Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands, robed in the flowers of blooming spring; Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer; He makes our sorrowing spirit sing. "Beautiful Savior" author unknown
It’s wedding season again. How would you describe the last wedding you attended? Sweet? Sentimental? Sappy? How about…serious? Anybody who has been married for any amount of time realizes that marriage is not for the faint of heart. The wedding day might be all sunshine and smiley faces, but marriage is hard work. It is serious stuff. That should not surprise us. After all, the wedding vows include mutual promises of total commitment “until death do us part.” There are a lot of promises we make in life that could be considered relatively serious. You might cosign for a loan. That commitment has the potential to seriously affect your finances. You might sign a contract to work for a new company. That commitment has the potential to seriously affect how you spend your time and where you live. Both promises are serious, but they’re not for life. And neither of those promises binds you as intimately to another person – another sinner – as does marriage. It’s no wonder that when Jesus explained the nature of marriage to his disciples they responded: “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10).
But, marriage isn’t just serious. It is glorious. It is one of the greatest, most gracious blessings God bestowed on his perfect creation, and remains so today. Next to our relationship with God himself, there is perhaps no greater nor more important nor more profound relationship than marriage. That is why loving your marriage partner is both difficult and satisfying…painful and amazing.
Since all of this is true, and since marriage comes from God himself, it is important to listen to him if we want to have marriages that last…more than that…that thrive. In this series we will look at the keys to a marriage that flourishes “till death do us part”:
UNSELFISH SERVICE – Marriage is not about you. If you go into marriage thinking that it is about you, it won’t be long until your mistaken vision of marriage is dashed by reality. And, if you continue to hold onto that self-centered vision of marriage, it won’t be long until your marriage itself is destroyed. You cannot go into marriage in order to get, but to give. You do not go into marriage in order to be served, but to serve. Marriage is about giving yourself sacrificially in service to another. Only in that sacrifice will you find true satisfaction. That is God’s vision for marriage and there is only one way to carry it out…with your eyes and heart firmly fixed on the One who went to the extreme in his unselfish service of you.
COVENANT COMMITTMENT – What’s the difference between a contract and a covenant? Both are publicly binding, but a contract is inherently selfish. It says, “I’ll hold up my end of the bargain as long as you hold up yours.” It’s a 50/50 proposition and as soon as one party isn’t getting what they feel they should, they void the contract. A covenant is a 100/100 proposition. It says, “I’ll be there even when you’re not. I’m 100% committed to you and this relationship.” Marriage is a covenant. It’s a promise to love another “no strings attached.” Some might say binding yourself in such a commitment would be restrictive and confining. On the contrary, this kind of commitment of love (which is not a promise to feel something, but to do something) actually brings great freedom. The ability to make and keep such a promise only comes from a God who makes an even greater promise to undeservedly love us…and is always faithful in keeping that promise.
KNOW YOUR ROLE – One of the touchiest subjects when it comes to marriage is that of gender roles. There are a number of reasons for that. First, God gives us timeless principles in this area, but not much guidance on putting those principles into practice. Second, each individual brings personal history, personal expectations, and personal emotions that will directly, daily, and personally affect what they do in their marriage and how they do it. Finally, the world has created a false caricature of the biblical gender principles of headship and submission. What God presents in his word in this area is actually far more beautiful than anything this world has to offer. He paints a picture where husband and wife – equals in their relationship with God – each take their cues from Jesus in fulfilling their God-given roles when it comes to their relationship with each other. And, in a fallen world, each must turn to Jesus again and again for forgiveness when they fail their spouse and God by not living out these glorious God-given roles.
THE SINGLE LIFE – In this sermon series on marriage some of you – who are not married – might be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with me?” Good question. Perhaps you are hoping to one day be married. Perhaps you have no intention of ever marrying. Perhaps you were married previously and that marriage ended at the death of your spouse or because of some sin that broke the marriage bond. What does God have to say about being single? With all this talk about the inherent goodness of marriage is singlehood some sort of second-rate existence? You might be surprised to know how highly God esteems the single life.
GODLY SEX – We cannot talk about marriage without talking about sex. According to God’s plan, marriage and sex only belong together. Why does God’s vision for sex always keep it within the marriage relationship? Contrary to what the world says, it’s not because God’s view of sex is so much lower than ours. It’s precisely because God’s view of sex is so much higher. God designed sex not only to express the unity and commitment involved in the marriage bond; he designed sex to increase them. Only when we understand God’s vision for sex as revealed in Scripture can we begin to foster a godly sex life whether we are married or single.
ETERNAL FOCUS – The Bible both begins and ends with a wedding. It’s true. In Genesis we hear that God created Adam and Eve and brought them together as husband and wife, instituting marriage in Eden. The book of Revelation describes the celebration in heaven as the wedding supper of the Lamb – a perfect, blissful, and permanent union of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Bride. What does that have to say about your marriage? Quite a bit, actually. It speaks to how you ultimately look at your spouse and the purpose of your most intimate human relationship – a purpose that extends beyond marriage. Even though marriage only lasts “until death do us part,” we need to approach marriage with an eternal focus.
At 720 Old Trolley Road in Summerville worship is at 9:30 am with Family Bible Study at 8:56 am.
At 134 Foxbank Plantation Drive in Moncks Corner worship is at 10:30 am with Family Bible Study at 9:56 am.