Challenge #2 – Temptation
From the series Keeping Love Alive - Volume 3
It seems like every day we hear about another relationship ending because someone ‘fell out of love’ or ‘lost the spark’. So, how can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you? In this message, Chip unpacks the next challenge every great marriage faces – which revolves around our understanding of love and marriage. Discover what it means to follow God's model relationships instead of Hollywood's ideas.
This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.
Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Keeping Love Alive, Volume 3 Resources on sale now.
About this series
Keeping Love Alive - Volume 3
Four Challenges Great Marriages Have in Common
If you could take a step back and really evaluate your marriage… how does it look? Is it just a little out of sync... are there a few areas that need some work... or is your relationship on the verge of completely falling apart? Through his newest volume of “Keeping Love Alive,” Chip reveals a humbling truth… every marriage has its struggles… even the ones that look perfect. In these programs, Chip addresses the 4 challenges great marriages have in common. He exposes how - busyness, temptation, kids, and stagnation - can ruin relationships. Discover from God’s Word how you and your mate can handle these trials together - and become a stronger couple, more effective parents, and create a happier home.More from this series
If you’ll pull out your notes, challenge number two, all marriages have great challenges. Priorities. And when they are out of whack, they sort of tumble other things. The second one is the challenge of temptation. And I’d like to ask a couple questions just to get started.
So, here’s the first question: What does it mean to be in love? Right? I mean, isn’t that the whole goal of why you married the person? But to really ask and answer: What does it mean to be in love? And how do you know when you’re in love?
Second question that might be interesting is: Why is it that most relationships don’t last anymore? They don’t. I have all kind of research and statistics on separation and divorce and what has happened since 1960 and all the rest.
The other thing is that you do understand that the patterns of things, kids that have been abused grow up to be, apart from intervention, abusers. When divorce is an option, because that’s what your parents did, even though you don’t want or see – and by the way – sometimes divorce is unavoidable, right? I married a divorced person. And she was divorced because of the breaking of a covenant and she was left. So, don’t hear that – there are biblical divorces and unbiblical divorces.
But it doesn’t matter how it happens, I mean, it is painful. It’s painful for the couple, but the longitudinal studies say twenty, thirty, forty years – I have a big, thick file on this stuff. And a lady who did research, to this day, children of divorce always unconsciously have some sense of: When will the other shoe drop? Concerns about security; deep seated fears about abandonment. Because it impacts kids, not, this idea that it was probably better, it’s amiable, we are still friends, all that is whitewash.
Can people make the best of it? Yes. Can they treat each other nicely? But some of the issues that happen in a human heart, some of the things that get imprinted in a child, some of the fears, some of the struggles, some of the wounds that you – they last and they need healing.
So, what I want to do is I want to give you the biggest lies that you are fed by movies, by music, by romance novels, by social media, by self-help, by magazines. And I want to give you Hollywood’s prescription for a lasting relationship. Are you ready? And, by the way, most of us, this is unless you grew up as a very strong Christian, I’ll describe this and you’ll think, Well, what other way is there to have a relationship?
And so, there are four steps to Hollywood.
If you listen to music, if you would watch any movie, number one is you have to find the right person. That’s why there are websites. And, by the way, again, I’m not saying websites are wrong or bad. But you used to go, depending on your background, you went to a bar to find a guy or a gal, or maybe some of you grew up different, you went to a church. Or you went to school, whether it was college or whether it was military, and basically, if you’re going to find the right person, two things, your antennae is up; you’re always looking. “Man, man, she is super hot,” or, “Woo, man, that dude, he’s a hunk.” Right?
And then if you realize that you’re not only looking, but someone is looking for you, so you’ve got to be good bait. And so, the way to be good bait is if you’re a guy, it’s like, depending on your era, it’s like, “Get that creatine and start pumping that iron and, by the way, when you walk in you always hold your stomach in and everything is like that. And then there are certain things, how you dress and what looks cool and what doesn’t look cool in different eras and different things like that.
And if you’re a woman you need to be good bait, depending on the era, a little bit low cut here, a little higher up here, a little push-up there. And come on, now, true or false? True. Right?
And you are looking for, you want to find the right person. And so, in our day, as things, you might meet them that night, or at a party, or at something. And in terms of what Hollywood’s prescription is, there seems to be a good connection, and you go home together, and you sleep together.
