The Christian Family Part 4: Preparing For Marriage (Proverbs 24:27)

The Christian Family

Text: Proverbs 18:22, Proverbs 24:27
Title: The Christian Family Pt. 4: Preparing For Marriage
Date: February 26th, 2023
Location: Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, Washington

Proverbs 18:22
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, And obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Proverbs 24:27
Prepare thy work without,
And make it fit for thyself in the field;
And afterwards build thine house.


Father, we thank you for the gift of marriage. And yet we also lament that marriage has not been treated as a gift by our generation, instead it has been dishonored and profaned, even in the church. And so now there are many Christians who desire marriage but have yet to find a godly spouse. And so we ask for your help now as we deal with singleness and the work of preparing for marriage, give us Your Spirit in Jesus name, Amen.


This morning we continue our series on the Christian Family, this is part 4, and we are taking a little breather this week to step back and talk about how to prepare for marriage.

  • Next week we’ll talk about how to fix a bad marriage, but really the best way to not have a bad marriage is to just obey God and do what He says in those years before you get married, to prepare well for that lifelong covenant.
  • So with that in mind there are 3 questions I want to answer from Scripture in this sermon, and they are these:
    • 1. Is singleness a gift?
    • 2. What should you look for in a potential spouse?
    • 3. How should you be preparing for marriage in the meantime?

#1 – Is Singleness A Gift?

How would you answer that?

The text that most people point to when they argue that singleness is a gift is 1 Corinthians 7. So let’s look at these verses and see if that’s the case: 

  • The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”
  • So what is the gift that Paul is referring to here?
  • In verse 8, we see that Paul is directing this command to the “unmarried and widows,” and the word for unmarried here does not refer to young single people (he addresses that group later in the chapter when he calls them virgins), but “unmarried” here refers to men whose wives have died, what we might we call widowers. In Greek you can see this is an explicitly male group (τοῖς ἀγάμοις).
    • Paul identifies himself with this group when he says, “it is good for them if they abide even as I.” So just as Paul is unmarried now (his wife died), he has been given the gift, not of singleness, but of continence, he is not burning with lust. And that is the gift, the gift is not celibacy or singleness, but rather the spiritual gift of sexual self-control. You are content and not burning with passion.
    • Notice that Paul says that not every unmarried person has this gift, in verse 7 he says, “But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”
    • Jesus says similarly in Matthew 19:11-12, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
  • In other words, if you still have the physical ability to procreate, and a continual desire for sex, then you do not have the gift of continence, and therefore it is better to marry than to burn.
  • So singleness is not in itself a gift, continence is the gift, and only those who have this gift should remain as Paul remains (in that state of celibacy).
  • This is important because it changes how we think about singleness. Rather than seeing singleness as a “gift” that you must struggle to embrace, you should treat it as something that God says is not good. “It’s not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), “it’s not good to burn.”
  • This “not goodness” is going to feel differently depending on what stage of life you are in:
    • If you are a young man in high school going through puberty, that is a time of real testing. It’s a temporary season where your body is changing, hormones are raging, and you must learn to rule over your passions.
