Sitting in the student center at grad school I was getting to know a new friend. We drank coffee and talked about our families. He slid a picture of his wife across the table. “She is lovely,” I said. He must have sensed that required an explanation.
“Here is how I see it,” he said. “I believe that everyone will have at least fifteen minutes of absolute brilliance in his life and fifteen minutes of absolute ignorance. When I met my wife it just happened that it was during my fifteen minutes of brilliance and her fifteen minutes of ignorance. My fifteen minutes of brilliance and her fifteen minutes of ignorance happened at the same time.”
You might me thinking, “I would like to marry over my head, too. How can I attract a good wife or a noble husband?
What to Look For
Most people base the selection of their mate on physical appearance or animal attraction. Beyond that I suppose there is a mystical attraction some call chemistry that drives our choice of a partner. But physical attributes are not something you need to spend time considering. Physical attractiveness should take care of itself. You will probably not be able to convince yourself to marry someone you don’t find physically appealing. But it is possible if not likely that if you marry based on physical appearance that you may overlook important qualities that are essential to a happy marriage and a healthy family.
The qualities that should occupy your mind when considering a life partner for yourself or for your children should be character qualities. These are the qualities that improve with age and make the plainest person magnetic over time. They contribute to a radiance that is not immediately evident to one whose values have been distorted by our shallow culture.
If you don’t get lucky like my grad-school friend, how are you going to secure the love of a fine person? Perhaps you should do what my college roommate did. I entered the room one evening to find him kneeling by his bed in fervent prayer. I could not help but overhear that he was praying earnestly for a wife and outlining very specifically the qualities he desired in one.
That’s not an altogether bad idea. I would suggest that the Bible contains a very helpful list of qualities desirable in a life-partner in 2 Peter 1. They are eight in number, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. They could be listed in the form of questions:
1. Is he a follower of Jesus, genuinely converted? “faith”
2. Does he have godly character? “virtue”
3. Does he know his Bible? “knowledge”
4. Does he have control of his appetites? “self-control”
5. Has he developed any vocational skills? “perseverance”
6. Is there evidence of spiritual graces in his life? “godliness”
7. Does he have social skills “brotherly kindness”
8. His he selfless and kind. “love”
This is just one of a number of useful lists in Scripture to help you evaluate potential life-partners. Don’t expect to have a happy marriage if you base your choice on material possessions, personal magnetism, physical beauty or cultural status. Instead get in the habit of evaluating the character and virtue of people you know based on qualities of character.
What Do You Do When You Find Them?
Now, let’s just suppose you do that. Suppose you do discover someone who is not only reasonably attractive but in possession or in progress toward mastery of most of the aforementioned qualities. How are you going to get a person this fine to pay any attention to you, let alone meet you at the marriage altar and vow life-long fidelity to you? How will you even get their attention? How will you secure their affection? At the risk of being unnecessarily blunt, how are YOU going to get a person like THAT to give YOU the time of day let alone the rest of their life?
After the initial shock you have to admit that is a fair question. I think I have a sound answer. It came to me years ago. I was seventeen years old and the question at the time was very pertinent to my situation and very personal. How am I going to find a good wife? This is not a new question. The question is posed in the ancient wisdom literature of the bible like this: “Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies.”
One spring night I drove my powder-blue VW Beetle to Immanuel Baptist Church in Arcanum, Ohio. They had announced special meetings with a visiting preacher. I wish I could remember his name but I cannot. I do remember very clearly two things he said. I wrote them down in the front of my Bible. One of them was the answer to our question; “How can I get a good wife or husband?” Here is what he said, “If you will concentrate on being the person God wants you to be, He will bring you who he wants you to have.”
So if you are in the market for a life-partner you might want to be very careful to take the right approach. You might want to be careful to ask the right question. The question is not, “Does the candidate for marriage have these qualities?” but rather, “Do I have these qualities?” If you will concentrate your efforts on the progressive development of Christ-like character, you will be the kind of person that will attract others of similar character. Like attracts like. If you want to attract a person of character, you must become a person of character.
That is the specific counsel of Scripture, that our adornment and focus should be on the hidden person of the heart and the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which are very valuable in the sight of God. If your heart longs for the fellowship of a mate, concentrate on fellowship with Jesus. If you want a person with fine moral qualities concentrate on acquiring the same moral qualities you admire and desire. If you want to spend the rest of your life with a person of character, become a person of character.
As a seventeen-year-old young man the advice of the old preacher seemed sound to me and I still believe it:
If you will concentrate on being the person God wants you to be,
He will bring you who He wants you to have.