And you say stuff like, “We’re just hooking up. There’s no relationship; there’s no connection.” And maybe that’s it. And there’s a string up hook-ups, which each time you do that, part of your soul gets left with another person, according to the Scripture. But that’s sort of what we are taught.
And then if there’s more to it, like, we have all been attracted to someone and maybe they are very beautiful or he’s very handsome and then you sit down and talk with them. And as you sit down and talk with them, you’re looking for substance now, and you’re looking for a real relationship. And you sit down with this, man, this very handsome, good looking, well-built guy and after about twenty minutes of him telling you, “I was the captain of the football team, and after I did that I did this, and I did that.” And he’s just so full of himself, you’re going, You know what? The outside looks good, but the inside, yeee.
Just like you want to politely get away or you’re with this unbelievable, beautiful, beautiful girl and you’re sitting and you’re trying to get, Maybe this is something here. And she does this and she does this and she does this. And it’s like there’s just mostly space between her ears and where she shops and what happens and… All I want you to know is we all hunt, and we all look.
But then there’s that person and then you fall in love. And it’s hard to explain. The actual word is not “love”, it’s called infatuation. Chemicals actually in your brain, your endorphins fire. You feel this sense of overwhelmed attraction. It’s a spark and a chemistry that you can’t hardly describe. Usually when this happens, your IQ drops somewhere between thirty to forty points. You do very stupid things that don’t make sense, that make absolute sense to you.
I remember, I played basketball in college and we recruited a young kid that could really play. 6’7” kid out of Ohio and they put him with me, kind of a little bit older roommate. And he was a little homesick and sort of a bit of a hometown guy. And then he met this girl.
And I would say, “Hey, you’ve got to get ready for practice.” “I just don’t feel like practicing today.” I said, “Dude, you’re on a scholarship. We need to get out there and get to practice.” And, “Hey, you need to get up and go to class.” And it was like his brain cells, it was just…
And I don’t know if it was like the first time he ever fell in love or something, but it was just unbelievable. He actually ended up dropping out of school, lost his scholarship.
There was a young guy when I lived in Santa Cruz, California. He was friends with my older boys at the time. And good looking, big, strong guy. And he fell in love with, or so he thought, he met her once. But the chemistry was just, tchoo. And so, he’d talk on the phone like hours and hours.
We have all done that at some point. And it goes, like, evaporates. So, then he just, he had this urge. So, he goes and he buys some flowers. The drive, I have made it from Santa Cruz to Phoenix is about ten and a half hours if you only stop for gas. It’s about twelve and a half or thirteen if you stop and grab a bite to eat or get out and stretch or fill your car up a few times. He gets in his truck, drives all night, knocks on her door, gives her these flowers, and said, “I was just thinking about you.” Misses two days of work. Ends up eyelash of losing his job. And I said, “Eric, what were you thinking?”
He goes, “I just had to.” So, if you have ever watched, a Hallmark movie, what I love about them is I never know what’s going to happen. I’m always on the edge of my seat going, “Mm! You know? And they are all beautiful people that live in the suburbs in unbelievably nice houses. And then it’s almost somewhere between the first two to five minutes, this person, this person, and their eyes meet, and then…And so, here’s all I want you to get.
You are bombarded by nearly every show, a culture, TV. And if you listen, eighty-some percent of all the songs that you hear that are ever made are about – what? Love! I can’t live without you. Really? I’ll die if you leave me. Here’s an old classic, but it’s one of the best lies.
“If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be…” Think about that. See, definition of love, high emotions, sparks, connectivity, infatuation. If it’s wrong, like I’m married, then I don’t want to be right, because my emotions and my feelings dictate my life.
So, you fall in love, and then the third step is you fix your hopes and dreams on this person for future fulfillment. All life is wrapped up in him or her. You are shattered. When the breakup happens, you lose weight, you lose your appetite, you feel listless, because this person, this person is your life.
As some of you have been through an engagement and someone walks out close to the wedding, it’s devastating. And then Hollywood would say, if failure occurs, repeat steps one, two, and three. And the reason I’m sharing this with you is this is embedded in your psyche. And here’s how it works:
You have different seasons and some of them are hard. And you would like your mate to meet all your needs and be loving and kind and romantic and him take out the trash and whatever it is, and then over time, because you are human and your mate is human, you do things that disappoint one another. And you say things in moments that you wish you wouldn’t have said, and you damage one another. And pretty soon, what happens is there’s hurt and there’s pain.
