You ever hear these lines? “Oh, to dwell there above with the saints that we love that would be glory. But to dwell here below with the saints that we know, that’s another story.” In the mean time, between now and the time we find ourselves ending up in heaven, we’ve got some living to do together, don’t we? And that’s another story. But we want to take a look at that story anyway, because I think and I know that it can be a happy journey. It doesn’t need to be an unhappy journey.
Now whenever a young fellow and a girl get together, and they talk about getting married, can you picture this kind of a conversation? Where the fellow says to his girl, “Boy, you sure bug me. You know you bother me more than you give me pleasure, and we’re always fighting with each other, and it’s a very difficult thing for us to find a basis for getting along. Why don’t we do this the rest of our lives? Will you marry me?”
Can you imagine that kind of a conversation? No, you laugh at me. That’s ridiculous. Nobody gets married, that I’m aware of, without the highest of hopes that this is going to be one of the finest, friendliest, most congenial, most satisfying relationships that anybody ever had. Isn’t that right? And that’s true, that’s a possibility. It is possible to live that kind of life. It’s interesting how people will end up in the consulting room a few months after they’re married.
These are the same people who couldn’t stay away from each other. These same people, now it seems like the house they live in isn’t even big enough for the two of them. This girl who couldn’t stay out of his arms now says, “I can’t stand for him to touch me.” Isn’t that interesting that something like that could happen between two people who had such high hopes?
Well, I think it’s good for us then to stop and consider a little bit what goes into a relationship that will guarantee happiness and contentment and satisfaction. Now I’ve taken a lot of time to talk about you as a person because obviously one factor in marriage is that it takes a real nice man. Are you a nice man? Your wife would describe you that way, and your children would describe you that way. Just a nice fellow, predictably nice. And an effective relationship, talking about marriage, it takes a nice lady.
Now I want to turn to a passage of scripture that talks about this a little bit. The ingredients, the personality factors, that we need to have and bring to a marriage. Now listen to this, this is the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Now, a lot of us men who know something about the Bible, if we don’t know anything, we know one little squig, and that little squig is in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, and it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” When I say that, I can just feel the ladies tense up.
What I’m saying is that so many men, that’s all they know about it. But I want to call to your attention the fact that that passage of scripture has a lot more to say than that. Let’s take a look, and let’s start with the eighteenth verse. And it says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” Now I believe it’s important to point out that that’s where we begin. A spirit-filled lady.
Now there isn’t any lady in this room but what cannot make sure that her relationship with God is what it ought to be and that she has access to the love, and joy, and the peace, and the long suffering, and the gentleness, and the kindness, and the faith, and the patience of God. There is no man in this room but what can’t have that kind of relationship. What would stop you, sir, from being filled with the Spirit? “Don't be drunk with wine.”
I remember the days when I used to drink, and there are some benefits to getting drunk, I guess. I used to be so mad at people, and you know, a few drinks would turn me into somebody that liked the same people I just hated, just a few drinks. Now the only trouble with that is that it’s temporary. It’s artificial. But never the less, there’s something about getting drunk that quiets our disturbed spirits.
Now the Bible says that’s not the answer, and there are a lot of people that’ll testify to you that that’s certainly not the answer. But be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of God will quiet you down. The Spirit of God will fill your heart with joy and peace, and imagine you, sir, coming home from work tomorrow filled with love and joy and peace and long suffering; and when you walk into the house, your wife can depend on it. Here comes a nice man.
One lady was saying to me, “I’m never quite sure what he’s going to be like when he comes home, but I can tell what’s going to happen the way he slams the door. And if the door has that kind of a slam, I can brace myself because he’s going to come bounding up those steps and he’s going to say something like this, ‘Mary!’” What a way to start, huh?
“Didn’t I tell you to tell those kids to keep those bicycles out of the driveway?” That’s the way he starts the day. And Mary, she leaves the sink and she comes up there to the steps with her hands on her hips and shoves her nose into his nose.
It’s amazing how brave some of these little women are, isn’t it? She says, “You think that’s all I’ve got to do is watch for bicycles?” There they are glaring at each other, and that’s how you get started. That’s not a very good way to start off an evening. Imagine him, when he was courting coming in and slamming the door, “Mary!”
