Does your marriage model the gospel? Bob Lepine explains that married love is exemplified by service, commitment, perseverance, humility and selflessness.
Does your marriage model the gospel? Bob Lepine explains that married love is exemplified by service, commitment, perseverance, humility and selflessness.
Bob: There’s a difference between being in love and loving someone else; and yet we hear a lot of people in a marriage relationship who say, “I’m just not in love anymore.” Maybe the more important question to be asking is, “Are you loving, anymore?”
This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to explore a different kind of love that ought to be a part of every Christian marriage. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. Before we dive into what we’re going to hear today, this is it. This is the last day. We’ve been talking this week about the special offer we are making to FamilyLife Today listeners.
If you will call us this week and let us know that you are willing to host an Art of Marriage® event in your community, in your church, some location where you can open it up and invite people to come, call this week and tell us when and where that’s going to be; and we’ll send you the event kit—the DVDs, a couple of workbooks, the “How To Host An Event” guidebook.
Dennis: You’re making it sound way, way too simple, Bob. All they have to do is get this kit, you’re saying?
Bob: Well, it’s simple to execute.
Dennis: It’s, “Plug and play.”
Bob: You get a location, and a date, and spread the word. Folks show up, and it’s really simple to execute. We’re just asking folks, “Will you do it?” Here’s the deal: we had folks who called in last week; and they said, “We’d like to go to one of the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, but there’s not one coming within 500 miles of us, this spring.”
So, we said, “Well, host an Art of Marriage. You can do it.” Now, we are saying, “We’ll send you the kit for free if you’ll just pick the date and the location;” but we have to hear from you this week if you want to take advantage of that.
Dennis: This is a first-class, highly-produced video series, designed to be a conference, Friday night and Saturday, over by 4 o’clock.
Bob: It’s been used in a couple thousand churches, all around the country already.
Dennis: More than 130,000 people have been to this, and you need to know they’re ranking it off the charts. This is not Christian cheese; okay? Have you ever seen a cheesy Christian video? I have. This is not one of them. It’s not talking heads. It’s entertaining. It’s meant to reach out to all age groups.
You might say, “Why in the world are you guys making this available, at no cost?” Because we believe you are the solution to reaching your community with the biblical blueprints and the Gospel of Jesus Christ around what’s happening in marriages and families today. If He’s not the builder of marriage, then their marriages are not going to make it.
Secondly, we believe this product, this tool, this resource is so easy. In fact, it’s already been used, as you said, Bob, by several thousand couples, just like you, who said, “You know what? We’d like to do something like this.” In fact, I met one of them in St. Augustine, Florida, at the Weekend to Remember®. A young lady came up. She had heard about it on the radio. She ordered the kit. You know how many people she had come to her deal? Four hundred couples! She got her pastor involved; and he said, “This can’t be for a small group. This is great stuff!”
You know what? In the coming six months, we need to see several hundred thousand people go through the Art of Marriage because people like you cared enough to do something. That’s why we’re making it available, free.
Bob: Call 1-800-FL-TODAY; give us the date and location. Call us today so that we can send you the kit because, if you’ve got a date and location picked out, and you call today, we’ll send you the kit for free. I-800-FL-TODAY is the number to call.
We’re going to hear Part Two of a message today on what makes a marriage distinctively Christian. Yesterday, Dennis, we heard that the first thing that makes a marriage distinctively Christian is that you ought to have a different purpose for your marriage.
Dennis: Today, we’re going to hear how you need to have a different kind of love. This message is given by Bob Lepine. He gave this message to a group of counselors, many of them educators, from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. I think you’ll agree with me that he does a great job. In fact, this opening story is a classic!
Bob: [Recorded message] Whenever I’m talking to couples about Ephesians,
Chapter 5, I say, “Before we ever read Ephesians, Chapter 5, and look at husbands, and wives and how that all works out together, you have to read Ephesians 5 through the lens of Philippians 2.”
When Mary Ann and I were dating, Mary Ann was farther along spiritually than I was because she was a Christian and I wasn’t, when we started dating. I acted like one, she thought I was one, I thought I was one, but I hadn’t been converted yet. We were dating and she came to me one time; and she said, “You know what I think would be good? We should memorize some verses from the Bible together.”
I said to her, “That’s a great idea.” I was thinking to myself, “Well, why would you do that? I mean, it’s in the book. You can go look it up any time you want.” (Laughter) That’s what I was thinking; but we were dating, so I was still lying to her. I said, “Yeah, that is a great idea.” I said, “Did you have any particular verses in mind?” She said, “Well, I was thinking from Philippians, Chapter 2.”
