A Wedding Charge

You are surrounded today by your family and friends who love you, support you, and celebrate this momentous day with you. We can say with confidence the blessing of God is on you as you each have entrusted your lives to God and are following His lead in the step you are taking today.

Your families have invested their lives in you, prayed for you, and hoped with you for the right person, at the right time, for you to marry. I think I can speak for them and say they are thankful for you and proud of you today.

During the past couple of years, my wife and I have enjoyed getting to know you and speaking into your lives. We’ve laughed a lot and cried some too through conversations and counseling, while we kept a few local Mexican restaurants in business.

A wedding is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on things that matter in life. In a world where we are barraged with thousands of trivialities every day, this moment is one of the most exalted and truly meaningful experiences a human being can have, or observe – a man and a woman who up to this day have lived separately and independently, willingly giving up their separateness and laying down their independence and joining themselves together into one, vowing before God and witnesses to have, hold, love, cherish, respect, and submit until the end of their earthly lives. This is big stuff! It’s worth watching!

One of the most significant elements of a Christian wedding is the countercultural nature of it. The prevailing attitude in many marriages is, “We’re getting married so we can be happy.” Marriage can bring you happiness, but if that’s your primary goal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I like Gary Thomas’ way of addressing this in his book, Sacred Marriage, when he says, “God did not primarily intend marriage to make you happy, but to make you holy.” If you make it your goal to grow in holiness, and to help each other grow in holiness, you will find fulfillment, and happiness will be a by-product of your pursuit.

Can I ask you to think about one quality today? I believe it is the key to your marriage being everything God designed it to be, and everything you hope it will be.

There’s an old story about a loving wife who had her beautiful knee-length hair cut and sold it so she could buy her husband a platinum chain for his prized pocket watch. When she presented his gift, she discovered he had sold the watch to buy her a set of jeweled combs she had wished to use in her hair.

This story illustrates the quality of unselfishness. Each sacrificed their most prized possession so they could give something valuable to the other. That’s the quality I hope will resurface in your minds after the whirlwind of this day. Learn to live unselfishly. Learn to sacrifice what is important to you so you can give to help each other, meet one another’s needs, encourage each other, and delight one another.

This is what scripture means when it says, “Husbands love your wives” and when it says older women should teach younger women to “love their husbands.”  

It’s what scripture instructs us to do when it says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Marriage reveals selfishness in ways you haven’t experienced yet. We naturally think of ourselves first, take care of ourselves before helping others, and choose what pleases us. Many marriages die from a thousand cuts inflicted by selfishness. In a marriage that lasts and thrives, you will learn to do unselfish things over and over again.

And you won’t just make big life-changing sacrifices, but thousands of small ones. But they all add up to a life of love. This love is not just squishy, feely, happy feelings of, “I’m in love,” but steady, solid, relentless, self-sacrificing love.

Thankfully you don’t have to wrestle with your selfishness on your own. As Christians, you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, enabling you to produce fruit consisting of character qualities, the first of which is love. As you walk in the Spirit daily, allowing His Word to direct you, you will know how to supplant selfishness with love.

And you have each other. A marriage of Christians doesn’t mean you have perfect harmony all the time. But when sparks fly, it’s an opportunity to speak truth in love, to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, and to learn about the selfishness in your heart. Sometimes your spouse will help you recognize that selfishness, and it’s time to confess it, be forgiven, and grow.

In fact, the wisest man said,
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another
[an enemy, like selfishness],
Two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

That will be your story.

All of this points us to another story. In fact it’s been called the greatest story ever told.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

This is the message all need to hear. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. God loved us so much He gave His Son as a substitute. He died for our sins and rose from the dead so we can be forgiven and have eternal life.

This free gift is promised to those who believe in Him – who trust in Jesus and no one or nothing else. You have done that, and I know you desire for the people you care about to know and believe also.

As you live out your lives together, and learn to love each other, you will display God’s kind of love for others to see. In a day when marriage is viewed very casually, or as a convenience, or inconvenience, God’s plan is for marriage to be a covenant for life before Him, and for you to display His glory together all your days.

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)

Amen.

10 Principles for Marriage and Family Life

Sometimes my wife and I are asked to speak at couples events and family conferences. These opportunities have increased over the past few years. Speaking on topics related to marriage and family has never been comfortable for me for various reasons.

A few days ago a brain flurry (whether coffee-induced or Spirit-led I am not certain) produced a list of simple principles based on biblical truths related to family living. These reflect what I understand the Bible to teach as well as our personal experience. I believe these principles will become the framework for material I will present in the future on the topics of marriage and family. I have developed and continue to formulate speaking material on each of them. As opportunities come, I can prayerfully select which of them to highlight in various settings.

Of course they are not new, but always relevant. I think in fairly simple terms, so they are stated accordingly.

Here they are for your encouragement and further meditation. I may do additional posts on individual principles in the days ahead.

1. Oneness in marriage is essential to a strong, stable, persevering home.
Genesis 2:24
Matthew 19:3-6 
Ephesians 5:31-33                       
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
1 Peter 3:7 – “heirs together of the grace of life”

“The one flesh in marriage is not just a physical phenomenon, but a uniting of the totality of two personalities. In marriage, we are one flesh spiritually by vow, economically by sharing, logistically by adjusting time and agreeing on the disbursement of all life’s resources, experientially by trudging through the dark valleys and standing victoriously on the peaks of success, and sexually by the bonding of our bodies.”       Dr. Louis H. Evans, Mastering the New Testament Commentary quoted in Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey

2. Selfish desire produces sin, and sin divides people.
Genesis 3
James 4:1-6

3. God’s sovereign purpose in hard situations unfolds over time.
Genesis Chapters 37-50
Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

4. The home is a place of spiritual nurturing and growth.
Ephesians 5:25-29
Ephesians 6:4
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

5. Families grow through deep suffering and intense pain.
Job
James 5:10-11

6. As a creation of God, marriage and family should be valued, honored, and protected.
Hebrews 13:4

7. Marriage and family are catalysts for progressive sanctification.
Ephesians 5:18, 21, 22-26 

8. Forgiveness and reconciliation are a regular practice in family life.
Ephesians 4:32 
Colossians 3:12-14

9. Each family member has God-prescribed relational mandates.
Ephesians 5:22-33
Ephesians 6:1-4 

10. Christ-like humility is the key to relational harmony.
Philippians 2:1-8