ďA Happy Marriage is the Union of Two Forgivers.Ē Ruth Bell Graham
(Colossians 3:13 & 14 NLT) Make allowance for each otherís faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Today I want to talk about marriage. But before all those who are not married or have had it with their marriage stop reading, know that God has something for all of us in His word. Todayís message may be concentrating on marriage but the truth found in Godís Word is a lamp for all of our feet, and we can be sure that His Word will not come back void.
But, before we get into todayís message I thought I would give you a few quotes from people about marriage.
I love being married.
It's so great to find that one special person
you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce.
The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.
Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only
the individual you think you can't live without.
Dr. James C. Dobson
SO, as we go into this discussion on marriage, if you are not struggling in your marriage or if you are already divorced, or if you are single and not even thinking about marriage look for what God has in His word for you. Everything we talk about today will be able to be applied to any and every area of your life to help you live the abundant life that Christ came to give you.
Because when we get right down to it, it is all about love. Like the passage of scripture tells us above, it is love that binds us all together. It is love that holds the world together. And it is love that is going to see you through to the promise of eternal life.
I believe the old slogan ďA family the Prays together, stays together.Ē Now, according to some national polls the rate of divorce is just as high in the church as in the world. After looking at that poll, I discovered that the poll was simply based on people who said that they ere ďChristiansĒ
Now, looking at that statistic, 85% of Americans call themselves ďChristiansĒ but only 8% actually attend a church on a regular basis. You can call your self anything as long and as loud as you want, but calling yourself something, and being something is two different things.
But, letís go ahead and see what God has for us today. I wanted to start here in Colossians in order to give us the insight of the importance of forgiveness. The main word that I am going to surround todayís message about is not forgiveness, it is not love, it is not marriage, but it is the key to a great marriage as well as living the abundant life in Christ.
It is ďGrace.Ē It is by the grace of God that my marriage is together. It is by the grace of God that I am even alive today. It is by the grace of God that I am writing this today. It is by the grace of God that you are reading this today. So in our look into what makes a great marriage the first place we need to look, is at grace.
Letís turn over to the book of Ephesians. We know, that it is there we find how ďit is by grace that we are saved,Ē but we can also find how that same grace supplies so much more.
(Ephesians 1:1-3 KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Before I go any further I might want to quantify my qualifications to talk about marriage. I have failed miserably at my first marriage, which ended in divorce. And now I am in my 15th year with my wife, and we are learning together what it takes to make a good marriage. And if there is one thing that I have discovered, it is the power of grace in your marriage.
Looking at Paulís words to the Ephesians we see how Paul was appointed by the will of God to give us this message. When you know that it is God who has called you and appointed you to give a message you make sure that the message is given exactly the way God desired it to be given. And in doing that Paul put the first thing first. His prayer for us all is for the grace and the peace of God. He then quickly ties in the relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We see Jesus sitting with God and the Holy Spirit blessing us here on Earth.
And not just blessing us a little but blessing us with all the blessings of heaven.
(Ephesians 1:3 BBE) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us every blessing of the Spirit in the heavens in Christ:
You have right now everything you need for a successful marriage. You have within you the seeds of all creation. And it was by grace that God has blessed you. Not because of anything that you did to deserve it. It was, and is, because of the love that God had for you from the foundation of the Earth.
Why is grace so important? Letís go ahead and look over at that familiar passage in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians to get the answer to that.
(Ephesians 2:8 &9 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
So here it tells us that if we were to have worked for our salvation, then we would think that we deserved it, and therefore by ourselves, and our own effort, we can come into the very presence of God.
But the truth is we all know that we fall real short of His glory. We are all sinners, in need of a savior.
OK, but how does any of this apply to marriage?
It is my own experience that when you start keeping score of who has done more for one partner then the other then someone is going to start feeling superior or neglected. In any relationship there are gives and takes. Unfortunately in far too many cases this balance becomes one sided and after a while the person who has been giving and giving and giving ends up having nothing left to give. Thankfully for us, God is omnipotent and will never run out of grace. But what we need to realize in our relationships is that it is better to give then to receive.
Now I am not simply talking about gifts although gifts are also important. But I am talking about time. You might remember Gary Smallyís book about the Five Love Languages. He taught about how we all expressed and received love differently.