I wonder how far he would have gotten. That’s not the way to do it. You see, the starting point in an effective relationship is to be filled with the Spirit. In other words, the starting point involves a proper relationship between you and God, and that will be the basis upon which you are going to build your relationship.
Now I want to point out that this same qualification involves any two or more people who have to cooperate. I don’t think that marriage, basically speaking, is a whole lot different than any two or more people that need to cooperate. Whether it’s two men who are in a partnership, or whether it’s two women or a man, and a woman in another kind of a partnership. The requirements are the same.
Now let me read some of those. Here is a picture of the characteristics of this kind of a woman that’s going to be an effective partner. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” You know what that says to me? I see a kind of a, “La, la, la, la, la,” sort of a person with a song on your lips. The implication, I believe here, is an outwardly, cheerful person, outwardly cheerful.
Now the rest of it though, I’m not proposing that you become an actor or an actress. The rest of the verse says, “Singing and making melody in your heart unto the Lord.” You see here, we're implying here an individual underneath your skin content and happy unto the Lord, and that your outward manner is congenial and friendly as unto the Lord. What we’re talking about, this person that’s filled with the Spirit, an outwardly friendly person, that that manner is backed up by an inner life that is described as somebody with a melody in their hearts.
You know, you look this audience over, and you say to yourself, “Who are the happy people out there? Who are they?” Or you ask yourself another question, “Who are the crabby old people out there?” And you know, as I look this audience over, and I’m a trained person, I’m trained in observation; you know what, I can’t tell. I really can’t, because you can be disgruntled with a smile on your face. But a partnership requires an inwardly, cheerful person.
Now I dwelled on this next one, so I’m not going to waste much time on this. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Now do you see that thread going through there? You see, you give thanks unto the Lord. You have a melody in your heart as unto the Lord.
You're singing as unto the Lord, and the thing that makes all of this possible is not the presence of your partner, but your relationship to the Lord. As your relationship to the Lord is what it ought to be, your relationship to your partner will be what it ought to be. Oh, you hear so many people say, “If only my partner would change, all these warm, friendly, wonderful qualities will be unlocked.” I thought that.
You know what I thought? I was going to be the most congenial, friendly, easy- going husband a woman ever had, and I thought I was going to get that kind of a wife. You know what my wife said to me when we were courting? One night she said, “Henry, I’m going to spend the rest of my life making you happy.” Imagine anybody wanting to do that for me? I bought that.
I said to her on the same night, “Eva, I’m going to do the same for you,” and I meant it! You can imagine what a tender night that was, huh?
You know that whole thing collapsed the first week we were home from our honeymoon. We were skiing on our honeymoon, and I came home very enthusiastic about skiing, and I went to visit the boys like I always did. I didn’t do anything unusual. I didn’t do anything unpredictable. I had been running with these men friends of mine for years, and for years we did the same thing we did this time. All we did was plan a weekend trip.
Nothing new, I had done it many times before, and I just casually went home and said to my wife, “I’m going skiing over the weekend with the boys.” That was her first chance to make me happy, just like she said. You know what she said? “You aren’t going. You’re married now.” And honestly, that’s the first time that it dawned on me what I had done.
Well, I wasn’t about to be stooped by that, and I told my buddies about it and they told their girlfriends about it, and we got after my wife, and we put her in a position where she just had to give in, and believe me, I got to go skiing. I’m not going to have any woman telling me that I’m not going skiing. Well I’ll tell you, that’s not the kind of attitude that builds a happy marriage.
I did get to go skiing, but what happened to our declarations? What was wrong? I wanted what I wanted, that’s all, and she wanted what she wanted. She discovered and I discovered that this tendency to go your own way did not disappear because we spoke some marriage vows.
I remember one time deciding that my wife ought to have an electric stove, and so I decided it, and we bought it, and then I got to thinking about how I came to decide it. And the more I thought about it, the madder I got.
