Marriage Is Hard: It’s Hard to Serve

[ANNOUNCER] The following program is brought to you by the friends and partners of Time of Grace. [MUSIC] [PASTOR JEREMY MATTEK] Hello, I’m Pastor Jeremy Mattek, for Time of Grace. A number of years ago, a friend of mine was planning to propose to his girlfriend to ask her to be his wife. They went out on a romantic date, they found themselves all alone, and he got down on one knee. But before he pulled out the ring to propose, he did something else: He took off her shoe. And then her sock. And he had a bucket of soapy water there with the washcloth and he started to wash her feet; symbolic of his intentions of how he was going to care for her over the course of their married life together. He was going to serve her; wash her feet, in a sense. And if you think, “Wow, that’s a cool idea,” he actually didn’t think of it himself. He stole the idea from Jesus. On the night before Jesus died, he also washed feet; he washed his disciple’s feet, showing them that he was willing to serve them. No matter what it would cost, no matter how dirty he would need to get, if that’s what it took to love them. Service is beautiful in a marriage relationship but it can also be very hard to put into practice; Jesus knows that. And today, Pastor Mark Jeske is going to give us some inspiration as we look to serve our spouses with love. [MUSIC] [PASTOR MARK JESKE] I’d like you to open your Bible to Ephesians chapter five. Ephesians 5 begins like this: “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. You were once darkness.” Don’t be mad at people who don’t get it. You were born into the darkness “but now you are light in the Lord so live as children of the light,” verse 10, “and find out what pleases the Lord.” He’s a God who cares about marriage. He thinks he should have the right to define it because he invented it. In fact, he was so excited about inventing it he couldn’t even wait and he put it into the first six days of Creation. That’s how excited God was about marriage. It’s his greatest gift to us. It’s the way he designed the continuity of the human race. It’s how he designed a great partnership to navigate the hardships of life. So our goal – instead of saying, “I want to do this my way, I’m going to figure this out,” – St. Paul the bachelor says, “Now, why don’t you try to find out what pleases God? If you really want to be happy, why don’t you listen to the giver of happiness?” Verse 17: “Don’t be fools,” sounds like Mr. T here, “don’t be fools. Understand what the Lord’s will is.” Get filled up. Don’t get drunk on alcohol but rather be filled with the Spirit. First of all, speaking to one another the word of God for encouragement. So mutual encouragement. Four “S’s,” speak to one another. Second, “sing.” Make music in your life. Singing hymns, singing spiritual songs, is a way to generate hope. Number three: “Say thank you.” Let gratitude dominate in your heart instead of a crabby kind of attitude of complaining and being obsessed with what you don’t have. Say thank you to God over and over and cultivate a spirit of gratitude; giving thanks to God the Father for everything. That even your hardships are making your life better if you let God frame it his way. And last of all – this is a word you don’t want to say – verse twenty-one. The fourth participle, this is all part of the bundle of living in the Spirit, “Submit to one another.” Why? “Out of reverence for Christ.” As if you needed a reason, other than a direct command, out of reverence for Christ. Now you’ve got to understand something about this word “submission.” I’ve talked to you about this before but it’s so elusive and slippery a concept, I want to take a moment and redefine it for you now because the English word “submit” does not accurately – enough for me – reflect the Greek word it’s based on. In English, submit means you give in because you’re forced to. You capitulate. You’re forced into something and you’re sullen and resentful. You give in and you don’t agree but you’re forced by overwhelming superior forces to cave and so there’s this, “Alright then.” That’s the flavor of submit, isn’t it? You’re pressured into it; you’re forced or maneuvered into it. That’s not what the Greek word means. The Greek word is the same basic concept of when you would, let’s say, go to officer training school and you would proudly have your first second lieutenant bars pinned on you and you become part of the military’s chain of command. You don’t hate and resent orders from your captain or from a major; not in the military. You get why that is. And the fact that you allow that person to direct your activities and you give that person your cooperation doesn’t come with resentment. You may know, “I’m smarter than you are,” or “that’s really a mistake.” But orders are orders and you do it for the good of the team. There has to be a decision process or there will be chaos when the live ammunition is flying. In the same way, when God invites us to submit to one another, it should not be with our teeth clenched and our hearts full of bitterness and resentment but instead a willingness to let go of some of our independence of action in order to bring good to the team. We’re doing it for Jesus. We’re doing it for the family. And that means all of us take turns yielding to one another. Husbands, too. And one of my biggest jobs as a husband is sort of refereeing and overseeing the process of how we take turns yielding to one another. It’s not just the wife that’s supposed to do the yielding; all of God’s people should practice yielding to one another. Looking to see what do you need? How can I help you get what you need? What’s my unique platform for helping you in your life? That’s for husbands and wives. The next section flows right out of that. In fact, it’s so closely connected the words “wives, submit to your husbands,” the word “submit” isn’t even in the Greek. It’s now, as an example, wives, you need to do that. The yielding of some of your independence for the good of your team to your husbands as though it were