“Marriage: Together for the Gospel” Ephesians 5:21-32

Todd Gray August 27, 2018 Misc.

The Bible says that wives should submit to their husbands. Often, we have a hard time reading past that single sentence. We think submission and we think oppression or even abuse. This is not the kind of submission scripture talks about. This week, we look at how our singleness or marriages can be a great picture to the world of the love God has for us as a picture of the Gospel.

Message Notes:

  1. Wives Respect your Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-24)
  2. Husbands Love your Wives Sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25-31)
  3. Purpose: (Ephesians 5:32)

Sermon Transcript:

If you have your Bibles this morning, open them to Ephesians chapter five. Ephesians chapter five starting in verse 22. We’re going to read … Actually, starting in verse 21 all the way through verse 32. You know, God gave us a week. We finished Ruth last week. I thought it was going to be done this week. Very clearly in my study last week, as I was seeing that God wanted me to finish it then, he already started giving me today’s message last week. He wanted me to talk about marriage. He kind of went out of his way to make that clear to me. Really going to take advantage of this week and we’re going to start 1 Corinthians next week. You know, there’s lots of conceptions today, though many of them wrong, about what marriage is.

A lot of people view marriage as like that ball and chain, you know, that slavish commitment that a couple has to one another that if they’d really thought about it early on, they’d probably never really entered into it. That’s not good. You may view marriage as like a contract. That’s getting closer, but not near close enough. A contract that’s meant to last for a long time, but like any contract, if somebody doesn’t hold their end of the contract up, then obviously it can be broken. Getting closer, but we’re not there yet. Our society has a popular idea of marriage. I wouldn’t say it’s like a written definition when it’s concerning marriage. It says marriage is this bringing together of two humans, the idea, whether it’s of the same gender or whatever your sexual orientation is, and the real purpose of that is love. We’d all be willing to say probably at least this, that marriage should be about two individuals being happy.

I mean, that’s what it’s really about, pastor. If they’re happy, than that’s good, but if they’re unhappy, but what reasonable person should expect to stay together if they’re not happy? These are a far cry, these definitions are, these ideas are, from what we see in God’s word. What I want to do for a second is pause and say whatever you bring with you this morning, whatever idea or concept of marriage that has been brought to you from maybe a family idea or through your pain or the concept of society, let’s just do a favor with one another and just let’s go to God’s word. He’s the one who created it. God instituted this covenant of marriage. He has something to say about it. He has a plan and a purpose in it. I want to take us to Ephesians five by way of Genesis two. Even Paul in Ephesians five quotes Genesis chapter two.

Turn your Bibles to Genesis chapter two. Now, our society has all kinds of ideas of marriage, but none of them have longevity at the root of it. Longevity and commitment is all you see in Genesis chapter two. For example, as you turn there, Barna did a study and it said that only 52% of adults today are even married. Think about that. Only half the adults in our world are even married as American adults. 25% of American adults have been through a divorce. 30% of American adults have never been married. 65% of American adults agree that it is a good idea to live with your potential spouse before marriage. Now, if you just do the statistics on that, go look at a study on our society and look at the percentages of divorce that come from couples that live together, you think something’s not making sense here. Let’s get back to Genesis chapter two.

Here, I want you to know that marriage was and always will be God’s idea. In Genesis chapter two, we have Adam. He is the pinnacle of God’s creation and he is working and caring for and subduing the garden. What does God say in Genesis 2:18? He himself says, “It is not good for the man, Adam, to be alone.” When I get to that passage of scripture, I say amen because I know I need some help. If Tammy’s in here, she’d probably give a louder amen than me, but what I want you to see, though it’s kind of funny, is Adam wasn’t lonely. Adam wasn’t sitting there yearning for a marriage partner. Now, he probably looked to the other animals that had companions and goes, “What’s up with me?” He was satisfied. Now, here’s a message for everybody today. He was satisfied in the presence of God Almighty. Everything that he truly needed was found in him.

