Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage.
For the past six episodes we have been exploring 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage. Other than the first principle I shared with you, Compatibility, I must admit, there has been no prioritization given to the principles that followed. I simply allowed the Holy Spirit to guide where in His inspired word and which of His Principles He would have me share next. However, as a part of the process, As He always is, God was doing more than I realized. As I researched and wrote in preparation for each episode in the series, the realization was always evident that there was too much information to convey comprehensively in a 15-minute podcast. That has always been one of the challenges of the Monday Marriage Message, to deliver an important idea rich with scriptural background in just 15 minutes. As I undertook the project of this particular series, that challenge remained. Flow and continuity required I not spend multiple editions exploring a singlular Biblical Principle, so as I have become accustom to doing, I condensed the material to the best of my ability to fit the format.
As I made my way through 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage, it was all too clear that there was too much left on the cutting room floor to simply sweep up and toss out. As that recognition grew, the reality emerged that more had to be done with the material I included in the podcast as well as what necessarily had been held back. What emerged has become a second marriage building conference that I will be presenting for the first time at the end of the week. That new project required a thoughtful look at the order of these 7 Biblical Principles and a reshuffling of them that will present more effectively in a seminar format. I say all of that to say that today although we will be exploring our 7th Biblical Principle in this series, that is not its final place in the seminar lineup, there it has become Principle # 4.
This 7th or 4th Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage, depending on where it is being offered, is Love. I can see good reason for some of you to think I should have numbered it first because it is reasonable to ask, “Without love is a highly successful marriage even possible”? I can’t argue with that logic. I can also understand why someone would place it as the final of these 7 Biblical Principles, because love is the correct final word on everything. Paul wrote that now abides faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) Love is the catalyst of all things good, right and true…and it is also the culmination of those same things. I suppose it could also be argued that Love belongs in the middle of the list because love must be in the midst of anything for that thing to have value. While none of those were my rationale for placing it in the final position here in the podcast, or in the fourth position in the upcoming marriage conference, they are all valid points none-the-less.
More importantly however, is the question, “Why does love make the cut as one of the 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage”? As we have learned from God’s word, the primary purpose of marriage according to its originator is to be reflective of the Triune God that created it. It is recorded in Genesis 1:26-27 that God said Let Us (The Father, The Son, and The Spirit) make man in our image and likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. It is also recorded in 1 John 4:8 that the Apostle John wrote He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. If God is love, and He is…and the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect God…and it most certainly is, then one of the necessary components of a marriage highly successful at reflecting God…is love.
Additionally, if we are going to move forward in this discussion in a meaningful way we must initially define love. Let me first say that the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you hold an infant child, embrace your spouse, or even scratch your version of the “Best dog ever”, behind the ear is not love! Love is not an emotion. The warm and fuzzies are the result of fondness. Fondness is an emotion. Fondness is measurable in a sense in that it has graduations or levels. Hopefully you feel more fondness when you embrace your spouse than you do when you scratch behind the dogs ear…maybe not. Love is actionable…always. It could be argued that fondness is the emotion you experience when you embrace your spouse, hold the baby or pet the dog. However, in the most basic sense, the embrace, the cuddle, the pat…those are love. More importantly though, the relationship, not the emotion must be the catalyst for genuine love. Let me explain.
In that same chapter in 1 John we read in verse 21, And this commandment we have from Him (Jesus) that he who loves God must love his brother also. God does not command us how to feel, or what emotions to have, and yet He commands us to love one another. In John’s gospel he recorded the moment Jesus said; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”. (John 13:34-35) Since God does not command our emotions, but rather does command action, if we are commanded to love, love must be actionable. Who is it that we are we commanded to take loving action toward? One another. Why? Because we are His disciples. We are to act in love toward one another as a result of the relationship. But which relationship? The Teacher/Master to disciple one. We love others because Jesus asks us to. Because we are in relationship with Him, and He wishes that we show His love to others, we do so at His request. This is what allows us to love even when hurt, disappointed, frustrated or even angry with those with whom we are called to love. This ability only increases in importance when the one we are interacting with is our spouse.
