Marriage: Hope When It’s Hard
In Genesis 2:18 we read that before sin even entered the world, God says that for man to be alone is “not good.”
* How does God’s character demonstrate the importance and characteristics of marriage? * When men rebelled in the garden, what were some of the consequences? What did Adam say when God confronted him?
Leaders: Our God is a triune God. He is three in one. God’s design for marriage is to reflect/display his nature. When Adam was confronted in the garden, he blamed the woman – he essentially disowned her in a display of blame shifting and selfishness.
Brad said that by default we approach marriage thinking that love is when another person joyfully fulfills all of “my needs.”
* How does this mindset differ from God’s purpose in marriage? * And, importantly, how does the truth of the gospel change our conception of the marriage relationship? * How does it motivate us toward love and self-sacrifice for one another in our relationships? Your wife’s weakness, or husband’s failings, are a gospel opportunity for your marriage to display a glimpse of the love and grace it was created to display! – Brad, from the sermon
Read 1 John 4:7-12. God has created marriage in order to model His character – especially his love – and His gospel. This means marriage was meant to demonstrate forgiveness, mercy and grace in the midst of difficult or seemingly impossible situations. * How did Christ demonstrate His love for us? What was our spiritual situation before His initiating this loving relationship? * In what ways have you seen your spouse, or maybe some godly parents, or role models demonstrate Christ’s gospel?
It’s not your love that sustains your marriage…it’s your marriage that sustains your love!” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer For those of you who are married, think about your marriage and even some of the low and high points you’ve experienced and maybe even some you’ve seen in your friends and parents.
* Knowing that God is sovereign over every circumstance in your life, how do these times remind us of God’s purposes for marriage? Leaders: Marriage can be a very refining instrument in our Redeemer’s hands; He has given us each other to both encourage and to speaking loving truth to each other at times. How has this occurred in your experience? etc.
Re-read Matthew 5:31-32 and James 4:8. Jesus talks about the tragedy of divorce and gives grounds for divorce. Divorce is never entered into with joy, and no Christian ought to desire to initiate divorce.
* What is the promise for those of us going through or dealing with the tragedy of divorce? Leaders: The great promise of Christ is that He is with us in every trial and tragedy, and actually comes alongside us and adopts us into a marriage relationship with him, our great Bridegroom. Jesus knows our sins, He understands our weaknesses and has seen our mistakes. We must call out to Him and ask for help. If we draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us.
* As a follow up: If you are going through separation or contemplating divorce, who are the people in your life that you need to ask for prayer, accountability, and wisdom?
One of the great blessings of being a Christian is having the body of Christ to surround and comfort us, as well as spur us on toward holiness and selflessness. * How does the church community protect us from sin in our marriage? * Where does community breakdown sometimes – i.e. how could we fail even while experiencing good church community?
Leaders: the church body provides us with encouragement, loving – if sometimes hard – gospel truths, and a reminder that we’re not alone in the struggle. But when we forsake honesty, truth telling, and dependence on Christ, we can easily forsake the purpose and blessings of church community. Your greatest hope for joy and fulfillment in marriage, is to look on the grace of the gospel and to see your sin as more fundamental and more problematic than your spouse’s. Because until you take your own sin seriously I don’t think you will be in a place to lovingly but firmly help your spouse through theirs. Jesus said it like this: first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will be able to see to take the speck out of your brothers! Then together you both can fight for your marriage! – Brad, from the sermon
Takeaway Question: Marriage is meant to display the gospel, and how you relate to someone when you sin and they sin reveals your true grasp of the gospel.
* How do you respond when your wife sins and fails…how do you respond when you husband blows it!? * What do you do when you sin and fail?