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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
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.