Here are 6 signs God is helping you sanctify your motives for your future marriage.
1. If You Have Relationship Anxiety and Stress Right Now that Is Causing You to Turn to God, This Is Often a Sign God Is Sanctifying Your Motives for Marriage
God allows anxiety to build in our hearts as a way of letting us know we need to seek him to strengthen us. Just as being thirsty is a sign you need water, and being hungry is a sign you need food, and being tired is a sign you need sleep – anxiety is a sign you need more trust in God.
Notice the flow found in Philippians 4:6 that teaches how anxiety should lead us to prayer instead. It states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We are told to not be anxious, but how? Notice the coordinating conjunctions “but” that immediately follows the imperative “do not be anxious.” So every time we feel anxious this is meant to remind us to pray.
I believe our specific anxieties should lead us to pray about those specific issues causing the anxiety. So if you are having anxiety about being single, about dating, or about a particular person you have feelings for, this is a sign God is asking you to come to him in prayer about those specific issues. In the process God will then be sanctifying your relationship motives and bring you peace.
As 1 Peter 5:7 states, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
2. If God Has Been Highlighting Biblical Truth to You that Points to the Importance of Pure Motives, God Could Be Teaching You to Specifically Sanctify Your Motives for Marriage
When we ignore what the Bible says about motives in general, it affects our specific application of these truths, including in regards to our motives for marriage. Proverbs 21:2 states, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
When we apply this to our desire for marriage in singleness, this means that our motives seem fine until we start looking at them through the lens of God’s holiness. In the times of Nehemiah, the people had lost the book of the law and thus disregarded God’s truth. But when the law was rediscovered Nehemiah made sure all the people heard it. In Nehemiah 8:8-10 it states:
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”
When you forget God’s word or ignore his truths, you start wandering away from God. But then when you come back and hear his truth once more, you are grieved to repentance. God does not want you to stay grieved, for his word corrects us to bring us close to God, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
These principles apply to specific areas of our lives as well. So when you do not know what the Bible states in regards to motives and marriage, you will not have good motives for marriage. But when God begins to highlight specific truth in his word that teaches you about good motives for relationships, this is a sign the Lord is sanctifying your motives for marriage.
3. If the Holy Spirit Has Been Gently Convicting You About Your Unhealthy Motives for Marriage, This Is a Clear Sign God Is Sanctifying Your Motives for Marriage
Continuing on with the importance of repentance, the Holy Spirit produces a “godly grief” rather than a “worldly grief” in his loving conviction. For as 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 states:
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
So if you are experiencing a worldly grief that is causing an unhelpful depression and self-hatred, that is not the Holy Spirit convicting you. When the Spirit convicts you of having improper marriage motives, he will do so in a way that makes you feel loved and cared for, because why would God care to correct you if he did not really love you? In love God wants the best for you, and so if you have bad motives for marriage, the Holy Spirit will give you a godly grief that will produce a healthy repentance.
4. If God Is Teaching You to Follow Him Even When You Are Single for Longer Than You Want, This Is a Sign God Is Also Sanctifying Your Motives for Your Future Marriage
One of the tests God puts singles through who desire to be married one day is the test of confusion. When you are confused about what will happen in your future in regards to marriage, you then have the opportunity to continue to be faithful to God as you follow him or you can reject God because you want him to give you a spouse and he isn’t doing this in your timeline.
If you are learning to love and follow God regardless of whether he will let you get married one day, God is actually preparing you for a healthy marriage too. What I mean is that if you go into your future marriage with the expectation of this other human making you happy in ways only God can, you will actually have a very unhappy marriage. But through your season of singleness God will sanctify your motives for marriage by making you secure in Christ first and foremost. For as Philippians 3:8 states, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
5. If God Has Been Teaching You that Love Is About Sacrificing Yourself for Someone Else, This Is a Sign God Is Sanctifying Your Motives for Marriage
It’s not wrong to want to be loved, but many people end up very disappointed in relationships because they are going into it thinking this is where they will finally feel loved by another. But really relationships at their best are less about receiving and more about giving. Ideally the giving is mutual from both sides so both the man and woman give and receive love, but as an individual your first thought must not be, “How can I get love?” but rather, “How can I give love to this other person?”
As Galatians 5:5-6 (NIV) states, “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” And in John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
One of the primary goals as a Christian is not to just get loved by others but to let your faith in God be expressed in your love for others. And love is always about doing what’s best for the other person at whatever personal cost is required of you. The same is true in marriage. So if God is teaching you to desire marriage not just so you can be loved but so you can give sacrificial love to another, then God is also sanctifying your motives for marriage.
6. If God Has Been Teaching You that Your Future Marriage Is Really Less About You and More About the Glory of God, This Is a Sign God Is Sanctifying Your Motives for Marriage
Perhaps throughout this article you’ve been asking, “Okay, I get that God wants me to sanctify my motives for marriage. But what are the biblical and right motives for marriage?” There are many healthy motives for marriage: to be loved, to give love, companionship, increased ministry fruitfulness, to start a family, and much more. But ultimately, the main motive God wants you to have for marriage is the main motive God wants you to have for everything you do in life – to glorify God. For as 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The “whatever you do” truly means “whatever you do.” It’s not hyperbole. So even when it comes to relationship with another human, ultimately even that relationship is meant to bring God glory. As Ephesians 5:31-32 says, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”