Hi this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…Marital Conflicts – Session Five

Continuing with our series of marital conflicts between worldly wisdom and Word-ly wisdom, found in the Bible, today I want to speak about the potential of our marriages. Worldly wisdom or common sense dictates that its participants determine the potential of any marriage. How far that marriage will go, how long it will last, what it will look like and what it will leave as a legacy is all up to the two people who have entered into it. This understanding hinges on the premise that a marriage is made of two people who enter into an agreement to stick together and stick it out as long as there is continued value in doing so. The potential of their marriage is determined by the purposes they alone decide their marriage has and how much they are willing to do to see those fulfilled. This thinking allows that there is no standard to be maintained except that which is decided upon by that particular couple. No one else ought ever have any ability, authority or right to impose any guidelines or regulations onto their marriage. Whatever is ok for that couple is ok, after all whatever happens behind their closed doors is up to them…Right?

Why would this thought process seem reasonable? For starters, no one likes to be told what to do. As human beings we start life out with this mindset and most of us end it with little to no discernable change. We like to make our own rules so that we can adjust them whenever it suits us and we prefer not to be required to give answer for our changes. In our marriages, we conclude that we possess autonomy so that we are able to rest in the false belief that we cannot act in error. The problem with this thought process for marital longevity is that by definition, autonomy can’t really be shared…not even by as few as two people. Selfish desire will eventually cause conflict and disharmony highlighting the fallacy of the marital unity being experienced in that setting. Additionally, if a couple agrees that they alone are qualified to determine the standards for their marriage, they become the only ones who should decide that the marriage should dissolve if and when it no longer produces the desired outcome. They believe no one else has the authority to challenge that decision. Finally, in order to maintain a (quote-unquote)“successful marriage” the supposed autonomous couple will likely need to downgrade some of the formerly decided potential of their marriage commensurate with the disappointing outcomes they experience. If those involved in the marriage are not the ones deciding the purposes of their own marriage, this lowering of potential and expectations becomes impossible. For many couples, determining their own marriage’s purpose and potential is not only desirable, but must necessarily be kept fluid for their success to be assured.

When you say the quiet part out loud it sounds kind of shallow doesn’t it? So, what does Wordly wisdom have to say about the subject? What are God’s thoughts when it comes to the potential of our marriages? If we look at our marriages as something we have done, we set the parameters and decide the potential. However, if we view our marriages as something God has done, we must look to Him for the guidelines designed to ensure we arrive at the full potential He sees in every marriage as He joins a man and a woman together as one.

In Genesis 1:26 we find that the purpose of creating mankind was to reflect the image and likeness of God. In verse 27 we are told that the creation of mankind required both a male and a female. This fact is often viewed solely as a necessary component for the procreation of people and the survival of the human race. Though it is true that it takes a man and a woman to create another human being, regardless of current disinformation, that purpose is secondary (as noted in verse 28) following the primary purpose of reflecting the Creator (found in verse 26). We read in Genesis 2:21-23 that God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman as a married couple identified by Adam’s recognition that they were created by God “One Flesh”. Following Adam’s proclamation, (in verse 24) God proclaimed that every marriage going forward from that time would be a re-creation of the “One Flesh” condition experienced and enjoyed by Adam and Eve. As I have said before, the Apostle Paul reiterated that fact in Ephesians 5:31-32. Jesus Himself spoke of the oneness of marriage being something continually re-created by God and not by man, in Matthew 19:3-6 and Mark 10:2-9. God’s primary purpose for marriage was then and still is today,to create a singular entity of oneness that is reflective of His image and His likeness. Since He is the originator of the union we call marriage, and the purpose for marriage is also specifically noted as being His, then a perfect, infallible God would necessarily give the potential for every marriage to meet that intended purpose. Your marriage absolutely contains the potential to act as “One Flesh” and to reflect the image and likeness of God. Any other conclusion would be blasphemous.

In Luke 17:6 Jesus spoke of possessed potential. That verse says: So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. This verse has often been misunderstood to mean that if we had faith as big as a tiny seed, we could command incredible things to take place and they would happen just as we said. When the original Greek is examined however, we find that what Jesus was really saying was that a mustard seed though very small, does not question its potential to become a very large plant. It simply lives up to its potential. Jesus made this statement following His disciples asking for additional faith to do something He said they should do. Essentially, they were questioning the potential they had to accomplish His plans for them. Following Jesus’ words about the mustard seed simply fulfilling its potential, Jesus expounded further. In the following verses Jesus asked His disciples a question. He asked if a servant should expect that after a partial day of obedient service, the master would likely tell them to stop serving him, take it easy for a while, do whatever they wanted to do, and then later resume service to their master? Or, He asked them, should a servant expect that faithful obedience would be the requirement until the potential for the day had been reached and their purpose had been fulfilled? Jesus was expressing that the master determines the purpose and potential for the day. It is not for the servant to question the goal, but simply to obey, expecting the potential will be realized. Much like the mustard seed does not decide for itself what it should grow to be, but rather simply expects its God given potential will be achieved.

God has placed the Potential in your marriage to be reflective of Him. He has installed the ability to meet that potential through the development and growth of your “One Flesh” condition. According to Jesus, your job, my job, is simply to obediently do our best to realize our full potential allowing Him to enable us to do what we lack within ourselves. The potential is there, all we have to do is refrain from denying that potential exists and allow it to be developed by Him. A mustard seed does not deny its own potential but also cannot become the large plant it is purposed to be without the sun, rain and nutrient rich soil, all things added by God. Mark 9:23 speaks to this. It records that Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible for him who believes”. In other words, what God wants to see take place in our lives and in our marriages absolutely can be done if we are willing to allow Him to help us reach our full potential and see His purposes realized in our lives.

Psalm 19, one of my personal favorites, speaks of the perfect ways of God. It tells us that if we will acknowledge that His ways and plans for our lives (and marriages) are superior to anything we could imagine, the results will be sweet and desirable for Him and us as well.

Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

Questions to Answer:

  • In the past, what would you have said the purposes of your marriage were?
  • What would you have said the potential was for your marriage to see those purposes realized?
  • How much potential did your marriage have to reach both of your purposes for your marriage?
  • How much potential do you see in your marriage to fulfill the purpose God has for it?

Actions to Take:

  • Discuss why you answered the final question for today the way you did.
  • Talk about the steps of obedience the two of you could take to move your marriage toward reaching its God-given potential.
  • Pray and ask God to help you be obedient to Him in this regard and ask Him to give the two of you what you lack to fulfill His purposes for your marriage.

So now, allowing God to determine the purpose for your marriage, and simply agreeing with Him that the full potential can and will be achieved…Go Be Awesome!