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BUILDING A STRONG MARRIAGE
Intro: I read a story about a couple who celebrated their fiftieth wedding. They were in their seventies. Ted, the husband, had lost much of his hearing during this time. And yet they were still getting along together and celebrating this great anniversary. Their family came from all over and enjoyed celebrating together through the midmorning into the afternoon. Finally, toward sundown, all the family went home.
Bessie and Ted decided to walk out on the front porch and sit down on the swing and watch the sunset. The old gentleman pulled his tie loose and leaned back and didn’t say much.
Bessie looked at him somewhat in wonder and said to him, “You know, Ted, I’m real proud of you.”
The old gentleman turned and looked at her rather quizzically and after a moment said, with a puzzled look on his face, “Well, Bessie, I’m real tired of you too!”[i]
Sadly, far too many marriages reach that same place. The husband and the wife just get tired of one another and they go their separate ways. That is not God’s ideal for marriage.
God wants marriages to be strong. He wants them to last long. He wants them to be a reflection of His relationship with His redeemed people.
I want to preach on the subject of Building A Strong Marriage. I want to talk about The Foundation Of A Strong Marriage; The Fundamentals Of A Strong Marriage and finally, The Fruit Of A Strong Marriage. I want you to see from Scripture what God has to say about the matter of marriage. I want to help us understand that building a strong marriage is not so much finding the right person as it is about our being the right person. Let’s consider these thoughts together as we think about Building A Strong Marriage.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF
A STRONG MARRIAGE
· The Lord is mentioned in these verses in some fashion at least 14 times. It seems clear to me that He is the essential foundation upon which a strong marriage should be built.
· Psalm 127:1 says, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” This verse teaches us the truth that every endeavor in life must be based on a relationship with God.
This is especially true when it comes to our marriages. If they are to be strong; if they are to glorify God; if they are to be a blessing to us and other; they must be built on the bedrock of a strong and serious relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
· As His love operates in the heart of a husband and a wife, the married couple is better able to love one another. I am able to love my wife better today than I could before I knew the Lord. My love is deeper, stronger and more pure because I am able to love her with His love. People in love with Jesus are able to be channels through which His love can flow to those around us.
· Being rightly related to the Lord Jesus brings a divine dimension to marriage. When both the husband and the wife are in a vital, growing relationship with the Lord, they can pray together. They can worship together. They can discuss the things of God together. Their mutual relationship with God moves their own relationship beyond the physical into the spiritual. Thus, their love is stronger, purer and more enduring than it could ever be otherwise.
· As most of us know, over 50% of all marriages in our nation fail. Many fall apart during the stormy times. Things like debt, lust, business of life, loss of interest in the other partner, and a host of other things can bring marriages to the brink of disaster.
No marriage, not even Christian marriages are immune from these upheavals. However, a marriage that stands on the bedrock of a strong relationship with Jesus Christ can weather any storm that comes along. (Ill. Luke 6:47-49)
· Marriages in which both partners are not saved can and do last for many years. That is a wonderful thing. Still, those marriages can never achieve the spiritual purposes God has for marriage. The marriage is real and the love deep, but it can never be everything God designed marriage to be.
II. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF
A STRONG MARRIAGE
· There are several non-negotiable essentials that stand as pillars in every strong, spiritual marriage. This passage shares them with us.
· Love – When we speak of love, we are not talking about the kind of love portrayed in Hollywood. Movies and television depict love as nothing more than sexual desire. While the sexual relationship within the context of marriage is very important, 1 Cor. 7:1-5, even it flows from a deeper, more spiritual kind of love.
Paul describes the kind of love we are talking about in 1 Cor. 13:4-6. A closer look of love’s character is in order here.
Ø v. 4 Suffereth Long - This word means “patient endurance even when provoked, long-tempered”. Love does not retaliate!
Ø v. 4 Is Kind - This word refers to active goodness. It is never hateful or mean. Love is kind in words and actions.
Ø v. 4 Envieth Not - True love is not jealous. Instead of being jealous when others prosper or excel, love is pleased when they do well.
Ø v. 4 Vaunteth Not Itself - Literally, this phrase means “does not make a parade”. Love does not brag! It does not draw attention to itself or to what it is doing.
Ø v. 4 Is Not Puffed Up - Love is not arrogant or proud. It does not demand to be number one.
Ø v. 5 Does Not Behave Itself Unseemly - Love is never rude, but it always treats others with compassion, consideration and respect!
