Building A Successful And Lasting Marriage
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Ephesians 5:22-33, Matthew 19:3-6
Sunday 21st May 2017
As I share the second message in this series, ‘Build A Successful Family’, here is the message titled: ‘Building A Successful and Lasting Marriage’.
Being successful at building a family is not enough, we also need to intentionally build our marriages to last a lifetime. We were meant to begin and stay in marriages till the end of our lives. Hence, it is not sufficient to start, if we have not thought ahead far enough to the end of our days here on earth. Here is Jesus’ response to a question on marriage in Matthew 19:3-6 as the Pharisees questioned him in the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. ‘The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
God’s plan is for a man and a woman to become one in marriage – no longer two but one flesh. God does the joining for permanence. In God’s original design, there was no room for separation, let alone divorce. Divorce has never been God’s intention, as the scripture records that God hates divorce. Malachi 2:13-16 reads: ‘And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse. “I hate divorce,” says the GOD of Israel. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat’ (MSG). God hates divorce because it is contrary to His divine order.
When God created marriage, it was a covenant not a contract. A contract is an agreement, protecting the rights of the two parties entering into it. Most likely, they do not trust each other to abide totally by the terms and conditions. Hence, it can easily be used as an exit door, when the terms are breached.
However, when God created marriage, it was not a contract – it was a covenant. A covenant is not about protecting ones right; it is about laying down those rights. Once marriage is seen from this perspective, it changes the way it is viewed and lived out. 1 John 3:16-17 reads: ‘This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves’ (MSG). In covenant relationships, we are called to lay down our rights for others. This is what Christ modelled for us – sacrifice! Marriage is all about sacrificial living. In order to build a successful and lasting marriage, sacrifice is inevitable.
Note that the word, ‘transaction’ was not used. In transaction-based relationships, what is done for a spouse must be earned. The truth is this: no one will ever truly qualify to earn your love. In order to enjoy a healthy and lasting marriage, your relationship must be sacrificial and grace based.
As a wife submits to her husband, and a husband loves and cherishes his wife – the relationship blossoms based on God’s divine grace exhibited by each spouse.
Here are two things that we must do to enjoy a successful and lasting marriage:
1) Commitment: Commitment is a choice you make once and for always; and then confirm by your action each day. (a) As God’s child, your commitment is first to God: Colossians 1:3-4 reads: ‘Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians' (MSG). If you can show me a man who is committed to God, I will show you that he is also committed to his wife. A woman committed to God will also be committed to her husband. Your commitment to God is a function of your love for Him. This is expressed in our intimacy with Him, walking in His way and longing to please Him; submission and obedience to His leading. Unless one is committed to a God, it will be impossible to stay committed to a spouse. The quality of your relationship with God determines the quality of your relationship with your spouse. (b) Commitment to your spouse: Marriage is a commitment, not a feeling. Here is a quote from a ‘Marriage Box’: ‘Most people get married, believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all things that they have longed for; companionship, intimacy, friendship etc. The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage – Love is in people, and people put love in marriage’. Here is another quote: ‘Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced; They are simply the ones who decided early on that their commitment to each other was always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws’. Commitment is the necessary ingredient to longevity. Here are 5 truths about commitment: (i) Commitments starts in the heart (ii) Commitment is tested by Action (iii) Commitment opens the door to achievement (iv) Commitment is discovered in the midst of adversity (v) Commitment often requires sacrifice.
2) Love: Love is not a feeling, but a choice and a decision. Hence, blaming others for the state of your love towards your spouse is not valid. Love is a decision one makes when things are right or not. As long as we are relying on the Holy Spirit to help us through the journey of life, there will always be the strength and reason to love. Love extends grace: love never stops being patient. We must be ready to extend grace to our spouse when they are at fault, or when they hurt you, or commit a sin. Forgiveness is necessary: every great marriage is a union of two great forgivers. Lasting love expresses faith; love never stops believing: Believing your spouse will cause them to blossom. Believing in each other causes the other spouse to thrive and live confidently. Using words to validate and affirm our spouses is important. Lasting love expects the best, and never stops hoping: Lasting love always looks forward. We must realise that our spouse will rise to the level of our expectations of them. Lasting love endures the worst and never gives up: Lasting love is resolute; it is stubborn and refuses to quit. Love never looks back and keeps going to the end.
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