There are 8 character traits for a great marriage we can learn from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
By Don and Sally Meredith, founders, Christian Family Life
“Character is destiny,” proclaimed one Greek philosopher.
“The true test of a man’s character,” legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said, “is what he does when no one is watching.”
“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” exclaims Boaz to Ruth, “All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3).
Well into our fourth-decade counseling couples, one significant feature of a successful Christian marriage is clear to us: the character of each spouse.
Though character may not be “destiny” in a relationship it will influence the intimacy and quality of a marriage, affecting family and other people in the couple’s life.
Godly character is a mark of spiritual maturity that leads to blessing and oneness between spouses.
A husband and wife of good character are more likely to encourage each other. They don’t focus on the other’s weaknesses. Rather—in humility—each works to overcome their own flaws.
More apt to forgive and forget, the spouse with these 8 character traits for a great marriage from the Beatitudes will be empathetic and understanding. This creates a safe environment where intimacy can grow and the relationship thrives.
Spiritual maturity and developing good character
Just one person with perfect character has ever walked the earth. It is only natural that Christians look to Jesus as the model and inspiration for developing good character.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ lists eight character traits that result in blessing. We wondered, ‘What if we helped couples see the impact that Godly character would have on their own marriage?’
The results continue to astound us. The character of each spouse is central to a healthy and thriving Christian marriage.
As you read these, don’t be discouraged. Remember, Jesus is sharing these as ideals, something his disciples should strive to attain. He was very aware of the limitations and temptations facing those he taught.
As he sat there teaching, the beautiful Sea of Galilee as a backdrop, he also knew the Holy Spirit would soon be available to help and guide his followers.
8 Lessons for Marriage from the Beatitudes
Envision how these ‘beatitudes,’ statements of blessing and joy, could impact your marriage. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and help them become a reality in your life and marriage. With these 8 character traits for a great marriage from the Beatitudes, the results will be amazing!
Beatitude 1: Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Traits: This spouse is quick to acknowledge his spiritual bankruptcy and unworthiness as he stands before a holy God. He recognizes the wretched state out of which Christ has pulled him and is grateful to be redeemed.
Result in marriage: With a humble heart, he will not exhibit pride but will be characterized by a gratefulness. This person sees his spouse as God’s perfect provision. He realizes he is not worthy of such a gift and cherishes his bride.
Beatitude 2: Spiritually Mourning
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”(Matthew 5:4)
Traits: This spouse is broken over the sin in her life. When she does sin, she is quick to confess. Painfully aware of the repercussions of her actions, she asks, “What have I done, said, or thought that would displease God or my husband?”
Result in marriage: This spouse is merciful toward his wife or her husband, does not judge or hold grudges. He/She knows that like him/herself, his wife or her husband struggles with sin. Allowing the Holy Spirit to convict him of sin, she prays for her husband and encourages him by her own behavior.
Beatitude 3: Meek
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
Traits: This person places others above himself, seeking to serve rather than be served. He/She can possess strong character and exhibit authority yet remain humble. The spouse isn’t easily excitable and avoids creating tension. He doesn’t push his own agenda but rather trusts God for outcomes. He/She allows others to honor him, rather than himself.
Result in marriage: This spouse does not retaliate and is longsuffering. He/She is quick to listen, slow to speak and tries to avoid unnecessary conflict. The spouse is more concerned about hearing the heart of his wife or her husband than winning an argument or proving he is right. He/She understands that God is in charge of every situation and has faith that everything will work out for good.
Beatitude 4: Hungry
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Traits: Overwhelmed with the fact that Christ’s righteousness has been credited to her, this wife longs to be holy. She goes to God’s Word often and seeks to apply moral righteousness to her life. Justice, purity of heart, truthfulness, and holiness are very important to her.
Results in marriage: She is truthful, honest and keeps her word. She confesses failure quickly, and so dos he. When wrong she doesn’t hide her sin but asks for forgiveness. She spends time in the Word receiving direction from God for her life and greatly enriches her marriage with faith and wisdom.
Beatitude 5: Merciful
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Traits: This spouse has seen the harmful impact of an unforgiving attitude. He/She realizes that mercy not only embraces forgiveness for the guilty, but also compassion for the suffering and needy. The spouse knows the high cost Christ paid to provide personal forgiveness. He/She avoids sitting in judgment over anyone, especially his wife.
Results in marriage: A Christian who understands the magnitude of his own sin will be understanding of failure in his spouse. A person that is quick to ask for forgiveness and to forgive brings incredible blessing to the marriage. Forgiveness heals, gives hope and breeds renewed faith. Compassion and grace will be valued over judgment and legalism in this marriage.
Beatitude 6: Pure
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Traits: Hypocrisy is impossible for a person who keeps her heart pure. God doesn’t want us to look pure on the outside without being “washed” on the inside. Bitterness, immorality, and deceitfulness cannot coexist with a sincere devotion to Christ. This spouse is single-minded in her commitment to please Christ in all of her actions. Her pure heart will be quickly convicted, should she falter morally. Her outward commitment results in inward purity.
Result in marriage: This person will never crush her partner with a double standard. Her standard will be the righteousness of Christ: “What would Jesus do in this situation?” She can be trusted, both publicly and privately, to do what is right and honorable. She will pray and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to help her and spouse to be one with each other and the Lord. There will be no double standards or hypocrisy in this marriage.
Beatitude 7: Peaceable
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Traits: Christ is the “Prince of Peace.” He made lasting peace possible at the cross. Instead of allowing division, bitterness, and strife, the spouse who is a peacemaker will make peace whenever possible. He is willing to suffer by setting aside his rights and ego even when wronged. He lacks willful hardheadedness and stubborn pride.
Results in marriage: Few things bring more blessing to a marriage than a spouse who is able to make peace quickly. Because this husband understands his marriage relationship is more important than being right, he avoids conflict and reduces tension whenever possible. He gives wise counsel to his family when strife occurs, thereby rendering an atmosphere of peace.
Beatitude 8: Persevering
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
Traits: This person sees trials and persecution in life as an opportunity to mature spiritually and doesn’t give up or change in the face of adversity. She knows that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). She faces persecution believing that God has a plan and His plan will be accomplished.
Results in marriage: It is not easy to be in faith when going through a trial. It is even more difficult to suffer unjustly and be persecuted. Fortunate is the spouse who is married to a person who applies God’s Word, even in the worst situation. That person will always direct the other to the sovereignty and grace of a loving God. She looks forward to seeing how God will use the trial in her family’s life to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
Salt and Light
As we develop these character traits, we are spiritually maturing. We become “salt,” a preservative that brings out the best in others, especially our spouse (Matthew 5:13). We also become “light,” a shining testimony of the gospel to others (Matthew 5:14). Our marriages are better able to reflect God’s glory.
We will also receive blessing and joy in our marriage. Every opportunity to divide—all of the disappointment, the missed expectations the conflict—becomes, by faith, a chance to become closer to our spouse and God.
Seeing and feeling the Holy Spirit working in our marriage creates hope, anticipation and excitement. A safe place of transparency and intimacy grows.
Fear, isolation and rejection have less of an opportunity to infect our relationship. We see more clearly God’s hand joining us together and his perfect provision of our spouse.
What lesson did you learn about marriage from the Sermon on the Mount? Which of these 8 character traits for a great marriage do you most need to work on?
Find out more about these traits and God's design for marriage in Two Becoming One. The Kindle version is also available on Amazon.