Prioritize your Marriage.

Points Covered: A sermon on how a husband and wife can fulfill their God given roles within a family and enjoy the joy of marriage. Prioritize your marriage.

Prioritize your life complete series.

Joke: Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, “Why is the bride wearing white?” Her mother said, “Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life!” The little girl thought about this for a minute, then asked, “Why is the groom wearing black?”

Introduction: We have been studying on the subject of priority of a believer and we began by looking at the top three priorities of a believer. First spiritual life. Last week we spoke about the priority of family and we covered the roles of parents and children. Today I would speak on couples.

1. Consider your relationship as primary.

Since this is a primary relationship, you need to spend the maximum time for this relationship.

Joke: A husband and wife were at a party chatting with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up. “Oh, we never need that. My wife and I have a great relationship,” the husband explained. “We work in a university. She lectures on communications in college and I lecture in theatre arts.” He continued, “She communicates well, and I act like I’m listening.”

Nowadays, almost all couples are very busy with work, responsibilities and raising kids. Couples either get so involved in their job, responsibilities at home, kids’ lives (Their tuitions, hobbies, sports, dance, and music lessons) or they become interested in their own activities or hobbies that they don’t spend time with each other. They forget to nurture their relationship with each other. As the years go by they get farther and farther apart, until they can’t even remember what it feels like to be in love with each other, to hold each other’s hands.

Illustration: Married couples spend an average of 27.5 minutes per week talking to each other, according to Ray Bridwhistell, speech communication expert. However, they spend 46 hours per week watching TV.

Do you know why so many parents struggle with empty nest syndrome? The kids move out of the house, and they get depressed because their lives revolved solely around their kids, they look at each other and wonder who are you, and now what are we going to do? The problem is many are married but their primary relationship is not either one of them. Do you know that some the couples live like roommates in the same house?

Joke: A husband read an article to his wife about how women use 30,000 words a day to a man’s 15,000. The wife replied, “That’s because we have to repeat everything to men.” The husband turned to his wife and said, “What?”

It is possible to climb the pinnacle of success in our career only to realize that we are leaning on the wrong wall. The wrong wall is our ignoring our relationship with our spouse. You do everything else but fall out on the relationship with your spouse. Marriage is the most important relationship which we tend to overlook. God sees marriage as a first and most foundational relationship, second only to our relationship with God. Marriage is more important than our relationship with our parents, children, or siblings.

Genesis 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Matthew 19:5-6 5For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 6Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

There is a leaving and a cleaving. Leaving the parents, friends and to cleaving to the spouse. You are one flesh. To become “one flesh,” then, is to become “one person.” Male and female marriage partners not only make an exact “fit” physically, but their maleness and femaleness “fill out” or “complete” one another in every respect. The two constitute a “whole.” In a proper marriage, men have the opportunity to see and understand the issues of the world through their wives’ feminine eyes, and women through their husband’s masculine eyes. My wife has brought lace curtains into my life; I have brought muddy boots into hers. For that to happen, you must set aside all differences and live as one.

Illustration: Elsa no longer remembers what the argument was about, but it began before breakfast one morning and continued as Steve started off to work. “How can you just go off like that?” cried Elsa. “We haven’t settled a thing!” Then Steve did what few men as ambitious and driven as Steve is could do: he turned around and went to the phone and canceled all his appointments for that day, “saying to me, in effect, that our relationship meant more than business meetings, saying that I’d married a man who would sacrifice work for love.”

2. Mutual Submission.

Submit to one another in love. Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Illustration: The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message” “Alter your course 10 degrees south.” Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south – I am the captain!” Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am seaman third class Jones.” Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: “Alter your course 10 degrees south – I am a battleship.” Then the reply came “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am a lighthouse.” Submission is not easy, isn’t it. 

Most people when they think about submission automatically think that it is the woman. The Bible says submit to one another. That means the man has to submit to his wife, and the wife has to submit to her husband. Some men dread the word submission in marriage as they think to submit is to be a slave. Submission is not slavery.

The word submission has a prefix –sub. It is the same prefix of submarine. Sub means to get under. As a submarine gets under the water, submission in marriage is to get under the mission of marriage.

Illustration: When we went to Kerala last year driving, we came across a very narrow bridge. In front of the bridge, a sign was posted: “Stop, Look, and proceed. No overtaking” I paused, seeing no oncoming cars, I continued across the bridge and to my destination. On our way back, I came to the same one-lane bridge, now from the other direction. To my surprise, I saw another sign posted ‘Stop, look, and proceed. No overtaking’ Curious, I thought, “I’m sure there was one posted on the other side.” When I reached the other side of the bridge I looked back. Sure enough, caution signs had been placed at both ends of the bridge. Drivers from both directions were requested to be on the left, stick on to their lane. It was a reasonable and gracious way of preventing a head-on collision. When the Bible commands Christians to “be submit to one another” it is simply a command to let each other go through their own lane and avoid interpersonal head-on collisions.

