Title: SO YOU THINK TWO BECOMING ONE IS EASY?
Text: Colossians 3:12-15
When Dennis asked me to come speak, God led my heart to speak on marriage. That seems to be a timely message in any church, for at any given time, there’s bound to be someone that needs a word from the Lord for their marriage. Whose marriage hasn’t gone through a rough time? How soon after the wedding ceremony did you have your first tug-of-war? About the 3rd day of the honeymoon? The sudden change that comes after the honeymoon can be one of life’s most sobering moments (slap on the face). I remember feeling like I was on another planet and I wanted to go home! I missed being able to do what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it.
Has your spouse changed since you said your vows? Chances are before the ceremony you were looking at them with rose-colored glasses…and soon thereafter they stepped on them. Well guess what…you’re not the same person you were either! The eye-opener is finding out they have flaws that weren’t previously apparent…they handle things less efficiently than you do…and they aren’t open to your suggestions of how to do them in a superior manner. You’re shocked at the range of emotions…all the way from a hot temper to a frigid cold! The passionate eyes changed overnight and you wake up the next morning to a steely glare. You find out your spouse has expectations that you never guessed were there. You assume their expectations would match yours…but they don’t!
So what happens? Well, if you’re looking to our society or some of the prominent movie stars for what to do next…before the honeymoon Love Boat docks at the home port, you ditch the ship on a rubber dingy!
People, Ken and Barbie don’t really exist…remember?…they’re plastic dolls!! Real life may be like playing with dolls…where someone else wants to control what clothes you wear and how to fix your hair…but when the day is over, you can’t shut your spouse in the doll house and go do what you want. Hollywood has glamour…and they have the weddings all you ladies dream about…but those Hollywood marriages don’t last…do they?! The Perfect Officer Bachelor turns into a drill sergeant and he isn’t a gentleman!
I figure the degree of difficulty of changing someone to your liking ranks somewhere between rerouting a hurricane and finding a parking space in downtown San Francisco!
Since Planet Hollywood doesn’t work…let me bring you back to Planet Earth…better yet, let’s invite our Creator to bring a marriage made in Heaven into our relationships…one that lasts ‘till death do us part.
There isn’t a one of us who walked down the isle that thought on that day it would end up in a divorce court. The truth is…no relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee. The blending of two personalities into one is not instantaneous…it’s a process.
Now lest you think from the previous joking that Gloria and I have a bad marriage, I need to say that my love and commitment to her are stronger today than they were 35 years ago when we said our vows. It wasn’t very far into our early marriage, when things were tough, that we decided to never use the “D Wordt”…the threat of Divorce. We threw that word out of our vocabulary; we are in it for the long haul. When you marry for the glory of God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to reveal His witness to those around us, divorce makes no sense. But after 35 years together, our marriage is starting to resemble senility…I wake up each morning and I can’t remember who this girl next to me is…so each day is a new adventure!!
If you’re among those whose marriage is struggling (and believe me, all marriages do from time-to-time), you have some choices to make.
If I gave you 10 things to improve your marriage, you won’t remember any of it. So let me give you ONE passage. Read Text. I see from that passage 3 changes that we need to make to make our marriages last.
I. CHANGE YOUR WARDROBE.
A. I must confess to you, sometimes I’m a bit slow in learning things. About 20 years into my marriage I realized that I couldn’t change my wife…I could only change me.
B. I started realizing that it was mail fraud to read passages in the Bible that are only meant for her (wives submit to your husbands)…and that I needed to take to heart the mail that was intended for me (husbands love your wives). It’s amazing how things smoothed out after that! (Gloria, did I ever...?)
C. It’s amazing the freedom I felt from that transition. No longer was I frustrated because my efforts to change her were futile. Instead I had complete control over how I chose to change ME to match what Jesus designed my role to be.
D. That means I wake up every morning with a deliberate choice to change my wardrobe. By the way…the clothes in this wardrobe also look fantastic on you ladies, as well as us guys. Col. 3:12
E. “Put on a heart of compassion.” In the original Greek it says to put on a spleen of mercy. (Spleen – center of emotions) The KJV says bowels of mercy. Mercy – setting free those that don’t deserve it!
