A Beautiful Marriage
Part 3 “The Jesus Marriage”
April 17, 2016
Today is week three in our series “The Jesus Marriage” based on the book You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. If you want to get a copy of that book we do have some at the Info Center. I also wanted to let you know that if you download the app onto your phone you get the e-book and the audiobook. Free. So you might want to check that out.
Joe began this series by telling the story of how he and Laina met. So I thought it would be a good idea to tell you how Robin and I met.
I was a 20-year-old university student and single mother to my three-month-old baby. One day I was driving home from class and on my way I had to stop at a light in a little town called Aldergrove. Talking to my baby, yes, she was sitting in the front seat. This was before airbags but at least she was in a car seat. Which is more than I can say for a lot of us when we were babies. Anyway, I’m playing with her while I’m waiting for the light to turn green and I look up and there’s this young, good-looking guy washing a white BMW at the Chevron station. I just immediately said, “God, that is what I need. He’s young, good looking, and obviously well-established.” The light turned green and I drove home.
The next day, one of my friends stopped by my apartment with two of his friends, one of which was Robin. The three of them sat around in my apartment and played with my baby. We just chatted and then it was mentioned that two of them lived in Aldegrove. And then a few minutes later someone said something about Robin owning a white BMW. I looked at Robin and asked, “Were you washing your car yesterday?” He said, a little hesitantly, “Well, yes I was.” I asked him this last week what he was thinking when I asked that question because if the tables were turned I would have found that very creepy. He said all he could think was “Wow she’s hot!” and “She must be so in to me!” That was it. Well, 18 months later we got married and last year we had our 25th wedding anniversary.
Can you appreciate how much hair gel, and blow drying straight up, and back coming, and hairspray it takes to get your bangs to stand up that straight? And that goes for both of us. Let’s all pray that doesn’t come back.
This year will be 26 years of marriage for us. But usually we like to tell people that we’ve been married 17 years plus. This year it’ll be 17 years +9, not just 26 years together. The reason for that is that the first 17 years of our marriage were very difficult to say the least. In fact we almost divorced, but the last nine years have been a journey of recovery through forgiveness, humility, and submission to God and each other. We were able to do this because we both desired to be Christlike. I can tell you that today while our marriage is not perfect, it is a beautiful marriage.
The Big Idea: We create a beautiful marriage by following Christ’s example of humbly loving and serving each other.
We are going to talk about humility and marriage today. When I was asked to speak and given the topic, I said, “Sure.” And then inside my head I’m thinking “hhm… humility? Am I humble? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m humble. I don’t know. Maybe not. Well, do humble people know they are humble? If you ask a humble person if they’re humble will they say they are humble? I don’t know.”
So I took a deep breath and did a little self-examination…by going to Facebook. There is a quiz for everything and I just knew there would be one about being humble. And yes there were several. Turns out that I am supremely humble, like Eleanor Roosevelt humble.
And it only took me eight times through it to get that response! Also, as you may have experienced, once you take one quiz there is another and another. I also learned that I am really good with my 80s music, I should probably live in Texas, I’m slightly more left brain than right brain, and in 10 years I will have a choice between a Ferrari and a Lotus. It was an enlightening afternoon for me.
As often happens when you are preparing to speak on a topic, it seems to become an area you are the most challenged in or at least the most aware of. So, some smaller ways I have been humbled this week. In front of a group of young women that I mentor I walked right into our sliding glass door. And yes it hurt. I ran out of gas on my way home during “rush hour” going up Big Sandy to Suncrest and had to call my husband to come save me. I drive a purplish blue beetle with “Jinjah” on the plates. People would know it was me. I did not follow the directions to use chemical gloves while using liquid deglosser and therefore had really disgusting raw, cracked, and dry hands for a week. . Those are examples of being humbled. I also had a few times where I needed to be humble, in my heart, and apologize for not replying to an email in a timely manner, and for giving a volunteer misinformation that really caused some stress.