Now, the husband and wife have different roles in marriage. Therefore, submission in marriage is to understand your partner’s God-given mission and allow that person to fulfill that role in the family.

3. Companionship.

Build healthy companionship. The relationship between a husband and a wife is meant to be one of love, trust, respect, and support. They are to help each other. This idea is introduced at the beginning of the Bible in the story of the creation of Eve. Adam needed a companion, a suitable helper, yet one could not be found until God created Eve. Genesis 2:20-24 20So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Joke: At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny, a child in the kindergarten class, seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, “Johnny, what’s the matter?” Johnny said, “I don’t feel well, I think I’m having a wife.”

God brings a couple together to have companionship. God created men and women with physical and emotional differences. Usually where one is weak, the other is strong. Therefore, a husband and wife can help each other by meeting the other person’s needs through physical and emotional intimacy. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 2But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

When the needs of our spouse are properly met through healthy companionship, the two can help each other and can live a successful life together.

Lastly, through their companionship a husband and wife work together as a team to develop and grow a family. God’s plan was that every home operate under the specific roles of both a husband and a wife and that through this they raise healthy children who honor God.

4. Role of a Husband.

a. Leader.

he role of the husband in the Bible starts with leadership. Scripture makes it very clear that a husband must be a leader of his home and have healthy control of his life. 1 Timothy 3 speaking of a man’s leadership position in the church Paul speaks: 1 Timothy 3:5 If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

Ephesians 5:22-24 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 

One of the primary roles of a husband in the Bible, then, is to lead. Leadership simply means influence. Therefore, a biblically-based husband should influence his family. Husbands are not dictators, they should not demand, they should not rule over their wives. Instead, husbands should influence their wives and families in accordance with biblical teaching. The fruit of a good biblically-based husband is a strong, confident, spiritually mature wife and family.

Joke: A man was talking to his friend and said, “In my house I am the boss, I decide when I have to wash the clothes, when the floor has to be cleaned, and what food has to be made.” One of the guys said, “How long have you been married?” The man said, “Oh I’m not married, I’m single!”

Joke: A little girl said: “Daddy, you’re the boss of the house, right?” “Yes, sweetheart,” he said, “I’m the boss of the house.” “And I know why you’re the boss of the house, Daddy.” “Why’s that?” The girl said, “Because Mummy put you in charge.”

God made man the leader. He is the boss of the house. It is he who has to take the final decision. For everything that happens in the family Man is responsible, he is the leader. Man has to take the decision for family prayer, putting God first, investments etc. God has given man a decision making capacity. I am not telling that the woman does not have it but in a home, it is the man who is the God-ordained leader.

Who was the leader in the Garden of Eden? Man or woman? Genesis 2:15-16 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. God gave man the responsibility. Adam was to be smart, hardworking, the leader, and keep the garden clean. Adam got so lazy, probably sleeping or seeing TV or on the net and gave the responsibly to the woman and the result was disaster. When they sinned whom did God call? Man or the woman. Genesis 3:9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Man is the leader of the house and a woman has to submit to his leadership.

How often does your wife remind you that the grocery is over, let’s go shopping, children need this and that, it is time for school, wake up we need to go to church and so on. God is telling, “I want the husbands to lead.” How much better would our families be if the husband took the leadership alongside the wife’s natural ability to lead?

b. Provider and protector.

A husband will never influence his wife if he does not care for her. He can demand and she may follow as a result, but he will never truly have her heart unless he provides for her needs, cares for her well-being, and protects her both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For as Scripture says: 1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

God loves His daughters and the children they bear. When He gives one of His daughters to a man, He desires that the man cares for her. In no place does scripture teach or endorse that women and children be considered second rate or inferior to men. Instead, He finds them so precious that He asks for special care to be given them; a care that only biblically-based men can provide. Women are very capable of taking care of themselves. However, God did make men and women different and thus due to the physical nature and strength God gave men, He has charged them with the provision and protection of their families.

c. Love your wife unconditionally.

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Ephesians 5:28 Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

5. Role of wife.

a. Be a helper to your husband.

While all of us are called to be helpers to others, the Bible places a special emphasis on this responsibility for wives. Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

 The Hebrew meaning of the word helper in this passage is compared only to God as He helps us. Women have been given tremendous power for good in our husbands’ lives. God has designed wives to help their husbands become all that God intends for them to be.

 We husbands need some help, so is our woman. Do not think you can decide everything and accomplish everything alone. Every time you shut your wife down, you shut your help down. Your wife has to be given more preference when you decide things. Submit to the counsel of your wife. The most valuable asset that we have as the head of our house is our helper.

b. Respect your husband.

Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Wives are to respect their husbands. Wives do you honor and respect your husband, appreciating him for who he is and what he does? Or do you belittle him, put him down, criticize?

Now, men when God made you the head he did not give you responsibility and put you in the dark to lead your family. He gave you an example to look at so that you know how your leadership should be.

Husbands have many needs. The macho man who is self-contained, independent, and invulnerable is a myth.

Try to encourage him by being his number one fan. Every husband wants his wife to be on his team, to coach him when necessary, but most of all to be his cheerleader. A husband needs a wife who is behind him, believing in him, appreciating him, and cheering him on as he goes out into the world every day.

How do you respect your husband?

Love your husband.

Be his fan. Titus 2:4-5 4Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Find out the primary needs of a husband and fulfill it. Don’t reject your husband.

Illustration: In the first year of marriage when our spouse is sick, its: “Honey, I’m worried about you. I have taken off and I am going to rush you for a Hospital checkup and a week of rest. And I know you don’t like hospital food, so I’m having home meals brought in for you.”

Second year of a marriage: “Sweetheart, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve arranged for my father to take you to the hospital. I have got a conference call today I cannot miss.”

Third year of a marriage: “You look like you’ve got a fever. Why don’t you drive yourself over to the medical shop, get some medicine, I’ll watch the kids.”

Fourth year: “Look, be sensible. After you’ve fed and bathed the kids, washed the dishes, you really ought to go to bed. Don’t forget to take the medicines”

Fifth year: “Mark Why do you have to cough so loud? I can’t hear the TV. Would you mind going in the other room while this show is on? You sound like a barking dog. You sleep in that bedroom today; I will sleep with the kids”

Submit to your husband’s leadership.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

1 Peter 3:1-2 1Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

These Scriptures make it clear that a wife should submit voluntarily to her husband’s sensitive and loving leadership. Therefore, as I voluntarily submit to my husband, I am completing him. I am helping him fulfill his responsibilities, and I am helping him become the man, the husband, and the leader God intended him to be.

Building oneness in marriage works best when both partners choose to fulfill their responsibilities voluntarily, with no pressure or coercion.

Note: Some of you may live with abuse or in excessively unhealthy and destructive conditions in your marriage. At times, it may be inappropriate or even life-threatening for you to apply unquestioningly the principles of submission and love. For example, if you are being physically or verbally abused, you may need to take steps to protect yourself and your children. You may need to say to your husband, “I love you, but enough is enough.” If you are in that situation, please discerningly seek out your pastor or someone wise who has been trained to help with your specific issue.

Loving, forgiving, and submitting do not mean that you become a doormat or indefinitely tolerate significantly destructive behavior.

Illustration: Have you ever sewn a dress, or attempted to sew one? The pattern is made of many pieces, some large and some small, none of which accurately resemble the finished product. When you lay out the pattern and cut the cloth, you do not have a garment but only some scraps of cloth. When it is properly sewed and made usable with buttons, snaps, or a zipper, these pieces make a complete dress.

Every pattern has pairs of parts: two sleeves, two bodice pieces, a front and back. Likewise, when a husband and wife comes together and works in unison is a marriage complete and beautiful.

Then, dresses come in various sizes, colours, and patterns, so every marriage is different and unique. So you cannot copy one pattern to the other, God who brought you together can make a unique and beautiful design to our marriage and family.

6. Reconcile relationships within your family.

The devil has divided families over the years. There are so many broken families where husband and wife do not talk to each other. Then there are father’s who won’t speak to their daughters. Daughter’s who shut out their mother. Brothers or sisters not talking to each other because of something that was said or done years ago.

I believe the Bible is clear that it is not okay for our relationships to be divided, particularly by the things we say or do. Rather the Bible teaches us that we need to reconcile relationships particularly if what we say or do is the cause of the division. Look at what Jesus said: Matthew 5:21-24 21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Who are the people who usually we speak in anger? It’s not usually strangers. It is usually the people we are closest with, our family; spouse, siblings, parents, children that we tend to tear apart the most.

If we have hurt others, if a relationship is broken because of something we have said or done, we must take the initiative and make it right with them. We need to swallow our pride and reconcile. But they did this or that to me, it doesn’t matter, if you are in Christ you are a new creation, you are above this and it is your responsibility to make it right.

God places our relationship with our spouse as a top priority. And yet, we don’t often treat marriage with the same importance God gives it. How easy it is to slip away because we don’t prioritize it, and spend the time to nourish it and grow.

If you had to chart a path, which direction would you say your marriage is heading? Is it growing closer or slipping away? Make your marriage a priority again. What deposits of love are we making into our spouses account? You cannot only run on a negative balance for long. Nurture your marriage.

Let’s pray.

Prioritize your life complete series.