F. That new set of duds looks much better on you than the old rags of exchanging one nasty comment for another…striking back when they poke a jab at you. Like this one couple I heard about. Couple celebrating 50th anniv – husband gave a toast to wife, “After 50 yrs I’ve found you tried & true.” – Huh? (cupped hand on her ears) – he repeated it – she said, “Will, let me tell YOU something! After 50 years I’m tired of you, too!”
G. “Put on kindness.” In the Greek it means excellence of demeanor. Now that’s combining an officer and a gentleman!! I like the looks of the Marine dress blues…but these dress duds of kindness looks good on ANY occasion!
H. “Put on humility.” The Greek means lowliness of mind. That means you take off the 5 star general attitude and put on the stripe of a private first class. This is the intentional choice to serve one another.
I. “Put on gentleness.” She’s a blossoming rose in my hands…I’m going to help her blossom into her full potential…nurturing her through the tough times.
J. “Put on patience.” The Greek means to suffer long. Now I know what some of you men are thinking right now; that you’ve suffered long enough! But this trait reveals the real iron you’re made of…whether you have the character to keep on being patient even in her bad moods!
K. You know what? If all of us put on this wardrobe, I’ll bet every one of us will have a hot date tonight!
II. CHANGE YOUR WAY OF REACTING. Col. 3:13
A. Sometimes our instant reaction to things isn’t the best. You know what knee-jerk reactions are don’t you? It means you’ve hit a nerve…now get off it!!!!
B. Usually instant reactions get us into trouble because we are reacting in the flesh. This passage tells me I need to change and react with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
C. “Bearing with one another.” The Greek means to hold the other up with endurance. I’m like any other guy who likes to brag that I’m tough…but to be honest with you, life has thrown at me some pretty tough hard balls…and if it weren’t for my wife holding me up through the years, this batter would have struck out a long time ago. Thanks Hon!
C. “Forgive instead of complaining.” Complaining is easy. Some of us have Doctoral Degrees in that department. But it’s a real person of character that can have a forgiving spirit when complaints are flying everywhere!
D. People, when we change our way of reacting in just these two areas alone, we are changing from a me-centered world into one that models Jesus to others. In so doing, maybe we can help them break through and RECEIVE God’s mercy to set them free from their own world of resentment and an unforgiving spirit!
E. Instead of asking why we have struggles, the more important issue is how we deal with them…changing our way of reacting!
III. CHANGE THE OCCUPANT OF YOUR HEART. Col. 3:14-15
A. The words, “Beyond all these things…” makes me perk up my ears. Paul is trying to tell us that what He is about to say is more important that what was previously stated.
B. Here’s what He’s trying to say: If we would just love one another as God loves us, and let His peace rule in our heart when things get tense…your marriage made in Heaven is going to endure on earth!
C. Easier said than done Ralph! How is that actually going to happen?
D. We need to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give. It wasn’t designed to give perfect happiness, absence of conflict, or the illusion of the perfect Ken & Barbie relationship!
E. Here’s what God originally designed marriage to provide: Partnership in spiritual intimacy…and the ability to pursue God together!
F. The reason why so many marriages don’t make it is because it started out with a search to find the perfect soul mate…someone who will complete us. Well since you changed 3 days after the honeymoon was over, of course they don’t match you any more!!
G. The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that the Bible calls it IDOLATRY!! We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in Christ…not another IMPERFECT human being!
H. If we expect our spouse to be the perfect soul mate, they are going to fail every day! No person can live up that that expectation!
I. So guess what? I’ll bet there’s a lot of us in this room that need to schedule ourselves for some heart surgery…we need to change the occupant of our heart!
J. Only when Christ is at the center of our marriage, the center of our home, the center of our soul, can we expect the greatest joy and fulfillment possible!
Solomon, a man known for his wisdom, finally got it right at the end of his life…after failing at 700 marriages and embracing 300 concubines, all his failures led him to write Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it!” I’ll bet Solomon was tired of trying to find the perfect soul mate. He went through a thousand women and still didn’t find her! His conclusion was that all those attempts were vain! So before he drew his last breath, he penned some wise words, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in VAIN who build it!”
It’s in Christ alone that you and I are going to shape our relationships into a marriage made in Heaven! It won’t happen if we try to change our spouse…but it will when we make a deliberate choice to change ourselves…and the first change I recommend is to make Jesus Christ your soul mate! Let me lead you in a prayer to do just that.