God came up with the idea that he shouldn’t be alone and so God comes to Adam and brings him woman, a suitable helpmate, a teammate. Together, in teamwork, they subdued the earth and cared for the garden. This is God’s idea created out of his own will. Therefore, we get what I call the seminal verse on marriage in Genesis 2:24, which, by the way, all the New Testament authors, if they’re going to do any kind of good study on marriage or comprehensive study, I guess it’s all good, but comprehensive, they quote, Paul and Jesus alike, Genesis 2:24, and it says this, “For this reason,” what reason? God’s reason. God’s idea. God’s plan. “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined or united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”

I want you to notice some things that are not in Genesis 2:24. The word, either Hebrew or English, love, not there. This idea of self-focused satisfaction, self-driven happiness, not there either. You know what is in Genesis two? Commitment, longevity, working together through the commitment between a man and a woman for a lifetime to accomplish God’s will together. Through that, his glory is shown to the earth starting with their children. I guess what I’m telling you today is that marriage is not about you. It wasn’t created for you alone. It wasn’t created for your happiness alone. Now, of course, you, if you’re married here today or plan on being married, you’re a part of it. It takes two to tango, if you will. It takes two to be in a marriage covenant. Your happiness, though it’s not the focus, your happiness, if you do marriage according to God’s will, happiness is a byproduct just like happiness is a byproduct if you’re single accomplishing God’s will for his glory in your life.

Although I want to get to Genesis, well, past Genesis, I want to get to Ephesians five. We have to go through Genesis two. Before we land in Ephesians five, there’s one more place I have to park I believe to do it justice before we get there. Some of you in here today are single and every time you come to a church and start hearing a message on marriage, you’re like boop. You tune me out. You tune the word of God out like, “This doesn’t apply to me. What does the Bible have to say for me?” It has a lot to say. The Bible has some things to say to you who are single today that are not only Biblical but they’re helpful. I want to pass some of this knowledge onto you that I think it will be good for you.

First of all, I want you to know that you, even as someone who is single, were created for God’s glory and this happens primarily by knowing Jesus Christ and accomplishing his will. That’s everybody’s call whether you’re married or you’re single. There’s this idea I think I hear sometimes in pastors’ mouths and churches and ideas that you need to be relentless in your pursuit of Mr. Right or Mrs. Right. Well, that concept is wrong. God is relentless in his pursuit of you and you, first and foremost, should be relentless in your pursuit of him and then let him take you to where you need to be or where you want to be. That means if you’re single, be satisfied in your singleness until God changes that. If you’re married, some of you who are married are now going, “Well, maybe I want to be single.” No, be satisfied in your marriage covenant and God won’t change that if you stay focused on his word.

Second, I want you to realize that if you’re single today that it’s a gift. I think in Christianity, we can look down on those who are single and say, “Oh, you’re just not quite there yet. Well, bless your heart.” Don’t you love when we say stuff like that? You know something good and gossipy is about to come out of that. “Oh, well, bless your heart.” Listen, Paul was single. We don’t read anywhere in the scriptures that Paul ever got married. Here’s what he says in 1 Corinthians chapter seven verse seven and eight. As a single man, he says, “I wish that all men were even as I am,” single. “However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner,” meaning single, “and another in that.” I believe he’s referring to marriage. Verse eight, “I say to the unmarried,” listen to this, “and to the widows,” if you’re a widow here today or widower, “that it is good for them to remain even as I am.” He calls it a gift. Paul’s smart. Look what he says in verse nine, “Yet also realize that if you’re burning with passion, better for you to be married than for that desire for lust to lead you into sin.” What I’m telling you is, whether you’re married or single, the satisfaction for life truly comes from him alone and then as you walk in singleness as a gift or walk in marriage as a gift.

You know what else is pretty interesting about singleness as Paul refers to it? Being single, now, this is going to catch you off guard so just get ready. Being single prevents you from having a divided heart in your service to Christ. Pastor, what are you talking about? Well, if you’re married, your heart is primarily focused on Christ, but you also have responsibilities with your spouse, we’re going to be into that all kinds of crazy ways today, and your children. Being single, Paul says, “Because I am single, I don’t have divided attention. I’m solely focused on what God wants for me and where he has and I can be focused on accomplishing his service through me.” If you’re married, stay married and be satisfied in that. Marriage isn’t bad. Marriage is good. God created it. He wants that to be the primary vehicle in which the world functions, but if you’re single, let me tell you this, use it. Use it until God brings you someone to be united in marriage or maybe your whole life long, use it to accomplish his glory because it’s a gift.

