Saturday, February 12, 2011

Christo-centric Marriage - Part 2

The second thing is that love is not an emotion.  Love is not attraction.  Emotion is attraction.  Physicalities are emotion based attraction.  Love… is a choice.  We have to choose to love someone.  You hear people say all the time that the reason they got a divorce was because they simply "fell out of love with that person any more".  At the risk of sounding rude can I just say one word to that?  Poppycock.  Love is not a feeling, it is a choice.  You don't fall out of love any more than you fall in love, you CHOOSE to love.  Again, we find our answer to “How much or how deep should I love?” by looking at Christ.

So let’s examine these things from Scripture.

We’ll begin with love being a choice.  In keeping with our understanding that marriage is a covenental picture of the Gospel we will go to Ephesians 2.

In Ephesians 2, Paul opens with a bleak picture of the human condition… but a true one nonetheless.  Ephesians 2:1-3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

So that’s us… dead in our sins.  Dead.  Our sins demanding God’s wrath and not deserving God’s mercy.  We are in that state unlovable in the sense that there is no merit in us what so ever that should cause God to set His redeeming love on us.

With that in mind, move on into verse 4 and beyond.

Ephesians 2:4-10 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

WOW!  What a picture!  We are unlovable, we are dead, we are helpless to change it.  God is not obligated to help us in any way, yet He chooses to!  He chooses to not only forgive us but lavish His unconditional love on us!  And He does so out of His rich mercy, His great love!  The Greek word used for love when referring to how God loves His children is ‘agape’.  The closest English equivalent is the word ‘love’, but in reality it has no equivalent.  It was a word that the authors of the Bible created to describe the unconditional loving grace of God.  No human can perfectly love anyone in the ‘agape’ sense and so no one else can bear that title.

That’s quite a picture.  We don’t deserve regular love from God, let alone a love that is beyond description!  Yet, He chooses to love us.  There again we see that love is a choice.

As you are choosing whether or not you will proceed in your marriage or walk away, keep in mind.  God chose to love you even when you were unlovable and continues to love you even though you (like me and the rest of us) sin from time to time and do things that should merit His rejection of you, yet He doesn’t…  If our marriages are a picture of Christ and salvation, then we ought to strive to love one another in the same fashion.  Loving one another regardless.  Not because of merit in the other person, but because God so loved us that He gave His only Son… if the Holy perfect God can find it right with Himself to love the unlovable (us), how much more should we be willing to love one another keeping in mind that none of us are perfect and therefore don’t have the right to refuse or reject one another.  Jesus said let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.

We can apply that same exact principle to the issue of forgiveness in marriage.  Think for a moment about your own sins.  Not the sins necessarily that are causing the issues in your marriage.  Open the scope up more widely than that.  Need some help?  Flip over to Exodus 20 and run through the 10 Commandments and see how many of them you’ve broken… In summary, have you always honored God as first in your life?  Have you created an idol in your life, something you devote yourself to or worship more than God?  Have you ever taken God’s Name in vain? That is called blasphemy and God takes it very seriously.  Have you always set aside one day out of seven to honor and worship the Lord… to rest and reflect on His love shown towards you?  Did you always honor and obey your parents growing up?  What about murder?  Jesus said that God sees hate in your heart the same as murder.  Ever commit adultery?  Before you answer quickly, no that Jesus said if you look on someone with lust then you have committed adultery in your heart.  Whether you were married when the lust occurred is immaterial.  Ever stolen anything, even something small?  Ever lied?  Ever coveted or desired something that wasn’t yours?

How did you do?  Have you kept any one of them perfectly?  I hadn’t… I don’t… James 2:10 says that if you’ve broken even one of the commandments then you are guilty of breaking them all because there is a totality to the law.

In salvation, did God… through Christ… not forgive you of every one of your transgressions of His law past, present, and future?  If you are in Christ, then He has removed your sins so far as the East is from the West.  Again remembering that God is perfect and Christ was sinless.   Yet He became sin on your behalf so that you might be redeemed (2 Corinthians 5:21).

If you answer yes that Christ has forgiven you of all your sin.  And you answer yes that He was Himself sinless and you didn’t deserve His forgiveness… then when we withhold forgiveness from our spouses for their sin we are placing ourselves in a higher court that God.

Do you see what I’m saying?  God did not withhold forgiveness to you for your sins against Him and He rightly could have.  But He didn’t, even to the point of the slaughter of His own Son.  Yet we can’t pray and plead with God to help us forgive our spouses for their sins?  Maybe if we were perfect we could withhold forgiveness if we wanted, but we aren’t so we can’t…

Plus, think about the message you send when you give up or walk away or fail to forgive or whatever in your marriage.  You are saying to that other person, I expect you to put up with my sins, my quirks, my wants… but I am not going to put up with yours.  And this doesn’t just apply to the person who leaves the marriage but also to the one who was left.  Regardless of who started it took two people… two sinners… to cause any issue.

Let me just interject that if at this point your mind is dwelling on the sins and shortcomings of your spouse and not your own, you've just discovered one part of your problem...  Listen, you may be innocent in any given situation of any wrong doing that has led to marital conflict, I grant you that.  But you are not innocent of guilt of all situations... that's my point, so in withholding forgiveness or walking away you send a message.

You are sending the message that your sins were deserving of forgiveness from the sinless Son of God, but the other persons sins aren’t deserving of your forgiveness… Ouch, kind of a punch in the gut for me personally for sure.

Christo-centric Marriage - Part 3

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