Summary: If God’s priority through marriage is to make us holy, rather than happy, then we need to see our current marriage relationship as God’s will for us.
Partly or Wholly Holy
Life After the Wedding, part 3
Wildwind Community Church
February 5, 2006
We’re still in our series on marriage, called “Life After the Wedding.” We kicked it off two weeks ago with a message called The Dance, where we talked about how God wants marriages to be healthy, but noted that despite that fact, there are a lot of unhealthy marriages. In that message we discovered that the key to moving toward a good marriage is a change of heart – that it’s the key that unlocks the door of marital and personal health for us. Last week we talked about The God-Centered Spouse. In that message I shared with you that although a good marriage takes two, all you can do is focus on you, and I encouraged you with that passage from 2 Cor. 7:1. Read it with me.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)
… let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Today I want to go deeper into this idea of reverence for God as it relates to marriage relationships. Last week’s big thought was, “What if the things in your marriage that bother you the most reveal the areas where you need the most work.” Heavy stuff – have you thought about that at all? Do you see how it’s true in your own life?
Today I want to start with a thought that will build on that last one, and I hope it will wake you up at night this week, that will occur to you throughout your day, that will dawn on you in the middle of your next big fight with your spouse, that it will be matter enough to be unsettling to you. Today’s message will be based on this thought:
What if God’s purpose for you in marriage is not primarily to make you happy, but to make you holy?
Ever thought of that before? What if God’s purpose in marriage for you is not primarily to make you happy, but to make you holy? Last week we talked about the God-centered spouse. The God-centered spouse begins with this conviction, with this understanding, with this assurance, that God’s purpose for us in marriage is not primarily to make us happy, but to make us holy.
Then again, that’s not really a leap at all, is it? Rick Warren likes to say that God is not nearly as interested in our comfort as He is in our character. I don’t have much trouble believing that, do you? Do you think God would rather have you be comfortable and selfish, or uncomfortable and selfless? I mean, if God had to choose, which would it be? What would you desire for your own children? Do you primarily desire that they be happy all the time, or that they grow into strong human beings who are godly, moral, and ethical? That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? And isn’t it true that we can’t always have both? Sometimes we come to moments where we have to choose between happiness and holiness. Your children can’t always have both. Sometimes they will have moments in their lives where you as a parent will choose to develop their character instead of maintain their comfort. Sometimes it just can’t be both ways. God is more interested in our character than in our comfort, in our holiness than our happiness. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t care about our comfort or happiness, only that He has higher priorities than that; and this is where it gets tough for us if we are not a God-centered spouse, because to be centered on ourselves, to be not centered on God, usually means that our own comfort and happiness are the highest priorities in our lives. Ever met a self-centered person who did not have their own comfort and happiness at the top of their priority list?
So the God-centered spouse assumes what I am telling you – that God is more interested in making us holy than in making us happy. Some of us, frankly, would rather be happy. The extent to which we’d rather be happy than holy shows us how unholy we still are. Holiness, you see, brings a happiness and freedom of its own that we can’t imagine in our current state. To be holy is to want what God wants, to take joy in what brings God joy, to not be tied to our own whims and moods, and to be truly free. The world offers us happiness – God offers us joy as we pursue holiness. Happiness – circumstantial, temporary, shallow. Joy – not dependent on circumstances but on attitude, eternal, very deep.
I don’t think God’s desire to make you holy through your marriage is that much of a surprise. God wants to use all the circumstances of your life to make you holy. Your health, or lack thereof. Your money or lack thereof. Your job or lack thereof. Your friends or lack thereof. Your mental capacities and your hopes and dreams, your strengths and weaknesses, your highs and your lows. In all of these things God desires to see you do what? Become more like Jesus. That is simply to say, God desires to see you become holy, and wants to use any and every circumstance of your life to create His character in you.