Hi this is Pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. This is will be the seventh and final installment in the series looking at Marital conflicts…Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom.
In this edition, we will look at the Worldly Wisdom position that “The Ends Justify The Means”. Most of us understand that concept and many intuitively and internally shudder when we consider it, knowing there is something we find unsavory about the idea. Even so, on some level most people subscribe to it just the same. We drive faster than the posted speed limit because we have places to go, people to see and things to do. Social media has such a hold over us that we feel compelled to “Check it…just for a second” even though we are being paid and trusted by an employer to be doing other things with our time on the clock. The justifications don’t stop there. In marriage many are willing to allow the ends to justify the means. Maybe we tell our spouse “Little white lies” because telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth might leave us vulnerable to their criticism. Perhaps there is an expenditure that we know our spouse wouldn’t approve of, but it is justified because we really want what we have our eye on. It may be that we join in at work or with friends as conversations center around our distaste for the things our spouses do. Even if we don’t feel right about it, we justify that everyone is doing it, and we want our friends or co-workers to find us acceptable. These are some examples we might view as benign, there are others that are engaged in every day that are much more harmful. People use all kinds of justifications for engaging in activities that have the potential to be incredibly detrimental to their marriages.
Wordly Wisdom insists that the ends do not justify the means. Jesus said that our yes needs to be yes, and our no should clearly mean no. (Mathew 5:37) We often interpret this scripture to simply mean that if we say yes or no we shouldn’t need to add anything to illustrate that we really mean what we say. However, a deeper understanding has to include the overall effect this has on our integrity. If we avoid wishy-washiness, and if our yes always means yes and if our no always means no, we won’t need to swear by anything else…people will simply be able to count on us. Perhaps most importantly, our spouse. If we are consistent about what we choose and the things we are not willing to allow in our lives, our spouse can enjoy the confidence that our every action, thought and word is for their benefit and blessing.
Wordly Wisdom also argues that the ends do not justify the means, but in fact, it is we who are supposed to end up justified. In other words, God wants to use our marriages to guide us into a life of justice and righteousness. In his book, The Joy of the Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas suggests that God is far more concerned that our marriages make us holy, than that they make us happy. He rightly says God uses our marriages perhaps more so than any other experience in life to move us toward holiness. I simply say that according to Genesis 1 and 2 God designed marriage to reflect His image and likeness. Our marriages are purposed to be a mirror God can look into and see Himself. To Gary Thomas’s point, God is holy and therefore we are to be holy also. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Here we are being told that the point of our lives and in fact our marriages is to be holy like God is holy. We are supposed to be clean and clear mirrors that God can look into and see himself. When we accept the worldly view that says the “Ends justify the means”, we risk allowing our mirror to become dirty, clouded, scratched up and far less capable of producing a good reflection of our God.
What about the dirt, scratches and the cloudiness we have allowed to accumulate on our marital mirrors because we have accepted that in certain situations, the ends justify the means? Thankfully, God has an answer for that. 1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. God desires to forgive us for the dirt and damage we have inflicted on our mirrors. He promises that if we ask him to, He will clean us of all of the dirt we have allowed to rest upon us. In Ephesians 5:16 He lets us know that He even wants to help us redeem time. Though most of us would like to have the ability to do so, we simply can’t go back in time and fix errors we have committed. However, we serve a God who can take those errors and transform them into wisdom essentially redeeming the time in which the errors took place. So, there is even a plan for the dirt and many of the scratches we have allowed to cover our marital mirrors. God wants to forgive us for every scratch, every bit of cloudiness and all of the dirt we have allowed to accumulate there. He not only wants to wash our mirrors clean so that he can see Himself more clearly, but He will even buff out some of the scratches so they don’t take away from His reflection either.
Some scratches are too deep to buff out and eliminate completely. Some marital mirrors have been through too much and some of the damage remains even after forgiveness and a good cleaning. So what do we do about that? God has a plan to address that damage as well. Romans 8:28-30 offers a promise to take the deep scratches and the chipped portions of our marital mirrors that have happened as a result of allowing the ends to justify the harmful means and even use those to justify us, and help us better reflect God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Thank God for His miraculous marital mirror restoration abilities!
Though God has graciously offered to restore our marital mirrors, He also asks us to refrain from damaging them further. The Apostle Paul Spoke to that in Romans Chapter 6:1-11 There Paul wrote, Well then, should we keep on sinning (in other words, damaging our mirrors) so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
God wants to look into the mirror of each of our marriages and see an unblemished reflection of Himself. He is Holy so what He expects to see when He looks at your marriage, my marriage…is holiness. He promised to forgive us of the dirtiness of sin we have so carelessly splattered all over our mirrors and once again make us clean. He has enabled us through the redemption of time to have some of the lesser scratches polished back out. He has also said that if we will allow Him to, He even wants to use the deeper scratches and chips to cause us to reflect Him even better. God also hopes we will be very careful with our mirrors going forward, and that we will realize just how valuable they are to Him
Questions to answer:
- Has allowing the end to justify the means created problems for your marriage?
- What difficulties has this caused the two of you in your attempts to reflect God like you want to?
- If you make the priority of your lives as one to reflect the One who gave it to you, what differences could that make in your marriage?
Actions to take:
- Gratefully give God thanks for His desire to take the imperfections of your marital mirror and restore its ability to reflect Him…then make reflecting God THE priority of your marriage.
So now, taking incredible care of your marital mirror so it can do what it was intended to do and reflect God…GO be awesome!