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Dressing For The Marriage
Well. Here you are, Herb and Jacquie, all dressed in your wedding finery. You are a very attractive couple on this most significant day of your lives, a couple I like very much -- each of you separately, and as a couple. Behind my affection for you is my respect: you each have deep spiritual convictions which have shaped your character as Christian adults. Youíve done a lot of work to prepare yourselves spiritually and emotionally for being married. Weíve talked very honestly about marriage in our premarital counseling sessions. I believe youíre more than ready to joyfully undertake the challenges of marriage.
When you take off your wedding clothes, what are you going to put on? How does one dress for success in a marriage? What are you going to wear to ensure that yours will be enduring and satisfying?
Paul, in Colossians 3:12-17, has some suggestions for a marriage wardrobe. First, put on compassion. Literally, compassion means "a heart of pity." Compassion is an inner attitude you each have toward the other ó a fullness of tender caring for and about the otherís vulnerability and strengths which will overflow into how you treat each other privately and in public.
On top of compassion, put on kindness. Now thereís an article of clothing that gets to be in short supply in a marriage sometimes! When you are clothed with kindness you will be seeking the otherís good as you deal with each othersí weaknesses and sore spots. Kindness is a garment with healing in its wings.
Then thereís another item of clothing that does a marriage good: humility. If ever there is an arena where pride and the need to be right and the struggle for power occur, itís in a marriage. Lack of humility leads to every kind of struggle. Humility recognizes the otherís equal status, recognizes that each has needs and plans which are equally valid.
Gentleness is another worthy garment for a marriage. Gentleness is the garment of the God-controlled person. When you put on gentleness, the other can take off self-defensive armor, wariness, fearfulness, and can put on trust. Every marriage could use several garments of gentleness.
Now, hereís an absolutely necessary article of clothing for a marriage: patience. Each of you will discover, if you havenít
already, that the other has the capacity to drive you crazy! It doesnít matter what the issue is: marriage takes patience. And these are just the surface things. Patience requires humor, a spirit of live and let live. But mostly patience takes love.
Another essential garment for a marriage is a spirit of forbearance and forgiveness. Thereís a lot that needs to be endured in a marriage, a lot that requires forbearance. It is a spirit of forgiveness that makes difficult things endurable, maybe even erases them. Nowhere more than in marriage, love is repeatedly having to say "Iím sorry." Donít say it to get out of a tight spot. Say it because you know that in no other relationship is the other so vulnerable, so easily hurt. And when the other has asked forgiveness, grant it. Speak not only your pain, but speak the word of peace as well.
If compassion is marriageís inner, garment, and if kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness are its active-wear
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