Over the weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of my eldest son, Gabriel.Here is a picture of the newly wed couple.
It was an exiting day for our family. Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. While, my wife and I are not eager to be grandparents in the foreseeable future, we are thrilled to graft our newly wed daughter (in-law) into our family. Even better is knowing that both of them love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to honor Him for what I hope is a long-life.
Weeks before the wedding I was asked whether or not I was going to preach a sermon. After some thoughtful consideration and prayer I knew in my own heart that a sermon was not optional. And so, I considered what would be an appropriate message for the young couple, as well as those in attendance. Because I have not had the time to post much of my writing on this site, I thought it appropriate to share the message I gave on October 16, 2021.
Love is a powerful word. It is what brought the two of you here today. But, God’s definition of love is in many ways a foreign concept with our current cultural convictions.
In Scripture, love is described as an action. First and foremost love is defined by how we relate to the Triune Creator God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit):
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10.27a; cf. Deut 6.5; NASB).
Secondly, this love is to be reciprocated to others:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12.31; cf. Lev 19.18).
While these truths are often repeated by believers and non, they only give us direction as to where our love is to be pointed, but they tell little of how we are to love. There is no need to fret, though, for Jesus Christ gives us the directives for how we are to love. Love is defined by keeping the Law-Word of God; following His instructions in regards to good and evil:
“If you love Me,” Jesus says, “you will keep My commandments” (John 14.10). Furthermore, the Holy One of Israel adds, “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (John 15.10). Jesus expresses to His followers that true love is one that is faithful to the Word of God, keen on the instruction God has given us for living, so that we may enjoy loves true expression. “Why,” you might ask? The answer is given to us by the apostle Paul:
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law [of God]” (Rom 13.10; bracket added for clarity).
Often times at weddings you will hear the recitation of 1 Corinthians 13. The reason for this is rather simple, it gives wonderful sounding words in defining biblical love. Contextually, Paul is speaking about the type of love that is to be given to fellow members of the body of Christ (ekklessia—from the Greek; the congregation or assembly of Jesus; often called the Church). However, given the nature of marriage—a covenantal institution ordained by God in the beginning; a gift given to a man and a woman who desire to share their lives with one another—it does seem appropriate that the love described there apply to marital union.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness [that is, sin], but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never fails…” (1Cor 13.4-8a; emphasis added).
Notice that in each expression love is defined as an action. True love is found in humility before God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. True love is God’s Law-Word at work in the life of a believer. This does not insinuate perfection on the part of the believer for reality proves that we all fall short and sin; first and foremost against our Maker, but also against our neighbor. In such cases the solution is to confess our wrong and seek forgiveness against the offended part. One final word by the apostle Paul is important for the soon to be newly wed couple to hear (as well as you in this audience).
In Ephesians 5 some words of wisdom are given to the married and the marrying. First Paul calls on the Christian to remember his or her position before their Lord God:
“...Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5.1-2).
Then, Paul speaks to the married, and in our case this afternoon, the soon to be married:
“Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are parts of His body. For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Eph 5.25-33).
Let me simplify this passage for you all, in particular for the two of you, for there is much that Paul says here. Paul is comparing the union of husband and wife with Christ Jesus and His bride, the Church. Just as the bride of Christ is called to submit and respect her Lord, so too is the wife to submit and respect her husband. Why? In the same way that Christ is the head of the Church, the husband is the head of his wife. Meaning what? That he is responsible for her. He is responsible for how he leads in the home, how he cares for his wife, how he protects her from all harm in the same way that Christ leads, cares for, and protects His Church. And if the husband performs his role as husband properly—a spiritual leader that is concerned with doing right and abstaining from wrong (although not perfectly)–then the wife needs to follow his lead, and in so doing she honors her Lord and Savior Jesus.
The husband is commanded to love his wife like Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus do this? He willingly laid down His life for His brides sake. So too then is the husband expected to willingly give of his life for the betterment of his wife. Just as we would never harm our own bodies, the same ought to be true of husbands and their wives. If the husband acts with such things in mind, then he too honors his Lord above.
Again we find that true love, when defined properly, is action. It is based on a faithful commitment to one another. Gabriel and Makalah this is the type of love you are expected to demonstrate to one another; before God and mankind. The same expression of love Christ demonstrated and is now demonstrating for those bonded to Him, is required of the two of you. If you love Christ, as you both have professed, then you will love each other as He commands.
Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. One that is not meant to be taken or entered into lightly. May the Lord of Glory bless your union on this day. And, may those in attendance be a help and not a hindrance to your new found life together.
Let us pray.