GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH AND THE HEAD OF OUR FAMILIES
TEXT: Genesis 2: 18: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
During the medieval period a custom arose in the church. That being: they would not marry anyone during the season of Lent. Since it was a penitential season they reasoned that weddings would subtract from the austere message. So, weddings were put on hold until Lent, Holy Week, and Easter were completed.
So, why are we celebrating a marriage re-commitment ceremony in our church during this 1st Sunday of Lent? Well, it’s timely. Today is Valentine’s Day and most of you are thinking of your loved ones. Second, although the Gospel for the day outlines Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness and seems out-of-place for a discussion of marriage, it really isn’t. After all, next to our relationship with Christ our spousal relationship comes in a strong second. And temptation and sin cause a lot of heartache which Jesus desires to alleviate. So, today we’re going to examine:
WHAT IT TAKES TO HAVE A STRONG, BLEST MARRIAGE
Most of know this passage from Genesis quite well. After God had created Adam and things had settled down from the frenzy of that 1st week in time, Adam was lonely. He desired a counterpart, someone he could share this new life with. So, God created Eve literally “out of Adam.” And God uttered those words: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” That helper was woman. She was the one having the qualities that Adam lacked. So together they would form a complete, organic whole.
Today, we have a lot of “marriage years” here at church and shortly many of you will group around the altar to renew your vows taken months or years ago. As you do so, ask yourself: What does it take to have a strong, blest marriage? And if you break it down, three things stand out: Honesty, Respect, and Self-sacrifice.
Let’s deal with honesty. For the Christian honesty always begins with God and our relationship to Him and His relationship to us. God is always completely open and honest with us. He was with Adam and Eve. After their marriage and before their fall into sin, God gave them careful instructions on how to preserve their sinless state, their perfect relationship. Eat of the tree of life but don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That’s pretty direct. Additionally, one will preserve total happiness for you and the other will destroy it. That’s being honest. Of course, today we all live “after the fall” and such honesty is corrupted—even within marriage. That’s where the 10 commandments come into play. In total honesty they tell us what He expects from us and the blessings which will result. Or, in the words of Christ: “Do this and you shall live.”
If you want a blessed marriage you both need to be honest with each other. In marriage there should be no “I” but always “us.” Couples should share literally everything with each other and keep no secrets. That’s the only way to grow together and stay together. Of course, that means you have to tell each other your sins, too; and then ask each other’s forgiveness.—The forgiveness of our Lenten Lord Who suffered and died in our places (paying for our dishonesty) so that we might live forever with Him in Godly joy. So, when the kids are in bed, or the two of you are eating supper around the table, talk about your day—the ups and the downs. Share details. In marriage God gave you two heads and two are always better than one. Or, to paraphrase our lesson: “One is a lonely number.”
The second component part of a good marriage is: respect. Has God earned your respect? Certainly He didn’t need to, after all He’s God and He epitomizes respect. And yet, because we only relate to respect in terms of earning it—due to our sinful condition—God filled the void. He sent His Son to give His life to save ours. Today’s Gospel concerning the temptation of Christ is one such example. The temptations of this life: hunger and daily needs, power, and selfish pride were all overcome by Christ in your place. And through faith He gives you that same power He possesses to send Satan packing.
In marriage respect for each other is of paramount importance. I’m not talking about who earns more money, or who thinks they have more say-so, either. No, respect is about the inner person. What are your values? How do you treat others? Do you willingly or grudgingly reveal those fruits of the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?” Respect is about moral fiber and moral character. Do you see it in each other? Do you try to build it up in each other? That’s how you earn it in a marriage—by evaluating your spouse and trying to build them up from the inside out. And when both of you do that, respect flowers and flourishes.
And that brings us to our final point: the need for self-sacrifice. Marriage, Christian marriage, is about the two becoming one flesh. That’s what Jesus says. Actions speak louder than words. Giving Valentine’s Day cards, jewelry, candy or flowers is all well and good (except for the waist-line!), but giving of your time, your energy, and putting your pride in your pocket—especially when you’re right and they are not yet ready to hear it—well, that’s true self-sacrifice!
Long time married people, we’ll call them “marriage mentors” know that it’s not the big stuff that counts, it’s all the little, incremental things that make or break a marriage. For a couple having difficulties, a dream vacation may buy a few days of semi-happiness, but being kind, considerate, saying “thank-you” a lot, and helping out around the house without being asked banks huge dividends in the marriage savings account. Yes, it’s all about self sacrifice—without complaints, score-keeping, or whining thrown into the mix.
One things you’ll never hear during a Lenten service is Jesus complaining about His work, His calling. Well, every married person here has a Godly calling, too.—To be the best husband or wife possible. So, put honesty, respect, and self-sacrifice into daily usage and then you truly will have and continue to have a God blest marriage! Amen