The Greatest Commandment...of Marriage
This Sunday, we are kicking off this series on marriage. (Plenty of room at two of the services! Go to our website to register or watch online.) Where do we begin with such a complex topic?
We should probably address our biases first. Pastor Tim Keller says in "The Meaning of Marriage":
"It is hard to get a good perspective on marriage. We all see it through the inevitably distorted lenses of our own experiences. If you come from an unusually stable home, where your parents had a great marriage, they may have 'made it look easy' to you, and so when you get to your own marriage you may be shocked by how much it takes to forge a lasting relationship. On the other hand, if you have experienced a bad marriage or a divorce, either as a child or an adult, your view of marriage may be overly wary and pessimistic. You may be too expectant of relationship problems and, when they appear, be too ready to say, 'Yup, here it goes,' and to give up. In other words, any kind of background experience of marriage may make you ill-equipped for it yourself."
"So, where can you go for a comprehensive view of marriage?... In the Bible, you have teaching that has been tested by millions of people over centuries and in multiple cultures. Do we have any other resource on marriage like that?"
Of course, we don't!
Over the past few weeks, I have been studying and studying, and let me say that there is no shortage of books out there to help and give practical advice on marriage. Search "marriage books" on Amazon and it comes back "over 50,000 results".
I keep coming back to the age-old wisdom in the Word of God.
One small sample:
When they asked Jesus the most important commandment He replied simply to love God and love others (Mark 12:28-31, Matt 22:35-40, my paraphrase). Do you see that play out in marriages today? Heck - do you see that play out in any relationships today?
Most marriages today start from "you are here to complete me, love me, help me, make my life better, make me happy." The Bible starts by saying that we are called to love others radically no matter what they do to us, for us, if they appreciate it, respond postively, or love us back.
We are here for them.
We look to serve them, not to be served by them.
This transforms relationships. This changes marriages.
This Sunday we will talk about it, but here is a temperature check for us all: do we see the relationships we have for our blessing or for their blessing? Do we go to, say, someone's house so they can affirm us, compliment us, validate us in the conversation, or do we focus on the opposite? What about marriages? Are we building our spouse up or just hoping they build us up and getting frustrated when they don't serve us?
We can all love others well.
If you are married, start at home!
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