Ø v. 5 Seeketh Not Her Own - True love is never selfish and self-centered, but it is actively interested in what will profit others. It never looks at itself first, but it always considers another ahead of itself.
Ø v. 5 Is Not Easily Provoked - True loves keeps no record of evils done to it, but it willingly endures all slights and injuries. It is not irritable.
Ø v. 5 Thinketh No Evil - “takes no worthless inventory” Two thoughts are in mind here. First, genuine love does not attribute evil motives to people. Second, genuine love does not keep a record of evils done to it. It doesn’t hold a grudge.
Ø v. 6 Rejoiceth Not In Iniquity - Love does not rejoice in sin.
Ø v. 6 Rejoiceth In The Truth - It rejoices when truth is proclaimed and when truth wins the victory. Love is glad for the truth, even when the truth hurts. Love is glad when truth wins the day!
This kind of love is to be mutual. The husband is commanded to love his wife with every fiber of his being, Eph. 5:25; 28, 31. The wife is commanded to love her husband, Titus 2:4. A home filled with love is a home filled with the essence of Heaven!
· Loyalty – Eph. 5:31 speaks of the law of “leaving and cleaving”. This was what God expected of the first married couple, Gen. 2:24, and it is what He expects of every other married couple. When a man and woman are married, there is a fundamental shift in their relationships to others.
Their relationship with the parents is altered forever. It can still be strong, but the marriage relationship must have preeminence over the parental relationship. Children need to let go and so do parents. Few things are more devastating to a marriage than a failure to “leave and cleave”.
The word “joined” means “to be glued”. It is the idea of two things being bonded together in such a way that they cannot be torn apart. It is a bond so strong and so deep that you cannot tell where one begins and the other ends.
This kind of loyalty is spelled out in 1 Cor. 13:7. Look at the characteristics of true loyalty.
Ø Beareth all things – Loyal even when things are tough. It doesn’t walk out in the day of trouble.
Ø Believeth all things – Loyalty believes in ones mate. It trusts them.
Ø Hopeth all things – Loyalty never looks for the worst in them, but only believes the best.
Ø Endureth all things – Loyalty sticks it out. Loyalty does not abandon the fort.
· Respect – Mutual respect is fundamental for any marriage that expects long term success. Several passages speak about this matter. Let’s consider a few today.
Ø Eph. 5:22-24 – These verses have been among the most loved and hated of the New Testament. Some men love to hang these verses over the heads of their wives and demand that they fall down before them in obedience. Some women read these verses and feel that they make the wife inferior to the husband. Neither interpretation is correct.
God is not establishing the husband as some kind of dictator in the home. Nor is God relegating the wife to a place of servitude. The word “submit” means “to arrange under”. The truly spiritual wife recognizes God’s order in the home. She understands that it is a reflection of God’s order in the church. Jesus is the head of the church and we are to submit to His headship. The husband has been given the responsibility of leading the home and the godly wife follows the husband’s leadership willingly and humbly.
The husband is not to demand submission from the wife. She is to offer it freely and lovingly. This submission is to her “own husband” only! Women are not subservient to men. They are equals, even in the home. But, God has invested leadership in the husband and he will be held responsible for the home. He will give an account for his actions as the head of the home when he stands before Jesus.
Ø Eph. 5:28-29 – I willingly submit the Lordship of the Jesus in my life because I know He loves me. I understand that He gave Himself to save me sacrificially, willingly, lovingly and unconditionally. I respond to His love by submitting to Him. The same is true in the home. When the husband loves His wife sacrificially, willingly, lovingly and unconditionally, she will respond by respecting him.
The reason some wives have a hard time submitting to their mates is because the man is anything but Christ-like in his love for her! Ladies, this is no excuse for rebellion in the home! You are told to “submit” without respect to how he acts toward you. Even if your husband is lost, you have the duty of submission, Ill. 1 Pet. 3:1-6. Men, your wife will be more likely to follow your lead if she knows you love her with every fiber of your being.
Verses 28-29 teach us that the husband is to love his life like he loves his own flesh. Husbands are to “nourish” their wives, and they are to “cherish” their wives. Let’s consider these two words for a moment.
§ He Is To Nourish – “To bring to maturity.” A godly husband helps his wife to reach her fullest potential in God. He helps her to grow by meeting her needs and by being an encouragement to her life.
