy about writing this section, but  I’ll do it anyway. A lot of people all over the  Christadelphian world are saying that many of  our folks, young and old, no longer read the Bible  consistently. How true this is you can to a certain  extent judge for yourself. Starting with yourself, how  do you stand? Be honest.

Jesus told us plainly that we build our lives on  rock or sand depending on whether we follow his  words or not. It is as simple as that. It is no substitute  only to listen to someone else talking about the  words of Jesus, or to hear advice based on someone  else’s experience, or to try to ‘jolly’ ourselves along  with ‘spiritual songs’.

Hear and do

The Bible is God talking to each of us. We are not  asking someone else, ‘What did He say?’, we are  listening to His voice for ourselves. Take the following  straightforward words:

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” 

(Amos 3:3)

“Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

(2 Corinthians 6:14)

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law,  even his prayer shall be an abomination.”                                                                                                                                                                    (Proverbs 28:9)

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments  with thee.”

(Proverbs 8:1)

“Fools hate knowledge.” 

(Proverbs 1:22)

God’s word is intended to be a lamp for our feet  and a light for our path. It is God’s life-guide for  those who want to please Him.

A lottery?

A cynic once said: ‘Marriage is a lottery’. ‘Happy  marriage is pure chance’, he said. Suppose we choose  someone by their looks, are all good-looking people  happily married? Or, by money: are all well-to-do  people secure? We know the answers. But there is  a strange twist: are all Christadelphians happily  married? No! Why not? And, isn’t it possible to have a lasting marriage without being a disciple of  Christ? Yes, it is.

The truth is that whatever precautions we take, there may be trouble ahead. Nevertheless, the better  prepared we are, the less likely it is that we shall be  caught up in avoidable disasters. Not all aircraft  arrive safely, but we are more likely to escape accidents  on a well-built, regularly serviced aircraft  with a fully trained, experienced and healthy pilot. So it is with marriage. God who ordained marriage has given us good rules by which to be guided and  safe-guarded.

The footings

The footings are the foundation courses of a wall or  building. ‘Footings’ is an excellent word. One of its  old meanings was footmarks or a trail. Marriage is a  journey and the footings must be right in both senses.

Here are the best footings for friendship and  marriage:

  1. Read the Bible every day.
  2. Pray regularly and about everything.
  3. Choose your life’s partner from among those who practise 1 & 2 in our own community.
  4. Restrict your choice to those who also attend our meetings habitually.
  5. Make sure your own and your friend’s lifestyle is in harmony with all of these things.
  6. Talk regularly and easily about the truth and agree with your chosen friend that serving God is your number one priority.
  7. Does your friend really look like a disciple of Jesus? And behave like one?
  8. Would your friend be a help or a hindrance on the journey to the kingdom?
  9. And be a parent who would bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
  10. Could you truly be heirs together of the grace of life?

Now, do you think those are reasonable criteria?  Ask yourself how you personally match up to them.  In other words, if someone of the opposite sex were  to use those rules in assessing your worth, would you  pass the test? Do you think Christ uses different  standards in choosing his Bride?

When all else fails

You may already be married but find yourself deficient  at some point in the above golden rules. If so,  it is not too late to put things right. Lay your lives  before God in prayer and start today to read His  word and to serve Him well. You will be surprised  what a difference such commitment makes and you  will realise a greater peace of mind.

We live in a world where everything else is failing  to one degree or another. Our world believes  in the right to break up friendships and to shatter  marriages, with disastrous consequences for the  children, and probably one of the partners. Our  world believes ‘it knows best’, and best does not  include Christ. It believes in ‘joy’-riding with stolen  partners and regardless of the law of God. It receives  its instruction more from soap operas than from the  old Ten Commandments. Our world is lost.

A man is known by the company he keeps.  Choose the kind of partner who would please  Christ, and choose prayerfully. When all else fails  he will never leave you nor forsake you.