Marriage Series Let Love Reign Session 1
It is estimated that there have been written over 100 million songs about love. Out of the 1.1 million feature films, short films and made-for-tv-movies, the majority of them are about love. Half of all adult aged Americans today are married. There are an estimated 100 billion jokes about wives, husbands and marriages…ok that’s just my estimate…but I have brought you one, of course.
A woman was caught shoplifting at the grocery store and had to go to court. Her loving husband of course went with her to be by her side. The judge asked her what she stole and her response was, “A can of pears.” The judge looked puzzled for a moment and asked, “How many pears were in the can?” The lady replied, “Six.” Thinking for a minute, the judge said, “Well I am going to sentence you to six years in jail, one for each pair.” The woman was stunned and just then her husband raised her hand. She breathed in an air of relief knowing her husband would reason with the judge. Then he said, “Your honor, she also stole a can of peas!” HA!!
We just finished, well three weeks back, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 which is the chapter in the Bible that gives us the display, the manifestation, the sounding of the more excellent way than any ever created or knowable to man…agape…unconditional self-less love is put on display for us in this chapter. That if you truly do love someone the way that God loves you, the way that God has commanded us to love others, then with them, our love for them is patient, it is kind, it doesn’t envy, doesn’t seek its own…for them and with them, just as Jesus does with me, love bears ALL things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And no matter what this worldly circumstance turns out to be, love never, in the long run, fails…it’s unstoppable. No expiration and no deterrence.
It’s interesting. This kind of love, between God and mankind, bilateral, has a purity factor that pre-dates the fall. And what is equally as important to mention is that so does marriage. God instituted marriage before the fall. It is therefore the original, along with the man’s fellowship agape with his Creator, marriage is the original target of the enemy. Put them together, agape and marriage…number one on the hit list and hate list of Satan himself.
You see we all have issues. Every marriage has problems. But, as you walk with the Lord, sanctification has a reversing effect of the fall in your heart and life. Romans 12:1-2 explains that perfectly. And I love what Tony Evans explained once, cracks in your walls cannot be fixed and more will always come, you’ll always be doing patchwork, if you do not fix the foundation that keeps shifting. That foundation…of your walk with the Lord…and primarily in the marriage…is love.
The relationship between a man and his wife, a woman and her husband, this is the target bullseye where the enemy does not want love to reign. Why? Because if he can take out the parents, he can harm the children. And if he can destroy the family, he will deal a death blow to the church. And a death blow to the church is a death sentence for the world. Malachi 2:16 says, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts, “Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously.”
Two things there to point out…the absence of love in the home, in the covenant of marriage, is a suit of violence for the family. We dress for our employment don’t we? If you work at Chick-Fil-A then you wear your name tag, your shirt…khakis and a red polo if you work at State Farm…you gear up if you’re a policeman or policewoman…if love is not present in your marriage, in your dealings with your spouse, you’re employed in violence in your home. Perhaps not even seen…but there is violence happening within the heart and spirit of all members of your family.
Second thing to see, God says to “take heed to your spirit.” Divorce, love, marital problems…these are spiritual issues. I don’t care if the problem is money, intimacy, stress, in-laws…let the list build…the issue is spiritual every time a marriage ends in divorce…every time love is not present in a marriage…and the enemy knows that if he can ensure love does not reign in your marriage, he can spiritually harm, take a spiritual sucker punch swing…at the children. Which he absolutely loves because they are absolutely innocent, and they are absolutely harmed. Reminds him of the cross…
The enemy also knows that if he disrupts the family then he can disrupt the church. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives the requirements, the qualifications for leadership within the church and he speaks of being a husband, a temperate leader of the home having his children in submission. He says in 1 Timothy 3:5, “For if a man does not know how to lead his own home, how will he take care of the church of God?”
But, if love reigns, 1 Corinthians love, the love that is available to you, given for you, waiting in the hands of the Savior for you, the love that pre-dates sin…if love reigns then everything is reversed. You’re not suited in violence, now you awake every day, woke to the mission…aware of your enemy and yet winning, waking every day and putting on a suit of peace! That’s the opposite of violence! Peace. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you!” He is where you obtain agape love and He is the tailor to this suit!