Here are the five basic love language that Gary Smally identifiedĒ
In many relationships one person will have one love language and their partner will have another. The conflict comes about when one person or both start not feeing loved because the other person is not appealing to their love language. Letís say one personís love language is touch. So that person gives love the same way they desire to receive it. That person is always so touchy- feely. Giving hugs and holding hands and stroking of the hairÖ. Now imagine that this personís partnerís love language is gifts. The person who needs gifts to feel loved is not getting any gifts just this touch-feely stuff, and the other person is not getting the affection they need but are being appeased with trifling gifts. Before long the couple are seeking out other people who do speak their love language.
That is where grace comes in. If you are a person whoís love language is gifts but your spouses language is words of affirmations, you need to do what is not natural to you, and express your love to your spouse in their language, not yours.
So what you need to do is to discover your spousesí personal love language.
Then you have to give. Remember, give and it will be given unto you. But in any relationship you have to give, not expecting to receive in return but give because you love the other person. That is grace.
Now letís get down to the nitty-gritty. The fact is the scale is going to get one sided far too often. One person is going to say something or do something that hurts the other. And sometimes it is the one person who is always doing the saying and doing that hurts the other. That is where forgiveness comes in.
Letís stop talking specifically about marriage right now and talk about relationships in general. After all that is what we need to learn. First we have to develop our relationship with God, then we need to work on our relationships with one another. In your relationship with God. The first thing that you need is to be forgiven. In the old testament times that forgiveness was worked out by the killing of bulls and goats. Once a year the children of Israel would bring their offering to the priest and the priest would give the atonement. Now, imagine if that was the way we had to get our forgiveness today. First of all P.E.T.A. would have a fit. Secondly do you think that your having someone kill the family pet would make you feel cleansed of your sin?
The book of Hebrews explains this a little better:
(Hebrews 10:4 KJV) For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Throughout history and in most every religion people have been trying to deal with this sin dilemma. People instinctively know that they need a savior. That they need forgiveness. In far too many cultures the blood sacrifices that have been made were the lives of their own children. God mad a way, the only way to be completely set free from sin, When Jesus dies upon that cross all of your sins, past, present and future were paid for. He said to the thief on the cross next to him who asked for forgiveness.
(Luke 23:43 KJV) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Too many people are putting stipulations on their forgiveness. To many people in the church are overly judge mental of other peoples confessions of faith. Too often in our relationships we try to forgive but we never-ever forget.
I used this quote from Ruth Bell Graham as the title for this message for a reason. Sometimes we look at Billy Graham as the role model of Christianity. We, need of course to be looking at Jesus. Billy Graham is a great man and perhaps have one more people to Christ then any other singly man in history. With 63 years of marriage behind them they have gone through a lot and discovered what it takes to hold a marriage together. But as His wife put it when asked by a reporter if she had ever considered divorce:
"No," Mrs. Graham replied, "but I have considered murder."
The fact is every marriage faces conflicts. Financial, In-Law related, Child discipline differences, sexual, emotional the list can go no an on. The difference between a couple that makes it and the ones that donít are the ones that sincerely desire to work it out. You have to forgive it is not just a suggestion. It is a commandment from God. If you want any relationship to work, you have to learn to forgive and know that there was nothing that you could ever do to earn Godís forgiveness, so donít be putting stipulations on other people before you give them your forgiveness.
If there is one main thing that I would like to express about marriage is that a great long lasting marriage is not only possible but by the grace of God it is probable. You have within you the seed of greatness. You have within you the stuff that makes a great marriage. You have within you what it takes to live life to itís fullest, walking hand and hand with the person of your dream.
Letís close with this passage in Ephesians which ties together the church with the marriage of o husband and a wife. When you have some time go to your Bible and read this entire chapter. It will give you the insight into a deeper relationship with God and with your spouse.
(Ephesians 5:33 KJV) Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Husbands need to show their wives more love and wives need to show their husbands more respect. Women need love and men need respect. It is two basic different love languages. What it all comes down to once again is grace. Giving that which the other person does not deserve. And the more you give, the more, what you need, you will receive.
May God richly bless every and all of your relationships, especially the one between you and Him. In Jesus Name;