And depending on your personality type, some of you, I call turtles. When you get hurt, your shell goes in and you withdraw. Some of us are sharks. And when we get hurt, we lash out. And so, whether it’s an anger explosion or a withdrawal or withholding affection, or we now, we just don’t talk, there’s all kind of different ways once we are wounded. And then once you are wounded, or you are apart for a long time, then there’s this hole. And here’s how it starts. I don’t feel as connected to my mate. I don’t feel in love. Those sparks that we used to have, I’m not feeling that anymore. It seems like it’s a grind, it’s a hassle.
We are arguing about money, we are arguing about the kids, we are arguing about this. When you come home, you’re not sensitive. I had to do all this stuff. Hey, I come home and I’ve missed you all this time, and…
And you get all that kind of stuff, and this starts to happen, and here’s then, here’s what your culture has told you. Hollywood says what has happened is you have fallen out of love. So, what do you need to do?
Oh, and we put euphemisms. “We have just drifted apart.” “I’m not the same person anymore.” “We got married when it was this season of our life, but we are now so different, so I need to find someone new.” So, it goes from a fifty percent divorce rate to a seventy-five percent divorce rate. And if that doesn’t work, find someone new again.
In fact, the way you can do it now, is don’t even worry about getting married, is just live together. And what we know, the longitudinal studies, I mean, the Scripture is clear about all this. People who live together prior to marriage, unless they come to Christ and start working on things, ten years later, whether they eventually marry or not, only one out of ten will be together.
And the reason people live together is they are not willing to make a commitment. And the reason they are not willing to make a commitment is partly because of fear and partly because they want an opt-out clause.
And so, we have now created a world where we have serial monogamous relationships that pretty soon just begin to destroy the connection and the commitment of what love really is.
And by the way, God understands how we are wired. We have emotional connection needs; we have physical, sexual connection needs; we have spiritual connection needs. And you all live in a world where it’s more challenging, and at times impossible, to fulfill those needs with your mate. And God would say, “My grace will be sufficient for you. And do it my way.” In fact, that’s the whole point of wisdom.
And so, you live in a world where when it gets hard, and there’s one thing good about getting older. I’m not ready to say I’m old. You could say that, but I’m not going to say that. But as you get older, what – you get to see things from a little bit different perspective. And I have watched, I have watched almost four decades of people fall in and out of love and tell me the same stories with the same excuses. And buy this lie that it’s about finding the right person, falling in love.
And by the way, this is just an aside, and you need to hear, this is not a criticism at all.
But I have often wondered, it seems that finding the right person, like if you were super beautiful and super wealthy, or super handsome and super wealthy, and super popular – wouldn’t it seem like then it would be really easy to have a relationship that, I mean, you’ve got it.
I do great research when you’re checking out at the grocery store, there’s the research magazines, you know? US and, you know?
And there’s something like, Wow, these are the most beautiful people in the world who have almost unlimited financial resources, can do anything, go anywhere, and they change partners like we change underwear.
Infatuation, by and large, can last anywhere from six months to about eighteen, or two years, max. So, the feeling of being in love, the excitement, the energy. Then what you learn is you still have those feelings, but what you have to do is you have to date your mate, you have cultivate romance, you have to keep doing the things that fueled that.
So, I still date my wife. We still go for romantic weekends away. I still, I get up and I make coffee for her. It took me twenty years to figure that out. That meant “I love you” to her. So, I get up first and I make coffee and I either bring it to her.
What I have learned is there are certain things that if she feels loved and cherished and cared for, she wants to make me feel loved and cherished and cared for. And she has different love languages than me.
Hers are about service, like, when I learned to vacuum and take out the garbage without being asked, and doing all these menial things, filling her car up with gas. And I remember going, like, “What’s this got to do with love?” That’s her love language.
And I’m thinking, Forget all that junk. Just why don’t you say, “Darling, darling, darling, I was waiting for you to get home.” Now, that’s love, baby!
And then we can sit and have a good talk, because both our second love language is deep communication.
Well, the first five years, we were like this all the time, because, “He doesn’t love me.” “What do you mean I don’t love you?” “My car is empty with gas.” God, help me!
