“Make a list of everything you want in a future husband.” Today, this is a common recommendation. Rather than a list, however, many of us create an entire album of checklists, safeguards, and tests to determine who would be our perfect match. But I’ve found that our requirements are random and selfish. For example, a list might include: he has to like cookie dough ice cream, have a schnauzer, cook Italian, whistle “Yankee Doodle,” and never wear socks that don’t match. Our “wish lists” go on and on. How ridiculous can we get?
Yes, it’s important to have standards. You obviously shouldn’t marry someone who you know grosses you out or annoys you—that’s just asking for trouble. But don’t cross a person off because they don’t look like Angelina Jolie or have Bill Gates’ paycheck. Make your expectations reasonable. And, more importantly, make them biblical. Look for things that matter in God’s sight—like character.
Our society is all about appearance, money, and status. But does that really matter in the long run? If you asked an elderly couple what made their marriage successful, do you think they would answer: “That we looked so good together and both had good jobs”? Or would they say, “That we were patient with each other’s flaws and had a deep love for each other that got us through the difficult times”? I’m pretty sure their answer would be closer to the latter.
Character matters. The Bible emphasizes this: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God considers the qualities within us—our character—so that is what we need to focus on.
But what exactly is godly character? To answer that question, we need to start in the Gospel of John. There we find Jesus creatively illustrating our relationship with Christ. Jesus says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5–8, NIV).
When connected to the vine, the natural thing for a branch to do is bear fruit. The fruit that this passage refers is godly character. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
For Your Reflection:
Are you focusing on finding someone who meets all the frivolous requirements of your “wish list,” or are you focusing on finding someone with godly character?