I’m thinking to myself, “Is that Old Testament or New Testament?” But I’m acting like, “Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s a meaningful passage. That would be good.” I said, “Which verses were you thinking?” She said, “I was thinking the whole chapter.” I said to her, “Wow!” (Laughter) “Wow, the whole chapter. Wow!” I’m thinking, “Okay, maybe this is not the woman for me. Memorize a whole chapter of the Bible? What is that all about?”
Well, we started because we were dating; and I was trying to lie to her and get her to marry me. We started memorizing Philippians, Chapter 2. She may have gotten to the end; I never got to the end. I remember that I memorized verse 3 really quickly. Now, I’m not a great memorizer; but for some reason, verse 3 just popped in.
Part of the reason it popped in, honestly, is because I put a little rhythm to it. I was doing rap back before there was rap. I had this—like John 15:10 says (Speaking in rap, snapping fingers):
There is joy in the presence of the angels of God,
Over one sinner who repents—dah dah daht.
Like that? Huh? Isn’t that good? See, if I can get a little rhythm working with it, I got it. So I had kind of the same beat going for Philippians—I’ll not do it for you because it will ruin the verse; but here’s what it says. It says, “Do nothing.” Do what? “Nothing—nothing.” Nothing in the Greek means “no thing”—nothing. (Laughter) It’s what it means.
“Do nothing—do nothing from selfishness.” Oh, come on. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” Now you’re meddling; okay? “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” That one verse, applied in most marriages, would fix most things. Not everything—fix most things.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. With humility, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” That’s living upward and outward, not inward. That’s what it’s talking about. So that’s the fundamental other-centeredness that needs to be a part of what’s demonstrated.
We live to manifest that we’re free from sin and self, that we’ve been liberated from the bondage, the slavery to self; and we manifest that by living for God and living for others. The other nearest us is our mate. The way this works is—our marriage is designed to model something.
I like that word. Have you ever been to a model home in a subdivision that they’re building? Here’s what you know about the model home; right? The model home has every extra that they don’t tell you about for the rest of the homes. The crown moldings and all of that—that’s extra; but the model home is designed to say, “This is how good it could be. If everything was here, this is how good it could be.”
Your marriage should be a model marriage that says to people, “This is how good it could be.” Not a perfect marriage—people need to see in your model marriage that your model marriage includes conflict and forgiveness. Otherwise, all they’re seeing is just phony stuff; right? They need to see that there’s real life going on, and grace.
Genesis 2:24 says, you know, “Therefore, a man shall leave father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” That picture should be a model picture. Now, we have to stop and ask, “Is what we’re modeling what we want to be teaching our kids? Is that what we want?”
How many of you would say that there are patterns in your marriage today that are there because of patterns that you saw established in the marriage in the home you grew up in? Most of us would; right? Because we saw it, and we just can’t help it. That’s what we saw; that’s what was modeled for us. Now, we can break some of those patterns. We can break some of those through the power of the Gospel, but the reality is—what you’re modeling for your kids is implanting in them, in the same way it was implanted in you.
It’s implanting in them a powerful message. So, you should have the kind of marriage that is a Gospel-adorning marriage because your kids are learning what that looks like from you. If you say, “Well, I’m not motivated to do it for my spouse,” are you motivated for your sons and your daughters? That’s a part of what this needs to look like. The converse is true. When you have a good, God-honoring marriage, it’s teaching your kids something about God.
Again, your kids aren’t going to see you do it perfectly. My kids have not seen us do it perfectly. They’ve seen us do it redemptively. That’s different than perfect, and that’s good because they’re not going to do it perfectively. So they have to know what redemptive looks like in the midst of imperfection.
I remember an 18-year-old girl who said to me, “My parents need to realize, before they talk to me about God’s love for us, they need to show me God’s love for one another. It’s futile for them to try to tell me about a God Who loves me when they can’t get along.” She understands.
The second group that’s paying attention to your marriage are all of the younger couples. There are young people looking at you. I tell young couples all the time, “Look for some couple in your church that’s about 10 years ahead of you on the path; and you go, ‘I’d like our marriage to look that that 10 years from now,’” Then, say, “Could we babysit your kids if you would sit down and talk to us about helping with marriage?’”
Part of our language at our church back home is that we ought to be able to walk up to everybody in the church at some point and say, “Who’s pouring into you?” and you should be able to name it right there. Then, the next question is, “Who are you pouring into?” I’d ask the same thing as a married couple, “Who’s pouring into you?” and, “Who are you pouring into?”
