Relationships

Scripture Text: Malachi 2:10-16

10 Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?
11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the LORD ’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols.
12 May the LORD cut off from the nation of Israel every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
13 Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD ’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure.
14 You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.
16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

INTRODUCTION

The post-exilic Jews were having a difficult time of things and their attitude had grown sour. Instead of blaming themselves for their predicament, they blamed God and this irresponsibility turned into a bad attitude.


The thing about a bad attitude is that it permeates everything in life. It is hard to isolate a bad attitude. One bad attitude can have a determental effect on an entire family or a congregation for that matter. Right now, our country is suffering from a small minority of people who have a bad attitude.


We have already seen in our study in Malachi, that a bad attitude affects worship, it also affects our ministry {Priestly} and witness. Today, we will talk about how it affects RELATIONSHIPS. A bad attitude can destroy a marriage or a friendship.


Due to the time it takes me to do a three point sermon, I don’t do many these days but this message has four points so I will hurry along.

I. THE PROBLEM

The problem was lust. The Jewish men, including the priest were divorcing the wives of their youth [the mother of their children] and marrying younger women. They were not just marrying younger women, they were marrying pagan women who worshipped idols. The Apostle Paul gives us clear teaching on this matter:

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?
This is not just a problem with older men looking for a younger wives: this is a major problem for young people who have never been married. My mother taught me three basic rules:
  1. Never date someone you would not marry.
  2. Never date an unbeliever.
  3. Never date someone you would be ashamed to be seen in public with.

Walter K. Ayers was a country boy from Arkansas. His dad abandoned him and his sister when he was nine and his mom had a stroke when he was 19. Before her stroke, she worked 16 hours a day trying to provide for the two children. Walter did what he pleased. This means he went to school rarely and he failed consistently. He finally dropped out completely in the 8th grade. He got into trouble again and again and was on the verge of being sent to prison at age 19. Due to his mother and the high school football coach, Walter was given one last chance. A part of his probation was to return to school which was a bit of a problem since Walter was 19 and in the 8th grade. Walter thought to himself, I will do good if to stay out of trouble for two weeks but a couple of positive things happened. First, some teachers took an interest in Walter and went out of their way to help him and then a new girl moved into town. He fell for her hook, line and sinker. There was one problem, she was a devoted Christian and Walter hated church: he thought it was for sissies and old folks. The only way she would date Walter was at church. He didn’t like that so he laid down the law, “It either church or me.” She told him quickly, “It will be church.” Then she said “Buy Walter.” Long story short, through his relationship with this uncompromising girl and her pastor who was an all state running back in high school, Walter came to know Jesus. Four years later he answered the call to preach and became a Southern Baptist Evangelist. You can hear his testimony as he preached at First Baptist Dallas with Dr. Wally Amos Crisswold doing the introduction.

Young people: don’t compromise on this issue. Hold to your convictions. Don’t date anyone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ.

Solomon is considered by most to be wise, some say the wisest but Solomon disobeyed God’s direct order by marrying foreign women who were pagans. I Kings 11 gives us the details.


1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.

2The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway.


Solomon’s rebellion and poor choice marked the beginning of the end for the Kingdom of David.

II. THE PROMISE

Malachi said, You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.

Vows are more than a promise. We make promises to each other but vows are made to God. It is one thing to promise to be faithful in sickness and health, poverty or wealth, the good times that brighten you ways and the dark times that saddened your days. But the vow you made was for better or worse and you made it directly to God, not your wife. We all have our better side but we also have that worse side. The key to an enduring relationship is not love, it is commitment. You could translate that into love for Jesus but there comes a time in every marriage where you have to make a decision: Am I to look out for my own personal interest and pursue my happiness or am I to be faithful to my vows?

I don’t think there is a close second, the most frightened I have ever been was during our wedding. I was shaking so bad when June and I kneeled on a little iron alter, that I thought it was going to come a part. Wedding vows are a commitment to God and a vow is sacred, it is a big deal. Those who take a vow to God lightly will suffer the consequences. It is or should be one of the most sacred moments of your life. I make those I marry repeat vows. They are important. They are holy and sacred, something you should never forget.

I married a young couple once against my better judgment. I tried my best to talk them out of it right up until the last moment. The marriage lasted longer than I though, almost seven years. I went to talk with the young man and begged him to reconsider {he had found a new love}. I reminded him of the vow he made, he told me, “I don’t remember making a vow.” I said, “You made it and now you are breaking it.”

III. THE PITFALL

15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.

16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”


I use the NLT. Joe David uses the NIV and I have been tempted to switch myself but the NLT has such of way of making things clear. Twice you see the phrase, “guard your heart.”


The NIV reads, “guard yourself in your spirit.” The NASB reads, “take heed in your spirit.” But the NLT is so clear, so simple: the biggest pitfall in the martial relationship is the unguarded heart.

