Never Give Up

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Well, it’s good to be here this morning. We’re on the very end of a five week series we’ve been doing together called from From This Day Forward. And so for five weeks we’ve been working on encouraging and strengthening the marriage relationships within our church. It’s not just for married couples, but we also want to encourage those who may be single with some just some ideas and concepts from Scripture, those who are single looking to mingle, some truths from God’s Word and how to to make some applications as you consider who it is that God might have in your future. And so we’re on our our last section together and on this final part are from this day forward, the last communication or message that we’re going to have together is simply this never, never give up. It’s an encouragement in the midst of difficulties and trials to to work on your marriage together and find what God desires for you. I believe this that what God wants for marriage is an incredible journey. And as you read the way that God communicates marriage within Scripture, it’s intended to be a blessing and a joy. It’s the foundation of marriage is supposed to set the precedent for the family, and the family is supposed to be a blessing to the world. And God created marriage for good reason and for joyful reason. In fact, Ecclesiastes nine nine tells us to enjoy the marriage that God has given you.

Now I say all that, and I recognize that in some cases there are situations where it is just absolutely unhealthy. And I just want to encourage you, maybe there might even be abuse that’s present. And I want to encourage you this morning if if you’re in that situation as a church, um, we we offer biblical counseling here, but Jared and Tara oversee that area of our church. Jared gave the announcements today, and I just want you to encourage you to utilize that resource if you desire. But what God wants for us in our relationships is, is for the two to become one and to enjoy the marriage that God has given you to never give up. Uh, I sort of have this dream when you get really old, right? It’s just the old, old person dream. Older than anyone here. I was reading today that the life expectancy, possibly for this generation that’s coming up is, is somewhere around 100 years old. I mean, could you imagine that when you go to the birthday card section of the store, happy 100 years? Could you could you buy that for somebody? It would be like asking the question for someone today like this. When? When you retire, what are you going to do with the next 30 years of your life? Right. That’s that’s bizarre to think about. But life expectancy is is expected to be much longer. And so here’s here’s my dream for you when you’re an old couple.

I just like this, this picture that you get the opportunity to sit next to your spouse and your old age where wrinkles are covering your face, and you just look at each other over a nice breakfast with a beautiful view and you just can say to one another, you know what? We made it. It wasn’t always pretty and may not always been done the right way, but we made it. An opportunity for you to look back over the things that God has worked within your marriage throughout the course of your life. I’ve got to be honest, though. Every marriage has complicated complications, and every person gets to a place in their marriage where where they really love their spouse. But man, they don’t like them. You might find a day where rather than express love, you would want to do anything but. But God created marriage. To be a joyful journey. And the truth is, no matter what bumps and bruises that have happened along the way, you you can’t. You can’t change your past. But you can learn from it. You can forgive it. Can let go of it and you can move forward. The decision for things to be different is in your hands from this day forward. Matter of fact, that’s why we’ve titled this series from this day forward. It’s saying to us, you know, the past is the past, and there may be some reconciliation that needs to happen there.

But from this day forward, it’s in your control to live as God desires within your relationship. And so the encouragement is this don’t ever give up. It Takes Two dedicated towards this commitment to see God working with joy within that marriage. You know, in Genesis or excuse me, Matthew chapter 19. Very first book of the New Testament. Jesus has the opportunity to to talk about marriage. And that’s where we’re going to springboard. And the basis for the text we’re going to look at this morning comes from Matthew 19 and in verse three. Bible tells us within the story that these Jesus is teaching and the crowds are following him, and these religious leaders decide that they’re going to try to pin Jesus down and make him look foolish before others. And so they come to them, him with questions. You would think by Matthew 19, they would have learned not to do that. Every time they come to Jesus with a question, Jesus gives them such an answer that they end up walking away looking foolish rather than their intentions of of making Christ look foolish. And Jesus in Matthew 19, is speaking to a culture that under appreciates the value of what the marriage covenant is about. He’s speaking to a culture at this time that’s readily and easily giving up on on marriage. And in Matthew 19 and verse three it says this. Some Pharisees came to Jesus testing him and asking, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all, to to set a sort of a cultural precedent to what the questions being posed here to Christ at the time? These men are posing this question to to Jesus.