“I do all the laundry and I care about you and,” because, here’s what we do. We give the kind of love that makes sense to us. But it’s so different. It’s so very, very different.
But if you believe the lie, once those wounds start, “I’m falling out of love,” you unconsciously start looking for where and how. By the way, we have never been more sex-saturated in our culture and never have we had less real intimacy.
Because, see, the whole deal behind pornography, those are not real people. Those are people that have been injected and they turn on fans and it’s all hypothetical. It is not an experience that is real. And it does create chemistry in the brain. The addiction to pornography is as strong as crack cocaine, left unchecked.
And so, it creates, that’s why there’s always higher levels and higher need of what the Bible would call “more perversion”. And so, but what it is, it’s a longing for intimacy. But real intimacy means there has got to be risk. Real intimacy is I have to open my soul and open my spirit and open my fears.
Because this is what happens, the two, it doesn’t say, “Are one.” The two become one. And when you’re getting closer and closer to another person that is real intimacy, sparks fly. So you have to learn how to resolve conflict.
You know, Implanted in your mate is pictures of what real love or a real man or a real woman looks like. And when you don’t fulfill those pictures, then you have this happening. But what I would say to you is that no one falls out of love. It’s incremental drift and we stop doing the things that created this. And by the way, there is no relationship that is here. It’s either this direction or this direction.
The success rate of the above is abysmal. And the pain and the fallout and the damage, despite all the talk, for children. One third of all women that go through a divorce live below the poverty level. It is devastating what happens when relationships break up. And for many of you, I don’t have to tell you that.
So, let’s look at God’s prescription. You find it in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 1 and 2. Let me make a couple observations and with your pen, you might jot a line or two in your notes as we walk through this passage and I’ll give you the context as well.
It says, “Therefore, 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 a fragrant aroma.”
There are two commands in the passage. One is to be an imitator of God. Our English word is “mimic”. Mimic God. How? Well, it says, “Therefore, be a mimic of God.” Well, the “therefore” is there for a reason.
So, “therefore”, if you move back to verses 29 to 32, we get a description about how we are supposed to treat one another. It says, “Do not let any [unwholesome] talk come out of your mouth, but only such is good for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander along with every form of malice.”
I could describe each one of those words, but it’s internal, it’s, “I want to pay you back,” it’s, “I’m holding a grudge.” I’ve got resentment. It’s exploding in anger. One of them is holding things in; it’s a slow burn. A different word for anger there where you just hold it in, hold it in, and there’s resentment.
And then verse 32, “But be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” And so, when he says, “Therefore be imitators of God,” he’s saying in our relationship, be kind to your mate. Be tenderhearted.
“The only cause for divorce,” according to Jesus, “the hardness of heart.” See, when you get wounded, when your needs aren’t met, when they do something, when they say something, when you feel rejected, there’s a little thin layer, your heart starts to get a little hard. And then it happens and then it happens and then it happens. It doesn’t have to be some really big thing.
But a lot, if you were like Theresa and myself, we didn’t know how to resolve conflict, and we didn’t know how to share that I’m hurt or I’m angry without attacking the other person, so we just didn’t say anything.
And so, she would withdraw, and I would feel hurt, and because we were committed to the Lord, I would focus more and more of my energy into work, because that was a safe place and I got a lot of pats on the back and felt valued. And she put more and more of her life and her energy into the kids, as this was happening.
And it was, I mean, those sparks weren’t there. I stayed married, because I made a vow before God and I think you keep your word. And then it got to be where if there’s no way out, and by the way, that’s why it’s so important to keep a vow. Because if I hadn’t made a vow and I hadn’t made it before God, and I didn’t keep my word, I just would have, I would have followed Hollywood’s formula.
And so, he says, command number one, “Be an imitator of God,” and then here, put in parentheses in your notes, “as beloved children.” As beloved children.
And then the second command is, “Walk in love.” The word actually is “walk”. How many of you have small kids? Like two and under?
How many of you can remember what it was like when you had small kids that were learning to walk? Do you remember, like, I mean you did videos, right? And it was like you got down on one knee, “Come on! Come on! Come on! Come on!” And then either the husband or the wife hold their little hands like this and then they go …bam! Right? You remember that?
And you remember what you did, right? Remember what you did? You got right over the top of that child and said, “Get up! What’s wrong with you? You wimp!
