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A Blessed Marriage: Selflessness

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If you have a strong marriage, these messages can only make it only stronger. If you have a struggling marriage this could become a blessing. If those who hear this marriage have a marriage that is dead upon arrival, Jesus has the ability to raise the dead. For those who are single, this could save them a lot of money and time.  We are going to talk about three things, selflessness, forgiveness and communication, in that order.

These three things are essential to a blessed marriage and the foundation for one. But I must preface that by saying that of course the first things must be that Jesus is your savior and Lord of your life. If Jesus is not the cornerstone of your marriage then these messages will be like gibberish and therefore the first prerequisite is receiving the Lord Jesus so that He can be the foundation of your marriage.

This is for those who already know Jesus and know Him as the center of their marriage. Now to start with I said that these three things will lead to a blessed marriage, not a perfect marriage because in reality there is no such thing as a perfect marriage because there are no perfect people. Many times people will say, this, referring to someone else, is the perfect marriage or this marriage is made in heaven. Yes, and so is thunder and lightening. But a blessed marriage has to have these three ingredients and they must exist all the time. It’s like a three legged stool which is sturdy and strong and will hold your weight until one of the legs is removed or broken. Then it can’t hole up anything or anybody. All three are necessary. If you are lacking one or one is removed, that marriage is in trouble.

First of all, marriage is not man’s idea but God’s idea. Now man today would like us to believe and try to make us think that marriage is man’s idea so that they can undermine marriage because once they can convince people that it is only man’s idea and doing, then what makes it better than any other idea or arrangement they want to call a family or marriage, be it two men, two women, or whatever. That is why we have a society, culture and system today in America and the world that is trying to trivialize the institution of marriage. Yet they don’t consider that it is only because past generations lived by God’s idea of marriage, of one man and one woman, that there are people and families today and the world is populated. The only thing gay marriage is good for and I say that tongue in cheek, is stopping the population growth because two of the same sex can’t reproduce. Again, there are powerful forces in the world today trying to destroy the institution of marriage. But it is God’s idea and God’s plan for man and therefore perfect and the only perfect solution for mankind.

God’s plan from the very beginning is meant to be one man and one woman for life. That was God’s perfect plan. It was God who performed the very first marriage ceremony in the Garden of Eden. And it was a perfect marriage and in fact it was the only perfect marriage in human history. You can’t think of a more perfect marriage than that of Adam and Eve. There are none. There was no one to compare them to. Adam couldn’t compare Eve’s cooking with his mother. Eve couldn’t compare Adam with other guys she once dated or someone else she thought was more handsome, or stronger or whatever. She could never sneak up to Adam and say, “Adam, do you really love me.” Who else was there for him to love? She was God’s gift to him as a partner in life and she came from one of his own ribs, so she was a part of him and he a part of her and they were one in a way that no couple ever has been. Also, in the beginning of their marriage they had no shame and no knowledge of wrong and sin and you talk about the marriage with an undefiled bed. There was no way for them to defile their marriage bed, no way to commit adultery, immorality, lust after another and no sexual temptations or anything to try and steal their love from one another.

Yet there were more important reasons as to why the first couple enjoyed a perfect loving relationship; the kind of relationship that God intended for every husband and wife to have. Their nakedness is more than just physical. They had a completely transparent relationship between one another and also between themselves and God. They were also completely innocent of evil, not knowing any evil thoughts or evil things or evil attitudes or motives or desires, so unlike our children who have to be taught what is right and wrong, what they can and can’t do to get along in an orderly and good society they didn’t know how to do anything wrong or evil, they were pure and righteous and holy as no other man has ever been except Jesus, that is until they fell into sin by disobedience and took upon themselves the nature of sin.

Their marriage and lives began with perfection, but when selfishness came into the picture and selfishness entered into their lives everything fell apart. That is why the first part of this three legged foundation for marriage is selflessness.

You see, Satan not only did this in the Garden of Eden but He does it in everyone of us today. He came and brought self-centeredness. He said, “Eve, do you really want to have everything. I mean do you want to have self-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-indulgence, do you want to have self-interest. I can give it all to you. All you have to do is just think of yourself and not what God said.” That is what it was all about. “In fact,” Satan said, “more than that, you can even be like God.” Eve, you are going to be a goddess! And what woman today doesn’t want to be treated like a goddess and think of themselves that way? The net is full of goddess sites and women who claim to be goddesses. So Eve fell for this story, hook, line and sinker as we would say and was snared in Satan’s trap. And not only that, but she sold this bill of goods to Adam!

And the two of them passed that infection to every one of us, to every human being that has ever lived on the face of the earth. We have all inherited that infection, called a sin nature. Not only that, but in the Garden of Eden we witnessed the first marital argument. It was a fight induced by selfishness. Selfishness never leads to peace or to tranquility. But I can tell you on the authority of God’s Word that selflessness will never lead to an argument, disagreement or fight and will never lead to marital disharmony. Self and pride come into every argument/disagreement.