It was very popular to divorce your wife for little to no reason. Women during this time were looked at as property just as much as a guy. Sorry ladies, to say this would want a donkey or a cow. They would treat women much the same as land or possessions. Whenever you thought your donkey was not serving you the way that you desired, you got rid of it. Whenever your land wasn’t working the right way, or you wanted to improve on that, you got rid of it. Whenever your wife wasn’t what you wanted her to be serving to please you. You you got rid of her. And so they come to Jesus with this question is it right for when is it right for a man to to get rid of his wife, their their trading in their wives like they’re trading in their cars? Whenever you’re tired of the color white, you just change the color red. And God in these moments begins to talk to them about the purpose of marriage. I was interested they posed this question to Jesus. I know Jesus is about to respond. If you got one of those red letter Bibles in verse four, you’ll note that it turns red, which means Jesus is talking and Jesus is about to teach on marriage.

And I got to say, out of all the people in the world that’s going to teach on a topic related to marriage, if Jesus is going to say something, I want to listen to what it is. And so curiosity crosses my mind. What is Jesus going to say and what text is he going to use to to share with us what marriage is about? And you know our Jesus quotes from. Book of Genesis. The very place that we started our series together. Genesis chapter two and verse 24 and 25, the last two verses of the book of Matthew. Jesus takes the first book of the New Testament and quotes the first book of the Old Testament, and he uses the idea of what’s being expressed here to express to us what the purpose of marriage is all about. If you want to understand what marriage is about, go to the place where marriage was created. God, what was your purpose for this today? I’m not feeling it. And then Jesus begins to explain. He says in verse four and he answered and said, have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female? And said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

What therefore God has joined together. Let no man separate. I love verse six. It talks about the sacredness of it. It’s not just a decision that two people make, but God is there in the joining of that couple. We talked about the idea of what oneness was about, and oneness means this at the deepest seed of who we are. We are so connected to our spouse that you can’t tell where one spouse ends and the other begins. I mean, if I were to say to you this morning, just in a very simplistic question, what is God’s purpose for your marriage? Do you know the the purpose for your marriage is the same purpose that God has for every marriage. God desires for you to be one. Oneness is what God seeks in you. And if I could qualify that just a little bit further, which we did in the first lesson, that that oneness is rooted in Christ. Let me give you a reason why you were created by him. God knows why he designed you. God has gifted you particular ways, and as you shape your identity as an individual in him, you begin to understand your purpose and your worth because God has attributed that to you. It’s not based on what you do, but who you are in Christ. And so as you root yourself in who God is, that that oneness that God creates in you and that oneness that God creates in your marriage, as you come to Christ, God continues to build that collectively together so that you can’t tell where one spouse ends and the other begins.

Jesus uses Genesis to teach about marriage. That’s important for us to walk away with and remember, because I think within our culture today, if you just simply walked down the street and you asked people, what’s what’s God’s purpose for your marriage, I think many times we’ll stumble over the idea of what it is we’ve been created for. God created you, that 2nd May become one, and through that oneness bless this world. As Jesus shares this passage of Scripture, he he really identifies for us just three significant things that I want to talk to you about this morning. The first thing that Jesus illustrates in this passage is, is the idea of covenant. And Jesus comes and begins to explain from Genesis chapter two, the idea of of what a marriage covenant is about. And he’s beginning to to teach these individuals in Matthew 19 that it’s important to see marriage as a sacred covenant. In verse six he says, What God has joined together, let no man separate. For us today, it’s important to understand the difference between the the contractual idea of marriage and the covenantal idea of marriage. And our culture. As couples, we gather together at the signing of a contractual paper when we’re married before the court of law.

The reason we have contracts that exist is because of a distrust. Meaning when we typically sign contracts, it’s due to a distrust with with the other party in which we are engaging in, in the contractual agreement. There’s legality that comes along with it. And you sign a contract out of distrust of the other person, and you hold them to obligations. Meaning if they don’t fulfill their obligation to the contract, then you’re free and clear to to break the contract. And, if desired, to bring justice against the one who has broken the contract. The idea of a contract works this way. As long as you make me happy and do what pleases me and live up to your obligation of service, then I will stick around to what the contract obligates me to do as as well. Contract is service based, encouraged through distrust. It’s as if to say, I’ve got you right and now you have to do this. A covenant runs deeper than that. Covenant is sacred. Biblical covenants in the Bible were often seen as blood covenants, meaning the idea of blood being shed during the covenant would encourage this if if I break my covenant to you. May my life be done. As a symbol of that. They would separate animals, they would make a sacrifice of animals. And the two that are agreement and covenant would walk between that. The word covenant in the Old Testament is is bara, which means to cut or divide.

