pricelessIn 1998, the auction house, Christie’s of New York, sold a painting for $21,850. It was purportedly the work of an unknown German artist from the 19th Century who was copying the style of the Italian Renaissance. The painting was of a noble woman from Milan. It has since been dubbed La Bella Principessa.

In 2007, the painting was sold for roughly the same amount. In 2011 experts did a multi-spectral digital scan of the portrait and found a fingerprint in the upper right hand corner. The fingerprint was compared to another painting. Experts now believe the work to be much older and painted by a guy you might have heard of:

Leonardo DaVinci.

A painting that sold in 2007 for roughly $20,000 is now worth $160,000,000 – all because it bears the fingerprint of its creator.

Our world today values marriage. It does. Thousands of books have been written about it. Oprah and Dr. Phil tell their eager audiences how to have a happier one. Our world today values marriage roughly like it values a $20,000 painting. It is important – it is valuable – but not priceless.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always get a divorce. That’s what nearly half of all marriages in our country do. If marriage isn’t your cup of tea or too much of a commitment, just live together.

Our world today values marriage like a $20,000 painting because it views you as the painter of your marriage. You picked your mate. You decided to get married. For our world, marriage is a man-made masterpiece.

If you are the maker of your marriage, then it follows that you can decide what that marriage should be and even how long it should last.

Jesus, however, shows us a multi-spectral digital scan of marriage. In Mark 10, he reminded the Pharisees how God brought Adam and Eve together as husband and wife. Then referring to all marriages, he spoke the words which have echoed down through the ages, “What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).

What God has joined together. God’s thumbprint is on your marriage. He is its Creator. He is the one who brought you and your spouse together. It doesn’t matter if you got married before a minister, a justice-of-the-peace or Elvis Presley, you spoke your vows in the presence of the one and only true God.

Your marriage, all marriages, the institution of marriage is God’s masterpiece. It is a $160,000,000 painting. It is priceless. It is sacred.

That means, however, that God is the one who defines it. It is his creation. He is the one to tell us what marriage is supposed to be and how long it should last.

That also means we should treat our marriages as a priceless work of art. For a Christian, the vows of marriage are sacred. Divorce isn’t an option. We made a promise to God and to each other, not just to live together till death do us part, but to love one another as Christ loved us.

So treasure your marriage. Hold on to it like you would a $160,000,000 painting.

And if you haven’t, if you haven’t taken care of your marriage like you should, if you let it flounder or crumble, cling to your Savior Jesus who won for you something even more valuable than a $160,000,000 painting.

He won for you the gift of forgiveness. He painted his blood on the canvass of the cross for all the times we have treated marriage as some cheap dime store knockoff. You are forgiven forever because of Jesus.

But now seeing the beautiful brushstrokes of his forgiveness and knowing that marriage bears his thumbprint, let’s treasure it as the priceless masterpiece it is.

(A special thanks to my good friend, Pastor Don Patterson, from whom I “borrowed” many of the thoughts of this devotion!)


  5 comments for “Priceless

  1. Kim Lahaie Day
    July 23, 2015 at 8:21 am

    This makes me miss my marriage….

  2. Jean
    July 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    “Your marriage, all marriages, the institution of marriage is God’s masterpiece. It is a $160,000,000 painting. It is priceless. It is sacred.

    That means, however, that God is the one who defines it. It is his creation. He is the one to tell us what marriage is supposed to be and how long it should last.”

    Pastor Schroer,

    I share a high view of marriage and appreciate your article, however, I would like to challenge a couple of your points and ask for your further thoughts.

    Because of sin, which permeates marriage from the selection of a spouse, the reason for getting married in the first place, the treatment of a spouse and/or children of a marriage, and other behavioral and pychological issues affecting one or both spouses, while the institution of marriage is a masterpiece of God, many people don’t experience their own marriage as either priceless or a masterpiece. It may be possible to repair some disfunctional marriages with counseling, prayer and discipleship. But in others, the marriage cannot be repaired. People in those types of marriage could try to convince themselves that their marriage is a masterpiece and priceless despite the experience of suffering, abuse, neglect etc., and maybe even comprehend their suffering as a cross to bear, but is that what God wants in all those situations?

    I’m not even talking about the obvious case of severe abuse, adulty or abandonment, but less severe cases where immature or unwise choices led to the marriage in the first place. Is the person required to pay penance for the rest of their life by remaining in an unhealthy marriage out of a belief that God views that particular marriage as priceless?

    Something is not clicking for me. Are there hard and fast rules, in your opinion, or any decisions redeemable? I would appreciate an additional thoughts you might have.

    • schroera
      July 23, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you for your thought provoking comments. Just because marriage is God’s masterpiece, that doesn’t mean it is always pretty. Because of sin, marriage is a struggle in this world. Some marriages are more of a struggle than others. Just because a certain marriage is more difficult than another, that doesn’t mean God didn’t join them together. When a Christian patiently works at an unhealthy marriage and remains with an unloving spouse, they are not paying penance as you say. They are fighting the good fight of faith. As you mention, the Bible does give grounds on which a person can divorce without sinning (adultery, abandonment and thus also serial abuse). Even then, though, sin is involved. The guilty party has broken what God has joined together. I think part of your struggle is that you see a happy marriage as a masterpiece. My point was that all marriage was established by God and should be treated as a treasure even when it is stained by sin and a constant struggle. That truth is often hard for us to hear and even harder to put into practice.

      • Gregg
        July 24, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        I’ve always discovered that when my marriage is less then pretty, it’s never God’s fault, but my own and my spouse. But Jesus redeemed me, my spouse, and my marriage and made it pretty again with his blood. The answer is never to throw your marriage away, but repent. And if we think it’s only our spouse who needs to repent, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. There isn’t a single day that I can say, I lived perfectly in my marriage today. And if we all look intently into God’s law and into our own hearts, it ought to lead us to put our head down in shame and plead, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” And Jesus says to me, “Your sin is forgiven. Now, forgive your spouse as I have forgiven you and love her as I love you.” It works! It really does! Try it sometime! You don’t have to throw your marriage away.

  3. August 26, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Excellent devotional, thank you. “Marriage isn’t always pretty,” and that is a solid truth. I was 19 and my wife 17 at our marriage. To say this was unwise in my immaturity then is an understatement, but it wasn’t until the following year that I surrendered to the Lord. Fast forward almost 24 years later and we recognize God’s sovereign hand, His mercy and the power of His redemption. It was definitely not pretty getting here, it took more trips to the edge of the abyss than I care to recall. But it is possible and our Lord is able!

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