He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. — Proverbs 18:22For the longest time whenever I heard this verse referenced, it was very quickly followed by the statement, "and by 'find', it means you need to be out there looking!" A concept that basically exhorts guys that you can't hope to find a wife if you're sitting around at home praying that she will show up. You need to be actively seeking one out.
On the flip side of this, the next gem you will often hear is: "and ladies, you can't be found unless you're out there being available!" This one is meant to encourage women not to hide at home away from social functions, but to be actively out-and-about so that people know you're available.
I don't know about you, but I've often felt both of these annoying—though well intentioned—sentiments miss the mark. Yes, there are those who stay at home in a sheltered cowardice and need encouragement to face the world and make a difference in it. But the whole idea that the only way you can find a spouse is by something you do seems to go against the grain. Faith without works is dead, yes, but did no one notice the last part of this verse?
...and obtains favor from the Lord.Call it a stretch, but none of us deserve favour from the Lord, so you could easily say that finding a spouse is nothing short of God's grace, and has nothing to do with what we do. So why do we put all the emphasis on what we do in order to find a significant other?
"Yes, but Jasmine, you can't just expect your happily ever after to turn up at your front door! Searching is a big part of finding!"
Two things. Firstly, if you're thinking this way, your focus is more on being married than on God's purpose for your life (read more on this here). Secondly, how would this concept play out in another example?
He who finds twenty bucks in the gutter finds a good thing.Everyone! Listen up! Put your nose to the drains, and search! You can't hope for a twenty dollar note unless you get out there and look for one! They're out there, you just need to go find one!
Um, no. Bad application. No one with more than half a brain would agree with this.
So... what does it really mean to 'find', and if we have any part to play in the process, what does it really look like in light of God's grace?
Well, maybe that poor application is closer to the money than you think (pun intended). Just how do you find twenty bucks in the gutter if you weren't searching for it?
You were simply aware.
God drew your attention.
You see, if God is the entire object of your heart instead a potential romantic relationship, you won't have to go out and diligently comb the streets for a husband or wife. This is what the Psalmist meant when he said delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. The Passion Translation puts it this way:
Keep trusting in the Lord and do what is right in His eyes. Fix your heart on the promises of God and you will be secure, feasting on His faithfulness. Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and He will provide for you what you desire the most. Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust Him along the way you'll find He pulled it off perfectly! — Psalm 37:3-5It's as we turn our eyes to Jesus and seek the Lord with our whole hearts that opportunities are made available to us. The Lord promises to direct our steps, and guide our hearts. When we keep our focus on Him, we can't help but be aware of the doors He chooses to open before us. This takes the pressure off us and our own efforts and puts the emphasis on God's grace.
This is what I believe God means when He says a man who finds a wife finds a good thing: It's not that the man made an active practise of seeking and searching for someone to be the object of his affections.
He sought God, and God showed him.
After all, God is quite good at finding things. He is like the woman who searched for the coin, the shepherd who found the sheep. He went to the ends of the earth to find us to begin with. Why shouldn't we trust Him to find for us what we need?
I feel like we put way too much emphasis on finding a spouse. After Solomon spent so much time indulging every desire he had, he finally summed up his binge in one of the most profound statements in the entire book of Ecclesiastes:
The Message puts it even simpler: Fear God. Do what He tells you. What does He tell us? To find a spouse? No. Actually He tells us this:Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. — Ecc. 12:13
You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord. — Jer. 29:13-14aGod wants to be found by us. He wants to be sought. What should our answer be to this humble and beautiful request from our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-creating God who gave everything to redeem us?
So to those of you who are seeking a good thing, let me tell you where you'll find it—When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” — Psalm 27:8
In your Father who loves you more than life, who delights to give good gifts to His children. He is waiting to be found by you.
And don't worry. If there's a husband or wife out there for you, He'll let you know. Because after all, they who find a spouse find a good thing...
...and obtain favor from the Lord.