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Summary: This sermon draws four principles for successful marriage from the book of Ruth. 1st of 2 parts.

February 22, 2004 Ruth 1:1- 2:23

“Making marriage work”


A boy came home from Sunday school and his mother said, "What did you talk about at church?" The boy said, "Marriage!" "What did you learn about marriage?" his mother asked. The little boy thought for a moment and replied, "Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!’”

The little boy had more insight than he knew. Most couples when they get married do not know what they are doing. They have very little concept of what marriage and family is all about. All that they can see is the love that they have for the person of their dreams. They can’t see that there are struggles and trials coming that can very easily turn lovers into enemies.

A woman and her husband came to their pastor and said, "We’re going to get a divorce. We just don’t love each other anymore.” The pastor, knowing that God hates divorce and wanting to help save this marriage said to the husband, "The Bible gives us very clear instructions about love and tells us that there are different levels of love that can be experienced in a marriage. The deepest level is found in Eph. 5:25. It says there that you are to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church." The husband says, "Oh, I can’t do that." The pastor says, "If you can’t begin at that level, then begin on a lower level spoken of in Matthew 19:19. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?" The husband says, "No. That’s still too high a level." The pastor, getting rather frustrated by this point, turns to the last passage - Luke 6:27. “Here is the final level of love. Surely you can muster this one.” Do you know what Luke 6:27 says? “Love your enemies.” – adapted from [Levels of Love, Citation: Erwin Lutzer, "Learning to Love," Preaching Today, Tape No. 99.]

The reality is that some of you can relate to that story. You have been there. Some of you may be there right now. Some of you will be there one day in the future if you don’t take steps to correct the direction that your marriage is going right now. That’s why we’ve come here today. We’ve come to look into God’s Word to gain wisdom and strength that will enable us to prepare for the future by walking right today. And specifically, for the next two weeks, we’re going to discover 8 principles that, if put into practice, will enable your marriage to not only survive but thrive. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can start enjoying our spouses the way that God intended, so let’s get right to it.

If you really want your marriage to work, you have to...

1. Meet needs (1:1- 5)

What do you think are the real needs of your family? The spoken needs of your children may be a new toy or computer game. But what are the real needs? In Ephesians 5, God gives us commands concerning family relationships. These commands should give us some clues as to what their actual needs are. For example, if husbands are commanded to love their wives, her greatest need must be love. If fathers are commanded to not exasperate their children, then our children’s greatest need from us must be patience, understanding and realistic expectations. And if wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, then his greatest need must be for his wife to respect him and to look to him for leadership.

In the book His needs, her needs, the author makes the bold statement that it is possible to affair proof any marriage. He says that the way to do that is by each spouse faithfully meeting the needs of the other spouse. The theory is that if everyone’s needs are met, then neither spouse will feel the desire to look elsewhere to have their needs met. Whether or not you agree that you can affair proof a marriage, it is true that both spouses in a marriage have needs and have a responsibility to meet the needs of the other spouse. In order to meet needs, I must have an idea of what those needs are. So, based on 25 years of marriage counseling experience, the author lists the top five needs of husbands and wives. Here they are: - His needs, her needs by Willard Harley, jr. (gleaned from 25 years of marriage counseling experience)

His needs

1. Sexual fulfillment

2. Recreational companionship

3. Attractive spouse

4. Domestic support (well-ordered home)

5. Admiration (be proud of him)

Her needs

1. Affection

2. Conversation

3. Honesty and openness (builds trust)

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