Therefore, defining love as an actionable characteristic, and understanding that God is love and therefore our marriages, designed to reflect Him, must reflect His love…what are those actions we must exemplify and which must we avoid? For that answer we can refer to what the Apostle Paul was inspired by God to write in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
Paul writes here that we can do a lot of things in admirable ways but without love they are worse than useless. He begins with our words. My wife and I are both hearing impaired. There are times when we jokingly say that if people heard us try to communicate when we are unable to look at one another and read lips to assist our failing hearing, they would probably wonder why we stay so angry with each other…we yell at one another all the time. We don’t yell because we are angry with each other…at least not usually, we do it because speech that cannot be heard is useless. However, Paul writes, words that are spoken without love are worse than useless, the hearer also finds them incredibly irritating. Paul goes on to say that even if we have great and wonderful revelations from God, even if He has given us understanding of some of the most problematic of life’s questions, if we cannot express them in love, those answers are of no use to anyone…not even us! Suppose we have the proverbial faith that can move mountains…without love, we won’t use it correctly. In the final of his hypotheticals Paul says that if we sell everything we have to feed the poor, but we do it so we will gain recognition more than we do it because someone is hungry, or even if we are willing to become a martyr, if our motivation is anything short of love…those actions will be valueless.
Paul then switched from analogous writing and began penning words of a more descriptive nature. In this next segment, he begins to define what specific actions are loving and which are not. He says that loving action will patiently continue on even if there is seemingly no return on investment. Why? Because genuine love’s motivation is never self-serving. Loving action is kind, and acts of kindness are by definition always to benefit another. Next Paul mentions a few unloving actions. He tells us love doesn’t worry about what is fair, only what is right. He mentions that love doesn’t try to get credit for its righteous actions and never thinks it is better than another because of its ability to act as it does. Paul says that genuine love will never fail to be courteous and considerate of others. Love is not self-serving or inward thinking. Love always considers others before thinking of self. Love is not provoked but instead will empathetically endure insults and unloving words and actions, and will not allow anything to dissuade it. Love does not think that every unkind action or word received from another is indicative of a poor motive but instead offers the benefit of the doubt, and tries to understand what that person may be going through. Paul states that as human beings we all have a propensity for the ability to take enjoyment from that which is wrong, but genuine love only wants what is best, righteous and uplifting.
Paul concludes by offering a litmus test to determine genuine love from a cheap counterfeit. He says that love will always do these five things.
Love bears all things. This means that love will be patient in all things and will even try to conceal the faults of others. The original text actually means that love covers all things, meaning love rubs out another’s mistake rather than rubbing it in.
Love believes all things. This doesn’t mean that love is gullible, but it does mean that love gives the benefit of the doubt. Love does not look for a poor motive behind every hurtful misstep of another but rather looks to see what difficulty or misunderstanding could cause an otherwise good willed person to lash out.
Love hopes all things. Love always wants to see things work out the best for everyone involved. Even in genuine disagreements, love necessitates that when the dust settles…everyone survives.
Love endures all things. Love does not withdraw itself or morph into unloving action no matter what it receives from another. Love understands that it’s standard is always righteousness. Love is true to itself and does not change because it is on the receiving end of unrighteousness.
Love never fails. The four previous characteristics of love elude to this one. In each of them Paul wrote “all things” meaning; nothing gets love off its game. In the end result love will always emerge acting in a loving way. God is love, God is unchanging…Therefore, love also is unwavering. Love always comes up looking like love.
You know what else genuine love always does? Love always wins.
So now, using the winning strategy of love in your marriage…Go be Awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to discover how to experience a highly successful marriage. This is the sixth edition in our series 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage.
Since beginning this series I have shared with you 5 of 7 biblical principles that govern highly successful marriages. I have been careful not to call this series “THE” 7 Biblical Principles for a Highly Successful Marriage because though I have chosen to highlight these 7 they are not by any accounting the only biblical principles governing marriage. God’s word contains many, many more that will have an even greater positive impact on your marriage if you will choose to search them out and employ them. Thus far in this series we have considered; Compatibility,Recognizing that your marriage is more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your spouse, Holiness, Selfless Service and Faithfulness. Each of these principles are indeed crucial to a marriage that strives to fulfill its God-given purpose of reflecting Him. However, there are still two more Biblical principles that I wish to uncover from God’s word before I conclude this series.
In this episode we will take a close look at what God’s word says about Forgiveness as the 6th Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage. Forgiveness is an interesting and complex subject. All of us come to understand very quickly in marriage that forgiveness is going to be necessary if the marriage is going to experience any meaningful longevity. 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes the kind of love marriage must be predicated upon to be highly successful as one that keeps no record of wrongdoing. Does wrongdoing take place in marriage…you bet! Often, before the first day of marriage has concluded, the new bride and groom have managed to offend one another, but those wrongs are quickly overlooked in light of their newly established oneness. Unless the same offences repeatedly occur, they will likely not be recorded on a tally-sheet. Why? According to 1 Corinthians 13 Godly love doesn’t have a score card. Consequently, it doesn’t take the newly-weds long at all to come to realize that forgiveness in their new marriage is going to become an important, daily, necessity.