That’s Second Timothy 2:2, “That which you learned from faithful men” pass on to others so that they can pass it on to others. Who is pouring into you? Where are you drinking? And who are you pouring into? They’re watching. Be intentional about that. The remarkable witness of a healthy, intact marriage—it’s what people are longing for. When they see a godly marriage, with a redemptive relationship, people would kill for that. In fact, I’m expecting some day that we’ll see a promo, “Next on Oprah—a happily-married couple. Learn their secrets;” because people are going, “How do you do it? How do you do it?”
Our marriage should have a fundamentally different purpose, and our marriage should also have a fundamentally different kind of love. I said that, not only is it on display before your children and younger couples, but it’s on display before the whole world, really. Everybody is watching everybody. You have to be aware of that.
What does this distinctively different kind of love look like? What does Christian love in marriage look like that’s different than the love that two pagans have for one another? Well again, it’s God-centered as opposed to being self-centered. It’s upward and outward instead of being inward.
But let me be specific. I think that Christian love is self-sacrificing, not self-serving love—self-sacrificing, not self-serving love. Before Paul, in Philippians, Chapter 2—before he says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,”—before that, he says, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, in full accord and intent on one purpose.” Then, “do nothing from selfishness.”
That kind of love that is different than the world knows—“patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not rejoicing in wrongdoing, rejoicing in the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things.” We should have a self-sacrificing, not a self-serving love.
The second thing about our love—our love should be a forgiving love, not a hard-hearted love. That’s different than what the flesh produces—a forgiving love, not a hard-hearted love. Ephesians 4:26 , “Be angry. Do not sin.”—“Be angry. Do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the Devil an opportunity.”
Now, you have to understand, when you hang on to anger, resentment, bitterness, you are in league with, in partnership with, the Devil. How many of you would say here today, “What I really want for my life is to be in a concerted partnership with the Devil”? So, do not sin in your anger. Resolve conflict, or you are in league with the Devil of Hell—Ephesians 4:26. Then, later on, verse 32. Here’s who you are—“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” Why? “—even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.” It must have a different kind of love, a forgiving love, not a hard-hearted love.
The third thing is—it should have a Spirit-controlled love, not a flesh-controlled love. I have a fundamental presupposition. Just stick with me on this. I told you that the Bible is about creation—1 and 2; rebellion, Chapter 3; redemption; consummation; right? Here’s my fundamental presupposition—Jesus said all of that can be summed up—all the Law and the Prophets, at least the Old Testament and, I think, the New Testament too—all of it can be summed up: “Love God; love your neighbor.” Live upward; live outward. That sums up the whole deal.
My fundamental presupposition is that the Bible is all about, “How do we love God, and how do we love others?” When you read your Bible, you should be asking the question, “How does this help me love God? How does it help me love others? Is it talking about loving God or is it talking about loving others? How does it help me with those things?”
When you see it, and it’s teaching me to love others, then the first person you ought to be thinking of is, “Oh, this applies in my marriage.” See, it’s easier for me to love the guy at church that I only see once a week. I can be nice to him—I can be “kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, gentle, humble, patient.” I can be all of that with him because he’s going to be gone in 45 minutes; right?
This is true; isn’t it? You’re in some marital conflict where the fellowship is intense; right?—where the decibel level has increased and where there’s just a little—the room temperature is getting chillier, and there are some angry or hostile things, or some passive-aggressive stuff going on, and the phone rings. You go over, and with a complete stranger, you go, “Hi! How are you?”
You hang up the phone, and it’s back to “this stuff.” Talk that way to that person! Why are you doing it with strangers, and you can’t do it with one another?—because we know one another so well—because we can hurt one another so deeply—because we can wound one another. That’s why the intimacy really makes it hard.
Colossians 3—I quoted this already, “As God’s chosen ones, you put off anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech and lying,” and instead, what do you put on? “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
C.S. Lewis said, “The best way to acquire a virtue is to act as if you already have it.” Right? You go, “Well, I don’t feel compassionate.” Okay, just act that way. For 30 days, act compassionately toward your spouse; and guess what will happen. Your heart will change. “I don’t feel kind toward my spouse.” Okay, just act that way. “But I’m going to be self-righteous.” Okay, go ahead and be self-righteous for a couple of days. “I’m going to be a phony.” Alright, do it for a couple of days. Just be phony, and just see if it doesn’t affect a change of heart.
Then it says, “Bear with one another. If anybody has a complaint against another, forgive. Even as the Lord has forgiven you, you must forgive. And above all, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were once called, and be thankful.” If I have to sum up the three different kinds of love we should have—it would be commitment, self-sacrifice, and humility.