Is that what you remember? Or did you, or it was like you sent it to everyone, “Two steps this week! Three and a half next week.” Right? And then they do the little thing, they go all the way from the kitchen into the – and you just lit up. Could I tell you something?
Where do you think you get that? That’s how your heavenly Father thinks about you. You think God’s arms are crossed and toe is tapping and, “Get with the program,” and, “Yessir,” to God. He’s not like that.
“Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden.” The idea is you are overwhelmed, you’re pressed in from every direction. You can’t make it anymore. You’re struggling, you’re stressed out, you don’t know where to go. “And I will give you rest.”
This life is too hard. “Take My yoke.” It’s not a yoke of restriction. It’s, you know something? It’s so much easier. “My commandments,” John would tell us, “are not grievous, they are not overwhelming.” You get in this side of the yoke, I’ll get in this side of the yoke, and it’s kind of like you and Michael Jordan scoring fifty points. You make one free throw and he gets forty-nine.
And Jesus says, I’m here and in your weakness, I’ll make you strong. Just do life with Me. Come to Me. Share your hurts, be honest, don’t – you’ll never measure up. That’s why I died, that’s why I came, that’s why I sealed you with My Spirit. So let Me help you. I love you.
I meet so many Christians, especially some out of kind of our background, I think you intellectually believe that God loves you, but I’m not sure you believe He likes you. He’s just someone really hard to please. That if you don’t do this, this, this, this, and this and you lose sight of relationship. And he says: This is what has to happen. Be an imitator of God because you are already loved. And then walk in love.
Well, how did Christ love you? Sacrificially. He gave up Himself for us. And He did it as an offering. Notice His motive. His motive was He loved us, but it was an offering. Father, I am allowing these people to put this into My head, I am allowing these people to strip Me naked in humiliation, I am allowing these people to drive these things through My wrists in My obedience to You, who, in the Godhead, “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,” because He loves you.
That’s the God who wants to help you in your marriage. That’s the God who says, Don’t worry about her, don’t worry about Him, let Me love you. Why don’t we go on a journey and you just say, “Whatever You want to change. I’m sick and tired of me.” That’s actually a pretty good place to be.
You ever just try hard, try hard, try hard, try hard, right? No matter what you do, it’s not working. I think there are times where if the Holy Spirit was…He would just be leaning going, Oh, good, now I think we can get some work done. It’s when we come to the end of ourselves.
“I can’t change him,” “I can’t change her,” “I can’t be disciplined enough,” “I have tried to break this addiction,” “I can’t do it.” And that’s the first step. And then there’s also, do you understand that in the New Testament that all the commands – think there might be one I could find – all the commands are in what is called the “second person plural”. So, if you were, anybody from Texas?
What do we say there? I lived there twelve years. “You all,” right? “Hey, you all.” What does that mean? That means if you walk into a room you say, “Hey, you want to come with me?” But if two of you, “You all want to come with me?” Every command in the New Testament is, “You all love one another.” “You all honor one another.” “You all.” You know what that means? You can’t do it alone. It’s impossible to live the Christian life. It’s impossible to obey God. You have the Spirit of God. When you turned in the empty hands of faith and said, “I fall short.” That’s just what sin is. “I trespassed. I crossed the line. I dissed the God of the universe. And I admit that and I turn away from my dependence on me, repent,” change of mind, “and in the empty hands of faith say, ‘Lord Jesus, will You forgive me? I believe, I trust in,’” is the idea, “that when You were hanging on the cross, You covered,” or, “You atoned and paid for all my sin. And in this moment when I receive You,” He who has the Son has life.
And in that moment, the Spirit of God came into your physical body and seals you. And the Scripture says you were pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and you were placed in the kingdom of light. And the same power that raised Christ from the dead now dwells inside of you. And so, then he says the raw material that the Holy Spirit uses, He takes the written Word and makes it the living Word; He will speak to you.
And the community, this – a body. This hand is not worth much if there’s not the arm, right? that’s connected to it. And basically, the whole point is we need each other. And so, as dearly loved ones, the motive is to offer it to God. And this is, I love it, it’s a picture of the Old Testament, a fragrant aroma. It was a free will offering.
And so, let me take this passage and put it in the reversal of Hollywood terms. Are you ready? Instead of trying to find the right person, are you ready? Become the right person. In other words, you’re going to mimic God.
