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Keeping Love Alive - Volume 4
Four Relationships Great Marriages Have in Common
We’ve all heard or read news stories that celebrate couples who’ve been married for 5, 6, or even 7 decades. So how did they stay together that long? What’s their secret? And better yet… how can we build those types of lasting bonds? Through the 4th volume of our Keeping Love Alive series, Chip’s identifying 4 relationships great marriages have in common. Learn why these connections are critical to every relationship and how you and your spouse can better prioritize them in your marriage - starting today.More from this series
Great marriages are couples that find their identity – who I am and my value as a person – in their relationship with Christ and as a result, don’t expect their husband or their wife to meet all their personal, spiritual, relational, and emotional needs.
Translation: We are commanded by Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves in a healthy, non-narcissistic way, we will continually ask our spouse what they can never deliver. Jesus was asked in Matthew 22, it’s in your notes, “What is the greatest of all the commands?” And He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all of your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it.”
You have to learn to love yourself. Now, not narcissistic, self-focused. I’m talking about a healthy way to actually say, “This is who God made me. In Christ, this is who I am.” And when your security and your value and your worth and your deepest emotional needs are met by someone that never changes, that never lets you down, that will never wound you, then you have a reservoir to give to your mate. And you’re not asking them every time you are a little bit down, “Love me, make me feel better, oh, I’ve got these needs and those needs. I have been through this.”
So many of our relationships we just suck the life out of the other person saying, “Make my life work out,” and when they don’t, we say silly things like, “I have fallen out of love.” Because the fact of the matter is, some of you don’t like yourself, some of you don’t love yourself. You can’t love someone else if you have not experienced God’s love and have a healthy, non-narcissistic love for yourself.
The principle is an accurate self-perception demands that we know who we are and whose we are.
1 John 3:1 says here in His love, not that we love God, but that He loved us first. And He has lavished His love upon us. I don’t know if you have ever thought about, you know, we sang an interesting song about God has your name written on His heart. Did you see that one in that line? Have you ever thought seriously about the God who created all there is, that your name actually doesn’t come up on a computer screen, but you are actually an individual person that your DNA is different from the almost eight billion people in all the world, and you are uniquely made. And if you are in Christ, God sees you in exactly the same way He sees Jesus: holy, righteous, wanted, valuable, precious. Are you ready?
If you are outside of a relationship with Jesus, and because you have been bold and honest to say, “You know, no, I’m not born again yet.” When God sees you, He says, “You may not be in my family yet, but I care about you not if you clean up your life or if you act this way or that way. I care so much about you, I died in your place while you were yet my enemy to prove to you how much I love you.” That’s how valuable you are. And you know what? If you don’t get that from Him, then you think your value is going to come from your looks. Or what rank you get, or how athletic you are, or how pretty you are, or how much money you have, or what kind of car that you drive, or what kind of logo is on your luggage, or what kind of watch, and are you in and cool? Or what kind of clothes you wear, or how your kids do in school.
And you will try and find your significance and your security in everything and I will just guarantee, no matter what that is, it will never deliver. And so, you are set up for failure. You are set up for failure because if you try really hard and you can’t make it, you fail. And if you try really hard and maybe you’re a little more gifted or a little more beautiful than some of us or you’re a little more smarter than…and you are successful, then you’ll look into sort of the rainbow that was promised and you’ll look into the pot and you’ll realize, I’m very successful. Maybe I’m pretty, maybe I’m smart, maybe I’m rich, and you were supposed to be filled up and you’ll be empty.
Imagine a puzzle. And to realize you’re this precious human puzzle and God wants you to fit with other people. He actually, we’re going to learn in a second, He actually made you where you have some strengths, some real strengths that you bring to the table. Believer or unbeliever, they’re called natural talents.
And then when you come to know Jesus, He will deposit in you some supernatural abilities. But even with those, you’ll also have gaps and weaknesses and vulnerabilities. And He has other people – and the primary person is your mate – to do this. To be one, to complete you.
But so many of us compare ourselves with other people and we see our weaknesses and we try and hide them, because they are unacceptable. And so, we don’t get them filled. And we don’t know our strengths because it feels like we are being proud if we say, “I’m good at this, I’m gifted at this, I do this well.” Or you have never taken the time, you have been so busy trying to be like someone else, you have never looked into the mirror to understand, I have great abilities. I must have been given these great abilities for a very special purpose.