If our marriages must reflect God if they are going to meet their intended purpose…and they must, then our forgiveness for one another must be the same kind God uses when He forgives us. If we are going to forgive as God does…we must have an understanding of what forgiveness means to Him. Any other form of forgiveness that we attempt to invent, will be incorrectly applied and will not have the effect God intends us to experience. God’s brand of forgiveness offers freedom, freedom to move forward unencumbered. In Isaiah 43:25 God says this; “I, I am the One who erases all your sins, for my sake; I will not remember your sins”.
So what are the components of genuine forgiveness that are critical to highly successful marriages? The first important understanding comes from the verse I mentioned just a moment ago from the book of Isaiah. There God mentions a few things about His forgiveness that are noteworthy. First He says that He erases our sins. This is in line with 1 Corinthians 13:5. There we read that love (and according to 1 John, God is love) keeps no record of wrongdoing. God says that He erases the record of our wrongdoing toward Him. He does not say that the wrong never happened, nor does He say our sin against Him wasn’t hurtful…just that He won’t keep considering it when He is interacting with us. The second remarkable thing this simple verse illustrates for us is that forgiveness essentially frees the forgiver as much or more than it does the forgiven. There God says that He erases our sins for His own sake. He forgives us to free Himself of the negative feelings that our sin would otherwise cause Him to experience when interacting with us. He forgives us to free Himself to love us in spite of our sin against Him. As a result, He said, “I will not remember your sins”. When you look at the original Hebrew text the intimation is that of a Judge who chooses to interact with a convict, but who refuses to look at their rap-sheet while doing so. The rap-sheet is real. Both participants are fully aware of its existence, But God says that in His forgiveness of us He refuses to open our file.
When we forgive our spouse we have to learn to do as God does. Get rid of the record of wrongdoing. This doesn’t mean we have to make-believe the wrong didn’t happen. We don’t have to pretend it didn’t cause us pain or have a negative impact on the relationship. It does mean however that we can’t continue to compile a list of reasons our spouse is not worthy of our love and acceptance…or else, we will become unable to continue to love and accept them. Just like God does, for our own sake, so that we can be free, we must choose to quit looking at our spouse’s rap-sheet when we are interacting with them. We must choose to not consider their sins against us if we want to be free. Remember…forgiveness frees the forgiver as much or even more than it does the forgiven. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget what happened…it means we choose to not stare at the offence while interacting with our offender.
Our human condition often makes offering to another the same kind of forgiveness God offers us a very difficult thing to do. We may even think it impossible at times. We know from Jesus own words to His disciples that it is necessary that we learn to do so, but sometimes we just can’t see how God’s brand of forgiveness is something we as mere human beings can ever accomplish. Some hurts after all are just too big. God may be able to erase all of our sins, but we aren’t God. Is it really fair for Him to require genuine forgiveness from us?
Seemingly, God believes it is. When Jesus taught His Disciples to pray, Matthew 6:9-15 says He told them this; 9 So when you pray, you should pray like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name always be kept holy. 10 May your kingdom come
and what you want be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us the food we need for each day. 12 Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us. 13 And do not cause us to be tempted,
but save us from the Evil One.’ The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.
Then Jesus made this statement;
14 Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.
At first glance the Lord’s Prayer may seem to include one small blurb about forgiveness, but when we take into account the monumental footnote Jesus added after teaching His disciples how to pray, forgiveness begins to take center stage in the prayer. When we choose to forgive our spouse, God’s name is kept Holy. Our marriages reflect Him in the midst of forgiveness, perhaps more than at any other time. God is the ultimate forgiver; no one has ever has to pay as high a price to be able to offer it as He has. When we forgive our spouse their wrongs, we successfully reflect God and represent who and what He is. When we choose to forgive especially in our marriages, God’s will (that which He does) takes place on earth as it does in Heaven. When we choose to forgive another we open ourselves up to being able to experience the amazing forgiveness God offers us in the shed blood of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God would further empower them to resist the temptation from the evil one to fail to forgive. Satan understands that time plus un-forgiveness always equals bitterness. He also knows that there is no better tool at his disposal to kill, steal and destroy marriages than bitterness.
Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to say that the wrong, wasn’t wrong. If it was wrong, it was wrong. Sin is sin. God’s word doesn’t teach us that forgiveness means sin is no longer wrong. God still says that sin is wrong. Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery? John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ words of conviction “Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone at her” drove away all of her accusers who wanted to put her to death. Jesus then looked at the woman and asked her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you” She said no one, Lord. And Jesus said to Her, “Neither do I condemn you; [but] go and sin no more”. (John 8:7&10-11) Forgiveness doesn’t make a wrong, right, but nor does it coincide with condemnation.
Again this may seem unfair and impossible, but there is good news! You don’t have to do it. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute Pastor Ken, I thought you just said we have to learn to forgive if God is going to forgive us?” That is correct, but what I mean to say is that YOU don’t have to arrange your offender’s forgiveness…you only have to agree with God’s forgiveness for them. The requirement on you is to agree with God that He was right and just to offer your offender His forgiveness for the hurtful way they treated you. 1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hurt people however, are often looking for justification to hold the person who hurt them accountable. In light if that, they might ask regarding that last scripture, “But what if the person who did me wrong has not confessed their sin to God or to me?” The Bible has an answer for that question as well. Romans 5:8 tells us; But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners. God loves all of us…even those who hurt us…so much that even before a single confession of sin was made, He offered His Son’s life as recompense for our sin. That is why it is just for God to forgive all of us…Jesus already paid the price.
One of our biggest hang-ups when it comes to forgiveness, is this. We are afraid that if we forgive…we have to let our offender off the hook for what they have done to us. That’s not true at all. They are still firmly on the hook for their actions…we simply have to agree to hand the hook to God. We may be the victim of another person’s sin against us but to be a victor, we must realize we are not the judge, jury and executioner. Vengeance is mine says the Lord…and I will repay! (Hebrews 10:30) Forgiveness allows us the freedom to willingly hand the hook to God. He promises He will make it right. And He will make it right. He will either give the person who has wronged us a heart transplant, if they are willing for it, or eternal separation from Him if they refuse His love and forgiveness. Forgiveness on our part is the agreement to let Him work out all of those details. If we don’t have to hold the hook any longer, then we don’t have to hold onto the record of what went wrong either. As we hand those things off to God with whom they rightfully belong, our load is lightened and we become free to interact with our offender in a healthy way again.
Are there times when the damage is too great and trust simply cannot be restored? Are there some relationships that are so damaging that they should not be resumed? Of course, but those are in the minority, not the majority. They are the exception not the rule. Regardless, forgiveness is still a necessity for freedom, and a healthy mind and heart. Because of that, forgiveness is solidly on the list of Biblical principles for a highly successful marriage.
So now, reflecting God in your marriage by agreeing with Him that His forgiveness for your spouse was right and just…Go Be Awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, September 14th 2023…Dragon Slayers
This past week my wife Lynn and I slayed a dragon. Let me explain. Most of you know that I love to ride motorcycles. I have been riding them for about 45 years now and I hope my years of riding will continue to accumulate until I leave this old world behind at a ripe old age. I love riding motorcycles. In fact, the only driving experience better than riding a motorcycle is riding a motorcycle in the mountains. Just a few weeks before we married, I took Lynn on her first motorcycle ride in the mountains near Roanoke, Virginia. That first ride for her was the ride to end all rides…at least it might have been. We drove up a winding mountain road with sheer drop-off cliffs on one side and bare rock faces that rose directly upward on the other. We may or may not have come close to running off of the side of the road that highlighted the drop off view. We rode that day in the high mountains of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, were she came to understands that though it may have been plenty warm when you left, you might need a jacket just 20 minutes later up in the higher elevations. We got caught in a scattered thunderstorm and spent some time wringing out our clothes under an overpass, and we concluded the ride back to my aunt and uncle’s house drying out on a busy interstate at highway speeds. I honestly thought that she would never ride again after that first outing, but she has been happily accompanying me on some great motorcycle rides for the past 23 years. She is far tougher than her beautiful looks and sweet demeanor elude to.
