A Marriage Worthy of Our Calling

By Gary Thomas
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
Building a marriage "worthy of our calling" means that we recognize our enlistment in the most glorious work ever known: the advancement of God's kingdom.

“Gary, I really need a new purse. Mind if we go check those out?” my wife, Lisa, said.

I saw the clearance sign and said, “Sure. No problem.”

I had never shopped for purses before. There was a colossal ignorance in my life about this somewhat secretive practice among women.

As one who has traveled more than 1.3 million miles on one airline, I buy several suitcases a year. I’ve learned that the more expensive brands don’t hold up much better than the “normal” brands. Typically, I’ll walk out of the store with a 28-inch suitcase for 100 bucks. So when I walked up to a table of clearance purses, all of which could hold about one-tenth of what I could fit in my suitcase, I was naturally thinking they might cost one-tenth the price.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Six hundred bucks! Fifteen hundred bucks! Eight hundred bucks! On clearance.

Lisa didn’t pay those prices, though we did pay more than I would for a suitcase.

The shopping adventure with my wife taught me that purses are seen as valuable, however, in part because they cost so much. Some women wouldn’t be caught without a purse that is “worthy” of their station in life. I’ve got my own occasional indulgences (running gear), so I’m not going to get into that. Even more than we want a purse or piece of clothing that is worthy of our calling in life, I’d like us to talk about building a marriage that is worthy of our calling.

Striving to be gentle and humble

Consider Ephesians 4:1-3:

I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

What if we focused just one phrase of this passage to make it read like this:

I urge you to build a marriage worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The notion of building a marriage “worthy of our calling” recognizes that we have been enlisted in the most glorious work ever known: the advancement of God’s kingdom, what I call the “magnificent obsession.” This gives not only a certain dignity to our marriage but also something to aim for. Happiness is a wonderful thing and an understandable goal, but a magnificent obsession is even bigger (not at war with our happiness, just bigger). Wanting to build a marriage worthy of our calling motivates us to work on creating a certain kind of marriage dedicated to a very particular purpose.

To have a marriage worthy of our calling, we need to be, according to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4, humble and gentle. Pause for a moment here: How did Jesus describe himself in Matthew 11:29? Keep in mind that Jesus almost never used virtues to describe himself, preferring instead to use images (the Light of the World, the gate, the Good Shepherd and so forth). In the one instance where Jesus did use virtues, He said, “I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Many translations say, “gentle and humble in heart.”

So, creating a marriage worthy of our calling means creating a marriage where the character of Jesus is displayed for all to see. More than we should seek to build the kind of marriage we want, we should seek to build the kind of marriage that serves our calling. That means building a marriage in which we are gentle with our spouse, because Jesus is gentle with His church. We are to be humble, because Jesus was humble.

Serving with mutual care

Without this instruction, we might never aspire to gentleness or humility. We may prefer compatibility or security or even something as wonderful as laughter. There is nothing wrong with these things, but there is something seriously wrong with a lack of gentleness and humility. Yet not once have I ever gotten an email or an office visit from a couple asking me, “How can we be more gentle and humble in our relationship?”

So marriages that aspire to be worthy of our calling are marriages in which we do not act or speak harshly with each other. We do not “lord” things over one another, swallowing each other up with our own expectations or dreams. We are servants, mutually caring for each other. That’s what best models our calling. When people see the way we treat each other, they are reminded of Jesus.

When Paul wrote these words to a Greek audience, he knew that the culture despised humility, yet he extolled it for this reason: Jesus showcased humility, so we must showcase humility as we seek to proclaim Jesus to the world. Pride kills relationship and devastates a marriage. Pride is unworthy of our calling to proclaim a Savior who “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

Do you see the difference? Instead of trying to build a marriage I want, a magnificent obsession leads me to seek to build the kind of marriage that reveals Jesus to the world.

This article was adapted from A Lifelong Love: What if marriage is about more than just staying together? by Gary Thomas.


From Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com. © 2015 Gary Thomas. Used by permission of David C Cook Publishing.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Pure Pleasure, Holy Available and Sacred Marriage. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.