The most dangerous thing you can do is take your spouse for granted; to take your marriage for granted and let down your guard. The moment you begin to think that your marriage is invincible, you are in trouble. Most couples get married, settle down, start raising children and in the process, they quit dating, romancing each other. I heard one man put it this way: “My wife is like an old hound, laying on the front porch, you couldn’t run her off if you tried.”  I cringed when I heard him say these words. Eros {Romantic love} is very conditional. It is a fire but it will go out if it is not nurtured. You have to stir the embers, fan the flame and put a stick of wood on from time to time. Once you reach a state of indifference, you let down your guard and you make it possible for someone else other than your mate to get into your heart. Despite what some say, “Intimacy” is the number one problem and the lack thereof is the leading cause of divorce.

When we take our spouse and marriage for granted, we cease to meet needs and unmet needs lead to loneliness and loneliness looks for company. Extra marital affairs begin with this desire to fulfill unmet needs and they usually begin with talking, sharing and listening. In time, an emotional bond is formed which often times leads to a sexual relationship which becomes very destructive to all persons involved.

If you are struggling with unmet needs–guard your heart. Open only to Jesus. Get involved with Jesus in an intimate relationship. Share your loneliness with Jesus. He may not be all you want but He is all you need If you open your heart to a friend of the opposite sex, you are going to get emotionally involved and then you are going to hurt any way you go. There is no easy way out of an extra marital affair. GUARD YOUR HEART.

IV. ONE LAST THING: THE PAIN

16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

Verse 16 is one of the most difficult passages to translate in the bible and scholars are divided. The NLT, NASB, AV all… The LORD says, “I hate divorce.” but the NIV reads…

  • NIV–“The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty.
  • ESV–“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.”
  • Holman–“If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

The debate is over the “Object.” What is the object of the hate? Is it divorce or the wife. I am a proponent of using multiple translation. Unfortunately, many pastors are too insecure to do so. It doesn’t matter how you translate the verse: there is a powerful message…

  • “The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect,”
  • “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her covers his garment with violence.”
  • “If he hates and divorces his wife, he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

You tell me which translation does not communicate a truth. Divorce is violent and treacherous. Only two kinds of people will deny this truth: those who have never experienced divorce and those who are living in denial.

CONCLUSION

  1. Watch your attitude

  2. Guard your heart

  3. Practice love by doing loving things

  4. Don’t exhalt your needs above the needs of your spouse and children

 

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Relationships

Scripture Text: II Corinthians 6:11-18

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.
12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.
13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”

INTRODUCTION

In previewing tonight text, one subject came to mind immediately and it is RELATIONSHIPS. This passage is about relationships: Pastor to congregation, husband to wife, child to parent and God to man.
Life is about RELATIONSHIPS. All the above are important but of course, no relationship is more important than your relationship to Christ.

I. RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUILT ON TRUST AND AFFECTION

Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
Let me say in passing, healthy relationships are 50/50 but there are not many healthy relationship. Perhaps one out of ten but that may be a stretch. In most relationship one party dominates the other. One gives more than their share which means the other is taking more than their share.
CAUTION: Most of us here tonight are beyond these instruction but do not take your spouse for granted: it can be a fatal sin when it comes to your relationship. 
It is true that many folks have adjusted to an imbalanced relationship. They do most of the giving but they are content. These are going to the folks our age. Some do not make it to the age of contentment.
Paul was convinced and I have no reason to doubt him, his relationship with Corinth was not 50/50. Paul was open and honest with them but they were restrained. The Greek word that Paul uses is stenochōreō  and it means to be in a narrow place, a strait, or to be compressed, cramped by the narrowness of the situation. In other words, your walking on egg shells in this relationship. There is no freedom for you to be you.
Honesty and openness are vital to intimacy. You cannot achieve intimacy without them. Insecurity is the arch nemesis of honesty. It is for this reason that I counsel those in pre-marital counseling to get profession help if they were abused as a child. Sexual abuse scars a child severely and there is no way they can enter into an adult relationship without the excess bandage creating by the scaring. They cannot forget what happened to them and without proper help, they can’t get beyond it. The number one problem in marriages is lack of intimacy and this is caused by our failure to be honest and open.
Paul was convinced that his relationship with Corinth was one sided: He had great affection for them but they had little for him. He was making all the sacrifices. He was doing the giving. He longed for his love and affection to be reciprocated. It was an unrequited love: a one-sided love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The beloved may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affection, or may consciously reject it. Unrequited love is lonely and painful but the beloved doesn’t care.
Paul challenges the Corinthians to OPEN THEIR HEARTS TO HIM.

II. RELATIONSHIPS ARE BUILT ON COMMON INTEREST

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.

  • NKJV–Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
  • NIV–Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
  • Holman–Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. 
  • NASB–Do not be bound together with unbelievers.
  • GNT–Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, it cannot be done.