I don’t want to neglect single, but let’s move on to Ephesians chapter five. Would you stand with me as we start reading in verse 21? It took us a second to get here, but you had to say some things. We can’t just jump right in. In fact, I’d like to just jump straight to 32, but we can’t. Start in verse 21, “And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Now, Paul starts Ephesians five way long ago when he’s talking about living in the power of the Spirit, but I wanted you to see verse 21 here. It says everybody has some kind of point of authority that they put themselves underneath to. Paul says you got to follow whatever authority that is. Verse 22, he says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” Now, here’s Genesis 2:24 and verse 31, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” this is God’s word. Please be seated.

Family, marriage is from God for his glory that pictures the gospel. Let your marriage paint God’s portrait to the world. Now, when you hear something like that and you read this text, doesn’t it make you see your marriage covenant as something far greater than just about you? The weight of glory and the weight of the gospel is what we have on Christian marriage today. Now, there’s lots of things in this passage of scripture that we want to stop and talk about. I know we want to stop and talk about what does it mean for husbands to love their lives as Christ loved the church. We’re going to talk about that. We almost want to throw out the verse 22 through 24 when it talks about submission. That’s almost undigestable in our society today, but just in case any of that is tempting to run or tempted to shy away from, I want to bring our minds all the way down to verse 32 once again.

Look at verse 32 because this is the platform upon which you can stand as you’re blown over by your offense in other verses or you tend to only want to focus on some verses. Always go back to verse 32 and it will be like an anchor for your soul. The point of marriage is revealing the mystery of the relationship of Christ to the church. Your marriage is an illustration of the gospel to the world. Always go back to that. It will help you digest this stuff that’s a little harder early in this passage of scripture. Now, what is this relationship that Christ has to the church? Well, he is the bridegroom. We as the church are his bride. I want you to know that in Christ willing submission and self-sacrificing love can be seen throughout not only his life on earth but his existence. Think about when Jesus left heaven to become a man, the God-man on this earth. He had to submit to God’s will willingly to do that. It was a self-sacrifice. Think about being God in heaven and descending onto this earth to be a man, to be tempted by sin, to feel pain, to get hungry,  and to be tired when all eternity before that, he never had those feelings. That is both willing submission and self-sacrificing love. Both of them were working together to accomplish your salvation.

Not only did he submit himself once, but he lived a life of submission and lived a life of self-sacrifice. As the God-man, he lived a perfect life, overcame temptation, unlike you and me. Why? So at the end of his life he could be that propitiation, that atoning sacrifice, that absorbing of God’s wrath man on the cross and take all that punishment that you deserve, but only through willing submission and self-sacrificing love was that accomplished. He died on the cross. He was buried. Three days later, what happened? He rose from the dead also in submission to God’s will. He ascended into heaven. If you would today repent and believe, repent of your sin and believe that Jesus is who he said he was, you would not only find forgiveness and be saved, but he would be your bridegroom forever and you’d be celebrating the wedding feast for all of eternity in a place called heaven. This is the relationship that he is trying to illustrate through the marriage covenant. It should be mind-blowing. I bet your mind is starting to try to wrap around it right now. That’s what Paul wanted you to do. I wanted you to be thinking about that now as we work through the rest of the text. The gospel is what’s at stake through a wife’s submission to Christ in her husband and a husband’s loving sacrificial love towards his wife.

Now let’s go to verse 21 through verse 24 when Paul is talking about wives respecting their husbands. When we start in verse 22 and this word submission comes out, it is as close to a cuss word as anything that we see in the scriptures. It is offensive. When we hear it, we want to tune it out and gloss over it and don’t even touch it. Just stay away from it, pastor. It’s like fire. It’s going to burn you. Then why is it in there like four times in the beginning? I can’t just ignore it, but, yes, it is dangerous. Before you tune me out and before I lose you, let me reach out for a second and pull you back in. Would you just do me a favor if this word offends you and just hold on for a few minutes? Knock the cobwebs out, whatever you got to do. Get off your phone. Stop texting those, “I can’t believe he’s talking about this.” Just take a second. Breathe in, breathe out, and let’s just walk through it together. I want to help you today.