Jesus. And this is hard; I told you this was going to be hard because part of you doesn’t even like to hear this because what I’m asking – not me; I’m just the messenger; don’t shoot me – God is inviting every wife to treat her husband as though she were married to Jesus. And I know what you’re going to say; I can hear you thinking it right now, women. You’re thinking, “Yeah, right. I’ll start treating him like Jesus if he starts acting like Jesus.” [Audience: Laughter] But in gospel world, I go first. That’s how we act. I go first. I’m not going to make my cooperative spirit in my home dependent on your behavior. I’m going to choose to treat you better than you deserve and I’m going to help you aim high and I’m going to show you my respect. And God wants his women not to let their natural aggressiveness take over in the home. The husband is the head of the wife not because men are smarter than women or more competent or more brilliant or more executive-minded. I think none of those things are true. In fact, I am of the personal opinion, guys, that we are slightly dumber than women right now and the gap is widening because they’re going to college at an increasingly greater rate than we are. Do you know that? Have you read any of this? The gender ratios on campus these days is like 60/40 and it’s not male to female; it’s female to male. Guys, they already in many ways are brighter than us. Now they’re going to have college degrees, bachelor and master’s degrees at much greater rates than we will. So this has nothing to do with intelligence. This has to do with what’s your job in the family for God has given women enormous power and authority in the family by giving them management of human reproduction and human sexuality. That’s an enormous power within you to influence and shape the world. And so guys need a job, too, or they will stay boys. If you treat us like children, we will act down to your opinion of us. If you treat us like the leader, like a strong leader, who feels a sense of responsibility, take care of his family, then we will live up to your expectation. I’m not trying to put this on you as though that’s all on you; we’ve got to accept responsibility ourselves for listening to the Lord and following his will. But you’ve got to help because it’s very hard to lead when nobody in the house wants to follow. Why? “Do this because Christ is the head of the church and your husband now is your head.” Not head in the corporate sense where you boss people around; it’s a power trip. Head in the organic sense where my head makes decision for the rest of the body – not because it enjoys bossing the hands and feet around but as command central in order to bring benefit to every part of the body to make it all work together. To have a tiebreaking vote because if there is equal authority within the home, there will be paralysis in the decisions just as there are in a business where there is no way to break a logjam. There has to be a way to have a tiebreaking vote when there’s a disagreement and God asks his daughters in Christ to be willing to yield not because they’re dumber than their husbands and he’s the smart one and he knows better. You may be absolutely right but he invites you to yield in order to have that guy accept responsibility and maybe one of the first things he’ll figure out when he does it his way – the dumb way [Audience: Laughter] – is he might say the three magic words to you: I was wrong. And if you treat him with respect, he can then say that. If he feels secure in his masculinity and his strength, he will be able to back down. If you treat him like a child, he will act like a child. If you treat him like an idiot, he will act like an idiot because we are very responsive to you; we seek your approval. We want you to be proud of us. We want you to like what we do. But if you describe a scenario with your words that make us small, we will act small. I’m not proud of saying that. I’m not saying this like to strut; I’m ashamed. But that is who we are. But we have great capability; great gifts to make your family better and you’ve got to talk us up to our roles so that we use our strength for the protection and security of the family. That we accept responsibility for the wellbeing and support of the children. This is a big deal. We men are made emotionally less vulnerable than you. Most women have a really tender heart and life and their children can really mess with them and wound them and we are less vulnerable. That doesn’t mean we don’t cry but we don’t cry anywhere near a tenth as much as you do. It’s because God made us in some ways with a thicker skin around our hearts that we can take something of a licking and that’s such a value to you. Provide some strength, put the strength in a rock inside a home that when you are falling apart you have something to lean on. And we can use our strength to provide security for you. Men fail that when they slide off that middle of the road in either direction. Some men fail that by abandoning their responsibility and they neglect their families; they don’t use their personal gifts to help. Or they go the other extreme and that’s they become tyrants and they try to quote passages like this to beat emotionally and psychologically and religiously beat the family into lying and bully the wife into like obedience. That’s not headship; that’s not Christ headship. That’s just a power play. Christ headship is a man who wants to be just like Christ who as you might recall – if we slide now into this bigger paragraph – “Jesus loved the church so much he gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Why? To make us look good and smell good before God. The results of the work of Jesus Christ on his cross were not just to win a theoretical victory over the devil or for him to pull off a really impossibly difficult fete. He did it for you! He did it to make you look good to God. He did it to make you smell good before God so that you’re radiant; that you shine with his holiness, which he can give you only by his having become a slave on your behalf