“For Rich or For Poor”
Just the other day I was playing golf with a great guy from our church that invited me to his Golf Country Club. The golf course was amazing, but the company was even better. While fighting through drizzle and poor golf shots we came across a tee box next to an enormous 3 or 4 story house with more air conditioning units than the penguin exhibit at the zoo. I asked my friend if he knew who lived there and he said he did, but that the appearance didn’t tell the whole story of what is going on inside. He went on to share with me the financial strain, the sting of suicide, and the cultural weight that this family experienced behind the clean, white, brick walls of this mansion. How could this possibly be?
For so many couples, money and financial security is the bar by which happiness is gauged. However, the elusive Joneses and the American Dream place us in a never-ending tunnel of want that leaves no cost too high to obtain the financial happiness we desire. Sadly, even the richest people in the world are in that tunnel with us and they too are in pursuit of that same happiness.
The University of Virginia conducted a study back in 2009 looking at the effect finances has on the marriage relationship. They found that “If you argue with your spouse about finances once a week, your marriage is 30 percent more likely to end in divorce than if you argue with your spouse about finances less frequently. The same study also found that couples with no assets at the beginning of a three-year period are 70 percent more likely to divorce by the end of that period than couples with $10,000 in assets.”
Our culture demands that we find our happiness in our money. Every TV commercial, every billboard, and every Facebook advertisement will be taunting you with the next best thing that you need. If we allow this to seep into our marriages we start to lose site of the vow of loving our spouse “for rich or for poor”. This cancer will spread through our relationships and shows itself as resentment, pride, arrogance, frustration, and anger towards one another.
However, there is another way.
As Christians we follow one of the most culturally backwards leaders in Jesus. Consider what He chose for us:
- He chose to leave the perfection of heaven for the imperfection of earth
- He chose to serve not be served
- He chose to come as a meek baby not as a mighty king
- He chose outcasts for His disciples not the upper class
- He chose to give up His life for us after we gave up on Him.
The world eats up rags to riches stories, but we pity riches to rags stories. We never like to see someone go down in his or her social status or financial worth because we attribute that to failure. However, I doubt that anyone would consider Jesus Christ a failure, and He is, by our definition, a riches to rags poster child!
When you get a chance read Philippians 2:1-11. Paul has a beautiful way of illustrating to us how we should act as Christians to one another and the reason why we should do it. His reason? Jesus.
What we learn from Jesus, especially in our marriages, is that our savings account or 401(k) do not define our happiness. Our happiness is rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ. Our marriage success is rooted in Jesus Christ. Our self-worth is rooted in Jesus Christ. It’s all rooted in Jesus.
So when we vow to our spouse we will love them and be with them for “rich or for poor” we say that because we believe Jesus Christ is all we need and He isn’t going anywhere.