Seven Marriage Resolutions

August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, II Corinthians | 3 Comments
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The great “love chapter” of the Bible (I Corinthians 13) is not, strictly speaking, about marriage, but marriage is certainly supposed to be nourished by real love, and real love never stops pursuing.

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

II Corinthians 12:14

The Apostle Paul gives more evidence of his love for the Corinthian church in II Corinthians when he says he is ready to come see the Corinthian believers for the third time. In marriage we must have a desire to pursue our spouses over and over again. Real love is content with the person, but it can never be content with the depth of the intimacy.

Paul did not want to be burdensome to the church in Corinth, and your pursuit of your spouse should not be burdensome to him or her. This is romance, not stalking. Real love respects boundaries while seeking permission to be let inside the boundaries. Marriage is not about what you can get from your spouse. It is about getting to your spouse.

Well-meaning but misguided parents turn their children into idols, and, if you are not careful, you will do the same to your spouse: depending upon your spouse to meet needs which can only be met by Jesus. As Jonathan Edwards taught, what you idolize, you will eventually demonize when that idol (as it must) lets you down.

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

II Corinthians 12:15

Notice that Paul was “very glad” to sacrifice himself, and to allow the church members to sacrifice him. His love for them was not dependent upon their behavior. It was based upon their relationship in Christ, and his relationship to Christ.

Lists of resolutions became somewhat fashionable in evangelical Christianity around the time of the movie Courageous and the literature that supported it, so I don’t want to seem like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, but I did write a list of resolutions that I made to my wife pursuant to this lesson. May the Lord help me to keep them.

1. I will love you against all odds and will never stop loving you
2. I will do my best to be a blessing, not a burden, to you.
3. I want you for you – not what you have or what you can do for me.
4. I am willing to give everything I have for you.
5. I will take responsibility for your welfare.
6. I will never be satisfied with the love I have for you – I will always seek to love you more.
7. I will not use you or exploit you or treat you as a thing. I will treat you as God’s daughter.

Four-Dimensional Love (Part 2)

July 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (emphasis added)

In Part One I mentioned the height, the breadth, and the length of Christ’s love, but now I want you to see the depth – the “roots.”

Rooted love is not complacent about its depth. “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:19) In the love of Christ we have the potential to know the unknowable! To know what can only be known in Christ – and can never be known apart from Christ. How deep is the love of Christ? It is eternally deep – we will never get to the bottom of it. My relationship with other human beings who I love – even my relationship with my wife – when it comes to its depths, its richness – is dependent on my knowledge of God.

They say that loving human relationships (especially marriage) are hard work, but the real “work” of love should not be “toil.” It is joyous and exciting work. It is going down deep, but it is like digging for buried treasure, not digging a grave. If you have only a superficial experience of the love of God in Christ, let me plead with you to spend time alone – late at night if you have to – early in the morning if you have to – missing a meal or a nap if you have to – deep in the Bible – in Bible study and in prayer – getting to know God, and bringing up the treasures you find in His depths. Roots press down hard and deep, but they bring up sweet water and nutrients from the earth – up the trunk and down the branches – to strengthen the tree and make the fruit bountiful.

Most good Bible lessons contain warnings and comforts. The comforting part of this one is supposed to be that you now realize that the love of Christ is four-dimensional and that you can be rooted and grounded in it and it’s wonderful. But here is the warning part: Do not make the mistake of thinking that the reason to love your spouse or your friends is so that they will love you in return. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts, but it is not given to us to be used as a manipulation technique. Its purpose is not to teach you to give so you can get. That’s probably the major error in many otherwise good books on marriage, love, and relationships. The theory is that your “love tank” is empty. You feel empty because the special someone in your life doesn’t speak your love language or you haven’t learned to speak his or hers. You are from Mars, and your spouse is from Venus, so you need to learn to be a good alien, so your spouse will treat you right in return. Therefore, you can transform your spouse by serving him or her.

No! Jesus talked about this all the time and it always made people mad. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts…” “Even the sinners and the publicans and the unbelievers can do this…” These teachings of Jesus, which argue from the lesser to the greater, and contrast true love with superficial manipulation, have been adopted as principles for running businesses and winning friends and influencing people. “Be nice to others so they will be nice to you.” “Serve them and they’ll let you lead them.” When Jesus says that even the wicked understand the principle of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” He’s making a comparison, not setting the standard. You and I will get into big trouble if we take something good – service, self-sacrifice, selfless giving – and we use it as a means to get our needs met. News flash: You do have needs – but your spouse – or the person you care about – is not there to be manipulated into meeting those needs. Even if you are using very soft hands and very kind words in your manipulation, it is still selfish manipulation.

Your spouse or your loved one – by the grace of God – will one day make a very good spouse or best friend – and maybe they already do – but they are going to make a terrible Jesus. Your idols (the things or people you expect to meet your needs apart from God) will always let you down – and what you have idolized, you will eventually demonize.

As Christians, all our needs are met where?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Jesus showed the height of love on the Cross: He was “lifted up” so that He might draw all men to Himself. He showed the breadth: His arms were stretched out wide – open, inviting, welcoming. He spoke forth, showing the length of love: “Father, forgive them;” “Son, behold thy mother;” “It is finished.” He was nailed to a “tree” which was rooted to the Earth. He was both human and divine, and He wasn’t there suffering in order to evoke sympathy so they would come and take Him down. He was there to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to love those of us who were not just undeserving but ill-deserving of God’s love.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Faithful Wounds

November 18, 2009 at 11:39 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Biblical Violence, Biblical Walking | 22 Comments
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The young boy walked across the church parking lot, tossing a ball in the air and catching it as it fell, casually wandering toward a busy highway. One man noticed this, and, being a religious man, he began to wring his hands, pray, and ask the boy politely to stop, to change directions, or at least to pay attention to where he was going. The boy remained oblivious and kept moving toward the highway. Another man observed the boy, and, being a caring man, he ran in a flat-out sprint toward the boy, dove through the air, and crashed into the boy with a flying shoulder tackle. Both he and the boy landed, just short of the path of a speeding truck, in a ditch filled with mud, weeds, and broken glass. The boy was shaken up, crying, cut, and bruised, but still alive.

The two men had taken drastically different approaches. One man appeared loving and polite, but his passivity was evidence of a callow cruelty toward the boy. One man appeared hateful and rash, but his willingness to act was evidence of a true love for the boy.

Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:5-6

Christians are not supposed to just “have” friends. They are supposed to LOVE their friends. Christian love is more than just a “feeling.” It always involves action. If I have a friend who is walking toward destruction, my “secret love” for this friend will be of little help. However, a loud verbal warning during a face-to-face confrontation, even though it may cause hard feelings, could do a world of good. I need to have a loving willingness to batter and bruise (and then bandage) my friends, instead of a weak-willed sentimental desire to give them little kisses good-bye as they head for damnation.


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