I told my wife,Amy, that I wanted to write about Marriage A Work In Progress. She jokingly said, “Honey, could you pick another topic. With these darn sinus headaches I’ve been having everyday, I just don’t have it in me to be tested in our marriage this week.” I laughed and said, “I get it!” What many of you may not know is that pastors and their families get tested first hand on the messages or sermons that they share. This seems to happen to Amy and I with each blog post I write. If I’m writing about your faith being tested, our faith is tested. If I’m writing about anger, we find ourselves getting really angry over stuff. If I’m writing about being crisis-centered, we are faced with a crisis. So when Amy asked me if I could pick another topic I completely understood where she was coming from! Who wants to get a tested in the area of marriage? Not us! Well, I held off a week and Amy’s headaches have improved so we are going for it and are prayed up that we’ll be ready for whatever tests may come our way.
I actually wrote a post a year ago on marriage titled Marriage A Promise A Commitment. This post continually shows up on my top five list, week after week, month after month. Why? I believe it’s because marriages are being challenged more and more and people are searching for answers and solutions that will strengthen and mend the bond of marriage.
Well, since the constitution of marriage originated with God, shouldn’t we seek God’s counsel regarding marriage? Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Marriage was never intended to be governed by man, but by God almighty Himself. Man in all his efforts, without God, has failed to provide what only God Himself can give concerning marriage, sacrificial love. Husbands and wives need to stop thinking about what they want and, instead, their focus should be on what it takes to complement each other in all their unique differences. The Bible calls it becoming one flesh, meaning you become like minded, esteeming the other more then yourself.
We all have a common enemy that would hinder us from being like-minded. The Bible describes these as the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. You can bet your bottom dollar that Satan is behind the scenes using these to deceive God’s children. And although this is true, we still have to assume responsibility for our own action. For those of you who are old enough to remember Flip Wilson, he had a famous saying, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” This excuse didn’t fly when Eve attempted to justify her disobedience in the garden of Eden and it won’t fly now!
Yes! It was Satan’s intention to destroy the first marriage in the Garden of Eden, and by doing so, destroy future marriages to come. His goal, folks, has not changed. And because Satan deceived Eve, by getting her to disobey God, there was a consequence that followed … death. God had given Adam and Eve everything they needed pertaining to life. Yes, even eternal life which was the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden. But when they took their eyes off of all that God had given them, to pursue the one forbidden thing, it meant death for them.
God had forewarned them of the consequence. Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die. Oh, how painful it must have been for Adam and his wife Eve, when they came to the knowledge of sin through their disobedience. Instead of being responsible and accountable to God, they hid from Him. Many marriages today are in trouble because we take our eyes off God, disobey His word, hide from Him and hide from each other. Hiding is a “quick-fix” attempt that doesn’t take much work and ultimately doesn’t work.
What I want us to get our minds around is marriage takes work and marriages are a work in progress. The Book of Genesis tells us that even God worked. Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. If you are married, engaged or someday plan on getting married, I strongly encourage you to read the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis. In this book you’ll discover that God first allowed Adam to establish his relationship with his Him. And God put Adam to work in the garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. When God gave Adam his wife as a help mate, she was suitable for him. Meaning she and Adam were compatible. However, that didn’t mean that hard work wouldn’t be required of them. On the contrary, hard work was essential.
God, in His infinite wisdom, was preparing Adam to be a responsible husband even prior to receiving his wife, Eve. God taught Adam beforehand just how important work was for a man. A godly man not only has to provide for his family, but he’s also called by God to be the priest of his household. For this to happen, a man must have the proper relationship with God through His son, Jesus. Marriage is a big responsibility and must never be entered into lightly. Marriage takes three – God first, then the husband then the wife – coupled with hard work. It means working together and seeking the highest good for each other with God at the steering wheel to lead and direct both the husband and wife away from sin. Simply put, for a marriage to progress and be what God intends it to be, a man and a women must seek the guidance of their creator. This verse in Philippians is for all of us in how we are to be to one another, I’m not just talking to those who are married. But, I like to use this verse when working with couples and even in my own marriage.
Philippians 2:1-5 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
If we, as husbands and wives, had the same mindset as Christ, we’d have that one flesh marriage that God intended. Some of you may be asking, how do we get there? Well, it takes work. Work to die to self … Work to put your spouse first … Work to keep God first. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is to think that you can reach a point where your relationship no longer requires work. Some think that happens with the engagement – Oh, we’re engaged now the hard work is done. Some think it’s after the wedding and that planning and putting on a big wedding is the hardest work they’ll do. Some think the work of marriage ends when the kids come and that the child rearing work is the only work left to do. Some think it’s when the kids are grown up and gone- Well we’ve been together this long what’s left to work on. Some think if you can make it to the 25th of 50th anniversary that you’ve arrived as husband and wife. But the truth is marriage is always a work in progress because we are always a work in progress. More on that next time!