Sermons

Summary: The marriage you want -- the marriage that leads to genuine happiness and lasting fulfillment -- is the marriage that fits God’s purposes.

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First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

February 12, 2012

THE HORSE BEFORE THE CART

Of Horses and Carriages – Part 2

Isaac Butterworth

Ephesians 5:15-21 (NIV)

15 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Leo Tolstoy opened his novel, Anna Karenina with this line: ‘Happy families,’ he said, ‘are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but, of course, what is true is that there are happy families and there are unhappy families. Some people get married, and it seems they ruin each other’s lives. Others get married, and they are never happier. What do you suppose makes the difference? I want us to look at that question today. Because a lot is at stake in marriage; a lot is at stake in your marriage.

Marriage provides opportunities like no other relationship, opportunities for frustration and defeat on the one hand or opportunities for deep satisfaction and fullness on the other. I want to propose to you today that the marriage you want -- the marriage that leads to genuine happiness and lasting fulfillment -- is the marriage that fits God’s purposes. How can you have such a marriage? Let’s look at three essentials.

I. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE UP AGAINST

The first one is: Know what you’re up against. The truth is: You and I are married to sinners...and so are our spouses! We are all fallen creatures, and that one fact has enormous impact on our marriages.

Take a second look at Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage. What do you make of it? It’s a power struggle, isn’t it? It’s distressing to see how this couple used their kids to manipulate each other. Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was little more than an arena for tactical maneuvering. They had no common goals, only competing agendas. And the sad thing is: They were too tangled up in their dysfunction to know what they were up against.

That’s why, in Ephesians, Paul writes, ‘Be...careful...how you live.’ In fact, he says, ‘Be very careful...how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.’ What’s he saying? He’s saying we’ve go to recognize the potential for evil in every relationship, but especially in the marriage relationship.

As sinners, we are bent on seizing the advantage for ourselves. Self-absorption is our middle name, and we are determined to serve our own ends rather than the needs of others around us. And we are masters at deceiving ourselves and others about what we’re doing. We rationalize self-interest and convince ourselves that it’s the straightest path to real happiness. There’s an ‘Isaac’ or a ‘Rebekah’ in every one of us.


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