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A More Excellent Way for Marriage


littlesableMarriage of A McL and D K

Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Mears, Michigan

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

June 12, 2013

A More Excellent Way for Marriage

Jesu juva!

INI

 

A,

D,

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on this your wedding day.

 

“And now I will show you a more excellent way.”

 

The reading starts there, with “a more excellent way.”  There are a lot of other ways to live in marriage, but what we get is not “the slightly less excellent way,” or the “better than most other people’s way”, or

 

“the way that seems best to us”, or

 

D K’s way, or

 

A McL’s way.

 

It is “the more excellent way.”  Really it is the most excellent way.

 

The ‘more excellent way’ is the way of love.

 

God says love is the more excellent way to live in marriage and in every other station in life.  He says love is, in fact, the only way that He accepts.

 

Love is
the most excellent way for marriage because it is God’s way.  It is not only His way, but what He is.  God is love (1 John).  The Bible says, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  (1 John 4:7-8)

 

 

But who gets married without love, anyway?  Most people who get married are “in love.”

 

But that is not the kind of love we’re talking about.  The kind of love we are talking about, which is the “more excellent way” for marriage, is not found in very many marriages at all.

 

Love is patient and kind…

Love is patient and kind even when the other person totally and inexcusably fails us.

 

love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.

 

Love does not leave socks laying around the house and think the sock fairy will pick them up.  It does not envy, thinking: “My husband or wife should put me before the in-laws or work.”

 

 It does not seek itself

 it is not easily angered, it does not keep a record of wrongs.

 

Love doesn’t remember all the times our spouse failed us or disrespected us in the past.

 

] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, stands firm through all things.

 

Love does not give loved ones a pat on the back when they do what is wrong in God’s sight, even if it is okay in the eyes of other people.

Nor does it give up when instead of a series of sunny days, marriage appears to be one storm after another.  It believes all things, hopes all things, stands fast through all things, seeing through the dark clouds (like those we see today) and always believing that in the end joy will win out over sorrow.

 

This kind of love is God’s love.  This is God’s nature.  God is love.

 

Anything we do without this love displeases God and is unacceptable to Him.  Without this kind of love everything we do—whether in marriage or any other calling in life–is stained with selfishness.  It’s really all about us.

 

That’s how most marriages operate, even though the fundamental selfishness is prettied up and hidden even from the people who do it.  Sometimes it works for awhile too.  But it is really empty.

 

Without this love our marriage may please us, but it displeases God.

 

And yet this kind of love, which is the more excellent way, goes against our nature.  We love and give, but we always want a return on our love.  And we can’t wait forever for the debt to be repaid.

 

But you do have this love, unless you push it away from yourself.  Because this is how God has loved you.

 

He loved you selflessly.  He put aside His anger, and didn’t keep a record of your wrongs.  He was kind and patient.   And He wants to show you unlimited patience and kindness throughout your lives.

 

God has loved you with this selfless love, and given this love to you so that it is your own.  He gave it to you in His Son.

 

Greater love has no one than this, that a man lays down His life for His friends, Jesus said (John 15?).  Unlike merely human husbands, Jesus not only talked, but did what He said.  He gave up His life and was judged and condemned for us that we would live, even though our whole nature had been to seek ourselves.  We didn’t love.  We didn’t know God.  We were enemies.

 

But now God has loved us and His love covers our past sins and our present sins and our future sins.  He loved us in His Son.  And in Jesus He gives to us this love which as long as we live covers up our faults and buries them.

 

And the love God gave you in flesh and blood—in Jesus—He caused it to touch you in your time and place when He baptized you.  There you became radiant and beautiful, like your bride on her wedding day.  Today she is more beautiful to you than any woman in the world because she is your wife, given to you by God.  That is how your baptism makes you in the eyes of Jesus.  It made you His own.

 

As we watch the sun set over Lake Michigan tonight through the rain and clouds we hoped would not come, we rejoice in God’s goodness and kindness.  He has made it so that you are not alone.  He joins you in marriage and makes you one flesh, as Adam and Eve were one flesh.

 

And even when His gifts do not shine in our eyes, like this rain, we can still rejoice.  God our Father gives nothing to us that doesn’t end in our good.  The rain falling is not the whether we want for your wedding, but without this rain there would be no life.  Often God’s gifts are like this—not what we wished, not what shines in our eyes, but giving something better and more real than we wished for.

 

God gave you something greater by His Spirit, which all this water pictures.  He washed away and covered and drowned all that we are by nature—our self-love, our sin inherited from Adam.  He washed it in Baptism and covered us with Jesus—with His righteousness, with His blood shed to cleanse us of our sins.  He united us with Him as a bride to her husband.

 

In Him, in your Baptism, the love of God is yours.  It covers your sins, and it flows out of you.  It may be just a little puddle, or seem that way.  But baptized into Jesus, and believing that He loved you so as to take away your sins forever with His death, the little fountain of God’s love in you will grow until it empties into the ocean from which it came—which is God Himself.  For God is love.  And those who are born of God will find their rest in Him.

 

.

 

Let this most excellent way be the way of your marriage.  Love one another, but first believe in His love for you.

 

Be renewed in Jesus’ love.  Don’t try to get by on your own.  Hear Him preach to you in church and in the Scriptures.  Hear Him when He says: “This is my blood of the new testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and receive the gift of His love, His body and blood.

 

As you are strengthened in His love, you will be strengthened to love one another—to be patient and kind, to put up with all things, believe all things, hope all things, stand firm in all things.  Even in storms and darkness light will shine in the darkness for you.

 

You will begin to love one another as God loves, and God, who is love, will dwell in your marriage.  This is the most excellent way, and it is the way on which Christ put you when He baptized you.  Like this rain and this lake, there is life hidden in this water, regardless of how it appears.  Only the life in your baptism “never comes to an end.”   He who loved you will lead you in His most excellent way until the river empties into the see and you know the love of God not as in a mirror, darkly, but face to face.

 

 

Amen.

 

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

SDG

 

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