In this lesson you will be introduced to six crucial biblical principles for a strong and healthy marriage.
Good morning! It’s great to see you here today. If this is your first time here we are glad to have you. My name is Jeff and I’m the senior pastor here. Today we begin a new series of messages called Home: Never Stop Improving.
From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day we will be looking at what the Bible says about the home life and family.
How this series applies to everyone in the building? If you are married it will be obvious. God will speak to you about areas in your marriage that are strong and areas that need some attention. But whether you are married, divorced, single, widowed, or a student looking to get married somewhere later in life we all need to know what God’s perspective is on marriage, being a husband, being a wife, being a parent, good communication, and biblical money management. We want you to apply God’s Word to your life, but we also want you to be able to have an intelligent and Biblical conversation about family matters. The traditional and Biblical family is being attacked and eroded in our country. As Christians we need to have a solid foundation of what God has to say about the home and family.
God wants your marriage to be one that is under the guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ, where each member is committed to each other, listens to each other, respects each other, enjoys each other and shares life together.
Before we get to deep into this let me give you four statements about working on your marriage:
- Most married couples want to make their marriages work.
- All couples have to work on their marriage.
- Many marriages don’t work, because they are not worked on.
- Most couples don’t know how to work on their marriage.
One of the common words in all four statements is the word work. Healthy marriages and healthy families don’t just happen, they take work, effort and time. Couples don’t drift together, they drift apart. As a couple you will need to go against the drift, against the current that slowly pulls you a part.
God has a lot to say about marriages and families. God created marriage. It’s a good idea. God wants your marriage to be successful. The devil is doing everything he can to destroy and weaken your marriage, but God has a plan to keep your marriage strong and to protect it. That plan is in His Word.
As we go through these five principles of improving your marriage, listen carefully to which one God is speaking to you about today. Which one does he want you to work on this week?
Christ: He must be the Lord over your marriage
The first principle deals with Christ. He must be the Lord over your marriage. He must be the Leader of your home.
- Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…” (HCSB). The example the husband is to follow in loving his wife is Jesus Christ.
- Then in Ephesians 5:22 the Bible says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (HCSB). The example of how a wife is to relate to her husband is based on her relationship with the Lord.
The implied point is the husband and the wife have a relationship with the Lord. They know Jesus. They love Jesus. They have become followers of Jesus. They both understand the level of love Jesus demonstrated for the church and the husband’s example and standard of love he demonstrates toward his wife is Christ’s love for the church.
If you want to have a marriage that God blesses it starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It starts with submitting your life to Jesus Christ. How do you do that? You admit that you have sinned against God. You have disobeyed Him. You are not perfect and you cannot save yourself. You cannot fix yourself. You ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and to help you turn your life over to Him. You accept His Lordship and Leadership over your life. When that happens He gives you His Spirit on the inside of you to help you be the person He created you to be and as a result you become more like the spouse God wants you to be. Before He can control your marriage, He must control you.
After each point on your outline I have given you some homework. Sometime this week take those questions and discuss them with your spouse. Write down your ideas and begin experimenting with them and see what God does. If your spouse is not interested in doing this, then write down what you can do personally with each question to improve your marriage.
Commitment: You must dedicate yourself to your spouse
The second key principle deals with commitment. You must dedicate yourself to your spouse. We are told in Malachi 2:16, “Make sure you do not break your promise to be faithful to your mate” (GN). Many do not understand the meaning of commitment. Let me give you a simple definition: “Commitment means being willing to be unhappy for a while until you can work things out.” Every marriage will have difficult days. Days of disagreement. Days of misunderstanding. Days of miscommunication. Days of selfishness. It is during those days you need commitment. There are going to be times where you can’t stand the sight or sound of your spouse, but it doesn’t mean you stop being committed to them.
Healthy marriages do not just happen. They must be worked on. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes dedication. It doesn’t take a lot of commitment to build a shack, but it does to build a mansion. What kind of marriage do you want? A shacky marriage or a mansion marriage. Be committed to your spouse and be committed to your marriage.
