“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel. “Be careful not to be unfaithful.” (Mal 2:16)
My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept. (Psalms 119:136)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor.13:13)
LOVE? What does it mean anyway!? Ruth Calkin writes in her book, “Love Is So Much More, Lord”.
The word “LOVE” comes from the Greek word: Phileo & Agape. One originates from the flesh (human) and the other from God (divine).
Phileo is conditional, cosmetic in value and if the conditions are not met that love vanishes away. On the other hand Agape is a love with no strings attached.
You know what? Phileo is a love relationship that will end with changing circumstances. It’s a love that always expects something in return! But Agape love flourishes regardless of any reward! Regardless of any circumstances! A love that gives and a love that never expects anything in return. This is the LOVE OF GOD that was poured out for you and me on Calvary’s cross! (John 3:16).
Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Jn 13:34). He was using the word Agape not Phileo, because Jesus knew you and I can choose to love each other regardless of what does or doesn’t happen. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).
By the way, what is so exceptional or special about a Christian marriage that is sealed in God’s presence?
THE MARRIAGE VOW: that I took 42 years ago
I, TAKE YOU TO BE MY WEDDED WIFE / HUSBAND TO LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART’S AFFECTION. I RECEIVE YOU INTO MY LIFE THAT TOGETHER WE MAY BE ONE.
I TAKE YOU NOW TO HAVE AND TO HOLD FROM THIS DAY FORWARD FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE, FOR RICHER, FOR POORER, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH TILL DEATH SEPARATES US, I PLEDGE MY FAITHFULNESS IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD TODAY
ROCK OF GOD AS A FOUNDATION
Here is what you need to understand; “Unless the Lord builds your house, you will labor in vain” You need God’s favour! You need God’s grace! No matter how great you may be! No matter how wealthy you are! No matter how secured and clever you may be! Without God in the centre of your marriage you bet your life, you are heading for trouble!
In today’s society, be it across the world, it is unfortunately appalling to see the sanctity of marriage which God instituted from the very beginning of human creation, have sadly been twisted, devalued and disrespected.
And thus we see a marked disintegration in the moral values of what God has initiated for mankind to follow right from the beginning of civilization.
There is an alarming figure of failed marriages that is so discouraging both amongst unbelievers and Christians as well. Some statistics say 50 percent of marriages have failed. And I guess it’s even higher in the westernized world.
However, it is an undeniable truth that the biggest reason why Christian marriages fail is because couples fail to govern their marriages with a Christ-centered life based on Christian biblical principles!
Undoubtedly it is without question that marriage is a gift of God which transforms oneself into a matured and wise relationship that the two may become one flesh based on Christian values and commitment (Gen.2:24). However, a husband and wife united in marriage creates something new – a “one flesh” union. This marital oneness reflects the oneness of God, and as the oneness of God creates new life, marital oneness has the potential to create new life via children (new men and women).
I would like to boldly advocate without any doubt that a success of a Christian marriage is not dependent on choosing the right partner which unfortunately many of us have been deceived into believing. But rather I would say the success of any marriage for that matter would depend “on becoming the right partner.”
Marriage is “a covenantal lifelong commitment” between a man and a woman. It is therefore to be treated and valued as “a sacred sanctity”, a binding contract, so to speak, between one another in the sight of God.
King Solomon said: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it”
Paul in 1 Cor 13, said “Love covers a multitude of sins”. Love is the greatest of all which supersedes every other gift of man.
IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING
We need real commitment to fan the flames of love. We need commitment for love to deepen and relationship to grow stronger, richer and meaningful. Could this be possible humanly? Of course it is! Provided you face the reality that growth requires hard work. It is stretching the pressures and pain that will ultimately get you there. The fact of the matter is that nothing comes by easily in life.
BEYOND THE HUMAN LOVE
But what I would like to tell you is that the human love is merely not good enough to sustain and secure a marriage. If you base your marriage on human love then it is no better than simply a passing cloud without any silver lining on it.
Only God can empower you to love. You know what? You can’t love people without a born-again spirit of God.
In Gal 5: 22 -23 Paul says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. This is to whom you want to be married to. Human love is just a shallow selfish kind of thing that will not last, neither will it sustain a relationship but true love is a LOVE which originates when you die to yourself and sacrifice your life to God.
HUMAN STRENGTH WILL FAIL
The reason why we see a high level of failed relationships in today’s society is that every marriage is liable to suffer and become outdated over time if it’s only based on human love! Humanly it is impossible to sustain a relationship over time. Because it is impossible with your human eye and heart to see your partner as you saw him or her earlier on in life. Even a consumer item is discarded off when it’s outdated and old and this I believe is the human nature.
Without God in the centre of your marriage, your relationship will end up in failure. Only God can meet the deepest things in our lives and secure this commitment until death departs.
We need something that is beyond our natural strength and ability, beyond our clever ideas, beyond our beauty, beyond our wealth to keep a marriage strong and safe and burning, and that is the “power of God’s favour” upon your marriage. You need the blessing of God in every area of your marriage to keep it going.
ALLOW GOD’S LOVE TO RULE YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Seriously speaking, when two adults are joined together in marriage, needless to say, there will of course be differences between each other. But let me remind you, marriage is two people working together to build a relationship based on the foundation of God’s principles.
Marriage is giving of oneself to another. Marriage calls for hard work and total commitment on both sides. Marriage means putting up with personality weakness, accepting criticism, and giving each other freedom to fail. It means sharing deep feelings about fear of rejection, turning self-pity into laughter, and taking a walk to regain control.
Marriage means- learning when to shut-up and say nothing, when to keep talking, when to push a little and when to back off and when to release forgiveness and sacrifice.
1 Cor.13: Love is never glad when others go wrong.
“A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
— Ruth Bell Graham
Marriage means- you are the other part of me and I am the other part of you. We will by all means walk through this path with never a thought of WALKING OUT! That is Christian marriage!!
You know what? Marriages starts because of love, but they continue because of commitment to the other party as well as to God.
There is no fear in Love! But perfect love drives out fear! (1 John 4:18)
When you build your life on the foundation of God, your marriage will last and it will succeed. It is God who will ultimately hold your marriage together covered under the canopy of His grace.
The secret of every marriage is to make a conscious effort to keep the joy flowing in your marriage and to keep the light burning no matter what your circumstances may be.
THE ENEMY WILL NOT SPARE YOU
Always remember NOTHING COMES BY EASILY. A good marriage will be severely tested! The reality of life is that “life is never a bed of roses”. Every marriage has its ups and downs. You need to be aware that at some point in your life you will be tested beyond measure.
The enemy’s strategy is always to undermine and target your marriage with ungodly ideology, through the pressures of modern living and the economies of times.
GOD WILL PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE
But you know what? If you built your marriage on a Christ-centered foundation – A house built on a Rock! – it will absolutely withstand the assaults of the enemy.
Remember there will always be storms! There will always be mountains! That you need to face and endure in your relationship, but with God on your side nothing is impossible for you to face and overcome!!
“If God is for you who can be against you” (Rom.8:31)
Note: Rev Dr Jai Kumar is an ordained & licensed minister of Covenant Ministries International N.J. USA. He is a mission minded pastor who carries an apostolic anointing who preaches and teaches an uncompromising gospel with boldness. A member of ECCM (Malaysia) Spiritual Adviser & overseer to various ministries and churches. An itinerant speaker. He is also the author of a book entitled, ‘God’s Time Clock.’ Currently he worships at C3 Subang.
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Rev Dr Jai Kumar