‘Cause she had maneuvered me into that stove. You know what I found out? I had married a woman smarter than me, and we didn’t have a very happy start because we weren’t living this way. Take this verse, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” We found out after we were married that’s not what we were doing. I wanted what I wanted, and she wanted what she wanted, and you don’t build a relationship that way, you just don’t.
The idea is that you submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God. I thought that parenthood would make a nice man out of me. Well I pictured this real friendly, warm, easy-going man. I remember one time we were entertaining somebody at our house. I changed professions when I was twenty-seven years old, and so we already had three children and we went to this college, and we were entertaining the president of the college, believe it or not.
We got to have the president of the college at our house. You should have seen my wife go through that house. It never was that clean. I asked her when I came home one day, “What’s going on around here?” She said, “Well we’re going to have the president over.” I thought, “Isn’t that great?” A perfect stranger, and look at all of this activity.”
I come home, and what happens? Nothing. Well anyway, we worked hard on getting ready for that, believe me, and then we were going to act like it’s always like this around here. You know what, I tell that story all over the world, and everybody seems to think it’s funny. Now, what I can’t figure out is why didn’t I think it was funny? That girl made me so mad I couldn’t … have you ever felt that way about somebody? You could just let ‘em have it. Ooo, I was mad at her. You know, parenthood didn’t make a nice man out of me.
Now I’m trying to point out one of the most important things that I can point out, and that is that in this passage of scripture, in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, it is addressed to men and women in the marriage relationship that this thread through that passage that sustains it all, involves your walking in the Spirit and submitting yourself to the Spirit of God. “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making melody in your heart as unto the Lord. Giving thanks unto the Lord. Submit yourselves one to another, as unto the Lord.”
The centrality of your commitment to the Lord is involved in marriage, and your surrender to the Lord will be made perfectly clear, as never before, in this marriage relationship. Now I want to take a few more minutes to point out the foundation upon which you're going to build this marriage, assuming a nice lady and a nice man. Now if you haven’t got that, there’s no use in talking about marriage. If an individual is a grumpy, crabby, selfish person, you can only expect trouble in marriage.
And so the preparation is spiritual. Assuming that though, here is the foundation upon which you will build your marriage, and you will find this in I Corinthians 1:10. “I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Now, you look at that and you say that doesn’t leave me much room does it? Where does freedom of thinking come in? Where does my independence go? Same thing applies to any other relationship. Whenever two or more people get together, both of you give up your rights.
Now when we talk about the leadership of the husband, we will bring this up more in detail in our next session, but when you talk about the leadership of the husband, what are you talking about? You are talking about the fact that this man takes the lead in designing a harness that both of you will wear.
Marriage does not imply that the man goes off and does what he pleases, and the woman puts her mind into neutral and quits thinking, and goes along with any stupid notion that her husband comes up with. Anyway, if the husband thought that, it doesn’t happen, and rightly so. Leadership involves helping to design a harness that fits him, as well as her, and that’s a tough job. I’ve had people say, “We could discuss anything before we were married, and now that we’re married, we can’t seem to discuss anything.”
That’s right. Before you were married, all you needed to do was discuss. After marriage, you have to decide. Before marriage, when you’re unrelated, you can have your say, and he can have his say, but you don’t have to decide anything, like tennis. Have you ever played singles?
Now the idea in singles is to out play your partner, to outsmart your partner, to out manipulate your partner. The idea in singles is to beat your partner. In other words, if your partner wins, you lost. And every once in awhile, you have tennis players say, “Boy we’re having so much fun playing singles, why don’t we play doubles,” and so you jump over the net. You see what you’ve done?
You've changed the whole game. You aren’t competing with each other now. Now you’re cooperating. Now you’ve got to work together. If both of you are under the net when somebody lobs the ball over your head and you look at your partner and say, “Why didn’t you stay back there?” and your partner says, “Why didn’t you stay back there?” Now you’ve got to cooperate. That’s the nature of marriage. It’s a man and a woman who must find a mutually agreeable and a mutually binding way of life. Mutual.
A harness that you both wear, and to spell it out in Biblical terms in closing, let me read this verse once more, and then we’ll pick up from here in our next session. “I beseech you brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus, that you all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” It’s on that foundation that you build a partnership.