So, in my notes, I wrote, “Mimic God: Kind, compassionate, tenderhearted, forgiving, as a dearly loved one.” That’s the basis.
I’m going to mimic God. I’m going to go, anybody been on a mission before? Anybody know what a mission is? When you have a mission, you have a clear, definable outcome you’re shooting for, correct? You get together and you have a definable strategy and we say to ourselves, “This is where we are, these are the obstacles, there’s the enemy. That is the outcome. We are on mission. Here’s our strategy, this is what we are going to do, here’s how we will execute it, here’s when we will execute it,” right?
So, you go on mission to be an imitator of God to say, “Okay, I’m going to figure out what it looks like to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to my mate.” Second, then it says, “Walk in love.” And by the way, it’s a commitment, not an experience.
The “walk” here is one of giving, sacrifice, not feelings. Walking in love. And remember the little baby who fell down? What did you all do? “Oh.” So, when you are learning to walk in a new way, guess what, you’re going to trip. “Oh my gosh. I needed to break that addiction and I did good, did good, did good, did good. Errrrr, man, fell back into it.” Covered over with shame and the enemy comes in, “You terrible person.” No. I fell. Father, will You forgive me? Yes. He may give you a couple thoughts about where to go and what to do.
Or, “I blew up in my anger at my mate again.” Or, “I got hurt and I didn’t say anything, so I withdrew and I know, I can tell he really wants to make love and I’ll tell you what, not tonight. My head. I have a really, really bad headache tonight.”
And really what it is is passive-aggressive, “I’m going to pay you back, because you know what? You hurt my feelings earlier today. And you just think you can live all way, all day, be insensitive, do your own thing, and then nine thirty, ten o’clock comes and you think I’m ready or feel cherished and want to make love with you? My head really hurts.”
We play these games. I’m just saying we don’t have to. And it’s a journey.
And so, then you fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through this relationship. Even Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t to please Himself, it was to offer it to God.
And if failure occurs, repeat steps one, two, and three. I can’t tell you how many times, I mean, even right now, Theresa and I, we are going through a book together. We went through so many books. We learned – we have had to work so hard because we have so much baggage.
Now, we are great and we are connected and we have a great relationship, but we, you know what? Are we doing this or are we doing this? And so, there are different seasons where whatever you were doing, it’s like, mmm, we kind of need to…
For those of you that had small kids, remember when you could put a star on the refrigerator, and they would jump off the roof for you? “Oh yeah! I’ll eat my spinach!” Star! And then three weeks later, “Heck, I don’t want a star.” Right? And it’s the same in your marriage it’s: You did this, did this and spiritually it brought intimacy. And you did this and you did this. And then you step back and you go, “You know, we need something fresh. Our calendar, our schedule, little by little it seems like you’re kind of, your default pattern is…”
I’ve got twelve grandkids. That’s a full-time job for a woman if she lets it be. And our ministry keeps growing and we’re doing a lot of stuff internationally and I can just keep, and it was like, okay, let’s step back.
Okay, now what, in this season, what do we need to do? What does our time look like? What does our relationship look like? What do you need from me? What do I need from you? And the success rate of couples that attend church regularly, pray together regularly, and personally have a regular devotional life, the divorce rate is in the single digits. Like, six or seven percent.
There’s a big difference between lust where you have sex, and that can happen even in marriage, and love.
Maturity is, “What would help my mate feel cherished and loved? And all that is inside of me that I care about, that I want her or him to feel.” And there’s this union, but the union isn’t just physical, it’s a union that is taking the spiritual and the emotional and the connection that you have, and it brings you together. And by the way, it’s a really important part of your relationship.
I want to give you a pictorial example and I want to show you God’s model and then I’m going to show you something else, do you see the equilateral triangle? Here’s how God says to build a relationship.
Imagine your relationship is this triangle. At the very bottom is spiritual connection with God and with each other.
And so, I will just tell you, I mean, most men feel like their wives are far closer to God than we are. And we are comfortable more hitting things and running and activity. And they have this relational, spiritual side. And so, sometimes you just start by holding hands and praying silently. If you can go to the next level, and pray out loud together.
I’ve done this with pastors and it’s like, “When my husband does that, I feel protected.” And if you can read a psalm together or if that doesn’t work, Theresa and I are very independent, and so we each meet with God and then we grab a cup of coffee two or three times a week, and I’ll just open it with, “Hey, what are you learning right now? What is God showing you?” And she’ll share and I’ll share. When we first started, we thought it would be really holy, we would have devotions together. And she hated it and I hated it.