There’s a tradition that’s taught in in the Hebrew Old Testament that when a married couple would come together, that oftentimes the one performing the ceremony would take a knife and cut deep enough into the hands of the two getting married, that they would begin to shed blood and they would bind those hands together. During the marital covenant that was shared. The focus on the covenant is not the obligation of the other person, but the focus is on the one who is giving their life for the duration of their life to fulfill the covenant to another. It’s your desire to to sacrifice self and to lay self down for the benefit of another. The marriage covenant especially, is seen as an act of worship, because the Bible tells us in Malachi chapter two that God is present in those moments. And as Jesus iterates in Matthew 19, that whatever he joins together, let no man separate, a covenant reflects God. It’s no coincidence that when God describes his relationship to the church in the New Testament, that he chooses the illustration of the bride. The church to him is the bride and the. The phrase that Jesus uses for the bride is to demonstrate the covenant that Christ has given for us, a covenant that cost his life. So much so does he desire to establish that covenant that he has sacrificed everything? Regardless of your end of the contract. Jesus has given himself to you.

And the Meritage covenant is the deepest of covenants that are established. You might sign a contract before your government. But you make a covenant before your God. I was trying to think of a good illustration for us in our culture today, because most of what we operate on is a is a contractual basis. So what does it look like in our culture? What can we relate to for a covenant? And then I came up with this thought, you know, today is today is Memorial Day. So got me thinking about the establishment of our country and the individuals that signed the Declaration of Independence. 56 people or men signed the Declaration of Independence. And when they signed that paper, America started. But what what they were doing was committing treason against the King. And so essentially, as they signed the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their death warrant. And so intrigued by that, I decided, you know, I’m just going to read up on these guys. I mean, that is a sacrifice. Not only are they signing a contract in that declaration, but but they are signing a covenant of their lives. The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. If you’ve not ever read about them, I would encourage you to do so. But this this is the price they paid. I looked at these guys that sacrificed, and it’s going to give us some statistics on some guys that tremendously sacrificed.

And as I was studying these, the ones that I looked at didn’t overlap. Okay. This will make sense in just let me tell you. Five signers of the declaration were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds of hardship resulting from the Revolutionary War. These men signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They signed the Declaration of Independence, knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured. As you read some of the stories, just a few that I read about. One guy saw that the the British had invaded his home and were taking it over, and he came out from from his house or away from his house, General George Washington standing on the outside of it. And he this man ordered the decree to open fire on his own home. And he walked over to a cannon, and he lit the cannon that shot his house and destroyed all of his possessions, dying penniless. Another individual gave all of his money to supply to the Revolutionary War and died penniless. Many of the individuals who signed the Declaration of Independence died, having lost family and having lost all worldly possessions. That’s a covenant. With all that you are, you understand the magnitude of the decision that you make.

Because it’s before your God. And he makes two become one. Because a covenant is deeper than a contract. When it is severed, it does damage. You can separate a contract and move forward. But when you separate a covenant, it leaves a mark. I mean, the sacredness of what God is saying in this passage is that two become one, and God is supernaturally at work at that. Maybe it’d be like the illustration of this, that you would take two pieces of paper and you would glue them together, and after it’s dried, you then decide that it would be important to have two pieces of paper again. And so you separate them. When you separate them, you do not get those papers back together. A part of one piece of paper will remain attached to the other paper. Pieces remain. That’s not to say that Jesus can’t heal, because I believe Jesus can heal everything, but is to recognize that the establishment of a covenant is deeper than a contract. Jesus is coming to these individuals in Matthew 19 and he’s saying to them, guys, your wife, she’s not a donkey. She’s not some possession. I mean, she’s mine. And what I’m doing between you that you don’t see as sacred. It’s because you don’t understand the idea of covenant. What I’m bringing together. Let no man destroy. There is something sacred that I’m working with in your marriage. I created it to be beautiful before me.