Communication: You must talk with your spouse
A third principle to consider is communication. You must talk with your spouse. Proverbs 13:17 says, “Reliable communication permits progress” (LB). Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (NIV 84). What you say to your spouse and how you say it has the power to damage your marriage or build your marriage. The way you talk or don’t talk to your spouse can create energy in your marriage or take away energy.
You need to become a good communicator with your spouse. Get rid of negative and sarcastic statements. Speak with compassion, humility, gentleness and encouragement. Let what you say and how you say it bring life into your family and not death. Your words can bring energy into the home or take it away. Give it energy.
Consideration: You must treat your spouse with respect
A fourth truth that will strengthen your marriage deals with consideration. You must treat your spouse with respect. Look at 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…” (NIV 84). Then in Ephesians 5:33 wives are told, “The wife must respect her husband” (NIV 84). How can you be considerate and respectful toward your spouse? Respect means to place a high value on them. To give someone respect means you have decided to treat them as someone important in your life. This does not mean they deserve the respect, it simply means you have decided to give them respect. How can you respect or demonstrate that you have placed a high value on your spouse?
- Be thoughtful: Think from your spouse’s perspective. Think about how your actions, reactions, what you say and don’t say affects them. Think of ways to bless and encourage them.
- Be compassionate: Care about what they care about. Rejoice when they rejoice. Grieve when they grieve. Care about their life, their day, their feelings, and their ideas.
- Be gentle: Be tender in how you speak to them. Don’t physically or verbally abuse them. Be soft toward them.
Always be considerate to your spouse. When we lose consideration for each other we become foolish. James 3:17 tells us that consideration is a mark of wisdom. When I’m inconsiderate toward my wife, then I’m acting like a foolish husband. When I’m being considerate then I’m a wise husband.
Compromise: You must learn to share your life
A fifth principle to consider is compromise. You must learn to share your life. Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. Marriage means you will share the house, the bathroom, the closet, the food, the money, the vacation, the car, the dreams, the hopes, the goals, and everything else in life. Marriage is about two people coming together and sharing life together. For that to work successfully, both have to give and take. They both have to compromise.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:5 real “love does not demand its own way” (NLT). Too many people at the wedding, while they are saying “I do” they are really thinking “I’ll redo.” I’ll make him or her into who I want them to be.
If you ever want to have a successful marriage, then you must learn the art of negotiating, listening, sharing and compromising. If you are always demanding your own way then you are not expressing love. Love does not demand, it may ask, but it want demand. Learn to share your life.
Courtship: You must learn to date your mate
Finally, the sixth key principle deals with courtship. You must learn to date your mate. You must learn to enjoy your spouse. Proverbs 5:19 says, “Let (your mate’s) affection fill you at all times with delight…” (RSV). Then in Ecclesiastes 9:9 we are told, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love…” (NIV 84).
We need to learn to court our mate. If there was more courting in marriage there would be fewer marriages in court. Good marriages still know how to enjoy each other’s company. They find things to do together to build memories and to have fun.
I realize today that every marriage represented here today is completely different. Some of you have a strong and vibrant marriage, while others are barely hanging on. The rest of the marriages are somewhere in between. But God has a plan. He created marriage. It was His idea. He knows how it supposed to work. He knows what’s wrong with your marriage and He knows what’s right about it. He also knows what it will take to make your marriage what it ought to be.
But you have to make a decision today. Somebody has to take the first step or maybe the first several steps. You can improve your marriage today by allowing God to improve you. Make a decision today to follow Christ more closely, to dedicate yourself to serving your spouse, to talking too and listen to your spouse’s heart, to consider ways to treat them with respect in order to help them feel valuable, to learn how to compromise and not always have to have your own way and to get creative about dating your mate and enjoying them.
All these ideas are not going to happen overnight. God knows which one you need to focus on. Seek His will and let Him show you and guide you to the one you and your marriage needs the most.
 The Amplified version of James 3:17 states, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is whole hearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned – free from doubts, wavering and insincerity.”