Does God care how I get along with my wife? We know that God cares about: world events, the lives of powerful and important people. But does he care about my life, even down to the point of caring about our relationships? Yes. Most definitely yes. Because He isn’t just a God out there. He is a God who is here with us, and for us.
This morning, we’re going to look at what God has to say about our most significant human relationship. We’re going to find out that He wants it to be as rewarding and fulfilling and satisfying as it can possibly be.
"May you rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . . may you ever be captivated by her love."
-- Proverbs 5:18-19 (NIV)
What happens when two people become dissatisfied and disillusioned with one another? Often they begin to think that the problem is that they are married to the wrong person. What’s the solution, then? To find another person.
When they were first married, it seemed like they had found exactly the right person. They enjoyed being together, they spent hours talking, they shared so many common, they thought about each other all the time. But now, they find it difficult to remember just why that woman or that man seemed so interesting and appealing. And the temptation is to think that perhaps a mistake was made, and this isn’t the right person after all. We were young and foolish, and we made a bad choice. The grass on the other side of the fence looks greener.
Sometimes the result of this kind of thinking is divorce.
"’"I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel" -- Malachi 2:16 (NIV)
· Sometimes people seek to meet their relational needs is through an affair
· They may seek to meet these needs through the fantasy of pornography or romance novels.
"You have heard that it was said, ’Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
-- Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV)
· Sometimes people will just decided to "gut it out". [For the sake of the children]
So is that what God wants? Does he want us to stay in a joyless, loveless marriage just to uphold some divine law? Does He care more about rules than people? No. God wants us to have the real thing, and to have it within the context of a lifelong marriage relationship. He desires that we be "ever" captivated by one another’s love, and that we "rejoice" in the husband or wife that we married in our youth. How can we experience this?
We have to begin by dumping the idea that there is such a thing as the ’right person’ or the ’wrong person,’ a soulmate, someone with whom you instantly and perfectly and effortlessly mesh. This is romantic twaddle. It’s not in the Bible. [Ally McBeal will never find the perfect man.] True, some people are easier for you to get along with, and you feel naturally more compatible with. But there is enough sin in all of us that even the most ’compatible’ couple will have difficulties. The ’right person’ isn’t someone you find; it’s what you and your spouse become as you learn to meet one another’s needs by the grace and power of God.
The problem is not that you are hooked up with the wrong person. The problem is that you are unwilling to meet one another’s relational needs, or that you are unable to do so because of a lack of understanding. But both of these, unwillingness and inability, are curable.
This morning, we are going to look at some fundamental ideas to help us understand this issue of the different relational needs that men and women have. Then we’ll look at some practical things you can do to meet those needs for your partner.
Why meet one another’s needs?
· As an act of obedience to God. He has commanded that we are to love one another.
· Because of the consequences of not doing so - it opens them up to temptation.
· Because of the rewards of doing so - it results in a more joyful, satisfying relationship.
· Because it brings honor and glory to God.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . . "’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church." -- Ephesians 5:25; 31-32 (NIV)
The relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. The love of a husband and wife for one another is a picture of the love between Christ and the church. So when a husband and wife serve one another and seek to meet one another’s needs in love, it reflects well on Christ; it honors and glorifies him.
God is not honored by a tepid, lukewarm, just-putting-up-with-one-another kind of relationship. That’s not an accurate picture of His love for his people. God’s love for us is an intense, passionate, no-holds-barred kind of love. His love for us is so deep that He was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for His beloved - the life of His own Son. Jesus Christ suffered torture, ridicule, betrayal, and death, all to rescue His beloved from sin and death. That is the kind of love that marriage is intended to represent.
We must approach marriage with an attitude of humility and servanthood
A fundamental attitude:
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. - Mark 10:43-45 (NIV)
This command applies to our relationships with everyone. However, it applies especially to our relationship with our spouse because that is where it is the most difficult.
Our attitude must not be one of "how can I make sure my needs are met?", or giving in order to get. We must imitate Christ’s attitude of humility and service. Ironically, as we serve our spouse we will often find that our deepest needs are met as well. But our motivation must be to honor Christ by imitating his humility and service in our relationship to our spouse.
A Woman’s Need - Honesty and Openness
"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." - Colossians 3:9-10 (NIV)
· The Bible makes no provision for "white lies." Lying is contrary to the nature of God.
· A husband should tell his wife the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
· Why do men lie to their wives?
Desire to "protect" them
Desire to avoid conflict
Desire to hide sin
Desire to mask weaknesses
Openness: A woman needs openness because she needs to be able to trust. In order to trust, she must have information; the husband must tell her what he is thinking.
Husband: "if you trusted me, you wouldn’t need for me to explain everything."
Wife: "if you don’t have anything to hide, why won’t you tell me what’s going on?"
For the husband, it’s a question of task efficiency. Information is on a need-to-know basis. If the decision is his to make, then it is inefficient to share the reasoning process behind it. Why waste time discussing the details. When his wife demands he explain, he feels indignant, because to him this indicates a lack of trust.
For the wife, it’s the relationship, stupid. The task is not the only thing. The process of making the decision is important also, because it is the process that builds intimacy. By withholding information, the husband is withholding an opportunity for intimacy. And lack of intimacy makes women feel insecure and unsafe.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. - 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
The terms "partner" and "co-heir" implies that you share information with one another. The wife is not the "silent partner."
How do you cultivate conversation (which leads to openness)?
· Seek out activities which you both enjoy. Find a way to participate in your spouse’s activities.
· Be intentional about scheduling uninterrupted time to spend with one another.
How to understand what your spouse wants - ask!
The real issue is a heart issue. This is where we need God’s power.
[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us -- Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
(For an .rtf file of this and other sermons, see www.journeychurchonline.org/messages.htm)