The second thought is this you reap what you sow. When it comes to relationships, you reap what you sow. The men that Jesus is talking to in the New Testament are finding they aren’t reaping what it is they desire, and so their natural conclusion is then it’s then it must be my wife’s fault, right? I mean, you read all the way back from Genesis when the first when the first sin happened, Adam comes to God and said, God, the woman you gave me, she messed up and and it’s your fault because you gave her to me, right? It’s everyone’s fault but my own. And so they blame their wife. It would be like the equivalent of this. I’m getting rid of my car because it ran out of gas. And you would say to me, you goofball. Only if you were being nice. That’s how far you. You goofball. I mean, all you need is more gas. You reap what you sow. Book of Galatians adds to that thought for us in the New Testament. It says in verse seven, do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows this he will also reap. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

You reap what you sow. Maybe this morning I would speak to our unmarried individuals and say, the decision of who you marry is is crucial to your marriage. You don’t marry someone with the expectation that you’re going to change them. When you look for a person to marry, the encouragement with in Scripture is, is to marry a godly individual. Because in marrying a godly individual, you shape your identity in God and marrying a godly individual you reap a godly marriage. You want someone that lets Jesus lead? You want someone that understands as Jesus has led by serving. So we are to serve within our marriage. You want someone that knows what it means to live with godly character and repent when it doesn’t. To not be focused on self and approach marriage with the idea of what can it do for me, but rather what can I give for you? Girls is looking for a a man to marry. You want a guy that understands what it means? In Genesis, when God says that we’ll work by the sweat of our brow. Understand in First Timothy chapter five and verse eight when it says, if if a man doesn’t provide for his own family, he’s worse than an unbeliever. You want a young man to young ladies. You want a young man that knows what it means to get off the couch and stop playing video games and get his rear end focused on working to provide for what God has called him to provide.

Young ladies. For the young men. You want a young lady who understands what it means to walk with dignity and respect in this world. To know what it means to honor people and to treat them in a way that God would desire. We. We looked at Genesis just a couple of weeks ago that talked about the the curse of women being affected in relationships, but but the idea that ladies are more gifted in relational living than you are as men. Not that someone can’t be. But her words and vocabulary in a day far surpasses your ability to just grunt for answers, right? When she communicates, is she a gossip or does she communicate with dignity and in honor? Are both thoughts directed to Christ. You reap what you sow. But if you marry a godly individual as well. Can I tell you this? Um. You will reap more than you sow. If you marry someone that understands the grace of God and the war that happens within our sinful nature, that we fall short. If you marry a godly individual, you will reap more than you sow. In her or in him, you will get far more than you deserve. I know from my own life. In college, I waited till I was out of college and started dating my wife, and it wasn’t until a year or two after college that we were married.

I can’t even remember. So don’t quote me on dates. But. But we were married and I spent time looking for this. I wanted that godly lady that I knew that even in my shortcomings, would still offer grace and give freedom for God to allow me to grow. In a godly relationship, you reap more than you sow. For for married people. This morning I would say this married people you you reap what you sow, right? I get what I, what I give in marriage. I heard a Pastor Craig Groeschel give, give this example once. He said, I gave my wife a bachelor pad and she walked in and goes, and she made it a home. And he said, you know, I was reaping what I sow. And then I walked in with groceries one day and my wife comes in and she’s like, and she made a meal. You reap what you sow. Or I came to my wife and I connected to her emotionally and relationship relationally, and she connects to me physically. And when I connected to my wife physically, she gave me kids. And if I was really good at it, she gave me lots of kids, right? You reap what you sow. But if you hand her a hard time. She will make your life a living. Whatever. If she ain’t happy, you guys know it. Nobody is happy. You reap what you sow. Meaning to us this morning. If you don’t like what you’re getting.

Look at what you’re giving. Don’t expect your spouse to change your marriage. God has called you to invest first. A negative attitude doesn’t change things. We talked about the proverb that a nagging wife is worse than a constant dripping, and a man would rather live on the roof of his house than in a home with a nagging wife. Negativity doesn’t change the relationship. You reap what you sow, I would say in addition to that. You also reap where you sow. Saying to us, if you plant a tree in a garden, you’re not going to grow a tree in your yard. Where you plant is important. You, you reap where you. So if you put energy into your career, it doesn’t help your marriage. If you make marriage about your kids, it doesn’t help your marriage and that predicament. One day your kids will leave and you’ll be left in your house with a stranger. You reap what you sow. Throughout this time together, we’ve discussed five areas of reaping and sowing in our relationship that in in the end, we we have a Bountiful reward of a joyful marriage, that we can be old together, staring across one another and say, you know what? We made it. You seek God. We talked about praying and how to present just the idea of prayer within the marriage relationship. You you fight fair. You lay down the past and you think about the other person’s interests and the way that Jesus would treat them, that’s the way you treat them as you engage conflict together.

