The month of June traditionally brings celebrations for Father’s Day, Graduation and Marriage. Of these three, only marriage is an institution created by God. It has always amazed me, as I read the account of Adam in the first chapter of Genesis, that he had everything: trees filled with fruit, gold, precious stone, fresh water, even the whole world. Adam could walk in the garden with God all day and talk about the wonder of His creation. Yet God said in Genesis 1:18, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
We not only need a strong relationship with God, but we also need a strong relationship with other people. God describes this as a relationship that is needed to make us whole.
Personally, it took me awhile to understand that my wife is a gift from God, made especially for me, and I for her. Each time I wrap my loving arms around her, I can unwrap and reveal the wonderful gift He gave to complete me. Each day I choose to remember this truth brings a new and exciting day where I can serve her and bring joy into her life.
Our adversary, the Devil, wants to destroy God’s precious gift of marriage. He knows that if he can break up a marriage, he is destroying what God has created, as well as adversely affecting all those in the household. This cascading effect flows out of broken homes into schools, the workplace, places of worship and the government. For Christians whose homes are destroyed, the damage affects how people see God through His broken children.
Here are some things to understand about marital relationships:
The relationship is not about the individual, it’s about “us”. When God makes a marriage, He makes two into one. Jesus emphasized this in Matthew 19:6 when He said "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." What happens to one, affects the other. If one chooses to hurt the other, he/she is only hurting himself/herself. A marriage relationship is not a 50/50 performance based partnership. This becomes a stumbling block for many, especially when one person in the relationship does not meet the other’s expectations. A marriage becomes strong, when both parties give and serve. Marriage is about love without conditions.
The Devil will continue to try to drive a wedge between the married couple for the rest of their lives. The wedge can be a conflict that is something serious or something trivial. The wedge, no matter how small, can affect the relationship in a substantial way, but only if the couple allows it. Conflicts in marriage do not have to cause disastrous problems. These conflicts can actually make a marriage stronger. When the wedge presents itself, the couple should step aside and let the wedge push the two closer to God.
Marriage works best when the couple has a goal that is shared and they choose to work together toward that goal. There is an image that is painted in 2 Corinthians 6:14 of a yoke used by a pair of farm animals. A wise farmer would never put a donkey and an ox side by side to pull his plow. He would never get a straight line out of them. I’ve seen many believers marry unbelievers, who are clueless as to why they continue to have conflict.
When raising children, the marriage is more important than parenting. Raising children is an important responsibility of a marriage, but it should not be the focus of the relationship. The children are a wonderful and exciting part of the relationship, but the focus should always be the man and the wife. I’ve seen many marriages become dominated by the children, to the point where the children become a wedge. There is an old child’s tune that goes “<boy> plus <girl>, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes <boy/girl> with the baby carriage.” There is a profound moral order here that is getting messed up. It’s what I call “ready, fire, aim.” Marriage should come before children, not as a result. If we get the order right, children become a blessing to the marriage, not a mistake.
Jesus put an exclamation point on the importance of marriage, when he revealed His miracle working power at the wedding in Cana. No matter where you are pre-married, married, un-married, divorced - Jesus can be the miracle you need in your life. He can turn a bitter or tasteless relationship into a sweet and joyful one.
Seek Jesus’ words. Seek His heart. Seek His forgiveness. Receive His miracle of a new life and marriage.
Pastor Jay Merritt
I remember my three boys when they were little, getting into disagreements with friends and vowing to never play with them again. Of course, about a week later, they were enjoying each other’s company as if nothing had ever happened. What changes in adulthood to make us so inflexible?
I once met a young man who believed that if he gathering all the hurts and anger inside, the memories would make him stronger. From personal experience, holding on to bitterness only makes a person hard and bitter. If left to fester, the darkness inside will consume the warm and loving personality that once flourished.
There is a cure: forgiveness.
In the Bible, Jesus teaches a model prayer that includes the phrase “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” - Matthew 6:12
Whether you learned this as debts or trespasses, forgiving is difficult.
- Forgiving money that is owed.
- Forgiving some words that were spoken or unspoken.
- Forgiving physical pain.
- Forgiving horrific personal violation.
Don’t misunderstand this important fact: Forgiveness is NOT the same as forgetting. Forgiving is also NOT the same as allowing yourself to be walked on and hurt over and over again. Forgiving IS the beginning of healing.
I have heard many examples of parents making the difficult decision to forgive someone who took the life of their child. One example that stands out is that of Sam Riddall, who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver as he walked home from church.
Sam’s father, Mark Riddall, spoke outside courthouse after the accused was sentenced, “In four days we will celebrate Christmas for the first time without Sam,” he said. “It is going to be very hard for us indeed because we still miss him very much.”
“At Christmas we remember God sending Jesus into the world to bring peace,” he added. “It is this same God that is giving us the strength and helping us to forgive Hannah for the terrible thing she’s done to us by killing our son.
“It’s not easy, it’s not going to be easy, but with God’s help we know that it is possible.” - The Christian Post, Tue, Dec. 22 2009
For Godly people, forgiving is important. Why? Forgiveness is important to God. Many people have never read the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. In Matthew 6, the prayer concludes in verse 13, but Jesus continues in verse 14, saying “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus also teaches in Luke 17: 3-4 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him."
In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus went beyond this: Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Jesus continues in Matthew 18:23-35 with a parable about a man who begged the king to forgive a huge debt. The king had compassion on him and the man’s debt was forgiven. The man immediately went out and demanded payment from his debtors. The king found out about his lack of compassion and demanded he be thrown into prison until his original debt was paid.
Jesus concludes the parable with these condemning words, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Let me remind you of another son who was killed by a bunch of bullies. They gathered up a bunch of their friends and even their enemies and teamed up against him. They beat him up and tortured him. They paraded him through the streets, broken and bleeding. They finally ended up hanging him until he died, on hill just outside of town.
Just before his death on that hill far away, God’s only begotten son said “Father, forgive them…”
Jesus died for our trespasses and our un-payable debt of sin. It is by His example that we are to forgive one another.
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.