The more your identity is in Christ and you know who you are and whose you are, it creates this security and this confidence where you’re not dependent on your mate and even on other people to make you feel like, “I’m okay.”
So, with that, let’s dig in. Let me give you three very specific ways to get a healthy, non-narcissistic relationship with yourself. Number one, it’s getting a glimpse of your beginning.
Psalm 139, David writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaking of all of us, “You created my innermost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully,” or, “skillfully made. Your works are wonderful.” And he is speaking about God’s creation of your physical body, and his, in this case.
“I know that full well. My frame,” you could translate that, literally, it’s he’s saying, “My skeleton was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
It’s this idea of the darkness of our mother’s womb. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.” Literally, “My embryo. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
You are a unique individual on the face of the earth. Your eye color, your hair color, your DNA, your height, your body build, the unchangeable things of your physicality. And it goes beyond that. All those things that happen in your mother’s womb, now that we have all this neuroscience. How you process information, how – whether you are emotionally intelligent or mechanically intelligent. How your StrengthsFinder, if you will, are an achiever, an activator, a futuristic, an emotionally connector.
God wired you uniquely with a set of natural tools different than everyone in all the earth. You are precious and unique and valuable. And we unconsciously compare ourselves with other people and try to look like other people, be like other people, have skills like other people, and become other people. And what we lose, the most attractive person that you will ever be is coming to know who you really are.
And it begins with your physicality. If any of you have done any reading, the skyrocketing anxiety issues of teenage girls and suicides as they post and see these pictures of other people and compare themselves. We live in a world where the pseudo-pictures of what beauty is for a woman crashes into a woman’s mind. The average woman looks in the mirror and doesn’t feel like she is pretty enough, no matter how beautiful. And can I ask you, who created these standards? It’s completely artificial.
Go online and look at art of a hundred years, then two hundred years, then four hundred years, then five hundred years, and a thousand years, and fifteen hundred years and find the pictures of beautiful women. You know what they would say about most of what we consider beauty? What are these skinny little things doing that don’t, they don’t have any hips and they are scrawny little things. I mean...
And what I want to tell you is it’s such a no-win situation. And it used to be primarily with women. But you can’t go to the airport and not look at Men’s Health, right? You know, I’ve got abs of steel. It used to be a six-pack, now it’s an eight-pack and, I look rather thin, but underneath all of this, I am ripped. And I’m lying. Right? You will either live by the opinions of these invisible “they” or you’ll live for an audience of One.
I remember Theresa telling me about – it was in her workplace and in early years. And one of the gals, you know, had a new baby. And she brought the new baby in and she was so excited and the baby had a cleft palate. And the face was a little bit contorted.
And everyone, you know, looked at the baby and you kind of look at the mom and I wonder how she’s feeling and I wonder how she’s taking that. And Theresa said, “It was so amazing.” Her name was Sue, “When you looked at Sue’s eyes, you would have thought that’s the most beautiful baby in all the world, because it was hers.”
And can I tell you that that’s what your kids need to hear from you? Can I tell you, that’s what you need to hear from Jesus for you? That you would, you know, granted, stay in good shape, take care of yourself, but could you, literally, could you come to the point where you could look in the mirror and say, “You know, I mean…”
I was, when I was a freshman in high school, I was five-foot-three. The basketball coach when I was in seventh grade said, “You should go out for wrestling,” and I was too hardheaded. “I want to be a basketball player.”
And it was a junior high of about seven hundred students. And think of it, to this day, talk about things that imprint you. I was only taller than Brad Star and Cindy Christianson. Can you believe I still know their names? Because in my mind, I was this tiny, little, undersized.
And, yeah, I grew some. But what I want to tell you is however, you know, if you’re six-foot, you want to be six-five. If you’re six-six, you’re too tall and wish you were six-two. And if you’ve got blonde hair you wish it was brunette hair and, of course, with ladies you can change it anytime and I think with us men it’s going that way. But my point is, are you ready for a radical application? It’s just a, it’s a mini detox. Turn off all social media for seven days after you leave here. Just turn it off. And if you want to have a real purging, wonderful experience, don’t watch any TV or Netflix for seven days. You’ll be bored and irritable the first two and all that time you don’t have to read the Scripture, walk in nature, go on dates, and spend more personal time with your kids – those who have them – you’ll just find yourself actually bored. You spend an inordinate amount of time on those.