§ He Is To Cherish – “To soften with heat.” The husband is to give tender love to his spouse. This is the primary “want and need” of most women. They need to feel loved and they crave special attention. They need time, attention, and a sense of security. A loving husband can easily provide all these things to his wife. (Ill. 1 Pet. 3:7 – “Weaker vessel” – Not inferior and weak. This phrase refers to a vessel that is delicate and of immense value. It is to be handled with love and tender care!)
· Faithfulness – Eph. 5:31 speaks of the bond that exists between the husband and the wife. It is a bond that can only exist between two people. There is no room in the marriage relationship for a third party. It is never acceptable for a man or a woman to have a sexual or emotional relationship with a member of the opposite sex on the side. Our relationship with our spouse is to be one of absolute faithfulness, both physically and emotionally. Adultery is a sin regardless of the form it takes, Ex. 20:14; Matt. 5:28.
III. THE FRUIT OF
A STRONG MARRIAGE
· What will be the outcome of all the love and effort in a marriage? A strong marriage will bear fruit to the glory of God. Let me share with you what a strong marriage will produce.
· A Strong Marriage Sanctifies The Home – Eph. 5:21-22; 25; 29 – A marriage that is lived out according to the principles of the Word of God is a marriage that keeps God at the center. It produces a home where Jesus is King and God is Sovereign. It is a marriage that opens the door for God to bless in amazing ways. It is a marriage that invites the power of God to dwell in the home. Ill. 1 Cor. 7:12-16)
· A Strong Marriage Glorifies The Savior – Eph. 5:32 – A marriage that operates according to the principles of God’s Word brings glory to the Lord. God is glorified when we live out our marriages according to His precepts. This is true because a marriage that functions according to the Word of God is a marriage that honors His will, and doing His will always brings glory to His name! So, God is glorified when we love like He does.
· A Strong Marriage Witnesses To The Lost – A strong godly marriage is a witness to this lost generation because it is a living, breathing example of Christ and His church. It demonstrates the power of the love of God and the grace of God to all who witness it. A godly marriage exemplifies forgiveness, patience, love, hope, and the power of God’s saving grace. A good, godly marriage is a powerful witness to a lost world. When the world looks at our marriages, they should see how Christ loved His church. They should see that there is just something different about our love for our spouse.
· A Strong Marriage Instructs The Next Generation – Eph. 6:1-3 – In these verses, Paul speaks to the children in the home. Children have a duty to submit to their parents. But, I am talking to husbands and wives today. We need to realize that our children learn about marriage and about how to treat their future spouse by watching you.
How you treat your spouse is probably how they will treat theirs. How you talk to your spouse is how they will talk to theirs. Dad, how you love you wife will be hoe your son will love his wife. Mom, how you react toward your husband will be how your daughter will react toward hers.
A man who curses and abuses his wife will raise sons who are prone to do the same. He will also raise daughters who expect that kind of treatment. Women who ridicule and belittle their husbands will raise daughters who have no respect for men. They will also raise sons with who lack the power to lead.
We need to take a step back and look at our marriages. How do the children around us see us? What are we teaching them about marriage? We have a responsibility to the next generation. We are responsible for teaching them the right way to walk and live.
By the way, don’t use your own upbringing as an excuse for bad behavior in your marriage. Your parents may have fought all the time, but it does not mean you have to. Your father may have abused your mother physically or verbally, but that does not mean you have to treat you wife that way. Your mother may have talked down to your father, but that does not mean that you have to act that way. If you are saved, act like a saved man or woman. If you are saved, you have been changed, 2 Cor. 5:17. Live like the person you are and stop the cycle of sin that has operated in your family.
Conc: Marriage is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to humanity. But, it is truly beautiful when it is operates like God intended it to.
Has He spoken to you about your marriage? Husbands and wives might want to come and pray together today. You might want to ask the Lord to strengthen your bonds. You might want to iron out some troubled places. You might need to apologize to your spouse for acting like a jerk. You might want to come and thank God for what He has done in your home. This would be a great time to make your marriage stronger.
Had He spoken to you about some sin or failure in your life? He offers forgiveness, if you will bring it to Him, 1 John 1:9. If you are out of God’s will come home. If you are lost come to Jesus.
[i] Swindoll, C. R. (2000, c1998). The tale of the tardy oxcart and 1501 other stories (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Swindoll leadership library. Nashville: Word Publishers.