It is always so wonderful to get fresh illustrations.
- Humility: be like Jesus.
The Bible is very clear that we are to endeavor to become Christlike. This is not a one-time thing. It is a daily surrender of ourselves and our will to be more like Christ. We are called to imitate Christ, to be like Jesus. Let’s look at some Bible passages. I’ve chosen to use the New Living Translation for my message. Feel free to use other versions as you study later. We are going to go kind of fast through some of these so that you get the overall point. The references are there on your outline so you can study them in more depth later.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
See, it’s clear…follow the example of Christ, imitate Christ, live life as Jesus did…you must follow in his steps. But guess what? It’s not possible on our own. Jesus was perfect. We are not. We have a sin nature in us that even as Christ followers, we have this ugliness that rears it’s ugly head and causes us to stop looking at Christ. We think, “I can never be Jesus so why even bother?” But we must push through and make a choice to follow the example of Christ by daily surrendering our will to God and his perfect will for our lives.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The only reason we can do this is because Christ lives in us. His power in us helps us to become like him. We have the Holy Spirit in us to help us with the ability and desire to be like Christ.
There are many attributes of Christ that we should develop. Christ modeled forgiveness, kindness, compassion, purity, generosity and many more. But more than any other attribute of Jesus, His humility is the key to healthy relationships, especially marriage. Our calling to imitate Christ is not just for married people. It’s not like, if you are single? Do whatever. No. Rather, we are ALL called to imitate Christ at ALL times, always. Humility is the key.
- An attitude of lowliness and obedience, grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God as his creatures. Logos Bible Dictionary
- The feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others; lack of pride. Cambridge English Dictionary
Humility is an attitude, a feeling. In other words it is a heart issue. If your heart is humble, you will act humbly. But it is not just how we act. You can serve others but be seething with envy or pride on the inside. That is not humility. Your heart must be humble in order for you to be humble.
In our culture we tend to resist humility because it is frequently associated with being passive, insecure, weak, sheepish, subservient, timid, bashful, shy…just to name a few synonyms and associations. I look at this list and think, “Nope. Nope. Bashful? Shy? Ha. No.” That is totally not me. That isn’t Jesus either.
Humility is also not putting myself down, thinking I’m just a lowly worm, pitying myself, beating myself up, or resisting any compliments. That is a false humility that usually stems from pride or in believing what the enemy says about my identity instead of believing God’s Word about who I am in Christ.
There is a tension between knowing who I am in Christ and who I am on my own, without Christ. In Christ, I am loved, chosen, and cherished by Him. I am free. I can do all things through Christ. I am all of those things. But so is every Christ follower. Jesus loves all of us. Jesus died for all of us. I am no more worthy of His love, grace, and mercy than anyone, on the planet, ever. Without Christ, we are nothing. But through Christ we are given the status of sons and daughters of the King. Humility gives us a proper understanding of who we are in him.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Maybe use pic quote. C.S. Lewis
We know who we are in Christ and because we are secure in God’s love, provision, and protection, we do not need to worry or think about ourselves as often. What others say about us doesn’t hurt as much because we know what God says about us in His Word. We can be assertive and stand up for the truth because we know the author of all truth, Jesus. We can serve others without recognition because we know that God sees us. He knows our hearts. We can accept compliments from others because we know that every gift we have comes from the Holy Spirit living in us.
Humility is not denying the power you have but admitting that the power comes through you and not from you.” Pat Williams, Sr VP NBA Orlando Magic
If you are a talented artist, or really good at your job, or you make the best cookies ever, to deny the talent you have been given is a lie. When you depreciate that gift you show a lack of appreciation for it. Of course, do not let it become a source of pride. Remember who gave you the gift in the first place.
That is humility. Knowing who we are in relationship to the holy God of the universe.
The Bible is clear that we need to imitate Christ, be like Jesus, and one way we can do that is to humbly love and serve each other.
