Summary: This is the final message of the series and focuses on marriage.
What Is Jesus Costing You – Part 5
Scriptures: Ephesians 5:1-30
This message will conclude this series. Today we will focus on the last phase of developing a long-term relationship and that is marriage. When I started this series, I focused on the question: “What Is Jesus Costing You?” During each phase of the development of a relationship, there are costs involved. Whether you are getting acquainted, dating, boy/girlfriends, engaged or married, there are costs involved in being in the relationship. When you reach the final stage of marriage, the costs involved far exceed the financial and part-time mental access that you gave earlier in the relationship. When you actually marry someone, the cost involves the releasing of yourself to the other person as the two of you become one. This does not mean that you cease to be you, but it does mean that there are limitations that you now place on yourself voluntarily as you begin to live your life with another person. Let’s start with what Paul wrote about marriage being symbolic of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
I. Marriage Is Like Christ and the Church
This entire series has been building up to this one point: the fullness of our relationship with Christ as seen in the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. I recognize that not all marriages are created equal and that it depends on each individual person to make it work, but the institution of marriage truly defines the relationship that Christ has with each of us – His Church. As we read these Scriptures, I want you to focus on the “non-financial” or material costs associated with marriage and those costs revolve around your emotional and spiritual investment into the marriage.
Ephesians chapter five opens with the following: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Vs. 1-2) The first thing Paul writes as he leads up to the verses comparing marriage to Christ’s relationship to the Church is that we should be imitators of God. To imitate someone means that you follow their example. For a marriage to truly be successful, both individuals must in some way imitate God through their actions. How do we do this? One way of imitating God is to walk in forgiveness and love towards our fellow man. The way that Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for us is an example of the way we are to live for the sake of others. The first cost that we must pay in a marriage is to begin to see ourselves as living for the good of someone else. This does not mean that my life now revolves around me living just to please my spouse, but that my heart is aligned to her in such a way that I think of her as I consider my own individual needs, desires and actions. When we make this selfless sacrifice to imitate God, we choose to respond to others not based on our needs, but theirs. This is the first true cost in a marriage relationship, deferring to the needs of someone else versus fulfilling our own needs. As you think about this from a Christian viewpoint, we begin to make real decisions based on our relationship with Christ versus what our flesh desires for us to do. Remember the bracelets with the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) on them? When we are married to Christ we really consider this and it is not just something we wear as the fad of the week.
Now look down to verse fifteen. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of God.” (Vs. 15-21)
In these verses Paul defines the relationship we should have with Christ and with one another. In verses fifteen through seventeen, after emphasizing the contrast between light and darkness in the earlier verses, he turns to the contrast between wisdom and foolishness. The foolish person has no strategy for life and misses opportunities to live for God in this evil environment. The foolish person not only misses opportunities to make wise use of their time, he also does not understand what God’s purposes are for mankind or for Christians. In verse eighteen Paul transitions to the influence of wine versus the Spirit of God. He speaks of not getting drunk with wine but being filled with the Spirit. The verse uses the Greek present tense to indicate that the filling is not just a one-time experience, but a repeated experience. As the occasion requires, the Spirit empowers for worship, service and testimony. What Paul is stating is that just as some drink alcohol and come under its influence, we should come under the influence of the Spirit, not just during Church service, but in every aspect of our lives. These verses point to the building blocks for our relationship with Christ and with each other. When we are married to Christ, we choose to pay whatever it cost to maintain that relationship. We give of ourselves because we know that Christ has given the ultimate of Himself for us. If you were married to someone who you knew would without question give up their life so that you would live, would you not think you had the best of marriages? If you knew that your spouse would give up their life for you without hesitation, then the other “stuff” that we weigh as important would not seem as important.