If you don’t know anything about marriage, I want you to understand this one thing: The most important issue in marriage is a personal relationship with God. Your life and your marriage will be more impacted by your relationship with Jesus than anything else.
All men and women are driven by four basic needs: acceptance, identity, security, and purpose. Either God will meet those needs for us or we will try to find a person to meet those needs. If we rely on a person to meet those needs—like a husband or wife—we will find failure.
This is illustrated in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. She had been divorced five times and was currently living with another man. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,” Jesus told her. “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). He recognized that she was relying on men to meet her basic needs. When her first husband couldn’t do it, she rejected him. Then it happened many more times. She was thirsty. She needed an eternal source of water.
When we rely on people to meet our needs, we will never be fulfilled. Money can’t quench our thirst. Success or pleasure can’t quench our thirst. Only God can. IF we’re not relying on Him, then we’re drinking from the wrong well.
Another thing happens when we rely on people to meet our basic needs: We become discouraged and cynical. That’s why marriage rates are declining. We think marriage doesn’t work because relying on a spouse rather than God doesn’t work. That’s why the Samaritan woman stopped trusting men. Five of them had let her down, which is inevitable any time you transfer the expectations of your life to a husband or wife. They can’t be Jesus to you. In fact, no one can be Jesus to you. Not your spouse, your friend, your pastor, your business partner, your church, your government leader, or anyone else.
An individual will never meet your need for acceptance, identity, security and purpose. They will always frustrate you. The relationship will be damaged. In these cases, both of you have done something wrong. They may have let you down, but you set them up for failure. You expected too much from them.
Karen and I struggled with this early in our marriage. I make a good Jimmy, but a lousy Jesus. She makes a good Karen, but a lousy Jesus. Our personal resources are limited. That’s why we disappointed each other.
If this has happened in your marriage relationship, I encourage you to do an inventory. Sit down in the presence of the Holy Spirit and examine the broken or hurting relationships in your life.
Are any of those broken because you tried to make a person meet needs only God can meet? Don’t look to your spouse for personal fulfillment. That’s a well that will dry up. You’ll stay thirsty. Like the Samaritan woman, you need thirst-quenching Living Water, and it only comes from Jesus.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today