- Humility: love and serve each other.
My son Kelvin married his wife Caitlyn a little over a year ago. As you know, when planning a wedding, there are a lot of details. Quite a few things to plan and argue about. Kelvin was home a couple months before the wedding and just out of the blue he said to me “Hey mom, we’re going to do a foot washing ceremony in the wedding.” My immediate response was “yeah right.” Now you have to understand, Kelvin loves to tell me things just to see what kind of reaction he can get out of me. He responded, “No, really we are going to have a foot washing ceremony.” Well by this time I was laughing and you know when you start laughing and even though you know you should stop you can’t? That was me. Not one of my finer mom moments. It was clear that he was getting very upset about this. As he left the room he says to me “It’s a thing! It’s on Pinterest!” Now a wise mother would’ve just let it go and said “Hey son, I’m sorry.” Not me. I get out my iPad and open Pinterest. I then inform him that two pins does not make it a thing!
I did apologize of course because I definitely do not want to hurt his feelings. I just really didn’t know he was being serious at first. He forgave me.
The ceremony was beautiful but interestingly enough the only time I got choked up was during the foot washing ceremony. It was because I saw my rugged, tough, hockey playing son in his tuxedo looking so handsome get down on his knees and gently take his bride’s shoes off, wash her feet, gently pat them dry and put her shoes back on. I was overwhelmed by that scene and thought “Oh son, if you love her like that, you will have an amazing marriage.” It was such a beautiful picture of a husband serving his wife. And then I watched my beautiful daughter-in-law in her gorgeous gown get down on her knees, take his shoes and socks off, and wash his feet. It was a beautiful picture of a wife serving her husband.
Well it’s always nice when God sends a little humor to relieve the emotional tension. When Kelvin got up I realized that his pant leg was caught in his sock. I just could not let my son go through the rest of his wedding ceremony with his pant leg inside of his sock. As he walked in front of me I called out his name, “Kelvin”. He didn’t respond. So then I did it again, a little bit louder and you could see the look on his face. He’s thinking “What are you doing mother?” I pointed to my feet and then to his feet and he looked down and he pulled his pant leg out. He looked up at me and said, “Thanks Mom.” I was undone at that moment. Because for a brief second that was my little boy again. But he was not my little boy anymore, he had become a man. A man that wanted to start his marriage off with a picture and a promise of mutual servanthood and submission.
They chose a foot washing ceremony because that is what Jesus did for his disciples. His disciples did not know what to do with this. In fact one of them objected and said, “No! I should wash your feet.” Jesus insisted and explained that he was giving an example of how they should wash each other’s feet. How we should serve each other.
I have heard that story many times throughout my life. But I just recently learned something about it that I did not know. Back in the Bible days, feet were dirty. So dirty in fact, you didn’t even ask a Hebrew slave to wash feet. Jesus lowered himself lower than a Hebrew slave when he washed the disciples feet. That is humility. It is an example of how we are to serve one another in love.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4Don’t look out only for your own interest, but take an interest in others, too. 5You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7Instead he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
The world tells us to fight for your rights, look out for number one, get what’s yours, climb to the top, be your own person, you deserve it, treat yourself. The Bible says, “Don’t look out only for your own interest, but take an interest others, too.” It is a balance. There is nothing wrong with being assertive and taking care of yourself, as long as it comes from a heart full of godly humility. The problem is that these statements usually come from a heart full of pride. We have to continually fight the influence of the world. You won’t likely find any magazines with articles on how to be humble or on serving one another in marriage. At least not positive ones anyways.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
You must guard you heart and mind against falling into the patterns and beliefs of the world. What are we filling our minds with? Things of the world or Jesus?