We assume that Paul was talking about marriage but this is probably not the case but the principle can certainly be applied to the marital relationship. Paul is probably referring to any partnership because the context of the passage is SEPARATION, [v.17] Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. The Greek word translated ‘Partner’ can mean sexual intercourse but it also means participation and fellowship with.

Paul gives us a list of question to reinforce his point:

  • How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?
  • How can light live with darkness? 
  • What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ?
  • How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
  • And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?

The Greek word for ‘Harmony’ is the word from which we get symphony. Agreement in sound or sameness is sound. Harmony is being on the same page, on the same song, not necessary the same note.

The core values of a lost person compared to the core values of a saved person are in conflict and so are their world views. Erotic love or romantic love has a way of temporarily overshadowing all other loves but it will not last. “He/she is the one for me, that’s the way it is, I don’t care about all these other things.” This sentiment is not going to last: it will wear off; it is just a matter of time. People fall madly in love and they can’t eat or sleep. This too shall pass, it is temporary. It is infatuation. Eventually, you are going to get hungry.

Because humans are triune beings, body, soul and spirit being joined to another involves the union of body, soul and spirit. When only the bodies are joined, you have a sensual relationship which is driven by lust. It is not only unhealthy, it will not endure. If you have body and soul, that is progress but not ideal, you still do not have full union. Many marriages survive on body and soul but God’s plan is not for you to survive: He wants you the thrive. When two people, both knowing Christ, are joined, they have an opportunity to move to a new dimension because they are joined physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our first needs are physical [food, water, shelter, sex, etc.] but we need more. We want to be loved and appreciated but in time our greatest need is spiritual. Dying people don’t want food. They have no desire for it or need for it. Eventually the SPIRITUAL NEEDS surface as the most important. Young people cannot understand this truth.

Young people are anxious to share a bed but eventually you will take pleasure in sharing a meal, ultimately you will take pleasure in sharing a destiny.

There are some rare exceptions but as far as church work is concerned, your leaders are not going to come from 30 and down because it takes us that long to realize the value of spiritual things. Young people have their face in front of a mirror or cell phone. Old folks don’t do mirrors. I heard a daughter say just last year, “The older my mother gets, the more she reads her bible and she doesn’t even remember what she read yesterday.” This is par for the course. Our values change as we age.

The spiritual dimension gives us a decided advantage because we are endued with agape love; the love from above and it is totally unconditional. It is the way we humans want to be loved.

III. RELATIONSHIPS ARE PARAMOUNT

As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”
I was 40 years old before this truth hit me but when it did, it stuck like a arrow. I had been invited by a former church to preach at a homecoming or something of that nature. When I left the church, there was some tension. I could have dealt with their problems but I did not get the support I needed so I resigned and left with hurt feelings on both sides. It took me years to process the disappointment and pain that I felt personally but when I walked in the building that day and saw some of those folks who had been less then supportive, it didn’t matter. I was glad to see them and they acted like they were glad to see me. 
On the way home that day some 27 years ago, the LORD spoke clearly, “Jack, relationships are more important than riches.” If you’ve being paying attention, you have heard me quote that many times over the last 27 years.
A former son-in-law told my daughter before their divorce, “I don’t want to end up like your daddy, old and broke.” He was never impressed with my income. I have friends who are worth millions but I was never a good business man and I’ve made a lot of bad decisions. Long story short, I don’t have millions. I’m worth more dead than alive. I can’t remember the last time I lay down at night thinking about wealth, how much money I have or down have. Thoughts of money rarely cross my mind. If you think I’m be dishonest, talk to my wife, she goes behind me trying to clean up the mess because I am prone to spend without thinking. It’s a gift I passed along to one daughter and a grandson.
No one is going to stand at my COLS and talk about Bro. Jack the business man and I’m glad. I have little money but I have things that money cannot buy. There are a lot of bad things about greed but one that bothers me a lot is how it hurts relationships. Some people are so greedy for more that they squander every opportunity to build enduring relationships. I see what they are doing and it breaks my heart.
Relationships are paramount. Family is huge and friends are vitally important. I do go to bed at night thinking about my family and friends because they are important to me. Our heavenly Father wants a relationship with us. It was His desire to come to us in the incarnation and live among us, as John said, “to pitch His tent among us.” God not only desires to be with us, He desires to be in us. “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” [v.16]
Jesus Christ came to this world seeking a relationship with us. The whole idea of redemption is unbelievable, why would the Son of God condescend to our low estate to save a wretch like me? There is no answer to this question. It is a mystery.
However, this relationship is not automatic, it does not happen by default. A choice must be made on our part. The LORD says emphatically, “Come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD . Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. ”
The choice is simple: we turn our backs to this world and move toward Christ. We make a choice between Christ and this world. We can’t embrace both, it is impossible. The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back. The rich young ruler was presented with this choice and he choose the world. I hope you will not make that same mistake.