Covenant vs Contract

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today was week two of a five part marriage series. Again, I was greatly surprised at the direction the pastor took on this subject. The basic passage today was Genesis 24 Abraham makes a covenant with his most trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. Covenants were very important in the Old Testament and they should be today.

In our day, instead of covenants, we have contracts. A contract is a document based on the mutual distrust of the two parties. When you make a contract with some one you usually have a mediator because the parties don’t fully trust each other. Take a contract to purchase a house, for instance. The buyer doesn’t believe everything the seller says, so he gets an independent inspector. The seller doesn’t fully trust the buyer that he will not back out of the contract, or will come up with the agreed upon price.

A covenant is different. It is made based the mutual TRUST of the two parties. When Abraham’s servant agreed to find a wife for Isaac, there was no doubt that the servant would do everything possible to fulfill the covenant. Also, once he agreed to this, there was no backing out. It was binding on the two parties.

It’s sad that we don’t have “covenants” today, especially in marriage. I remember back some nearly 40 years ago, when my soon to be wife were courting. We were both nearing 30 years old and, to be honest, were not all that strong of Christians. I remember one evening we were talking. During the talk we made a promise to each other that, whatever happened, we would not allow divorce to be an option in our lives. We then, bowed in prayer and made that promise to each other before God. We didn’t call it a covenant nor were we even thinking covenants. I doubt if we were even aware of the Biblical concept at the time. But we, inadvertently or not, had made a covenant.

That covenant was tested several times during our marriage. My wife getting these mysterious pains soon after we were married caused a lot of stress and fears. There were times I thought I wanted to get out of the situation. But every time I would have such a thought, God always brought that night back to my mind where we prayed over our “covenant,” and I kept going. My wife, I am sure, had plenty of reasons to be challenged too, but never told me. Toward her death two years ago, she would often tell me that I was the perfect husband. While I appreciated what she said, I knew I was far from that. She even told me once that no one would have stayed with her given he sickness and the things she put me through. That really struck me. Have we come that far in Christianity when a spouse has to be surprised that the other spouse would stay with the marriage? I guess when the divorce rate is around 50% within the church, there is good reason to be surprised. I wonder if couples need to go back to making covenants with each other before getting married? I know it made a difference and bound me to my wife because I had given her that pledge and I had a reverence to God not to break that covenant.

I am finding this series at Stonepoint both interesting and challenging even though I am now a widower and out of the realm of marriage. Thinking of “the covenant” it makes me want to be a man of integrity and that my Yes will be yes and my no will be no. I pray all of us Stonepointers will make every effort to attend this series and that we will have soft hearts toward the Lord to make changes in our lives. May God’s grace be with us.

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