One summer Francis Chan challenged his family with more Bible reading. Before they watched tv they had to read the Bible for equal amount of time. Ouch. One hour show? One hour of Bible reading. That really convicted me. I can consume entire seasons of shows in a week. According to several sites, it takes 80 hours to read the entire Bible. There are 85 hours in all six seasons of the TV show Lost…greatest. show. ever. I don’t even want to admit how many times I have watched the entire series of Lost. I’ve read the bible completely through, start to finish, twice. Yikes.
The point isn’t that all tv is bad but that we must balance the inputs from the world with the truth of God’s word, tipping the scales for the Bible. Guard you heart above all else.
Learn to Fight Well
The title of the chapter in You and Me Forever that today’s talk is based on is titled “Learn to Fight Well”. Notice that it is not “learn how not to fight” or “don’t fight”. This is because it is realistic. You will have disagreements in your marriage. News flash for all of you who are engaged and “in love”…you will have disagreements, you will fight. Marriage is hard, but so worth it. It can be stressful living with, sleeping with, another person. Then kids come along. Babies are adorable and cuddly but sleep deprivation can do nasty things to a person. And just when you think you have that parenting thing down, they become teenagers. It is important to learn to fight well.
When I say fight many of you are picturing screaming, yelling, throwing things at each other, slamming doors, or stomping off. Unfortunately, That is reality for some of you. Hopefully though, that is not the norm. A rare occasion. Reality is that it is just not likely that two people are going to agree on everything. How to spend money? How long should his mother be able to stay? How often should we have sex? How do we discipline the kids? Which kind of peanut butter do you buy?
As Joe said in week one, many of our marriage problems are actually God problems. If both people are seeking a deep and true relationship with Christ, many of the issues in our marriages would disappear. Arguments escalate when we want to be right more than we want to be Christ. Soon, all we want is to win, even if victory requires sin. The one who wins the argument is usually the one who acts less like Christ. Even in the heat of an argument we should be asking ourselves if we are acting like Jesus.
You may think you are digging you’re heels in against your spouse, but it’s ultimately God you are opposing and you’re inviting His opposition in return.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:34
The question to ask is “Do I want to experience God’s grace or his opposition?” It can be so difficult to force your mouth to say, “I’m sorry.” Pride washes over you and you feel like you just can’t do it. Saying you are sorry doesn’t mean that you lose and the other wins. It means that you are going to own your side and that you value the relationship far more than winning. The only thing that will posses you to do what’s right in the moment is an overwhelming need to be right with God. WWJD? What would Jesus do? It’s cheesy, but helpful. Imagine that he is in the room with you…because he is. What would he do? I’m gonna guess he’d say, “Buy two kinds of peanut butter.” Learn to fight well.
Many marriage talks involve a discussion Ephesians chapter 5 which includes the “wives submit to your husbands and husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church” passage. This can be a difficult passage to get through. There are different interpretations of what this means, with very smart Biblical scholars at each end. A suggestion is to pray and study the passage. Be able to one day stand before God and say, “I prayed and studied this passage. I tried to ignore my personal desires and interpret it as best as I could. I believe this is what it said, so I did my best to live by it.”
Too many people get hung up on that and they don’t bother to keep on reading.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
If you both make it your goal to love each other with the love of Christ, the conflicts we have regarding roles and responsibilities dissipate. We should be trying to outdo each other in humbly loving and serving. Mutual submission.
The longer you are married the more your spouse should feel like they are married to Jesus. We should be so selfless that it reminds them of the cross. We should have such a high standard of purity that they never doubt our faithfulness. And just as we would never imagine being lied to by Jesus, our spouses shouldn’t have to wonder if we are being truthful.
If all of us lived like that, there would be very few marriage problems.
ACTION STEP – Sit down and make a list of the attributes of Jesus that you find attractive, compelling. Share this list with your spouse or close friend and compare your lists. Notice I didn’t say “critique” or “create a list for them”. Discuss ways that you can encourage each other to become more Christlike.
Be like Jesus by humbly loving and serving each other. This is not just so we can have happy marriages and healthy relationships. There is a much larger goal. An eternal purpose.
