Answer this question: how do we go from everything being lovey dovey and mushy TO divorce court where we're fighting over all kinds of things? It can happen so quickly. God does not want it to happen and it doesn't have to happen that way. That's why we're making and keeping five commitments. In the last five weeks at The Community Fellowship we have been discussing a series titled FROM THIS DAY FORWARD. Here are the topics we covered:
SEEK GOD - FIGHT FAIR - HAVE FUN - STAY PURE - NEVER GIVE UP
As we ended the series this past Sunday we talked about never giving up in our marriages. I'm not talking about staying in an abusive marriage where you're a punching bag and someone just tears you up. In that case I believe it's healthy to separate, to get counseling to make sure you're safe and then work on your marriage. But I am saying though in our marriage that we don't give up.
Forget about the past as we can't change it, but from our purposes, let’s look from this day forward. And no matter what's happened in our marriages in the past, from this day forward we as Christians are going to never give up because we serve a God who says all things are possible with Him. Here is what God said to us:
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
… God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
God said he wouldn’t leave us or forsake us. Leaving is physical. Forsaking is emotional. You can still be present physically but absent emotionally. You didn’t leave her but you may have forsaken her. That’s our example to follow in life and in marriage.
Never, never, never, never give up. In 1929 Winston Churchill was said to have given a speech as Harrow School where he reminded the students, mostly boys, that life will lead them to stop, to get side tracked, to give in, to become weak, to compromise, but this world leader who knew weakness and strength spoke some of the most powerful words those boys would ever hear. But these may be the most important words that we ever hear. Never, ever, and I mean ever give up.
Andy Stanley says, "You can't un-one what God made one." The problem in our culture is people don't understand what marriage is. Marriage is said to be an agreement or a contract, but the reality is, marriage is a covenant not a contract.
What is a contract? It's based on mutual distrust. A contract limits my responsibility and it increases my rights. It basically says that if we're in a contract with one another, I'm in as far as you're in. A contract is what you sign that says I will do what I need to do as long as you do what you are supposed to do. Many people say this in marriage, "as long as you make me happy, if you meet my needs, as long as nothing better comes along, then we'll stick with this; but if you don't live up to your end of the contract then I'm out!" But marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant.
What is a covenant? A covenant is a permanent relationship. God is a covenantal God, and God makes relationships with His people that are permanent. The Hebrew word that is translated as covenant is the word “berith”. The word covenant literally means a cutting. In the Old Testament they would cut a bull in half, and the two parties would walk through the inside of the bull seven times to create a covenant. They would cut the bull in half, and they would say, "If I break my covenant may what happened to that bull happen to me." This is serious business.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
When we give up our marriages or when we give sex away or take it away from marriage, we lessen the truth of God and the strength of our marriages. Adultery is grounds for divorce, but it is also grounds for forgiveness. We can honor God in brokenness as we seek God together. He wants us together.
On a contract there's an end date, you rent this house from me for a year; at the end of the year you're through. A covenant, it is until death do us part so help me God! And that's why we never give up, because we don't un-one what God made one.
What happens when marriage is difficult? What happens when it's painful? Many people chose to call it quits and divorce. That is when seeking God really pays off because when you don't have any love left, guess who loves through you? The God who is love, loves through you. And then God forgives through you when you can't forgive.
And here's the crazy thing for those of you that are Christians. You cannot say, "I love God but hate my husband." Scripture says that you cannot say you love God but hate your brother.
1 John 4:20 NLT
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
If you truly love God then you will seek Him. And as hard as it gets, and believe me, I know it can get very difficult. You let God do what you don't have the strength to do and you let Him continue to love through you.
If someone smiles at you, what are you likely to do back? You're likely to smile back. If somebody flips you off, what are you likely to do back? You see where that is going. In marriage, if someone shows grace and compassion and thoughtfulness, what are you likely to show back? You will get back Grace and compassion. If someone is always complaining and comparing and is always critical over and over and over, what's going to happen? You're likely to come back with defensiveness and anger and self-justification.
Here's the bottom line men and women, if you don't like what you're getting, look at what you've been giving.
If you will keep seeking God, fighting fair, having fun, staying pure, never giving up; if you continue to make God your One and seek Him with your two; if you forgive when you've been hurt and confess sin when you need to confess and work through issues and get counseling when you need it, and take three steps forward and sometimes two steps back; but you put your head back down and you get back in the game. Why? Because this isn't a contract or an agreement, this is a covenant before a Holy God. And if you do that what could happen?
Psalms 34:3 NASB
O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
Together. That is where our strength is. It is in joining together to defeat the enemy. It is in making a commitment that isn’t a contract but a covenant. We are in this together.
NOTE: This post is taken from the 5th week of our series FROM THIS DAY FORWARD at The Community Fellowship, and again I want to thank lifechurch.tv and Pastor Greg Groeschel for allowing churches to use their material.