Now, I have a friend who is one of the most godly guys I think I know. He and his wife do that, “Every morning we read a psalm, we read a proverb, we pray for all of our children together.” I’m just thinking, I wish that worked for us, but it doesn’t. So, what you need to do is how do you stay spiritually connected?
Second is then socially, is if we were singles here, I would say, “Find a man or a woman that really walks with God, and then socially, find out about their parents and their friends, because that will tell you who they are.” But socially here is you want to have friends. You need a group of people that support you in your journey to be the kind of couple that God wants you to be.
It doesn’t take but a friend or two in your life or a friend or two in your mate’s life that really has really values that take you in different places. I have one friend that felt so compelled to be in, but when he got with these two or three guys, he always, instead of one glass of wine, man, it was always way more. And it was just conflict. I said, “Dude, do you love your wife or do you want these guys to think, psh?” He says, “Well, I really love my wife.” “Well, then, stop hanging out with them for six months!” “Oh. Yeah, but they’ll think this.” Well, she’s thinking this now. You tell me; what do you want? “I want a great marriage.” Okay.
I mean, I want to hang out with unbelievers and they can have all kind of lifestyles but if their lifestyle is changing me more than I’m changing them, then cut it. You’ve got to be around people, you need two, another couple and some friends that are cheering you on toward: This is the kind of men and women we want to be. And then psychologically sharing things of importance and of substance.
And then emotionally. These things all build and then pretty soon, when you do these kind of things, psychologically, you’ve got to have fun together. You’ve got to spend time together. You have to talk together. You read. And then you share.
And then when those things are in place, it’s really pretty amazing, it really changes the physical relationship.
What happens is when your relationship is built on the physical, well, actually, Hollywood’s model, it basically just takes God’s model and flips it upside down. You watch any movie, right? You see one another, sexually, they hook up. And then, if there’s an emotional connection, maybe see each other two or three more times. If not, they stop.
If there’s an emotional connection and you kind of like the person, then you hang out with one another for a while. And then if it’s like, “Wow, this might be something serious,” then you hang with their friends and your friends. If it gets really serious then you go home and meet mom and dad or family. And then, how many times I’ve had people knock on my, “Excuse me, yeah, you know, we have kind of done this,” they don’t say it like this, but I just know what they have done, “and we, there’s something in us that says we want to make this permanent. Do you think you could marry us?”
Why, if living together is okay, why is it, after a period of time people feel like, “We want to make this…” There’s something spiritual about a relationship between a man and a woman. And even the most secular people in the world understand that. And so, the question is: Which model consciously or unconsciously are you following?
At the bottom, I put Romans 12:2, because this is where the rubber meets the road. “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world,” Hollywood’s model, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Positive. Good. Good things into your mind and your thinking. “Then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is – good, pleasing, and acceptable.”
I know it is a tremendous challenge. I know there’s probably way more pain than I could ever dream, and a lot more health than I probably know about. But I will tell you, there’s no such thing as falling out of love. There is growing apart when you don’t deal with the big issues in your heart and your life, and you don’t spend the kind of time together.
Your physical relationship can’t sustain the depth of your relationship. It’s got to be all of the above.
God’s wisdom is simply if you, those of you with engineering background, engineers design things. They design computers, cars, artillery. And there’s a way that an engineer, once they design them, that they operate.
God’s wisdom is nothing more or nothing less than understanding that that comes from the Creator God and He has designed a way for life to work. And He wants your best. And so, He outlined: This is how marriage works. This is how parenting works. This is how money works. This is how conflict resolution works. This is how getting a hold of your speech works.
And one of the things, if you have done nothing else, and especially for guys, because it’s so practical, read through the book of Proverbs with a green pen and anytime anything says about money, underline it. And just think, “Oh, this is the wisdom about money.”
Or go through it and underline anytime it talks about relationships or sex and you’ll go, “Oh.” I mean, it’s all through it. Or resolving conflict. And what you’ll see is God wants you to be successful, but the world that you live in is categorically designed to destroy your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with your mate, and your relationship with other people. And it all revolves around me first. And it brings about destruction. And you’re just too valuable and too loved for that.