- Humility: show Jesus to the world.
What does your marriage say to the world? What do your relationships say to the world? What do people think when they hear you talking to your spouse in public? I am amazed at some of the things I hear when walking through Walmart. It is almost always an adventure. It’s actually my husband who is quite sensitive to this. He will hear a husband belittling his wife or a dad being rude to his children and his heart breaks. He remembers being like that and he wishes he could show that man how humbly loving and serving his family could actually benefit HIM! His family would likely respond in a positive way. People in general would likely respond to him in a more positive way.
Last October I had the privilege of going to Ethiopia with Robin and our daughter-in-law Caitlin. It was an amazing trip. I knew that we were going to be visiting with church planters and some of their wives. I mentally prepared myself for feeling sorry for the wives. It is a patriarchal society where even the Ethiopian men will say that the women do most of the work. But we were not going to Ethiopia to eliminate gender discrimination. We were going to see what God was doing and to encourage the church planters.
What I saw, blew me away. I saw husbands genuinely loving their wives. I saw men enjoying their children. In one of our meetings a little two-year-old had found a piece of gum and was playing with it like two-year-olds do. The little girl was standing next to her dad. I was standing across the room watching this. I wondered if the dad would push the little girl away and tell the wife to take care of it. That’s what I expected. But instead he looked down and could hardly contain his laughter as he took the gum away from her. It was very sweet.
These demonstrations of love, respect, and genuine enjoyment of each other surprised me. I talked with our translator about it. He said that in general the Ethiopian men are exactly how I imagined they would be. But these men, the ones we were visiting with, had all been changed by Jesus. They were different. Their marriages were different.
One young couple told us about how once they found Jesus their marriage changed. Women carry the water, straw, and various other very heavy objects. Often the men sit back and watch. But this young man new there was a better way. He knew that part of a Christlike marriage is humbly serving one another. As soon as he would see her, He would run to her and help her carry the water. His village noticed. And many began to follow Jesus.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35Your love for one another will prove to the World that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
Does your love for others prove to the world that you are a disciple of Christ? Is your marriage an example of humbly loving and serving each other? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we are Christ’s ambassadors and that God makes his appeal to the world through us. We are the public relations team for Christ. Unfortunately many are turned off of Christianity because of how we as Christians act.
Is my marriage an example of humbly loving and serving each other? Sometimes. Maybe even often. To be completely honest, my husband is much better at this than I am. The way he loves me and serves me, the way he loves and serves our children and their families is beautiful. Even in our new marriage, the +9 years part, we have had struggles. I had a period of time when my health kept me on the couch. I could barely do anything. It was a difficult time for all of us. I remember him saying often, “Honey, it’s my turn to carry the water.” He is an amazing man. He inspires me to be a better wife. He shows me Jesus.
When you are thinking about what your marriage says to the world, what your relationships say to the world…remember to be real. It doesn’t help others if we pretend like marriage is always glorious. If all I shared with you were my facebook highlights, it would not encourage you. We can be honest about our struggles and still honor God. If we act like life is a bed of roses as a Christian, new believers will be very disappointed. Reality will hit hard. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. What we can show the world is how Christian’s deal with the tough stuff life throws at us.
Blind Devotion – video available on www.youandmeforever.org
What an amazing picture of Jesus. The way he goes after her, loves her, protects her, serves her is beautiful.
Don’t you want what they have? Laughing, loving, serving. I do.
When people look at my marriage I want them to want what we have. I want them to ask questions. I want them to wonder how this marriage survived. I want to be able to tell them the answer…Jesus. He is the reason we forgive each other. Jesus He is the reason we humbly love and serve each other. Jesus. He is the reason we enjoy each other. Jesus. He is the reason I love being married.
What do you want your marriage to say to the world?
Go and create a beautiful marriage by following Christ’s example of humbly loving and serving each other.