A Sacrifice of Love

 

Sermon preached 2/21/16

Last week we took a look at what marriage means from 30,000 ft. We stated our thesis to be:  All scripture that reveals Christ's love is scripture that teaches us about marriage. Why did we say that? Well we are reminded in 1 John 3:16 that our definition of love comes from what we know about Christ. The verse reads like this:  16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers 1 Jn 3:16.

The verse says, by this we know love. This, right here, what John the writer is telling us is how we know love. We cannot understand what love truly is unless we understand this, the way Christ loves. And what was the this that the verse was talking about? It goes on to say that "he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." 

What is the main principle that we learn here from our definition of love? Look at the flow here: This is how we know love that… He laid down his life for us.  The language of love in the bible is primarily language of sacrifice.

     Ex:

  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son… Jn. 3:16",
  • "For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross… Heb. 12:2"

 

This is perfect love. This is love that says I am willing to let go of all treasures and possessions, of all my security, and even my greatest and most intimate impulse, which is to protect myself, to preserve my own life, and I am willing to let it all go in order to serve another. 

That is beautiful. That sounds like the plot of the greatest romance movie that could ever be told.

 

This is exactly how Christ loves us. But this love is way better than any romance novel because it's not saying that love would give up everything because someone is so perfect and valuable, and you have to have them because life just wouldn't be complete without them. 

No, look at how Romans 5:8 puts it. "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Ro 5:8.

Yes, this is perfect love. This isn't love that found us valuable for what we offer God. What can we offer God? We are sinners. We are rebels. And yet, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

So, Perfect love requires sacrifice  

 

Last week we took  look at love and marriage from the view of the overarching promise. Tonight, let's look quickly at just some of the daily practices of a good marriage. Let's call them the sacrifices of love.

 

Now, there are many of these. We could exhaust ourselves on finding practical ways to serve our spouses. We want to just look a few that are some of the most important. 

 

Let me give you 5 daily Sacrifices of a healthy marriage

Each one of these things is going to tell us something about the nature of God, and therefore, tell us something about how to serve our spouse as our love reflects his. 

 

1.  A sacrifice of service:  "3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," Php 2:3–5.

  • God: God is a humble God. Isn't that shocking? He's not humble in the sense that he is passive. (Don't look at me) His humility is part of His grand holiness. His humility is v.4 humility - He does not look only for his interests, but also the interests of others. V.5 says that we should act like this because this is the mind of Christ. The verses immediately following read like this:  6 Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.' Php 2:5–8.
  • Marriage: 
    • We must be v.4 type people. Not looking to our own interests, but to the interests of others. 
      • What does that look like? Well, it's as practical as situations where your spouse needs you but you are busy with something else. How many of us know that familiar voice that rings from across the house? A verse 4 person leaps into action. 
      • I remember a girl in high-school crying because she called her dad just to ask him a simple question and he to walked out of an important meeting to take her call. She got off the phone and cried because she felt loved by her daddy. I'll never forget that. I want to be a dad like that. 
      • When you're watching t.v. and your kids or grandkids ask for your attention what are we teaching them? We want to be v.4 kind of people. 
    • Our humility is the opposite of entitlement. Jesus, who was God, humbled himself to become a man. How often is it that we think I'm not going to do that because I am tired. Or, I've worked a long day and no one understands. Or, on principle, to teach them something I am not going to serve them. We were not loved like that. God humbled himself and served us. 
  • A healthy marriage has a daily sacrifice of service. 

 

 

2. A sacrifice of communication:   "25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil... 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  Eph 4:25–32.

  • God: God deals with us in kindness. He speaks to us in kindness. Psalm 103 reminds us that God does not deal with us according to our sin. And yet, there are so many instances in the scripture where he is tough and yet, tender. Jesus calls us to Repent and believe.
  • Marriage: 
    • Our marriages need a healthy dose of taming wild tongues. We so often know just the right thing to say to pierce our spouse right where is hurts.
    • Some of you may have a spouse that is constantly quarrelsome and cannot seem to find a nice thing to say. Some of you are very quick to findfaults in your spouse and you let them know about them. You even feel justified and that they shouldn't be hurt or angry by this, but you are undermining their value and exalting yourself. This is not humility. 
    • Our words come from our hearts James tells us, so all of our speech reflects how we feel inside.
    •   29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear... 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
    • We see in v.26 that it is ok to be angry sometimes, God is holy in his anger-for our good, but we are not to sin in our anger. Our anger often makes us arm ourselves for an offensive strike. Those strikes are hard to forget. They stick in the memory and cut to the core.
    • v.26-27 - Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Give no opportunity to the devil.  
      • You may need to talk more about it on another day, but you need to look at your spouse and remember the promise. I am going nowhere, our relationship is not in jeopardy. 
  • A healthy marriage has a daily sacrifice of communication
    • Talk, listen, learn about your spouse. Turn the t.v. off, get off Facebook, and communicate. Learn how to pray for one another and what is troubling one another. Tell each other your dreams and your fears. Just as we need constantly to be in prayer to God, we need to be in constant communication with our spouses. 