If submission is offensive for you, I want to give you three other words that you can, not substitute, but that you can hold onto if you just can’t hear the word submission that will better understand what Paul’s talking about here so you can truly understand Biblical submission. I’ll tell you what Biblical submission is not. It’s not a vehicle for allowing the abuse of women. Biblical submission is not oppression. Biblical submission is not giving up your voice in marriage. These are all societal ideas that are encroaching upon God’s holy word that he never meant for them to enter. I can do this with other words as an example. Then we’ll go back to submission. We also hate the word discipline, do we not? Every time we hear discipline, we’re thinking spankings and punishment. That’s the idea. That’s a part of the word, but when you go to Hebrews chapter 12, go read that this week, do some homework.

The idea of discipline in Hebrews chapter 12 is this: loving instruction. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? God’s loving instruction towards us when we mess up and even when we don’t. That’s seen as the word discipline. When you see church discipline in the scriptures, it’s all over the place, but we can hardly hear that. We’re like, “Oh, church discipline. I don’t think so.” It’s a beautiful word. In fact, discipline is a good word when you’re talking about church discipline, but to better help us digest it, let’s look at the purpose of church discipline. The purpose is what? Restoration. Now, restoration is a very positive word. If you need to understand Biblical discipline, church discipline, think about restoration as the purpose. In fact, we’re renaming our church discipline team at the New Year to call it the church restoration team because it means the same thing.

Now back to submission. There’s three words I want to give you that I think will help you. One is trust. Wives, trust your husbands. Number two is support. Wives, support your husbands. Number three is respect. Wives, respect your husbands. I’m going to really hone in on that one. See, before you can ever follow his headship, you must trust his leadership. You trust his headship because it’s given to him by Christ, but you have to give your husband this trust. Now, husbands, on the other hand, you can’t force it. As she’s giving it, what do you do? You’re trying to earn it. She’s trying to look to Christ to give it to you. When she musters up the energy and the courage and the submission to do that and you have trust, then you have to go through and not take advantage of that but then show her that you can be trusted. Trust is a good word.

Let’s think about support. Wives, support your husbands. It’s easy to do that when they make the right decisions, but it’s a little harder when they’re making the wrong decisions. Support your husband’s ideas. Support him especially in front of your children and others, but my favorite word that we can use here is respect. Wives, submit to Christ through their husbands as a matter of respect to both parties. I know, because of abuses of this text, even now I’m trying to give you three different words, as soon as I say submission, you think that means being run over. I’m no rug. You may be thinking, “That means for my voice to be taken away.” I want to tell you it does not mean that. Here’s the difference. If you interpret submission as oppression, I want to help you see it’s nothing like that because oppression in the definition of the word means forced.

What Paul is talking about, what Jesus demonstrated in his submission is what? Voluntary, it’s willful, two different things. Jesus was not forced into submission. He voluntarily, out of his own desire, submitted himself to God’s will to accomplish your salvation. This is the model that Paul is saying wives must follow. Guys, let me help you out here. Let me tell you what won’t work. You can’t take it. You can’t force it. You can’t squish submission or respect out of your wives. She must give it out of her own desire. The very moment you let submission from her willingly turn into oppression from you, your rob your marriage of the imagery of the gospel. In fact, she will push back because she wasn’t created to work like that.

Abuse of women is a big deal. It’s always been a big deal. We’re just now starting to see how vast it really is. World Vision in 2007 went to the United Nations and they said something pretty shocking. They said a majority of the women and girls around the world will experience violence from a man. A majority of the women around the world will experience violence at the hands of a man, either physical violence, psychological violence, which is violence, by the way, or sexual violence. They said the United Nations in 2007 it’s in every culture and it’s in many households, maybe the household right next to you. Submission is not having a voice silenced or oppression. It’s voluntary. Who’s the example of that? Jesus. When he gives you salvation, let me ask you: Does he force you to take it? Does he cram it down your throat and say, “Do you want to be saved?” No, he wants you to want it. When he sees you wanting it and asking for it, what does he do? He gives it.

Now, I know that’s a struggle with God’s sovereignty, but let me tell you, God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill is working right together all through the scriptures. We can’t force it. Jesus, as he modeled it for us, it was never forced in him. Submission isn’t some card that the husband holds onto when an argument gets to a stalemate point. I used to think of it like that. We’re just going to get along. We’re going to be a teammate, but when we don’t see eye to eye, boom, submission card. Here we go. You know what that does? It takes your wife’s voice. It’s like, “Oh, you can’t talk anymore. Boom, submission card.” That’s not going to work. She’s going to resent that. It has to be voluntary. In fact, wives, submission, like Jesus, it wasn’t momentary in his life just moments forced by God, was it? It was a lifestyle. I ask you: Was Jesus less than God or Jesus less than the Holy Spirit in his word? No, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, they’re all of equal value, equal status. Yet, what did Jesus do? He lived a lifestyle of voluntary submission to accomplish God’s will in his life. That’s what it must look like.

