Another Step – Marriage
“What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti--Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness.” —Gary Thomas (Sacred Marriage)
A married man can have no greater priority than to make his marriage successful. I know that we say, “God comes first!” when we spout out our priorities. But there are tons of stories where well-meaning men got so involved in their ministries and with “God stuff” that they neglected their marriages and lost their families. God is not in that. When the Scriptures so clearly correlates the husband’s love for his wife with the love Christ has for the church, you get a sense for how important marriage is to God.
There’s not a single married mentor who hasn't had marriage problems. And I realize that some of you come to us with divorces in your past. Dante said, “Even God can’t change the past.” “It is what it is,” says the country song.
Regardless of your past, my message to you is to teach this fundamental truth: Biblical marriage is one man, one woman, for life.
Even if you suffered through a divorce or caused one, don’t dilute this truth. God’s grace and forgiveness always accompanies His truth. If you’re divorced, God has forgiven you and has given you His grace.
Why is this so important?
The analogy I use is one that guys understand: cars.
Here’s the question—If the car you have now were the ONLY car you could ever have, how would you treat it? Would you waste time looking at other cars? Wouldn't looking at fancy cars on the internet just create unhealthy anxiety? You would take VERY GOOD CARE of that car if you knew it had to carry you all the way through your life. That’s what marriage is—a life-long commitment, no matter what.
Early in my walk, a business partner of mine said this, “If you EVER consider divorce, then you’ll ALWAYS consider divorce.” You want to take divorce “off the table.” Divorce is not an option. You don’t even allow the word to seep into your marriage vocabulary. Otherwise, you’ll always be thinking, “Ok, if she doesn't change, then I’m getting a divorce,” or, “If she does that one more time, I’m out of here,” or, “I just don’t know how much more I can stand.” If you’re in it for life, you can stand anything. That’s what God calls us to—total life-long commitment no matter what. No exceptions. Teach yourself to stay IN the marriage and work on it with your wives. Never give up. Never give in to the temptation of the “greener grass” on the other side of the street. That’s not God’s will. The Bible clearly states it.
The other principal that I've learned is that almost all marriage problems stem from unmet expectations. A husband expects his wife to do a certain thing or be a certain way. She doesn't live up to his expectations, and he becomes anxious and unhappy. She doesn't measure up, even if she’s just being herself. And, vice versa, she will have expectations of him—how he should act, what he should or shouldn't do, and she gets disappointed when he doesn't measure up. Now she’s unhappy and frustrated. Throw in some good-looking man or woman—from work or church or the neighborhood, who seems to be so perfect, so different from your spouse—and the temptation can seem unbearable. Teach them: don’t give in; don’t give up.
If you can love their wives the way they are for who they are, you’ll have done them an incredible service.
Without God’s involvement, people almost never change. So, the key is to stop putting expectations on your spouse. Teach your guys to love and accept their wives just as they are. Their marriages will get better, they’ll finish strong and together, and God will smile.
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