Summary: Discover how commitment restores hope for marriage.
We continue with the 5th message in our series, Restoring Hope for Marriage. This morning, we will look at commitment to our spouse in marriage. Cultural values, our job, the children, our hobbies, negative peer pressure and certainly our own selfishness, all compete with our commitment to our spouse in marriage. So we must learn to develop or restore commitment to our spouse in marriage.
Commitment to our spouse will help us persevere through hard times in marriage. Some hard times come in the first three years of marriage, when two selfish single adults struggle to become one. For others, the challenge to be committed comes with each new baby. For some, temptation to be unfaithful comes with a loss of purpose in life.
Commitment is needed to successfully persevere through these hard times common to all marriages. But commitment is also needed to stay in marriages when complications arise, such as physical or psychological illness, addiction, unresolved hurts or dissatisfaction in marriage for one reason or another.
Commitment channels all of our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical energies to finding solutions rather than siphoning away some of our energies to devising escape plans. Commitment is not the whole answer, but is key to staying together in marriage and working to find solutions. A lack of commitment will render even good solutions powerless to help in marital problems and remove hope of experiencing a loving marriage.
And here are some benefits to a loving marriage. A loving marriage lays the foundation to a successful family. If you are married, a loving marriage will encourage to intimacy with God in prayer. If you are married, a loving marriage will increase your career success. If you are married, a loving marriage will boost your self-image. You will have a constant encourager, a sense of security and fulfillment in life.
But how do we build this kind of commitment to our spouse in marriage that enables us to work through hard times and work toward a loving marriage? Our text is Malachi 2:10-16.
Malachi is the final Old Testament message to the Jewish people. This was a message of judgment against their degenerating commitment to God, to each other as God’s chosen people and within the marriage covenant. From Malachi 2:10-16 we read admonitions that gives insight to how commitment can be restored, and in particular, how commitment can be restored in the marriage covenant. Let’s look together.
First, to restore commitment in our marriage, we must develop our character of commitment. Vs 10-11, 14-15
Malachi points to the people’s lack of commitment in multiple areas of life. They broke their promise to God. They broke their promise to each other as the chosen people separated to God. And they broke their promise to their wives.
A lack of commitment in one area of life will bleed into other areas of life, because commitment is not formed by a single decision but by repeated decisions over time and in every area of life. We call consistent decisions repeated over time and in every area of life, “character.”
And people are not born with character. The Bible reveals that character is formed by our repeated decisions over time and opportunity. Suffering is often the opportunity to form character, because in suffering, we need to make intentional and good decisions to experience peace and have strength. In good times, we can passively enjoy our circumstances.
To build character, we must respond to life based not on what we want to get but on what we want to become, even a person of commitment. Whenever you make a decision, are you asking, “What’s in it for me?” Rather, ask, “How will this effect my commitment to God, to my wife, to my children?” Decisions made based on the latter question will over time develop the character of commitment.
Second, to restore commitment in our marriage, we must understand marriage is a covenant, not a contract. Vs. 14-15a
When two people enter a contract, they remain separate individuals. You do your part, and I’ll do my part. If you fail to do your part, I’m released from my part. As long as I have feelings for you, I’ll stay in the marriage. You help me; I’ll help you. That’s contract thinking
But when two people enter a covenant, they become one. The person in a covenant understands, “When I help you, I help myself.” “When I love you, I’m loving myself.” My wife doesn’t owe me for my help or love, because she and I are one. When my right hand kills a mosquito on my left hand, my right hand doesn’t say to my left hand, “You owe me one.” Both hands belong to the same body. That’s covenant thinking.
God modeled the covenant relationship with believers in 2Timothy 2:13, “[If] we are faithless, [God] will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself.” God sees believers as one with Him!