Tammy is a strong woman and she let me use her as an example today because we’ve had lots of conversations about submission. I try to understand it and she’s been trying to understand it. She struggled in the beginning of our marriage to even understand the concept, what it meant. This is what she told me. Maybe it will help you. She goes, “I really tried to look at it through the lens of respect. When I realized that I couldn’t get away from this in the scriptures and God wanted me to do this even though I didn’t understand it,” she stopped looking at society and started looking at God’s word and she defined it as always trying to respect me, she says, especially in front of the children and other people. She goes, “I try not to ever say something negative about you, especially in front of the children or other people.” She goes, “I always just try to respect you.” I’m not trying to oppress her into doing it. We both have to be in desiring to it. When she does that …

I didn’t even know she was doing this, by the way. When she does that, I look back and I realize that’s when my respect tank felt full when she gave it to me out of desire, that respect. Wives, I would submit to you if you would think about and try to make a commitment to never say negative things about your husband in front of your children, in front of your family, in front of your friends. Here’s the deal. You’re not always going to agree. I get that. Tammy and I have plenty of heated conversations, you may want to call them arguments, and we’re going at it and we’re trying to figure it out. That’s okay. It’s called communication and conflict. You got to have that, but try not to say something negative about him in front of other people, try to contradict him in front of your children, try to support him in front of your friends. Tammy said that worked. I want to tell you it’s worked with me, but there’s other things.

Let’s move on. Not only is Paul talking about a wife’s willing submission, we have to take a long time and talk about it and redefine it through trust and support and respect, but look how much time he spends with husbands all the way through verse 31 here. Husbands, love your wives sacrificially. Just like when I look at what Paul is saying to women and I look at it through the lens of respect, that really helps me. I hope it will help you. When I look at what Paul is saying to men, the word that comes to my mind is sacrifice. Is that not what Jesus did for us? Not only is he willingly submissive to the Father’s will, that’s a great example for wives, but he was also constantly sacrificing himself.

It wasn’t just momentary. When we think of, “Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the church,” the guys are like, “Yeah, honey. I’ll take a bullet for you. I’ll jump a grenade for you. I’ll do that Bruno Mars song for you.” No, it’s not just about the one moment. It’s not just dying for your wife. It’s literally a lifestyle of self-sacrifice. Jesus didn’t just do it once when he left heaven. He was always putting himself second for your goodwill. If we’re going to try to ask our wives to live a lifestyle of respect, trust, and support, men, I want to tell you something because I am one. It starts with you. You must live a lifestyle of self-sacrifice. Ask yourself, “What am I putting above my wife today that I need to get rid of to put her first just for her benefit?” That’s the example of Jesus for you.

What is it? Maybe it’s your office time. Maybe you’re addicted to work. That happens, happens to a lot of men, happens to women too, but a lot of men. Maybe it’s your hobbies. Maybe it’s your playtime. Maybe it’s with your buddies. Think of something you’re putting above your wife right now that you need to give up for her benefit. Let it not be momentary. Let it be a lifestyle of self-sacrifice. There’s a lot more here. Husbands, this is constantly giving yourself up for her. Paul also goes on to talk about making her holy and this idea of washing her with water through the word. Now, husbands, this doesn’t mean that you can forgive your wife’s sins. It doesn’t mean you can literally make her holy, but you could follow Christ’s example and lovingly lead her spiritually in his word and times of prayer and active church membership.

I love how also Paul says here, “Love your wives like you love your own bodies.” I think this is perfect for guys because we love our bodies. We love to bring pleasure to our bodies. I don’t if it’s a male thing. It’s a Todd thing. It may not apply to the rest of you, but especially in this society, we’re so worried about fitness. We spend as much time if not more time in the mirror than our wives. We’re always worried about what we’re eating. We like to eat. I mean, if you care for your body, you feed it, you protect it, you cherish it, you nourish it. In that same way, Paul says that’s what you do for your wife. You need to provide for her just like you provide for your body to eat. I’m not saying the wife has to stay at home barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. That’s an archaic mindset. She can be a stay-at-home-mom, but that doesn’t mean she can’t work. It just means here’s the deal, guys. The buck stops with you. When the rubber meets the road, you better get off your haunches and get out there and find a job and provide for your family if you need to. There’s no room for lazy men in this passage of scripture. You’re going to eat, then work so your family can eat.

