In 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:
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!)