This last Saturday it was my privilege to share some of these thoughts at the beautiful Frank wedding. Here is the message…there are pieces here for all of us, newly married or celebrating our 25th or still single. Enjoy.
To discuss marriage, we look at one of my favorite chapters of the bible: Philippians 2. It is a great book of the bible to look at for marriage because as Paul wrote it, he was locked in prison. Just kidding.
In all seriousness, the testimony that Paul shares despite the challenges of his present situation are a great starting point as we look at some of God’s truths for today. As we know, things are sometimes hard, and other times will be great. But when we covenant to marry one another, we are asking God to hold us together. We are in this forever. And the beauty of a marriage ceremony is you get to ask God for this blessing in front of your community of friends and family. Because marriage can be difficult, truly we need friends and family in our life to keep us focused on the people we want to be.
At the fishing lodge where I work, you never take the view of a particular beach at a particular time as the whole picture of the topography of that beach’s landscape. That is because the tides change every 6 hours and depending on whether the tide is high or low, things look very, very different. To get a full view of the reality of the beach, you must witness it at both low tide and high tide. And this is like marriage, there are times when it is like high tide. You couldn’t be happier. You couldn’t feel more intimate. Things are abundant and overflowing. But then things may change and you may find yourself in a day, or week, or even season of low tide when challenges are more visible than blessings. Things will get hard. But these times too will fade and dissipate and the tide will rise again. In marriage we say that no matter where the tide is today, we are in this for the long haul and will be together forever.
Paul writes in the 2nd chapter of Philippians that “this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Paul wants his friends in the church of Philippi to measure their love not in fleeting feelings or moments, but REAL KNOWLEDGE and DISCERNMENT. Love isn’t like falling, its more of a commitment. In marriage we ask God to hold us together in this great commitment.
The answer? Paul tells us to “Be one in Spirit and Purpose.” We are to be people of conviction, drawing on the strength of God, to follow through on the things you believe and have it affect your actions. And serve others! Paul writes in verse 3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…for the interest of others.” Paul is realistic here…says don’t look out “just” for yourself but for others. We are selfish creatures that easily default to a position of me, me me. But in marriage you are saying, before God and others, to put your spouse above yourself. And when two people pour 100% of themselves recklessly and ferociously into this kind of self-sacrificial love a beautiful marriage arises.
Why? Because Jesus has done this for you. In verse 6 he writes, “Have the attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus, who existed in the form of God…did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself taking the form of a servant and was made a man.” Jesus is the model and perfector of faith, and I would argue, the model for healthy relationships and a foundation for marriage. Pour yourself out and serve one another and take your strength not from yourself, but from Jesus Christ, the son of God who died on your behalf. He died, so we may live. In marriage, sometimes we are called to sacrifice so that our marriage can flourish. Be about the better interests of one another.
And finally, continue to model your lives after Jesus Christ: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” For this reason God exalted Him and bestowed on Hi the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will blow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.”
I share this with you not because marriage should be likened to crucifixion (ha ha) but only to finish Paul’s complete thought here. We are able to do much as we draw on the strength of Jesus Christ. The name, which Paul writes here, is above every name. Jesus is the source of our strength. When we live our life in obedience to God and taking our strength from Him, we are able to be an incredible blessing to the world. In the same way, when our marriages seek to honor God and be a blessing to His creation here on earth, we have strength that is not our own. The very best people in the world are those that have a higher calling, a deeper passion, something drawing them into the better life. Have a marriage that is about others, about being a blessing to the world, and you’ll find strength today that will bind your hearts together.
So today we celebrate, and we remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and we ask for strength for the journey. May your marriage be one of self-sacrifice, and mutual submission, and honor to God in service of others. May the journey before you be magical as you serve the King. The adventure of a lifetime starts now.