So when God confronted Adam and Eve, what happened? Did Adam stand tall and take it like a man and say, “Lord, your right. I blew it. You told me and told me to tell Eve, but I blew it. I should have been careful and I’m sorry, forgive me.” No, he didn’t. Instead, Adam blamed God. Now we look at it on the surface and most everyone I have ever heard preach on this said that Adam blamed Eve, but Adam in essence was saying, “God, this is really not my fault, this is your fault. You know with all your good intentions of wanting me to have a helpmate, look what you gave me and look what she did. It was an indirect way of blaming God because it was God’s idea for Adam to have a mate for there was none other found suitable for him.” The only thing suitable for man, Adam, was a woman, not another man.  

So God turns to Eve and asks her, “What did you do?” Eve then replies in essence, “Well God, Adam’s right, it’s your fault. I agree with him. You are the one who placed us in this environment. You also placed the serpent in this environment, to temp me, so it’s really your fault.”

You know, every husband and wife are doing the same thing unto this day. The wife who over shops and can’t stop spending money is saying, “Don’t blame me. I didn’t make all these shopping malls.” And the man says, “It’s not my fault that I watch sports every evening and all weekend. I’m not the one who created all these ESPN channels.” You can fill in there whatever it is that applies to you for these are only examples. And so the war of blame continues. Today everyone who has a problem, drugs, alcohol or whatever, those who become lawbreakers, from thieves to murderers try to blame society, their parents, anyone and anything else except take the blame and responsibility for their own actions.  

Well, God intended for marriage to be a beautiful relationship and to be a great fulfillment for men and women. In marriage, God intended for their perfect union and their mutual affection and their mutual edification, satisfaction and fulfillment and for marriage between to people who love God and each other to bring glory of God.

But selfishness makes such marriages collapse and in the place of what God intended there is an exchange of accusations and incriminations because of selfishness. That is why selfishness is really the first part of this three legged foundation. When this one is taken care of, then the other two will become easier. That is why there is no room in marriage for selfishness. Instead every marriage should be dominated by selflessness. Selflessness needs to be the cornerstone of marriage.

No wonder the Apostle Paul gave us Philippians 2:3. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” This verse aught to be hanging in every home and we should constantly remind ourselves of this directive of the Apostle Paul for if everyone in every marriage followed these directions then we would have heaven on earth. Also, men are to remember that women are the weaker sex and therefore given them extra honor.  1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Macho men, whom some would label as male chauvinistic pigs, just don’t get or understand this principle and so do not honor their wives as God commanded. They think they should be king, but don’t want to honor their wives as queen, but make them some form of inferior being. That is not God’s view of women. They are NOT inferior to men or less in any way than man, just different and given a different role in life.

That is why today I want to tell you about three components of selflessness. They all begin with the letter “M” for maturity, magnanimity, and malleability. Yeah that took some work to come up with that arrangement.

Maturity: I know how every marriage begins with the starry eyed bride and groom thinking that their mate is going to give them everything that they have longed for. Oh, he thinks that he just got the most perfect babe, cook, helper, mother for his children and more. I did when I was 19 and got married. And she thinks she just married prince charming who will be the end all of all her needs and just make her feel and live like a queen. What do I mean by maturity?

Maturity says how can I fulfill my spouse’s desires. Immaturity says how can I get my spouse to fulfill my desires? Maturity says how can I sacrifice time and comfort for my spouses comfort? Immaturity says how can I get my spouse to sacrifice time and comfort for my comfort? Maturity says how can I be more patient with my spouse in spite of his or her flaws? How can I respond gently to what irritates me? How can I be transparent and vulnerable? While immaturity says, how can I receive all I can get and how short can I keep the conversation to how can I remain inside my cocoon of my own making to protect myself and for my own preservation? Maturity is a very necessary ingredient to selflessness and selflessness is a pillar of a blessed marriage.

Magnanimity: By definition, it is being “generous in forgiving; eschewing resentment or revenge; unselfish.” Magnanimity is a necessary ingredient to selflessness. What do I mean by magnanimity? It’s like the lady who said about her husband, “If I knew how insensitive and unfeeling he was, I never would have married him.” A man said, “The moment that my wife said, “I do” she meant that she was going to let me have it every time I made a mistake.” That is insensitivity. Magnanimity is the opposite of insensitivity. Let’s look at what the Bible says about this word that is not there in the scripture but the meaning is there.

Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” If you look at the sentence you see two words that contrast with each other. There is the unwise or foolishness and understanding and understanding depends on magnanimity. Magnanimity means seeking to understand my spouses thoughts and feelings and needs. Magnanimity means to study the person so well that no wonder the Apostle Peter said “live with your wife according to knowledge”, in 1 Peter 3:7. Study is not easy. It is hard work but it can be fulfilling, especially as you see the progress you make from one stage to the next. Study of your wives needs and feelings are not easy, especially when they conflict with my needs. But the alternative to understanding is foolishness and who wants that.

Malleability: By dictionary definition it is a noun meaning the property of being physically malleable; the property of something that can be worked or hammered or shaped under pressure without breaking [syn: plasticity] mal·le·a·ble  is the adjective form meaning easily controlled or influenced; tractable, Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable: the malleable mind of the pragmatist.

In Ephesians 5:24-25 Paul wrote, Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” When Paul writes to the Ephesians and Colossians and tells the wives to submit to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives, the enemies of the bible, of the Word of God in our society who have already rejected the Word of God will say, “See, see, right there in your Bible. It means for the wives to be a doormat and for the man to be kings of the castle.” And today in some Christian churches when the women hear these words, smoke starts coming out of their ears. Yet that concept could not be further from the truth. Christians blindly bought into this lie that women are supposed to be doormats and men are supposed to be kings of the castle and that is not a godly marriage. That is not what God intended.

Let me prove it to you. What is easier, to die for someone or to cook a meal for someone? Yet the Apostle Paul said to the husbands, that they are to love their wives so much that they are willing to die for her.

You see, it’s a lot easier to submit without loving than to love without submitting. Did you get that? That is why the lie of the devil is perpetuated and so many have bought into it. The last time I checked, to be willing to lay down your life and die is not a walk in the park. Let me tell you something else that the Apostle Paul means here. It is not taking a knife or bullet and physically dying. But I believe that he means dying daily, as to self for the Lord that you can do His will and not your own, to please the Lord and not yourself. Likewise, to be willing to lay down your life for your wife is to die to self and selfishness and selfish desires to be able to do that which will honor and bless your wife, meet her needs and support her emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The very core of the Christian faith is love beginning with God’s love in sending Christ to die for our sins. Therefore Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:13-14). Romans 5:8  says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Then he tells all who would follow Him, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). 1 Peter 1:22see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:” But then more directly, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” That is the proof of love. So you see that those who say I love God and do not obey Him are not telling the truth. That is why Jesus said what He did to some in Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” To say we love God is to obey Him. God sees the two as synonymous, as one and the same. The one who is rebelling against God doesn’t love God. The one who is rebellious will not submit to an authority he/she despises, whether man or the Word of God. Only those who truly love God will submit their lives to Him and the authority of His Word. Likewise, if we love our mate, we will submit to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21). That precedes the rest of the section that continues in verse 22. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” That is God’s definition or example of verse 21.

It has to all be see as a whole and neither part divorced from the other. You can’t only apply one part of that, as to the man and ignore what is said to the woman or take the part said to the woman and ignore what God said to the man. Either one is like a train with one track and no train will stay on a single track. Likewise marriage requires both parts to be in balance and successful. It can’t be only one part, that the woman submit or the man love his wife, but both are required. We both have a part that has been given to us by God that when in balance will always produce a fruitful and blessed marriage.

The truth is, the Bible teaches men and women are to submit to one another, but the man does a lot more than the woman. 1 Peter 5:5 says, Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

In Ephesians 5, Paul is not giving his opinion or his idea here, but merely expounding what the Lord said in the Old Testament. So when people attack the Bible and Christians and Christians so sheepishly look embarrassed, remember that this is another way for Satan to wreck havoc in a Christian marriage just like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Just like he did in the Garden, he just put a nice dress on it and made it look real modern and up to date.

The bottom line of malleability means that both husbands and wives, some more or to a lesser degree, submit to one another for Jesus sake. Malleability means that each sacrifices for the other. Stubbornness is the opposite of malleability. And stubbornness is a characteristic of sin. Now that does not mean that you will never disagree about anything. As long as two people live together there will be some level of disagreement.  It doesn’t mean that on occasion you won’t have a disagreement, but it means that because of maturity and magnanimity and malleability your going to have selflessness in the marriage and when there is the cornerstone of selflessness there will be a blessed marriage. Those who are looking for problems will find them. Those who want someone to blame as the Apostle Paul or the Bible, will find it. But they will find out that if they will apply and use their intellect and reason and carefully consider the words of the Apostle Paul to understand what he means by love and submission, they will find that the love is a far, far greater responsibility than the submission. I can submit to a boss without loving him. I can submit to authority without loving that authority. But you cannot love someone without submitting. Therefore it multiplies and the love requirement is far greater than the submission requirement, but that is a message that many don’t want to hear and the world is turning it upside down because they are looking for someone or something to blame.

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