You you have fun. It’s not just about a list of rules of trying to improve your relationship, because when you started to to date your wife, we said it like this. You didn’t date your wife to marry her, but you marry your wife to to date her. When you when you were dating, you would go out and you just enjoyed one another’s company and all of a sudden you’re married and you wonder where that love went. Well, the dating died. She’s way different now than when you married her. She’s going to be different later. And God’s desire is that you know her. Have fun. Last week, we talked about staying pure and the purity of that covenant that God has given you. And today is this never, never give up. And so I want to close with this last thought that maybe Jesus is expressing and what he’s saying to these individuals in Matthew. And that is this. This is more for the guys. But ladies, this apply for you as well. You have to be man enough to love. Love usually isn’t a manly word. Are you man enough to love? This is what I believe. If our desires men. As for the women of the world to be loved. The best way for the women of this world to be loved is to reach the heart of the men in this world.

I mean, society is teaching ladies this, that they’re created as meat and objects and they’re to use their bodies for, for just pleasure, for the opposite sex, robbing them of their worth and dignity and identity in God. And if our desires for that the ladies of this world to be loved as God has created them to be loved, then it’s about reaching the hearts of the men of this world, to show the women of this world what true love really is. Are you man enough to love? Bible tells us in first Corinthians 13 and verse three, Paul lays out what marriage is. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard this quoted. Most of us could probably just quote it cold turkey off the top of our heads. But it says this in verse three, and if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous. Love does not brag and it is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly. It does not seek its own. It is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Do you know how love makes this pronouncement in the world? It’s in the face of opposition.

Meaning, you don’t really see how deep love can go until it’s so difficult. That love just blazes through the adversity. Meaning, if I said it in a broken down thought, as Paul listens here before, love is an emotional experience. It’s a decision of your will. Love sticks with you through the struggle because love is kind. Love carefully tends to the need when it looks tough, because love is gentle. Love isn’t about I, but about others. Because love doesn’t brag or seek its own. Love isn’t about winning an argument, but reconciling and growing together because it counts. No wrong suffered. Love looks to the future of what God is building, even in the darkest of moments, because it believes in hope. Real love sticks around because love endures, and faithful love is the manliest thing you can do because love never fails. Again in that last phrase. It goes back to the idea of covenant. I don’t think it’s any mistake in Ephesians chapter five, when God looks to us through the apostle Paul and says, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. It has covenant. I know as we reach and talk about that standard of love, this is what we can all say as men. I am guilty. There’s no way I can ever live to that standard of love that God has called me to.

But can I tell you this? It’s a reminder in the book of Ephesians to say this to us as men and women, you need Jesus. Jesus is the model for all of this. Jesus is the model of what covenantal love is all about. The cross is the symbol to us of a God who has come for you, despite you to stay in the midst of your sin, I still love you. I’m still hoping and believing and enduring, and my love will never fail. Some of us need the taste of Christ in that way. To know we could never earn that love. But Jesus has given it. To know that no matter what I do or don’t do, it’s not up to me because Christ has already paid it all. You know what the gospel says to us? It’s not about what you do to get to heaven, but it’s about what has already been done. And in that we rejoice in love. Can I tell you in the freedom of a marriage relationship, it’s not about what’s done to deserve your love, but the lavishness of your love upon your spouse just encourages them. Continue to sing praise into your relationship as well. You reap what you sow. Jesus for us. Reaped grace. That in him we might experience joy. And in that joy reflect his love in this world. It’s not about what we’ve done, but about what he did. It’s not about me preaching this morning to change your spouse, but what God can do on the inside of you.

So here’s a reminder for us this morning. You can’t undo your past. You can decide from this day forward to never give up. Maybe this morning you need to look at marriage and say to your wife, let’s change things to make marriage number one as God desires. To look your spouse in the eye and say, honey, you are God’s gift to me by a beautiful covenant we made. I want to be one with you and reap a harvest by what we’ve sown. I want to seek God with you. I want to fight fair with you. I want to have fun with you. I want to stay pure for you. And I don’t want to ever give up. I want to love you as God has called me to love. Here’s my big dream. One day. I want to be old as dirt. And I want you old as dirt, sitting right across from me. And I want to be having a beautiful breakfast together. And I just want to look out into the horizon as the sun comes up and I want to stare at you face to face. And just thank God that we made it. And those moments just reflect back of a life of ups and downs. But to recognize the grace of God that has been with me the whole way. As God has built two of us into one.