Summary: 51st in a series from Ephesians. Husbands are to love their wives in the sawm way Christ loved the church.

As I was preparing my message this week, I came across this definition of marriage:

Marriage is when you agree to spend the rest of your life sleeping in a room that’s too warm, beside someone who’s sleeping in a room that’s too cold.

Although we may chuckle a bit at that, perhaps it is a much more profound comment about what marriage should be than we might perceive at first glance.

Some years ago The Saturday Evening Post ran an article that was entitled “The Seven Ages of the Married Cold.” This article revealed the reactions of a husband to his wife’s colds during their first seven years of marriage. It’s a rather humorous look at a not-so-funny reality - the potential decline of a marriage, as seen through the common cold.

The Seven Ages of the Married Cold

First Year: “Sugar dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle and there’s no telling about these things with all this strep going around. I’m putting you in the hospital this afternoon for a general checkup and a good rest. I know the food’s lousy, but I’ll be bringing your meals in from Rossini’s. I’ve already got it all arranged with the floor superintendent.”

Second Year: “Listen darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve called Doc Miller and asked him to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl, please, just for papa.”

Third Year: “Maybe you’d better lie down, honey; nothing like a little rest when you feel lousy. I’ll bring you something. Have you got any canned soup?”

Fourth Year: “Now look dear, be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes, and finished the floors, you’d better lie down.”

Fifth year: “Why don’t take a couple of aspirin?”

Sixth year: “I wish you would just gargle something instead of sitting around all evening barking like a seal.”

Seventh year: “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?”

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to look at some very practical instruction from Paul that will hopefully help our marriages from ending up like that. But before we do that, I want us to look at a verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes that I think provides us with a crucial principle that will enable us to be able to put into practice the instruction that Paul gives us here in Ephesians.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Although I don’t think Solomon wrote these words specifically or exclusively to be applied to the marriage relationship, it’s not to hard to see how these words apply to a husband and wife. Certainly, when a husband and wife become one, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And without a doubt, the husband and wife help each other out and keep each other warm and provide protection for each other. But what I really want you to focus on is verse 12: A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Let me illustrate just how important this principle is. Here I have two strands of twine representing the husband and the wife. If I try to braid them together into a single cord, what happens? They fall apart. But now if I introduce a third strand, one that represents Jesus, I can braid those three strands together and they will stay together. That is exactly what God intended for a marriage to be. And what happens once these three strands have been woven together if I remove that crucial third strand? That cord, and the relationship it represents, fall apart.

Here’s the principle. Unless Jesus Christ is an integral part of your marriage relationship, it will come apart. Unfortunately, in our culture today, marriages among those who call themselves Christians come apart at nearly the same rate as those of unbelievers. But I have yet to see a divorce among followers of Jesus Christ who truly make Jesus the centerpiece of their lives – both individually, and together as husband and wife.

Paul actually makes that same point as he writes these words here in Ephesians 5. As we read this passage out loud together, I want you to see how Paul has woven Jesus throughout these instructions to husbands and wives just like that third strand in the cord.

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