 

3. A sacrifice of intimacy Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Jn 13:3–5.

  • God: God's humility toward us ushers in intimacy with us.
  • Marriage: 
    • A marriage needs vulnerability. You are giving someone your whole life. Access to every part of it. You trust them. 
    • Nowhere else in marriage is that more evident than with physical intimacy. It communicates that I trust you in my most vulnerable and intimate self, I give you a gift of pleasure because I seek my joy in your joy. 
    • Listen to what 1 Corinthians 7 says, "2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Co 7:2–5.
    • In marriage we do not have authority over our own bodies. We are to bless and serve our spouse. This does not mean manipulation or sexual abuse. Our spouses are not tools to be used for our pleasure alone, they are our partner and most intimate friend. 
    • Let me just say that some of us do deny our spouses and the result is frustration and, even 1 corinthians knows it, temptation. Some of us are just flat out not being helpful at all. We need to cultivate frequent and joyful intimacy, and that comes from the daily sacrifice of humility. 
  • A healthy marriage has a daily sacrifice of intimacy. 

 

4. A sacrifice of position "22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." Eph 5:22–27.

  • God: When God wanted to display his goodness in the world he created metaphors all around us. When he tells us that he loves us like a father, we know what that means because we have fathers. When he tells us that he holds the universe in his hands (Hebrews 1:3), we are able to look at the stars in the sky or vast distances through telescopes and get a greater perspective of how grand our God is. Likewise, when God created gender roles he uses them to show us more articulately his grandeur. 
  • Marriage:
    • Men and women have equal standing before God, they are, however, not completely identical.
    • We live in an egalitarian society that doesn't like to acknowledge the differences between genders. God, however, has created them both, differently, though both made in His image and carrying His dignity, to glorify himself. 
    • We are different biologically and can produce children to the glory of God.
    • We are different emotionally and can complement each other with our strengths and weaknesses to the glory of God. 
    • We are different spiritually and can serve each other in ways that we cannot serve ourselves to the glory of God.
    • We celebrate the God-given differences because they maximize God's glory and our joy in God. 
    • We need to embrace these differences in our marriages. 
      • Women are to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord. (That doesn't mean that he is the lord, but it reflects your submission to God)
      • Men are to love their wives, as Christ loved the church.  (Radical, life-giving sacrifice and tenderness. There is no greater love)
      • That might sound like oppression to our 21st century ears, but you will be hard pressed to find a woman who is dissatisfied with a husband who is willing to lay his life down for her. The same goes for a man whose wife respects him. 
    • These verses tell us something about the nature of men and women. It's like how some cars run on diesel fuel and others on gasoline. Well, a wife runs on the fuel of love and a husband on the fuel of respect. (Thank you Doug Wilson for the analogy)
    • Good marriage acknowledge these god-given positions and embraces them for the maximizing of their relationship. We need robust, brave, self-scraficial, bible-memorizing, Godly men. We need compassionate, wise, modest, winsome, courageous, Godly women. 
  • A healthy marriage has a daily sacrifice of position. 

 

5. A sacrifice of responsibility "4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied." Pr 13:4.

  • God: God blesses the diligent worker with good. Listen to this verse from 1 Peter.  "... by God’s power (His keeping work) we are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Pe 1:5. God is a working and diligent God. He is constantly upholding the universe (Hebrews 1:3) and He is constantly keeping us faithful to trust him, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Why are we still believers in Christ when we wake up? He is keeping us loving and trusting Him. 
  • Marriage: 
    • Our marriages also need to be marked by diligent work. Work to actively serve. Work to actively support and encourage. 
    • A husband needs to show his family that he is a good manager of his time and his home. 
    • Likewise a wife needs to show her family the she is a diligent manager of her time and her home. 
    • Things that reflect this are things like simply balancing the check book. Taking care of the pets. Help get the kids ready for bed. Waking up on time to complete responsibilities. Working an honorable days work. Showing up on time. Finally fixing that home repair that has been neglected. 
    • We honor our spouse and we train our children when we plan and execute what needs to be done in our homes with intentionality and humble service. 
  • A healthy marriage has a daily sacrifice of responsibility. 

 

Closing: 

  • These are but a few of the ways that God has called us to love and to daily sacrifice. Some of them are small acts of service and others bear much more weight. But all of our sacrifice for the sake of others stands in line with the way God has loved us. 
  • Do not read this and think that love means duty-bound suffering. Make no mistake, there will be suffering, but all of the sacrifice that it takes to love proceeds from joy and receives joy as its reward. "For the joy set before Christ he endured the cross." Heb. 12:2