      • The desire for sex is good. But outside of marriage, it will destroy you. And so that sex drive in a young man must be harnessed and channeled into honest labor (productive work). A powerful engine is good, but you need a steering wheel and breaks so you don’t run off the road.
        • That’s what the “not goodness” of being unmarried can feel like when you are a young man.
    • Now if you are an adult, and singleness or widowhood has lasted longer than you would have liked, you also should treat that as a trial, as a test, as an affliction to endure by faith. It is not good for you to be alone, and yet because of sin and death, that is the world that we are living in. And God grieves with us over how hard that is.
      • Jesus never had an earthly wife, and so we know that the unmarried life is sanctified by God, it does not make you less in the kingdom, but if you don’t have the gift of continence, that unmarried state is a trial to endure.
    • And so put unwanted singleness under the same category as other afflictions in the Bible, and when you do that, you will see that God has a lot to say to you.
      • James says, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith creates patience.”
      • Paul says in Romans 5, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
        • Joy and hope are just as possible (and even commanded) when you are single, just as it is when you are married, and suffering gives you a unique opportunity to learn lessons that can only be learned in the wilderness.
        • The wilderness of “not good,” the wilderness of singleness, is where God makes men out of boys, where he brings women to the end of themselves, so that they put no trust in flesh, but in God who raises the dead.
        • This is what Abraham and Sarah learned from the trial of barrenness. This is what Jacob had to learn, you might not know this but Jacob did not get married until he was 84. He was 84 when he married Leah and Rachel. And then Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. That’s a hard life.  
      • Psalm 73 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
    • Unless you happen to die at the same time as your spouse, all of us are going to experience singleness, loneliness, death. And what should keep us going whether we are married or unmarried, widowed, divorced, whatever, is the all surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. Of having God as your portion forever, as your strength when you hear and flesh fail.
    • If God is the source of your Joy, then Joy is always possible.
      • So if you are enduring the trial of unwanted singleness, or any other trial, then you like Jacob must wrestle with God and not let go. You must cling to the truth that God knows what is good for you, knows what you can handle, and He will not test you beyond your ability; He will stretch you, but He will give you grace to endure (1 Cor. 10:13).
  • So is singleness a gift? No not in itself, but you can still thank God for it. You can thank God in the same way that you thank Him for other trials, for they are the means by which He rids you of self-reliance, of pride, and makes you strong in Him. And in that sense, all of God’s providences (even the hard ones) are gifts.
  • Now, in addition to enduring the trial of unwanted singleness, God also wants you to be proactive in seeking a spouse. Just like we ask God for daily bread, and then head off to work, so also you should pray for a husband or wife, and then get busy searching for one. As my old pastor liked to say, “God does not steer parked cars.”
  • Now if you are a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, that is going to narrow the field for finding a spouse. And this is a culture-wide, church-wide problem. It is hard to find a suitable spouse.
    • Solomon says in Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies.”
  • Quality candidates for marriage are scarce, and that means finding a virtuous woman or a virtuous man, is going to take some work.
  • So where do you start? Well, before you can know where to look, you need to know what you are looking for. What would God have you look for in a potential spouse?

