Sunday, July 30, 2006

Walk in Love

Heard an awesome sermon this morning from Bro. Steve Gallimore. His scripture was Ephesians 5:2.

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Bro. Steve's message was on marriage, and he stepped on my toes the entire service. He began his sermon with statistics from the book, HIS NEEDS HER NEEDS, by Willard Harley, Jr. It was interesting to note that according to Harley, a man's first need is sex. A woman's first need is affection, and how this different hierarchy in needs causes miscommunication and problems in marriages. He also used the story of the Israelites making the golden calf in the wilderness after Moses went up on the Mount to receive the ten commandments.

Exodus 32:23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
32:24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
32:25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

Isn't it interesting to note that Aaron, when confronted said, " I just threw the gold in the fire, and out came this calf," trying to deny responsibility for his actions. How ridiculous he sounds.

In case you're wondering how this story relates to marriage, let me enlighten you on how it was tied in. The thrust of the message was that the Israelites did not believe that Moses was coming back down from the mountain. The longer he delayed, the more heathenistic they became. They began to make their own gods and their own laws, and they began to "play." Bro. Steve asked us to pretend for a moment that a) Jesus was not coming back, b) That God's word was not true, and c) That God did not exist. This is the way the people of Israel were acting . This is the way the world today is acting -- as if Jesus is not coming back, that the Bible is not true, and that God does not exist. And in our marriages today, a lot of us are living as if we do not truly believe those three things. We get our eyes off God, and we start justifying our way of life.

He began speaking of divorce and why Jesus addressed it in the New Testament. He said, "You may not be married; you may be thinking of being married. You may be engaged; you may be married for years. Some of you have been married many years. Some of you have been married one time, and then things didn't work out, and you got married again. And again. And then again, (counting on his fingers), and then yet again, and let me tell you. You people need help. You need help with how to do this thing called marriage." I had to admire his honesty. He laid it out on the dotted line, even at the risk of alienating his audience.

He talked of opening the lines of communication with our spouses and putting each other first and making our marriages a priority. He talked of getting our relationships with Christ in line and our marriages falling in place. And he ended with the admission that he'd been guilty of not intervening in marriages that had been falling apart, of sitting idly by while they crumbled for fear of offending families. He was humbly repentant, and I admired him when he said he and his associate pastor had made a promise to start visiting these troubled couples in the church, to try to help them save their marriages -- yes, even at the risk of being told to stay out of their business. Yes, even at the risk of losing their friendship. It's called tough love. Sometimes things need to be said. I know I needed to hear what was on his heart today.

God hates divorce. That is plain in the scriptures. He allowed it because of the "hardness of your hearts." He permitted divorce in cases of adultery and abandonment. But Bro. Steve was quick to point out that the majority of divorces are not because of infidelity -- but rather, surprise, surprise, unforgiveness. We can't forgive our spouses. Jesus can forgive our sins, but we can't forgive our spouses' sins. I'm not saying that a person would not have grounds if their spouse was unfaithful. I'm saying we don't always address the deeper issue...us being able to forgive the trespass. Even if the marriage ends in divorce, many people won't let it end there and forgive. They hold onto it forever. We, in America, are quick to look at our marriages as disposable. If it doesn't work out, just throw it away and start over. And that's not what God intended.

I'm far from an expert on this thing called marriage. My husband and I just passed the 10-year mark. We've had a lot of troubled water in our years together, a lot of tragedy and a lot of financial hardship and a lot of just plain old arguments resulting from selfishness and stubborness. I will even admit to you that I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and surrender. Or walk away from it all, even run. I can admit that to you, because it's no secret. I've said those words to my husband. Yet there's something underlying that keeps us together, keeps us trying, keeps us working on this thing called marriage. I believe it is God's spirit working in us to make us what He wants us to become. I believe it is God's stubborn refusal to allow us to destroy this union that has kept us this far. Every time I get consumed with the crazy idea that maybe I'd be better off out of the marriage, God brings something to my heart like this message that tells me, "I put you here. Now you learn what I want you to learn. Do what you know you're supposed to do. Walk in love, Cindy. Walk in love."

Like I've mentioned before, I need to stop trying to be the Holy Spirit and my husband's conscience. I need to work on Cindy, and get out of the way and let God work on Bub. And that's about as transparent as I get folks.

Til next time...Walk in love. http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=8607

7 comments:

Morning Glory said...

Cindy, that's good stuff! I so completely agree with you and wish more couples had a spirit of forgiveness toward each other. If couples realized that every single day a good marriage is hard work and effort and commitment, and that it doesn't happen by osmosis, we'd have more successful marriages.

I like the phrase "Walk in love". That's really beautiful.

joan said...

Cindy, I'm new to this group. I was so touched by your message today. I wish every young person I know would read it. I think with a forgiving heart comes my favorite advice to young married couples, Don't keep score. Too many marriages fail to survive because they are too busy keeping score of how much more one does over the other. Thanks for sharing with us. JOan from www.joansjourney.com

Delia said...

This is something that more married folk need to realize and try to work on within their own marriages. I know that it's something I have struggled with myself from time to time.

Thanks for sharing this, Cindy.

MugwumpMom said...

Terrific post Cindy. I know from whence you speak!! For years I struggled with wanting to justify ending my own marriage, and God showed me some very hurtful things in me, about me, in His usual gracefilled way and when I surrendered my will to His, things began to change. I tell about it in a post on my blog called The Tale of He and Me...not sure if you've read it or not, but it's in July archives if you're interested. It was quite the eyeopening experience and time for me, and I'm so thankful that I listened and obeyed, and my husband persevered!!

Sounds like you have a wise and gentle pastor.

Rena

Karla said...

Great comment! So true!!
Our sermon Sunday was about Hosea and his unconditional love for Gomer, ie God's for us.
Another great book to read is Love & Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs.
Thanks for posting this!

Lisa said...

Hi Cindy,

You are on the right path, my blogger friend. Nice message. It warms my heart when others "get it." Marriage isn't easy; nothing worthwhile is. When I get cocky and set in my ways, God usually finds a way to teach me, show me the way. (when I'm paying attention ;)

My hubbie and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary in February. And like I said, it isn't easy. Is there a mark of time when it gets a ton easier? I don't think so. It's all about our perspective, how bad do you want it? Just like everything else. It's a commitment.

Unfortunately many people base their marriage's success based on money and so-called "feelings." If it "feels" right, fine...if it doesn't (if there are problems), then that's it. Time to fly. That's just not the way it is. Once you figure that out, well...it does get a little easier, I think. I'll post this and then get in a fight w/my hubbie-ha ha. You know what I mean.

Anyway, great post! Keep the faith, girlfriend...you know what you're talking about!

tam said...

Now that's the good stuff...and a much needed reminder...thank you