You must cherish her. You cherish your body. You don’t treat it like trash. Cherish her and protect her. I’m not saying she’s not able to protect herself. I’m saying it’s your primary responsibility. I guess what I’m asking you guys: Are you going to step up and do it? When Adam and Eve both fell into sin, Adam ate the fruit first. We like to point that out as guys, “She did it right over there,” but when God came on the scene, who’d he talk to first? He didn’t go to Eve. He went to Adam. What I’m telling you guys is I’m going to put the weight on you. It starts with you. If you will fulfill your responsibility in marriage and love her like Christ loves the church truly and respectfully and consistently, it will blow your mind how much she wants to respect you, how much she wants to trust you, and how much she wants to support you. See how it works together? To accomplish your salvation, it took both the willing submission of Jesus and the self-sacrificing nature of Jesus to accomplish that. In marriage, it takes both, the willing submission, trust, support, and respect of the wife and the self-sacrificing love of the husband. That’s what’s going to allow us to accomplish the primary purpose.

We got to move on here. Look at verse 32. Both working together does what? It fulfills the primary purpose of Christian marriage, which is to reveal the mystery of the gospel love that Jesus has for his church to the world. Let the weight of that sit on your soul for just a second. Wife’s fulfilling what God has asked her to do and husband’s fulfilling what God’s asked him to do. Let me clear some things up just for a second. By the way, husbands, there will be times where you also need to support your wife, trust your wife, and respect your wife. Paul’s not saying you don’t have to do those things. He’s just saying this is what I’m honing in on with women. Wives, you will also have to show self-sacrificing love to your husband. Paul just says that’s just what I’m honing in on for husbands. We have to be mutually submissive in these things together, focusing on where our primary roles are, and together the world gets a better picture of how Jesus loves them.

Jesus didn’t give up on you, don’t give up on each other is the kind of application I want to bring out here. Has anybody in here been unfaithful to Jesus? Go ahead. Everybody put their hands up. That’s not a request. I mean, come on, seriously. Yes, you’ve been unfaithful to Jesus. If you’ve committed any sin while you’ve been a Christian, you’ve been unfaithful to him, but what did he do in response to that? “I’m done with you.” No, he didn’t leave you. He didn’t divorce you. He still went to the cross and died for you. Some saying, yes, like that’s the worst case scenario for most marriages. I’ve seen it where it’s not recoverable. I’ll admit that, but not what is. My question is: What could be? Could there be anything that rips a marriage apart if they stay focused on the love of Christ? The answer to that is no. God can bring it all back together. If God restored everything on the cross through Jesus Christ, he can restore anything in your broken relationship. Ask yourself, “What message am I telling the world, to my children, when I give up early?”

I’m not trying to crush your spirit today. I’m just trying to give you a reality what the picture is in the Bible of what marriage is. You just might be telling your children and the world that Jesus has given up on them early. Don’t think that it doesn’t follow your children either. Now, is there forgiveness? Absolutely. Can God restore it? Absolutely. Can God make life good again? Absolutely. Can God restore your children’s heart that you and your wife have worked to break or you and your husband worked to break? Absolutely. I’m a product of that and they can be as well. I’m not saying what could be. I’m saying what should be. Husbands and wives working together for the glory of God and showing the gospel to the world, this is a great responsibility. God has a plan. He created it. My suggestion is follow it. You have your own freewill. You’re going to do what you want. I’m just giving you suggestion what the scriptures say. God has a purpose so let the love of Christ flow through your marriage. Fulfill it. That is my prayer today. Follow the plan. Fulfill the purpose.

Now, for the last few minutes together, I want to get real practical because many of you that are looking at me right now, you’re going to say, “I believe that.” I want to talk to you about your head, your heart, and your hands. See, in salvation, you have to have an intellectual understanding of what the gospel means, don’t you? Who Jesus is, what he accomplished for you, and what the resurrection is, what does that mean for your life? Does it stop in your intellectual understanding of it? No, it must travel to your heart and you must truly believe it. You must truly love him in your heart, but you’re not even done there. Are you? It must show itself in how you accomplish it with your hands, how you fulfill his will in your life, and what you actually do. The same in marriage.

