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By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4

As a pastor, I have had the privilege of meeting with a number of couples to walk through some premarital counseling. More recently, it has been a joy to do this in partnership with my wife. In addition, we have had the honor of helping other couples struggling in their relationship.

More and more I find myself coming back to the above verse as foundational to everyone’s thinking.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Solomon is not interested in helping individuals construct a building to eat and sleep in. Instead, the word house is used to represent a home, a family, a life. If a marriage and family are built on wisdom, that is a willingness to align our lives with what God’s word says, the results will be beautiful.

What are some principles that God tells us in these verses?

First, a home must be built. A beautiful marriage doesn’t just happen. Marriage and parenting take work. The couple who thinks they will not have to work at their relationship is in for a rude surprise. The Bible is honest about the difficulties of marriage. “And they all lived happily ever after” only happens in the movies.

Just as houses are built and established, so loving marriages and homes take effort, perseverance, and skill.

Second, to build a home, you need to have a plan. You need to know in your mind what it will look like. Wise house builders start with a blueprint. Otherwise, they are just building haphazardly.

Thankfully, God’s word provides a plan for what a godly relationship will look like. Yes, each house is unique to its builders and decorators. But all well-built houses follow the same principles.

Similarly, not every godly family looks alike. There are many differences in culture, family of origin, and values. However, godly marriages and parents practice similar biblical principles. If both trust the Lord’s good design, they will build a home that honors the Lord. Young couples who ignore that design will have trouble.

Third, to build a home you need to have the right tools and the right skills. Just having the right plans is not enough. A house is built nail by nail, brick by brick. Building with those requires skill and tools. It requires perseverance. It means putting in quality work that is not visible when the house is finished. But the person constructing the house knows it is well-built.

I recently helped a friend finish our basement. He had tools and skills I don’t have. Even more importantly, I watched him do quality work that is now hidden. Only he and I know about what a good job he did.

Similarly, God’s word can give us the skills to understand, communicate, and forgive one another. It helps us overcome our natural self-centeredness. God’s people in the church are there to walk with us and coach us through the ups and downs of this journey.

Fourth, as you build your home, don’t worry about those who are not building according to God’s plan.  We live in a culture where many are attempting to build a relationship apart from God’s good design. Sometimes they flaunt a new method of building a relationship. At other times, they are naively building according to their own wisdom. It never crosses their minds they need the wisdom of God to build this relationship.

In the same way, a house can look good on the outside for a while. But an inspection reveals the hidden problems. When we were moving two years ago, Sharon and I found a house we liked and signed a purchase and sales agreement. However, an inspection revealed bats in the attic, sloppy workmanship throughout, and other problems. What looked good on the outside did not pass a rigorous inspection.

Similarly, couples can present a good front to others. But often they are not building the relationship with the Lord’s tools. Although this may be hidden for a while, it eventually comes out. The many marriages that collapse are evidence that both parties were not building according to the Lord’s wisdom.

Fifth, a beautiful home needs maintenance. As Sharon and I  looked for another house, it became obvious that many, many houses had not kept up with the maintenance. And while maintenance can be deferred for a year or two, eventually, all these items have an effect on the house (See Ecclesiastes 10:18).

In the same way, our relationships need maintenance. It is not just enough to have good premarital counseling. Our marriage will require constant attention even as we become busy with other demands on our lives. Too much deferred maintenance will lead to problems.

Sixth, it takes two to build the home. Years before we moved, we made a significant addition to our previous house. There were some aspects of that addition that absolutely required two people. I don’t know if one person could have done it alone.

Similarly, in such a significant endeavor as building a family, it takes two parties.  Here is where we meet the reality of sin. Anyone who has been married a while knows that not all marriages flourish. Perhaps a spouse turns from the Lord or is not willing to work on the marriage. Another spouse might actually seek to tear down the marriage. Everything is not within our control.

God encourages us that there are plenty of ways one spouse can please the Lord by himself or herself. (See our last podcast.) Each of us can bring eternal beauty into the home no matter what the other party does. Nevertheless, God’s ideal is that marriage takes two. Or should we say, marriage takes three, a man, a woman, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We need his forgiveness, his power, and his wisdom.

By God’s wisdom a beautiful marriage is built. When you meet a couple who has worked hard at their marriage over the years, you will be able to see the beautiful result in all the aspects of their lives.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4