#2 – What should you look for in a potential spouse?

  • 1. The first and most important quality is that the person must be godly. We are assuming here they are of the opposite sex, they are an eligible man or woman, etc. And the non-negotiable quality they must possess is true godliness.
    • Paul says in 2 Cor. 6:14, “do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
    • He says also in 1 Cor. 7:39, “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”
    • So the absolute non-negotiable when it comes to looking for a spouse is that they must be a genuine believer. Paul says in 1 Cor. 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.”
    • So do they genuinely love the Lord Jesus? If the answer is yes, then you can proceed to ask other questions.
    • And this is where we move into the realm of Christian prudence and wisdom. Meaning, Scripture gives us general principles (proverbs), and then we have to be mature enough to apply those principles to our unique situation.
  • It is biblically lawful for any eligible Christian man, to marry any eligible Christian woman, but that doesn’t mean it’s good idea.
    • There is no law against carrying hot coals in your hands, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get burned.
    • Just because they say they are a believer, does not make the yoke equal. Is she a Christian feminist? Is he a Roman Catholic? Does one of you want 10 kids and the other wants 1? Do you vote the same way, are your politics aligned? Does one of you want to live in the city, and the other wants the country life? As it says in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together unless the be agreed?”
    • There are countless reasons why a lawful marriage could also be a terrible marriage, and there are many bad Christian marriages that end in divorce, and many of them could have been prevented if both parties had sought pastoral wisdom, parental wisdom, and then heeded that counsel.
  • Just to give you the sense of how Scripture handles this, if a professing Christian started dating an unbeliever, and we called them to repent and they refused, the elders of the church would put that person under discipline, they would be suspended from the Lord’s Supper until they repented. That’s the seriousness of yoking yourself with an unbeliever.
  • However, if a Christian man wanted to marry a Christian woman, and everyone thought it was bad idea and had good reasons, we might advise against it, but at the end of the day, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 7:39, they are free to marry whom they will, so long as it is in the Lord.
  • So the bare minimum is that the potential spouse is a genuine believer, and then beyond that we are in the realm of wisdom and Christian prudence. So let me draw together some of the key principles Scripture gives us when we look for a potential spouse.
  • 1. Do you both understand the meaning and purpose for marriage?
    • To raise godly children
    • To have help in dominion
    • To be sexually pure
    • If you don’t agree that those are essential to marriage, it’s probably bad idea.
  • 2. Do you want to raise children with that person? Do you want to make love to them for the rest of your life? Are you sexual attracted to them?
    • If not, then it’s probably a bad idea to marry them.
  • 3. This one is specific to the men: Is she willing to follow you? Do you trust her to raise your children? To run your home? To be your helper?
    • If the answer is no, then find someone else.
  • 4. Ladies: Do you respect him enough to submit to him? Do you want to follow him? Will he love your children, and lead your home?
    • If not, this is your chance to not marry him, because once you are married, you don’t have a choice anymore, you must do those things whether you like it or not.
  • So look for a spouse with those 3 purposes for marriage in mind. Do you want to raise godly children with them? Will they genuinely help you obey God? Do you want to make love to them for the rest of your life?
    • Marriage is becoming one flesh with someone until death do you part. And after the decision to follow Jesus, choosing a spouse is the most impactful decision you will ever make. Because after marriage, you belong to them. Your body is their body, and their body is yours. So do not enter marriage lightly, and seek out wise counsel as you do.
  • Proverbs is full of warnings and guidance about the kind of people to avoid and the kind of people you want to be married to. So read and study that book, and talk to people who have internalized that wisdom.
    • Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: But the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
    • Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
  • The fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins, and in the multitude of counselors there is safety. So be proactive, look for a spouse, but get help from wise men and women as you do.
  • Finally, we come to our third question…

#3 – How should you be preparing for marriage in the meantime?

  • A good exercise is to write down the qualities that you are looking for in a husband or wife. And then look at the list and honestly ask yourself, would this person be interested in me? Would you be on that person’s list?
  • My old pastor put it this way, “become the kind of person that the person you want to marry, would want to marry.” That’s the riddle of preparing for marriage.
  • Now Scripture gives us some concrete guidance as to what we should aim for as we prepare for marriage. So we come finally to our other sermon text.

Proverbs 24:27
Prepare thy work without,
And make it fit for thyself in the field;
And afterwards build thine house.

