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Focus on Marriage
In the spirit of every jewelry store’s favorite day, Valentine’s Day - this month’s letter of encouragement is on marriage. My hope and prayer is that there will be some new takeaway to encourage, heal or strengthen your marriage. Marriage was created by God. In Genesis, we read that after God had created the world and the first humans – Adam and Eve… he states “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Gen 2:24.
Before becoming a Christian in my mid-twenties, I had a few relationships and was once engaged to be married. I was raised going to church, but I had never truly embraced a personal relationship with the Lord. I perceived relationships through society’s influence. I did have basic morals of good and evil, but aside from those, my life was lived through the lens of self-gratification. I would learn later from the apostle Paul “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of your look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Phil 2:3-5. The reason I tell you all this is that when in a romantic relationship and ultimately marriage, self-gratification, i.e. “what’s in it for me? …what will you do for me? …if I do this for you, what are you going to do for me?” can lead to sexual immorality, evil desire, and covetousness… anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk. These Paul refers to in Col 3:5-9 apart from embracing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ Jesus.
Now to focus on marriage as designed by God. As the husband and wife are committed to their relationship with God through Jesus Christ; His attribute of love is demonstrated through us to one another. The ultimate love of God for us was shown through the horrendous persecution and brutal death of Jesus. We are to exhibit characteristics of love as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way: it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
As is our commitment to God, so is our commitment to our spouse. Jesus referring back to Genesis, said in Mark 10:6-9 “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” So, it is with each of us in marriage to “…let not man separate.” As husband and wife, seek continually to love the Lord our God with all our heart and desire to honor Him. We must reflect on this when in time of crisis or conflict. In these instances, we tend to pull away or separate from each other. The focus is then on self rather than on God. As said, the husband and wife are one flesh, so in a way you are half-heartedly fulfilling your relational commitment to God. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4
Linda and I have been married for 29 years. During our marriage there have been conflicts and crisis along the way. There was one time, early in our marriage, when we argued and went to bed angry, sleeping-or rather, lying awake all night- in separate beds. That was the most miserable “relational” night of our marriage. Praise God that during our physical separation that night he kept the enemy away. The next day we vowed to never let that happen again recalling Eph. 4:26-27 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
Linda and I are just like any other married God fearing couple, and we have had disagreements over the years. Knowing we can call or point to Jesus in these times is so powerful and instantly diffuses that old selfish, self-gratifying behavior. In essence, ceasing separation to take hold. There are times when it’s been on me, I remind myself of Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”. This reminder for sure penetrates any selfish spirit.
In conclusion, each couple should come to understand further their responsibilities from Eph. 5:22-27 Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. May God bless, guide and strengthen your marriage. Amen!