Summary: Sharing 5 characteristics of a covenant relationship (Material adapted from Gary Chapman's book, Covenant Marriage; chapter 2 Covenant Marriages, pgs. 13- 24)
A man and woman, both 60 years old, had just spent the day celebrating 40 years of marriage. They got home and were examining their gifts when all of a sudden an angel appeared and said, “Because you two have been such a loving couple all these years, the Lord is going to give each of you one wish.” The wife jumped up and said, “I want to travel around the world.” Poof! Airline tickets to London, Paris, Moscow, and Tokyo appeared in her hand. Next it was the husbands turn, he scratched his head and then said, “I’d like to have a wife 30 years younger than me.” Poof! He was all of a sudden 90 years old.
Covenant is mentioned in 272 verses of the NIV Bible. This is a key concept of Bible
When then is the meaning of this word covenant, which is woven so much into the fabric of Scripture? A covenant, like a contract, is an agreement made between two or more persons, but the nature of a covenant is different from a contract.
Thesis: Sharing 5 characteristics of a covenant relationship
1. Covenants are initiated for the benefit of the other person
“From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:2-4, NIV. Notice that Jonathan took the initiative in this covenant. His first act was an act of giving. Jonathan’s motivation for making a covenant with David grew from his love for David and not from a selfish desire to manipulate David to do something for him.
Read Ruth 1:16-17. Verse before this Naomi mad it clear to Ruth that she had nothing to offer her. Yet Ruth’s commitment to Naomi clearly grew from her concern for Naomi’s well being. While David and Naomi’s sense of commitment to the covenant was fully as strong as that of Jonathan and Ruth, they did not initiate the covenant. Covenants are born from a desire to minister to the other person, not to manipulate the person or to get something.
In a covenant marriage each spouse is committed to the other’s well being. Obviously, if both of them keep the covenant, then both of them will benefit, but the motivation and the attitude is not self gratification but giving of self for the other’s well being.
Come on Davon, how many entered into marriage this way? Let’s be honest. I wish I could say that my supreme motivation when I got married was to make my wife happy. In all honesty, I must admit that most of my thoughts centered on how happy I was. I must admit that my marriage at times is less than a covenant marriage. Many operate on a contract mentality. Must grow in the Lord and grow in marriage.
2. In covenant relationships, the parties make no holds barred promises
Ruth 1:16-17 and then Ruth 1:18. Notice that after Ruth makes this no holds barred promise, Naomi responds by letting Ruth come along. I suppose Naomi could have refused. However, she accepted Ruth’s no holds barred promise so the covenant was entered into by both parties.
In the New Covenant with Jesus Christ God gives some no holds barred promises. God wants to forgive our sins and give us an inheritance and much more. In order for us to have God’s forgiveness we must respond. Now God has made full provision for our sins, and he stands fully ready to forgive at any moment. God will not withdraw his covenant promise (ends at death), but if we are to have this covenant we must be willing to respond in belief, confession, repentance, and baptism.
Covenant marriages are characterized by no holds barred promises especially when we examine wedding vows. For example, many ceremonies include this: Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife? To live together in the holy estate of matrimony; wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep thou only unto her so long as you both shall live?” To which husband responds, “I will.” And wife makes a similar pledge to husband. This is the language of covenant marriage, not contract marriage. Sadly, even though couples have stated a covenant relationship, they practice a contact marriage in which giving is based on the spouse’s behavior.
3. Covenant relationships are based on steadfast love
Hesed in OT; agape in NT
“Because of the LORD’s great love (loving kindness) we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22, 23, NIV.