  • Wisdom is all about timing. It’s not just knowing the right thing to say, but the right time to say it. Wisdom is about doing things in the order that God intended, and Proverbs is given to help us put everything in its right order.
  • And when it comes to marriage, and walking in wisdom, a man’s work is chronologically prior to getting married. Work and then wife is the divine order.
    • Adam had a job before he got married: name the animals, guard and keep the garden, that was his work before he was given a wife.
    • And here in this Proverb, Solomon says that before you build a house, you must prepare your outside work and make it ready in the field.
      • The outside work is the plowing and planting and toil that goes into making something fruitful. It is diligence in every season, not laziness or working in starts and fits.
      • Proverbs 10:4-5 says, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”
      • The wise son prepares does his chores, he works diligently in whatever field he is assigned to, and that field bears fruit. And only after there is good fruit in the field of a young man, is he ready to build a house, to find a wife.
      • Marriage is about giving something to the other person, and so what do you have to give? Do you have surplus? Do you have fruit that will bless a wife or husband? If not, then you are not ready for marriage.
  • If you want to build a beautiful home, it is going to require a lot of preparation, a lot of time and energy and resources to build it.
    • And this is what Solomon’s father David did for God’s house. David had done the work of writing blueprints, gathering building materials: cedar, gold, stones, etc., so that when Solomon became king, he had everything he needed to build the house of God. That was an inter-generational building project. And marriage is very similar.
    • Parents should help their sons and daughters prepare their outside work. They equip them and teach them and resource them to become fruitful on their own, to be ready to build their own house.
      • We see this same image of building the house used also to refer marriage and having children in Ruth 4:11, “The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel.”
      • In Genesis 2, when God forms the woman from the man’s rib, the Hebrew verb there is בנה (to build). This is the same Hebrew verb we have here in Proverbs, prepare your work outside and after that בנה your house.
      • In the Bible, buildings and the bride are closely connected. Solomon builds the temple (house), and then Paul says in the New Testament, you are a temple, you are the house.
    • And so the lesson is that a household is not built without at least two things happening first:
      • 1. The building of a woman to be a suitable wife and helper.
      • 2. The preparations of a man to literally house, feed, and clothe his future wife and children.
  • And until both of those qualifications have been met, no marriage should happen. Practically speaking:
    • A man should have an honest job and enough saved up to take care of a family.
    • And a woman should be ready to raise godly children and assist her husband in running the household.
  • So how do you prepare in the meantime? Well, let me give you some painfully practical wisdom. These are not laws, this is just wise counsel:
    • Men, make sure you have zero debt and money saved up.
      • When I was in Moscow, I would advise most college-age men to have at least $3-5,000 in the bank before getting married, and ideally a lot more than that. That takes diligence, thrift, creativity, and wisdom to do. But it can be done.
      • And of course, parents can be a game-changer here if they have helped their children save for this.
      • A man has prepared his outside work when he has income/fruit/surplus to share.
    • Ladies, what does it take to run a productive household? Think about this: what would it take to run household that produces more than it consumes? That takes a lot of work, and planning, and skill.
    • Where do you start?
      • Study Proverbs 31 and look at the kind of work the exemplary wife is doing:
        • Her husband trusts her to run the home, she has management skills.
        • She knows how to shop, she finds raw materials (wool and flax), she turns them into clothing and tapestry and merchandise.
        • She works with her hands, her house is well-lit and well stocked, there’s food in the cupboards.
        • She gets up early to make food for her household.
        • She buys a field and plants a vineyard
        • She is generous to the poor and needy, and because she is hard working, she actually has something to give them
        • Her children are warm in winter, she does not fear the storms.
      • That is the portrait of a virtuous wife, and is it any wonder Solomons says, she is hard to find, her worth is above rubies.
      • So if you are an unmarried woman, prepare for marriage by starting to learn some of these skills. There is a lifetime of good work in Proverbs 31, and that won’t happen overnight. But you got to start somewhere, and in time, and with diligence, God will make you fruitful, and that is what you should want to give your future husband: fruit.
      • Psalm 128 calls the wife “a fruitful vine.” So start pruning, and cultivating yourself.


Christ is the preeminent bridegroom, and he is the fulfillment of this Proverb, “Prepare thy work without, And make it fit for thyself in the field; And afterwards build thine house.”

  • What did Jesus tell his disciples before his death? Why did he have to go away?

John 14:1-4
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

  • Before Christ marries the Church, before the great wedding supper of the Lamb, Jesus prepares his outside work. He lived among men as a blue-collar worker until he was 30. And then after he was anointed, he was tested in the wilderness, he preached and healed and labored in God’s field until the sun went down.
  • He goes to the cross, he conquers death, He rises again and in doing so He prepares heaven for us.
  • Before Christ marries the Church, he prepares a home for us to dwell in, that we might live with him forever. And marriage is a picture of that.
  • We see also that the bride also prepares herself. She becomes beautiful without spot or wrinkle or any blemish as she looks to her wedding day.
    • Revelation 19:8 says, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
    • And then in Revelation 21, we see the bride portrayed not as a single-family house, but as the New Jerusalem, a holy city, vast and beautiful, with streets of gold, and gates made of pearls, with a river of living water flowing through it, and trees of life on both sides, bearing twelve fruits.
    • The bride is built into a fruitful garden-city. And that is what the godly household points to. So work towards that. Prepare yourself for that. And whether you marry or never marry, know that that is destination of all the faithful, that is the substance that earthly marriage is a shadow of. That is the glory that is to come.
    • In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.