God’s Blueprint for Preserving Your Marriage
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Text: Ephesians 4:30 to 5:3 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;"
Key verse: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
I begin by pointing out that the text passage does not specifically deal with marriage but with all of our relationships with other believers. However, it is legitimate apply the principles taught in the passage to marriage, because, without a doubt, marriage is a part of the context as we see in Ephesians 5:22-33.
A good marriage takes effort to preserve. When you say "I do," you are committed to sustaining that marriage until the death of your spouse. Mark 10:9 says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
But why are so many married couples miserable? Perhaps an old proverb will offer some insight -- "Familiarity breeds contempt." To a large extent, that can be true. When the newness of married life wears off; when the pressures and responsibilities of daily living sets in and people become familiar with the irritating habits and idiosyncrasies of their spouse, the natural response, the response of our fallen nature, is to becoming bitter, angry, argumentative, even malicious and hateful. However, we are clearly told in our text that this is a wrong response. Responses like this grieve the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at our text -- "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" Ephesians 4:30-31
Our relationship with our spouse must be one of charity, that is agape love, which is giving and self-sacrificial. I remind you of 1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."
What does that mean? A husband is to love his wife and a wife is to love her husband (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4; John 13:34). When you love your spouse, love is said to "cover the multitude of sins," that is it overlooks or takes no notice of injuries, offences, affronts, etc. You let them pass, ignore them, bear them, and forgive them, so that they are never brought up, or seen any more. This thwarts hard feelings, strife, and trouble and keeps bitterness for driving a wedge into your relationship.
If you are to preserve a warm, caring relationship in
your marriage, you must put these three principles into practice in your
Let’s look at the first one.
"And be ye kind one to another… tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
The Greek word translated kind is crhstoi chrestoi (khrase-toy; 5543), which means pleasant as opposed to being harsh, sharp, or bitter. It refers to a person who is good-natured, incline or disposed to do good to others, and to make them happy by granting their requests, supplying their wants or assisting them in distress.
I must say that the Bible states, in no uncertain terms, that kindness is expected behavior in the marriage relationship. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 7:33-34. The Apostle Paul writes, "But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."
Be pleasant. Look for ways to do good, encourage, assist and make your spouse happy. The first principle for preserving your marriage is simply kindness.
The second principle is…
"And be ye…tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
We seldom use the word tenderhearted today. The word is a translation of the Greek word eusplagcnov eusplagchnos (yoo’-splangkh-nos; 2155) and means compassionate.
The word describes a person who is understanding and inclined to show mercy. In view is a person that is easily moved by the joys, sorrows, needs, distresses and difficulties of others.
It might also help you to understand tenderhearted if I told you what the antonym (a word meaning the opposite of) is… hardhearted. To be hardhearted is to be insensitive and callused to those in distress, and mercilessness, cruel and severe when dealing with the distresses and difficulties of others. Further, hard heartedness is shown in harshness and nastiness in speech, and close handedness to those in need.
I am thankful that God is not hardhearted. Our God is a compassionate God. We read this in Lamentations 3:22-23 "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Jesus Christ is a compassionate Savior. Five times in the first two Gospels we read the our Lord was moved with compassion. One example is the account of the five loaves and two fished found in Mark 6:34-44. We read in verse 34. "And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things."
We are instructed to be compassionate too. Peter wrote, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful (considerate), be courteous:" 1 Peter 3:8
The second principle for preserving your marriage is to be tenderhearted not hardhearted. Be compassionate not cruel.
The third principle for preserving your marriage is…
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
The Greek word translated forgiving is carizomai charizomai (khar-id’-zom-ahee; 5483) means to grant forgiveness or pardon.
FORGIVENESS is, choosing to pardon, remit, or overlook the mistake, fault, offense, hurt or injury of the offender without demanding, a penalty, punishment or retribution and then treating the offender as not guilty. For a fuller exposition of what forgiveness is, see my article posted at http://logosresourcepages.org/forgiveness1.htm
If a marriage is to survive, there must be the generous dispensing of forgiveness. If forgiveness is not a part of the marriage relationship, walls will be built and bitterness will ooze in and defile the marriage.
Forgiveness is right thing to do! Colossians 3:12-14 says, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."