first. The crucifixion of Christ was the lowest point of his life; when he absolutely took the form of a servant and a slave in order to give you and me freedom and liberation. That’s how he showed headship. This is how a Christian man shows headship in his life – not by how you can use your greater physical bulk and bigger muscle strength to boss people around and bully people and intimidate people into doing what you want. It’s absolutely the reverse – that you use your gifts to go first and check-in with your children and your spouse: What do you need today? How can I help you? How can I make your life better? Why? Because that’s the kind of headship Jesus exercised on our behalf. So a man shows his headship by going first at all the dangerous and stinky jobs. You’re the one to climb up on the ladder and clean the gutters out. You’re the one to slide on your back underneath the car and drain the oil out of your wife’s car and change her oil so she doesn’t have to get her hands all full of that greasy goo and get a spider on her face. You do it for her. When there’s a noise in the middle of the night and she says, “Did you hear that?” You get out of your nice warm snuggly bed and you go whip the lights on. You put your face out there and you go do a perimeter check and come back and say, “There’s nothing there; it must have just been the wind,” so she can relax and go back to sleep. That’s what Christ leadership brings out in a husband who wants to do this God’s way. You wouldn’t abuse yourself, how could you abuse your wife? She’s one flesh with you. You’ve got to love your wife as your own body. “After all, no one ever hated his own body but he feeds and cares for it as Christ does the church – the members of his body. For this reason,” Paul now – in verse 31 – touches what Jesus said and now goes all the way back to Genesis to day six of creation: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery.” In other words, you won’t get this unless it’s been given to you, as Jesus said, unless it’s been revealed; the information and the faith in your heart to grasp it. And I’m putting it out there to you as this is God’s path and design for a happy home. Now you’ve got to make up your mind whether you’re going to accept this or not and there are plenty of reasons why not to; I don’t even have to ask in today’s political climate why a female would not want to ever have those words pass her lips that I would submit to my husband. And I’ll sure tell you what – any man who pays attention to what is asked of him, that he wants the woman to treat him like Jesus, but you be Jesus to her and serve her no matter what the cost to you to make her life better. In other words, the chief agenda point of your life is to make her life better and most men that I know would, by nature, not want to do that. Only a man in whom the Spirit of the Lord lives would be willing to accept that kind of challenge and responsibility and use his gifts not for his personal comfort and pleasure but so that he could make her life better. Talking – you say that’s a mystery – but I’m talking about Christ in the church. Don’t forget, he’s the driving force behind this whole thing. Now here comes the summary statement – drumroll – here comes the finale. “Each one of you,” and here Paul sums it up in one crisp sentence, “Each one of you must love his wife,” each one of you men must love his wife, “as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.” And Paul was onto something big right here. Men, we men, like to be loved; I mean, it’s a nice thing. We’re happy to have it. Sure beats being hated. But the oxygen we’ve got to have is respect because if a wife loves us but pities us, we feel shriveled and small and weak. Our oxygen for our soul is being respected and feeling like a leader, like we’re responsible, like we have some kind of job here. We’ve got to feel like we bring something that matters to the family. And husbands, your wife is starved for love, to feel precious and valuable, to feel important, to feel significant, to crave her input, to listen to what’s on her mind and to open your heart so that she can share the emotions that she is having that day and share them with you. Alright, now this belongs to you. I put all this out here, first of all, for you to repent because every man and woman, including the singles, have all sinned against this plan and so we’ve got to go – just as was mentioned here about Christ – we have to go to the cross of Jesus and let him wash us clean. This is a repentance moment if you are up to it and to simply admit to the Lord the ways in which you have fought against or rebelled against his principles. But this is also a reboot time when you and I can once again say, “Lord, start over. Refresh my mental understanding of what it is that you want of me and help me not only to know your ways, but to love your ways and to live your ways because I trust you that your ways are good and that as I do these things, my home will be a happy home.” Amen. [MUSIC] [PASTOR JEREMY MATTEK] Pastor Jeske just talked about the importance of yielding to the other person in a marriage relationship; of making sure that you’re meeting their unique needs. I’d like to take you through an illustration of how powerful that can be when it’s done. Guys, I’m not going to ignore you right now but I am – I want to specifically address the ladies. And ladies, I’d like you – I’m going to share two scenarios with you – and I’d like you to choose which one you would prefer. Are you ready? The first one is this: It’s your fifth wedding anniversary, the morning of. And you wake up, your husband’s right next to you and he’s still sleeping. You’re so excited that it’s your fifth wedding anniversary because your parents never thought you’d make it this far with this guy, but you did and you proved them wrong and it’s really exciting. And you have a gift for your husband underneath your side of the bed and you go to reach for the gift and then you turn towards him and he’s not awake yet so you nudge him awake and he wakes up just a