Now the only way you have a different kind of love and a different kind of purpose in marriage is to have that transformation that we talked about; right? Here are the words that always come back to me as I think about the Gospel, as I talk about what God has done for us in Christ: He took those of us who were weighed down by sin and took the weight off. Forgiveness is the first thing. What a great—it is Pilgrim removing the pack so he can get through the gate. It’s the weight of sin, no longer being borne, and the liberation that comes from that.
The second thing is it is transformation. It’s forgiveness, and then it’s transformation. He took those of us who were self-focused and He is in the process of making us more and more in the image of his Son. Then, the third thing is it is hope. He took a hopeless people and gave them a hope that we didn’t have. What hope did we have before we knew Christ? What hope did we have? Forgiveness, transformation, and hope—when we understand that—that liberates us to have a different purpose for our marriage and to have a different kind of love for one another.
Dennis: [Studio] Well, we’ve been listening to a message given by Bob Lepine.
Bob: I was nodding as I was listening back to that.
Dennis: You agree with yourself; huh? Those are good points. Forgiveness, transformation, and hope. God has done all that for us. Now the question is, “What does that demand of us?” Well, it demands allegiance to Him, surrender to Him, and then it means we pierce the darkness. We grow upward with Him, and we grow outward to impact our communities.
That’s why we have made—I called it earlier “an audacious offer.” We’ve never made an offer like this, in almost 20 years of doing FamilyLife Today—the audacious offer of saying, “If you’ll call us and tell us when and where you’re going to host an Art of Marriage video event in your neighborhood, your community, your church, we’ll give you the kit, absolutely free.”
Now, why are we doing that? I’ll tell you why. Number one, because we believe that the crisis is urgent. Marriages and families are being destroyed daily; and the culture is performing an all-out assault on marriages and families. Number two, we believe you’re the solution. You, as a lay couple—you may say, “Dennis, what can we do? We just live in this little community. We don’t have all the gifts.”
You know what? This is a plug-and-play video conference, where we do it all for you. You just need to get maybe a few other couples together with you to help promote it, get the word out, then order the manuals so every person at the conference has a manual when they come to it. Then watch Jesus Christ invade lives, change marriages, and you’ll see what Bob was talking about—people experiencing forgiveness, transformation, and hope.
Bob: So pick a place, pick a date that works for you and for your friends, and call us; tell us the date and the location. We’ll send you the kit so that you’re all set. It has all the instructions. Then, spread the word; and the kit tells you how to spread the word. It has information about posters, and bulletin inserts, and clips that you can show in church to let folks know about the event coming up.
Again, today is the last day that you can call and take advantage of the special offer we’re making to receive the Art of Marriage event kit, free. All we need from you is to know when you’re going to host this and where it’s going to be. We’ll get your location registered on our map, and we’ll send you out a copy of the kit. So, call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
We are excited because there are lots of these Art of Marriage events that are happening as a result of what we’ve been talking about here, this week, on FamilyLife Today. In fact, if you’re not hosting an event, go to our website and click on the interactive map; and you can find out when an Art of Marriage event is going to be happening near your home town. Then, plan to attend, even if it’s at the church down the street. I’m sure they’d love to have you come and join them for an Art of Marriage event, when they host it this spring.
Our website, again, is FamilyLifeToday.com; and if you want to call to get the kit, call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
I want to ask you, too, to join us in praying for the husbands and wives who are coming back from Iraq and some of them coming back from deployment in Afghanistan, as well. This spring, there are going to be tens of thousands of servicemen and women coming home. Here, at FamilyLife, we are praying for those folks because we know that coming back home can sometimes be hard on marriages and families.
In fact, we’ve established a scholarship fund. We call it the “Finally Home to Family” scholarship fund. We’re hoping to be able to scholarship thousands of military couples, inviting them to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway in their community this spring. We’re asking you to make a donation to that scholarship fund today to help support these servicemen and women and their spouses. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation online. Click on the link that says, “Finally Home to Family”; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.
If you’d like to text a donation, text the word, “HOME”, to the number 28950. That’s the word, “HOME”, to 28950; and we’ll send back instructions on how to make a donation so you can help support a military couple—send them to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. “Thanks,” in advance, for your support of the “Finally Home to Family” scholarship fund.
With that, we have to wrap things up. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend; and I hope you can join us on Monday when we’re going to have as our guest the former Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett. He joins us to talk about what makes a man a man and, “How can we raise our sons to embrace real masculinity?” We’ll talk with him Monday, and I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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