Another key to a lasting relationship shown to us by Abraham and Sarah (in addition to having a shared vision/click here, and intimacy/click here) is the key of commitment. Love puts up with a lot of flaws and blemishes.
This is one thing that first disillusions newlyweds about marriage. When you’re dating, the couple always tries to keep their best foot forward (and to make sure that foot looks and smells nice.) Blemishes are subdued in courtship. But people don’t look good and smell good 24 hours a day.
And so when you get married, the first thing you see that’s different than before is the blemishes in the other person. Bad breath and cow licks and dirty socks, not to mention bad habits you’ve never seen before.
Believe it or not, but this area of discontent that challenges couples early in their marriages becomes one of the things that strengthens and matures their love later on. There comes a point in every successful marriage where the husband and wife stop holding each other up to impossible standards of success and beauty, and start loving each other for who they really are, warts and all.
Commitment is starting to win the day. And that’s a very liberating place to be at in a relationship. Commitment gives your relationship arms to rest in. And that’s very important when the storms come, and every relationship gets them.
As I study Genesis, I believe the darkest hour in Abraham and Sarah’s relationship was when Abraham slept with Sarah’s servant Hagar, and she became pregnant with Ishmael. Sarah is in agony. Her godly sense of self is shattered. And yet through this excruciating episode, Sarah stays committed and their relationship survives.
Commitment is a concept that stands as a rebuke to the consumer culture we live in today. In a consumer culture, the number one priority in a person’s life is meeting his or her felt needs. The pursuit of private happiness is what matters most. This attitude is killing the church today. “Well, should we go to church this morning?” the consumer Christian asks on Sunday morning. “Should we go to our small group meeting? Should I read my Bible?”
Our country is filled with McChristians who have a pathetic kind of McFaith, in a God called McJesus who exists to meet their every need. And the tell-tale sign of this – no commitment.
This same affliction is wreaking havoc on relationships today. In a secular study called, “Marriage in America”, the authors wrote: “Marriage has increasingly been reduced to a vehicle for the emotional fulfillment of adult partners. ‘Till death do us part’ has been replaced by ‘as long as I am happy.’”
Meanwhile, the children suffer for their parent’s self-absorption and lack of commitment. You know the statistics: in the past generation, juvenile crime is up, teen suicide has tripled, drug abuse, eating disorders, and depression among young have soared. The report goes on to say that our nation must “reclaim the ideal of marital permanence and affirm marriage as the preeminent environment for childrearing.” (Yet one more reason for us to tell our legislators and judges why the historical, traditional view of marriage must be upheld.)
So a secular study concludes what Abraham and Sarah modeled for us 4,000 years ago: commitment produces relationships that last.