“I can’t live with her anymore!”
“He isn’t the person I fell in love with!”
Marriage is all over the news right now.People arguing over what marriage is, who can be married, is it a civil matter or a religious one. While all of these issues are very important I believe that the real discussion should be “How do we save the marriages that are in turmoil?” or it can be asked this way, “What do I have to do to save my marriage?”
Stacy and I have recently gone through a very stressful time in our marriage.There were times when I wasn’t sure if we would make it. I spent many nights wallowing in my own self pity. There were nights when Stacy and I would have an all out war and at the end of it I was ready to give up on everything. It looked like our marriage wasn’t going to make it. That is until one night when I cried out to God and asked Him for help by showing me something to read that I may gain insight into what to do. That night God pointed out a book to me by one of my favorite pastors/authors Andy Stanley. The title of the book is “The Grace of God.” Now, that night I didn’t read the book but I thought a lot about that subject- God’s grace. You see God knew that I already knew the answer to my question He just had to point my thoughts in the right direction. That night I realized what I already knew. I realized one of the key ingredients to making a marriage last. Husbands pay close attention because as the head of the household and the Spiritual leader of your family this really applies to you.
Let’s start by talking about God’s grace. God’s grace is a subject that can be hard for many of us to wrap our minds around. Grace, in its simplest definition, is a gift that you do not deserve. Jesus dieing on the cross for yours and my sins was God’s grace to us. His forgiveness when we did not and still do not deserve it. It was His unconditional love for us that gave birth to His grace for us. As I thought a lot about this I began to meditate on God’s Word about marriage and one verse came to mind:
Husbands, love your wife, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
And as I thought about this verse another one came to mind:
And then this verse:
So, how did Christ love the church? By forgiving the church, us, even when we did not deserve it. Christ willingly went to the cross to take the punishment for your sins and mine. He done that so that we may be forgiven for our sins. Now, did you do anything to deserve that? Absolutely not. But He forgave you anyway because He loves you.
Are you ready for the application. Take a look at the first verse I posted. What does it say?
How did Christ love the church? The second verse says it all:
If we are to love our spouse the same way that Christ loved the church then what does that mean? It means that you forgive them no matter what. It means that because of your love for them you forgave them before they even done whatever it is they done. It means that you give your life up for them. I know what your thinking/saying, “You don’t know what they done to me. They cheated on me. They lied to me.” Haven’t you done that to Him, to Christ? Remember Ephesians, while we were still sinners. And I bet you’ll say this, “But doesn’t Jesus say that it is alright to divorce your spouse if they committed adultery?” Yes, you are correct. And you have every right to. But there is a part of that verse that so many of us look right over.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 (ESV)
Did you catch what Jesus said there. At the very end He did say that one may divorce their spouse for sexual immorality but just before that He said that “but from the beginning it was not so.” Basically what Jesus is saying is that God planned for marriage to be an everlasting bond between a husband and wife but Moses allowed divorce because the people were hard hearted. Are you hard hearted. Like I said, if you divorce because of adultery you have every right to but I would encourage you to try to work it out first. Just as Jesus extended His grace to us when we did not deserve it, we should extend grace to those who do not deserve it, including a cheating spouse.
This brings us to the verse in Romans. What does it have to do with all of this? Lets look at it one more time.
If we are to love our spouse as Christ loved the church then we should not let anything separate our love for each other. In our culture people get divorced for irreconcilable differences. That’s just a fancy way of saying “just because.” We have become a society that gives up to quickly. We do not try to work through the differences. Guess what? Marriage is hard. It’s comprised of two completely different people trying to live in unity under one roof. One is a slob and one is a neat freak. One is a sports nut and the other likes romance. One was raised in a family with very strict discipline and the other was raised in a family of “time outs.” One learned how to save money and one learned how to spend it. One learned how to cheat and one learned how to be loyal. One learned how to divorce and one learned what it meant to be married. What I am getting at is that marriage is comprised of two different people who suffer from a curse. A generational curse. Everything they are they learned from their parents and/or other adults that were in their life while growing up. And when you take two people from two completely different backgrounds and join them together you get a completely different life than you knew. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew:
What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:6b (ESV)
So what does our marriages lack these days? First and foremost it lacks Christ at the center. When you have Christ at the center He can give you the strength to do what needs to be done. The second thing that our marriages lack these days is GRACE! Don’t give up so easily. Work through your problems and if you need to, seek professional counseling.
I would also like to stress that if you are in a marriage of physical violence. Get out and do it now. God never intended for you to be in a relationship of abuse. Remember what Jesus said:
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Matthew 19:4-6a (ESV)
That means that the two should be joined together in unity and abuse is not unity. Seek help. Do not stay in a relationship like this because the odds are that it will only get worse and you can not work on the problem while the abuse is going on. Also, abuse is not love. This is how Scripture describes love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (ESV)
I began this blog sharing with you how my wife and I have recently gone through our own marriage struggles. Let me be upfront and honest. What I done to her, what she done to me, did not deserve forgiveness; not by society’s standards. Guess what, we did forgive. We did not allow society to dictate our marriage. We let God do that and our marriage is still going strong. Is it perfect? No. We still have our obstacles to overcome, but with Christ and grace we will.
My wife and I will be praying for each and every one of you. May God bless your marriage and give you the strength to forgive.
Some verses for husbands:
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth Proverbs 5:18 (ESV)
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wife, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5: 25 (ESV)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
Some verses for wives:
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 (ESV) [also read verses 10-31]
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22 (ESV)