Many of you would look at me and say, “I believe that marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for a lifetime that brings glory to God and shows the gospel to the world.” That means you’ve understood it up here, but you’re not done yet. You’ve got to believe it in here. Many of you say, “I understand it up here and I believe it in here, but we are still hurting. We are still on the verge of divorce.” You want to ask, “How? I get what the gospel is. I believe it, but what does that look like for me?” Let me just talk to you about a few minutes the things I think that are very applicable to your life today. Probably the first thing that I would want to tell you if you want to show the gospel through your marriage is this. Don’t give up because Jesus didn’t give up on you. If you cling to one thing today in the application section, cling to that. Don’t give up. Don’t quit early. You can endure. If you cling to Christ, you will endure. Don’t give up.

Number two, your marriage has to be a priority. So many of you are spending so much time at work, at play, and with your friends. Then, you come to me and you say, “How come there’s no more spark in my marriage?” Maybe that your marriage is not a priority. I know that’s even a broad concept. Let’s whittle that down a little bit. To make your marriage a priority, here’s what I think it really means. You have to spend time together. You say, “Duh. It’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it, pastor?” You can say that, but is it not more difficult with this busy society and all the emphasis we have on everything else and our friends and our hobbies and even our children? It’s not a mystery. If you want to enjoy marriage, you have to spend time together. Go on a date night once a week if you can, once a month. If at all possible, have someone watch the kids. Say goodbye to the job for a day or two and go on a date night, maybe on a date weekend. Invest in each other. Look each other in the eyes and talk to each other.

It’s not much different than your relationship with Jesus. You can talk about a relationship with Jesus. You can read a book about a relationship with Jesus. You can even teach a class on a relationship with Jesus, but if you don’t spend time with him, did you hear me? If you don’t spend time with him, you’ll never truly enjoy him. There’s some everyday things that you can do to spend time together. You text somebody all the time anyway. Why not text your spouse? Maybe she is at home. Maybe she is with the kids, “Honey, how are you doing today? I’m just checking in, not because I’m afraid I’m in trouble for showing up late last night, but just because I said hello. How are the kids? How are you doing?” That’s okay. Wives, you can do that with your husbands. Go on a walk together. That’s free. It’s just going to cost you some calories and that’s good for you. Go in the morning and walk and talk. Wake up early. Go on the evenings and take a walk together and, guys, listen to this, hold each other’s hand. That’s okay. Grab the hand. Enjoy it.

Spend time together emotionally, but also you need to spend time together physically. Some people starting to shift in their seats. Yes, I mean intimate. What does that mean? Yes, I mean sexual intimacy. Couples that stay together not only talk together. Couples that stay together have sex together. If it’s been a month since you’ve had sex with your spouse, that’s too long. I don’t what’s your time period for that and I’m not here to make a schedule for you, but if you have to, put it on the schedule. Guys love it when I say this, but I still believe it. Regular and often is a good motto. You need to come up with it together, but y’all got to spend time together sexually. It’s just a part of it. It is the physical portrayal of the one flesh union that God created in Genesis chapter two thousands of years ago. It is not just good for children and the production of them. It is also good for intimacy. It’s also good for communication. You’re going to have to talk to each other. I won’t go too far. Don’t worry if you’re getting scared. You’re going to have to talk about it.

You’re going to have to spend time together emotionally, physically, but also spiritually. Pray with each other. Couples that pray together stay together. I mean, that’s just not a cute phrase. Go look at the statistics. I’m running out of time. I won’t share it with you. Couples that pray together, couples that talk together, couples that have sex together, they stay together. You have to spend time with one another is what I’m telling you. Also, as you’re spending time with one another, you need to create boundaries with the opposite sex. That means private messaging someone of the opposite sex, you probably need to create those boundaries together, but I don’t see that being a good thing without letting your spouse in on it, an email, a private message on Facebook. I know it’s difficult in our society today, but just protect yourself. You have to agree on it together. Everybody sit down and have these conversations.