If love reigns, then the children are secured. They are protected and provided for spiritually. That is spiritual leadership in the house. Not barking bible verses to correct behaviors…but walking with the Lord and leading in love. If love reigns then the body of Christ fortifies and the enemy stands no chance. We’ve spent time going verse by verse through the chapter that puts love on display and marriage is the single-most God-designed other-centered union in the world. It is the place of primary application on this earth of the love we learn of in 1 Corinthians 13.
Why on this earth? Because the primary application as a whole where love ought to be applied, sought, strived for…MUST HAVE…is from my heart, from your heart, to God. Jesus said that we ought to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength…primary…and then we can love others as ourselves. Love must reign in your marriage. Love must reign in your homes…or you’re suited up to harm all that you love and all that the Lord is wanting to do through His church.
The first thing you need to understand practically about marriage is that God did not create marriage for you to find happiness and fulfillment. That is only and can only be found in a God! In fact, get ready for the flesh to be greatly enhanced! If you have a problem now, getting married will only serve to bring it to the surface! If you’re unhappy now, unfulfilled now, you will be the same as a wife…as a husband. In fact, it will be multiplied. Satan never messed with mankind until they were married…
Oh, and he will mess you with. Exploit the vast differences between a man and a woman. Here’s one example. Wife texts her husband, “I got lost!” Husband texts back, “Where are you?” Wife texts back, “In the car!” HA! Happens all the time. Just yesterday, I texted April, “Do we have any extra tickets to the Newsboys concert?” Her response, “Do you want to go!?” THAT’s NOT WHAT I ASKED! HA!! See, let the testing begin!!
Genesis 1:27. Marriage was given to us by God that in it we would bear His image on earth. What is the image of God? 1 John 4:8, God is love. Love is everything we’ve learned in 1 Corinthians 13. It is unconditional, unrestricted, unlimited and unequivocal…and that is why divorce is not of God. It is foreign to His nature. Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant. Malachi 2:14. The difference is that there is no out of a covenant. This is a direct reflection of the image of God…whether the Old or the New Covenant, God gave Himself no out and not for a moment was He or has He been or will He ever turn, He is forever faithful…He has no out. That is a covenant. Marriage is not a deal between two people…it is a covenant between you and God. What is marriage primarily designed to be? A reflection, an image of the power of God, the love of God and the faithfulness of God through His creation.
Genesis 1: 28a. Marriage is the primary avenue that God has ordained on earth for the proliferation of His image. Offspring and lineage are not to preserve your name…they are given, the design from the beginning, is that they are to preserve the name of God. This is why God always calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because this is how He reveals Himself to the generations…through the generations! If the enemy can kill the agape, he can kill the lineage…stop the gospel. We wonder how the world has gotten so far off…it’s because the husbands and wives of the church have gotten so far off! And generations that do not worship God are coming out of “church families!”
Listen, in marriage you need to establish your home. Genesis 2:24 says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Close the circle…seal your home. As for me and my house…we shall serve the Lord. Is that true of your home including your dealings with your spouse AND your priorities of schedule with your children? Neglect the whole world rather than neglect what your children need to be spiritually healthy…you say, whatever…he is going to be the next NBA star…that’s exactly what the enemy would want for him too…
These are the tenants of a Godly marriage…here are a few bite-size steaks before we close.
You can have control, or, you can have connection. But you cannot have both. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love does not seek its own.”
Forgiveness is strong…love is stronger. 1 Peter 4:8 in quoting Proverbs 10:12 the word used in the Greek for “cover” means to hide the knowledge of a thing…if you love, forgiveness need not be applied. Love is long suffering…not provoked…bears and endures all things. These are the four rings of marriage…the engagement ring, the wedding ring, suffering…and enduring!
God never blesses compromise…that’s contract talk. God always blesses sacrifice…because when sacrifice is perceived, mercy arrives. Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Sacrifice for your spouse welcomes and ignites love…in both hearts.
Go-do’s. Erase divorce from your thought-file, option list and word bank. Compliment your spouse. Create pleasurable interactions with and for your spouse. Focus on appreciating your spouse. Say “I love you,” not, “love you,” and say it every day. After being apart for any length of time more than an hour or so, always greet your spouse with affection. Always. And remember, if you get upset with her, if you’re fed up with him, it’s not their fault…it’s God’s. He’s the One that brought you together! HA! Take it to Him…let love lead and reign…fix the foundation…the cracks won’t just fix themselves…they just won’t happen any longer.