Turn off all your notifications. You basically have been programmed to be a little robot of people who want to keep your attention and every time it buzzes, you look here, here, here, and here. And you can’t stand in line at the grocery store or at the bank or walk in and do anything without your phone. And when you’re bored for a second you pull it out and look at it. The average iPhone user looks or touches their phone two thousand times a day.
And you have been seduced and addicted and you can’t think. And the one thing that has happened in the world now is people are never where they are.
You’re never in the same space looking at the real people here because, literally, I have been in a – it’s all over America but I’ll never forget, I was in China and it was a railway thing. It was like seven football fields long and three or four football fields that direction. Thousands and thousands of people and I bet ninety-seven-point eight percent, everyone was just looking at their phone.
You are fearfully, skillfully, wonderfully made. You are just as smart as you need to be to do everything God wants you to do. You process information, you are emotionally attuned, you have abilities and things that you can develop, but you as you are – and you will either spend most of your life trying to be like someone else or getting something you don’t have or exploring who you are and whose you are and beginning to rejoice in that.
And as you do, it will change your whole world and when it changes your world, it’ll change your marriage. So, getting a getting a glimpse of who you are. The question: Do you see yourself as fearfully and wonderfully made?
You notice that we covered that one. Fearfully, wonderfully.
[The] second way to get a healthy relationship with yourself is doing an honest self-assessment. An honest self-assessment. In other words, to not just your physicality, but to look at your life. Remember Romans? Eleven chapters of grace, then verse 1 of chapter 12 was, “What is it that God really wants?” You, all of you, so He can give you the best.
How do you get the very best from God? Oh, that’s verse 2. “Don’t be conformed to this world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” that the God who made all that there is says, “I want you to get what is good. I want you to get what is perfect. I want you to get what is well-pleasing to you.” That’s God’s will. It’s not going to Africa and dodging snakes.
If He calls you to Africa and there are snakes you probably are the kind of person that likes the outdoors and aren’t afraid of snakes. But verse 3 then says how to get an accurate view of yourself. It’s in your notes. “For by the grace of God I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to each of you.”
Okay, now, you’ve got your pen out? “Do not,” underline the word “think of yourself more highly than you,” and where the word “ought,” underline “ought.” In the original, they are just trying to make it easy to read. In the original it is, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but rather,” underline, “think of yourself with,” underline, “sober.”
So, you should have: think, ought, think, sober judgement. These are all from the same root word. And it’s the – the word sober is the opposite of being drunk. In other words, when you’re drunk you don’t have the right perception.
What he’s saying is: Start renewing your mind so you understand what life is really about, say no to all the bombardment of the world, and then I want you to get an accurate view of you. Don’t think too highly of yourself; don’t think too lowly of yourself. Humility is not thinking lowly of yourself. Humility is thinking accurately. These are my strengths and these are my liabilities or weaknesses where I need other people.
In verses 6 through 8 he’ll say, “These are the primary spiritual gifts. Discover what yours is and really use it.” In fact, open to Romans 12, I want you to see the context here just for a second. This sober thinking is for a purpose. Look at verse 4 of Romans 12. “Have sound judgement as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Why? “For just as we have many parts in one body,” physical body, “and all our body parts don’t have the same function, so we who are many in one body, the body of Christ, are individually parts of one another. However, since we have gifts that differ according to,” what? “…the grace given to us so we don’t have to compare, use them properly. If prophecy, in the proportion of your faith. If service, in acts of service. Or one who teaches in the act of teaching. Or one who exhorts with the work of exhortation. The one who gives, with generosity and the one with leadership, with diligence. And he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Do you see what he’s saying is, “If you discover who you are and whose you are, accurately, then you see where you fit,” first with your mate and then the body of Christ. And then you discover these gifts. And then what happens? You experience this power and this love and you can just see people’s lives change. See, that’s God’s plan.