This sweet girl joined me yet again last week to spend multiple days riding in the southwestern Virginia mountains. Last Tuesday we decided to cross a particular road off from my bucket list of mountain rides. Route 16 is a winding two-lane road that runs kind of north and south from Wilkesboro, N.C. to Sophia, W.V. The 32 mile section between Marion and Tazewell, Virginia is known as “The Back of The Dragon”. On that short stretch of road, a driver will turn in excess of 400 times, rise and fall a total of 3,500 feet in elevation all while climbing and descending three successive mountains. Those crests make up the three mythological humps of the back of the dragon. Many of the 438 curves leave no time for the motorcycle to return to its upright position before requiring the riders to lean deeply into the next one. There are times when the length of road visible ahead may be significantly less than 100 feet. It is an awesome ride, but definitely not for the novice, or the faint-of-heart. We managed to cover the distance in just over an hour which is not anywhere near a record, but respectable none-the-less.
There is nothing strait about that road. At times, the ability to traverse it while “Keeping the rubber down and the shiny side up” is nothing less than instinctual. When riding it you really do rely on what is hopefully years of experience to guide each move. If you ride it from south to north as we did, as you near the end of the journey you round the easiest and gentlest of the curves on the entire route as they bring you 180 degrees twice through an enjoyable “S” curve called Kudzu Corner, named for all of the trees and shrubs entangled and overtaken by the Kudzu vines. It is truly majestic. As we rode through those easiest of all of the turns, I was able to ride without the formerly required incredible levels of concentration. In the midst of my mental rest as we exited Kudzu Curve, a well-known scripture came to mind. Proverbs 3:5-6 in the New American Standard Bible says; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
I had just finished driving 32 miles where nothing about my path had been strait. As a result, in that moment I was well aware of the high stress level I had been under for the duration. My hands were numb and tingling, and my knuckles unnaturally white from gripping the handlebars so tightly. My shoulder muscles were twisted tighter than rope from holding the motorcycle down in the turns and then pulling the handlebars up, only to force them downward immediately in the opposite direction. Don’t get me wrong…it was fun, but in that moment what I felt knowing I had completed the ride safe and sound and had not caused any injury to my sweet, sweet bride was nothing short of total relief.
Our lives can be like old Virginia route 16 sometimes. Some days it seems like life throws one curve after another at us, and it’s hard to know if you are coming or going, rising or falling, as you try to navigate with seemingly no time to anticipate what is ahead. While motorcyclists can and do rely on instinct much of the time in curvy road situations, it can get them in trouble on occasion. In life’s twists and turns if we rely on our own understanding an error causing difficulty beyond easy recovery is likely to be just around the corner.
This scripture says that trusting in the Lord is far better than relying on our instincts. The Lord knows what is ahead for us, not only just around the bend, but into the perpetuity of eternity. Jesus said He is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13) It would be incorrect of us though, to interpret that to mean that Jesus was at the beginning and will be at the end, that would mean that Jesus is encompassed by time. Jesus is greater than time…Jesus created time…Jesus is the beginning and is the end because Jesus encompasses even time. With such an omniscient Lord, we can trust Him to guide us forward far more than we can trust ourselves to know what lies ahead where we cannot yet see. If we will learn to do this, we learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight as referenced by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7.
What does it mean exactly to heed the instruction found in Provers 5:6? In all your ways acknowledge Him… It means we have to recognize who He is; Lord of lords, King of kings, Master, Friend, sweet, sweet Savior. It means we have to be cognizant of what He is; Loving, Merciful, Gracious, Holy, altogether Righteous, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Unchangeable, Ever-present God. It means we have to; interact with Him, follow Him, love Him, respect Him, and give Him the credit and glory He rightly deserves. The conclusion of that verse says that if you will do all of that in regards to Christ, He will make your paths strait. Does that mean that there won’t be any more unexpected twists and turns? Does that mean you will always know what is coming before you get to it? Not at all! Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble”. (John 16:33) There will always be the need to look out for falling rock around the bend, just like the ones I had to swerve to avoid on our motorcycle ride last week. But if we Acknowledge Him and allow Him to make our paths strait, it does mean that we can trust Him to lead us directly to and through His planned path for our life. That reminds me of another passage found in Isaiah 46:10;Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.
The bible says that God has a plan for each of our lives, one that includes our very best. He wants to see us develop fully into the person He was thinking about when He so fearfully and wonderfully created each of us in our mother’s womb. But He won’t ever force His plan onto your life. You have to be willing to Acknowledge that He is God, He is Lord of your life and then just as He promised He will direct your paths strait into all that He has for you!
So now, Acknowledge Him for who and what He is to you and let Him make your paths strait and…Go Be Awesome!