What are the boundaries? Maybe it’s no lunch, no dinner with the opposite sex without really honing in and making sure that’s okay with our spouse. There should be nothing in your life that your spouse doesn’t have access to. There should be no password that they don’t have and you don’t share with each other. I know we have these crushes. The point here’s not crushing. Someone asked me this week, “Was that a verb?” No, but that’s what our society says. You know what I mean by crushing. It’s when you look at that other person and say, “I wonder what it would be like to spend some time with them, to be married to them, or even to be intimate with them.” Stop it right there. I’m serious. Stop it in the mental process. You don’t believe me? Ask David. David walked out on his roof one day, saw Bathsheba. She was naked. He said, “That’s nice,” and then went into full-blown mental fantasy and it led to what? Sexual adultery and having her husband killed. You don’t want to go there. Stop it in your mind.

These Hollywood crushes, I know we laugh about it, but stop it. You’ve all seen that Friends episode when they get out of jail free card when that super famous actor or actress says, “Yeah, I’ll sleep with you.” They said, “Okay, you can do it that one time.” We laugh about it and we think it’s funny. That’s not likely. Don’t even play about it. You’re putting the idea in your brain, just like I don’t want you to play with divorce. Don’t use that word. Don’t threaten each other with that. Create boundaries. There’s more I could say, but I’ll also say this. If you’re hurting, get help. Don’t be so prideful. Get help. Don’t give up, make your marriage a priority, spend time together, and get help. There’s lots of good counseling services. Go to a Christian who likes to counsel. Don’t go to a counselor that’s just using their Christianity to get you in the door. There’s a big difference. We know the difference and we want to recommend to you both Ennis Counseling Center, we use Ennis, they’re good, and Elledge Counseling. We partner with them. In fact, they use our offices and they counsel people all during the week. They’re a great organization and they understand what it means to be in a Biblical marriage.

If you have a friend maybe, a coworker, a family member, they may benefit from counseling, benefit from help, there’s a table out there right now. Elledge Counseling has done us a great favor. They’ve sacrificed their morning. They’ve come here after both services. Right after the service, you can walk up to Elledge Counseling desk, get a card, make an appointment for a friend, make an appointment for yourself, and get some help. Look at your spouse’s heart like this and I promise I’m done. Look at your spouse’s heart like a love bank account. You know that place where you take money when you get it? Some of your bank accounts are big. Some of your bank accounts are low. I want you to look at your spouse’s heart like a bank account and you need to make deposits to keep their love account full. You don’t want their spousal bank account in the love category to go empty. You need to constantly be making deposits, but you also need to make deposits in the right currency.

Say, “Pastor, what do you think of that?” Some of you, you think you’re making deposits, but the account’s still showing empty because you’re not dealing in the right currency. You still don’t understand. Let me explain. We often have a tendency as humans to show love the way that we like to receive love. You can read The Five Love Languages as a practical help in this, meaning maybe some of you like to receive gifts. It really blesses you and it fills up your account. What do you do? You try to give a gift. Well, your spouse is different than you. They may not want you to give them a gift. Your wife, you may continue to bring her roses, but she would rather you be in the kitchen washing the dishes instead of bringing home the roses and sitting on the couch the rest of the night. You see the difference? Your husband, you may think, “He looks good. I’m going to tell him. I’m going to make a deposit. Honey, you look real good,” when all he really wants is you to sit next to him and hold his hand. Maybe it’s some physical affection.

Maybe your wife, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. She needs some attention.” You start groping her. I’ll tell you probably that’s not the way that she has her account filled up. She needs you to maybe show her nonsexual affection, to tell her how beautiful she is and spend time with her, maybe washing dishes. I don’t know what it is, but you’re going to have to talk to each other and say, “How do you feel loved? I never asked you that question. All these years, I’ve been buying you roses and doing nothing for you.” This is going to be huge because here’s the danger. Listen to me now. If you let your spouse’s account go to empty and somebody else comes in and starts making emotional deposits, if you let that happen long enough, they may decide to switch banks. I’m not saying if you’re thinking about switching banks you need to switch banks. You need to stay in your marriage, but why would your spouse ever have to let somebody else put emotional deposits in their account and even think about leaving the bank of your heart? No. By the way, don’t let other people put emotional deposits in your bank account that’s meant for your spouse. Make those deposits, would you? Because what’s at stake when you leave here is the gospel.