little bit and you get in his face and you say, “Happy anniversary, honey!” And you can tell by the look on his face that he forgot; he has no idea. But he’s a guy so he doesn’t admit it; he tries to cover it up and he says, “Oh, happy anniversary, honey! Oh, I love you so much; that’s so wonderful you got me a gift. I see that, that’s great. Your gift is coming later,” he says and so, he encourages you to go and get ready for the day and take a shower and while you’re in the shower, he’s on the phone or online and he ends up getting a reservation at the most exclusive restaurant in town, most expensive restaurant in town, and he takes you out that night and it is a glorious night on the town. He hires a string quartet to play to you the whole time; it’s so romantic. It’s your favorite food, it’s a beautiful night, it’s a great time, a great way to celebrate your fifth wedding anniversary. That’s the first scenario. The second one is this: It’s the morning of your fifth wedding anniversary and you’re so excited that it’s your fifth wedding anniversary. And you wake up with your husband in bed right next to you and you have a gift for your husband underneath your side of the bed and you go to reach for that gift and before you can turn to him, he’s already right in your face and he says, “Happy anniversary, honey. I love you so much.” And he says, “I see you got me a gift. Hold onto that for just one second because I want to give my gift to you.” And he pulls a gift from his side of the bed and it’s a very small box. It looks like jewelry might fit in that box and you’re very excited. And you open up the – you tear off the wrapping and you pull off the cover and inside is a box and inside the box you open it up and inside is a rock. A rock; just a plain rock. And your husband says, “I can tell you’re a little confused about the gift that I got you for our anniversary.” And he says, “Let me explain.” He says, “Do you remember that night, about two years before we got married, that we were walking along the beach on a beautiful night? It was a perfect night. We had such a great time together.” He said, “That night, that’s the night that I just knew. I knew that we were going to be together forever. And as I came to that thought and I was thinking about it, I looked down on the beach and there I saw this rock. Which, if you look at it, is shaped kind of like a heart. And so I picked up that rock and I put it in my pocket and I just held onto it and I’ve held onto it for the last number of years until this anniversary when I wanted to give it to you. And you can see that I even inscribed a little message on the back just for you.” And you look and sure enough, there’s a message that is incredibly meaningful just for the two of you and that’s your anniversary gift – a rock. Now which one of those would you rather have? Scenario number one where you have a beautiful night on the town but he forgot? Or scenario number two where he remembered and gave you a rock? I think you know the answer; you prefer the second one because it shows that he was thinking about you. Even when you weren’t expecting him to, even when you weren’t telling him to. It’s meaningful when someone loves us uniquely and shows that they care about our needs and they’re thinking about them. It’s the way that God loves us. He loves us so uniquely and meets our needs no matter what it cost him. He did that in the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ and he does it consistently for you. And when our relationships are built on that love, one in which each person is looking to love the other person as they need to be loved, you know how many people you’re going to have in that marriage that are going to feel loved? Two. Two. God blesses your love when the love that you show is modeled after the love that he shows us. I’ll be right back to pray with you. [PROMOTION] Whether it’s a marriage, church, workplace, or dating relationships, we all have moments when we need help navigating relationships. That’s why we want to send you this brand new book by Pastor Jeremy Mattek called Walking Together; Focused on Jesus. I wrote Walking Together to be a relational tool that speaks as a friend sharing life-learned biblical principles so you can walk with confidence in any relationship. Full of core truths, Walking Together is the book you’ll love to help you remain undivided in your love for others and that’s why keeping your eyes fixed on the highest example of a true relationship ever, Jesus. Walking Together is our thank you for your donation to help keep this Time of Grace broadcast on the air and online; helping you and others find freedom in God’s grace. Call 800-661-3311, text TIME to 313131, or visit [PASTOR JEREMY MATTEK] I’d like to thank you for the many ways that you support this ministry. Your generous prayers and support allow us to serve so many souls with the precious gospel of Jesus. Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, We are so grateful for your service to us. Your service was great because it hurt. You gave so much to meet our collective needs of forgiveness and filling our hearts with hope and you also continue to meet our unique needs. You look at each of us individually. You know what’s going on in our lives, you know the different things that happen in our hearts, you know our different needs, you’re aware of them and you promise to meet every last one of them. How grateful we are for such a great love. Help us to also put into practice that type of service in all of our relationships. Help us to love as you did, to sacrifice as you did, to serve as you always do, trusting that when we do we also bring hope and joy and peace to all the relationships around us. In your name we pray, Amen. God bless you now as you go out to serve in your many different types of relationships. For Time of Grace, I’m Pastor Jeremy Mattek and it all starts now. [MUSIC] [ANNOUNCER] The preceding program was brought to you by the friends and partners of Time of Grace.

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