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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - 3 Qualities You Need Before Marriage

Craig Groeschel - 3 Qualities You Need Before Marriage

Craig Groeschel - 3 Qualities You Need Before Marriage
Craig Groeschel - 3 Qualities You Need Before Marriage
TOPICS: Save the Date, Marriage, Relationships, Dating

I hope and pray that because of this message series that God spurs some of you to get married. I do, I hope that God uses this to inspire some of you to get married. And I hope and pray that some of you that are dating would actually break up because of this message series. And that sounds kind of heartless, and I don't want it to be. The reason why you may need to break up is because you can't marry the right person if you're dating the wrong person. And we're gonna get real into some heavy stuff in this message series. The message series is called Save the Date. And we're talking about dating, and we're talking about sex, and we're talking about marriage, and we're talking about what you wanna talk about, answering the questions that you have.

And one of the questions a lot of people have about marriage is, how do I find the right person to marry? Which is a good question, because admittedly, dating is a little bit different today than back in the old days when I used to just ask somebody out. Like, how do you do it today? Do you just like slide up into someone's DMs and say, like, yo, you up? Do you do that? Do do you get on a dating app and swipe, unless swiping is not Christian? Instead you going Christian mingle, so you have the anointing on your dating app.

Do you go to your life group and pray, and put on some spiritual cologne, and walk up to someone that's cute and say, you're a 9 out of 10, and I'm the one you're looking for, do you do that? Little helpful hint, you don't do that, because if you're only a one, and the scale is 1 out of 10, she don't want you, so that's just side note. But the question that so many people ask, and it's not a bad question, they ask, how do I find the right person? What we wanna do is we wanna suggest maybe a more important question and instead of saying, how do I find the right person, I would suggest that you start with asking, how do I become the right person? And the reason this matters is because, you don't typically attract what you want, you attract what you are. That may sound a little bit harsh, but at the end of the day you may want one thing, but you generally tend to attract what you are more than you attract what you want.

In fact, I'm reminded of a story that is all too common, a lot of times, I don't know if you notice or not, but sometimes Christian kids raised in a more strict home will go off to college or whatever and get a little bit wild, it's not uncommon. And there was a girl that was a strong Christian that got sucked into the party life in college. Well, a couple years into the party life, she met a great Christian guy, and came home and said, mom, this guy is amazing, he's everything I've ever wanted, he's on fire for Jesus, he's a spiritual leader, he's respectful, and he's cute. This is the guy I think that I wanna marry.

And the mom looked on, and not in a harsh way, but in a truthful way, said, sweetheart, you need to understand, that a guy like that is probably not looking for a girl like you. In other words, the way you are living right now isn't going to attract someone who's following Jesus, because you don't just attract what you want, you tend to attract what you are. I like the way Andy Stanley said it, he said this, He said, "A good goal would be to become the type of person, the person you are looking for is looking for". Become the type of person that the person you're looking for is looking for, and that's why the title of today's message is "Three Qualities You Need Before Marriage". Let's all pray.

God, we thank you that you are the God of relationships, that you created us to know you, to love you, and to be loved by you. And we thank you that the greatest of all things is love. Help us in all of our relationships to show your love. And God, if you would draw us and call us to marriage, would you draw us and call us to a marriage that honors you? We submit our hearts to you, asking for your perfect will and your perfect love. We pray this in your perfect name, the name of Jesus, and everybody said, amen. Amen. Amen.

Let's dive in. When it comes to dating relationships, there are often a lot of conflicting messages. How do you do things well? For example, your youth pastor might tell you like, hey, you should court and not date, because dating's not in the Bible, and you hear that message. And then you watch "The Bachelor", and "The Bachelor" teaches you to casually date, make out with five people, fall in love with two, but give the rose to one, then break up three months after the show's over, right? That's kinda what you hear there. Or you might listen to one pastor that tells you with the good intentions, you should make a list of everything that you want. And then another pastor tells you, you should rip up that list. And you're saying, what should I do?

And you have three friends tell you, hey, you should really use dating apps. And then you have three other friends tell you, but you're not trusting God if you're using dating apps. And it can be incredibly confusing. So I would suggest that instead of going to our friends, or just going to TikTok, or going to "The Bachelor" to learn how to have good relationships, let us go to the one who created relationships, the one who created marriage, and get wisdom from the one who loves us most. 1 Corinthians 7 is where we'll start today. And this is a chapter that's all about relationships. And when culture often tells us that the big win in our purpose is marriage, we're gonna see that Paul actually shows us that being married is not our purpose in life. Being married is not the end all, be all goal.

In fact, if you look at scripture, you're gonna see that John the Baptist, the guy that prepared the way for Jesus, wasn't married. The Apostle Paul who preached about Jesus and wrote about half of the New Testament wasn't married. Jesus, who was Jesus, right, the savior of the world, wasn't married. So God's biggest dream for us is not to be married. And Paul said it this way in verses seven and eight, He said, "I wish that all of you were as I am". He was unmarried. He says, "But each of you has your own gift from God", now he is talking about a gift. He says, "One has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and to the widows, I say, it's good for them to stay unmarried as I do".

Essentially, Paul was saying that singleness is a gift. Some of you might say, could I exchange that gift? Is there a gift receipt for this? 'Cause it doesn't always feel like a gift. But he goes on to say this, he goes on to say, "I'm saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord". In other words, if you don't have a spouse, you don't have anyone dividing your devotions, but you can give your life holy unto the Lord. Essentially what he's saying is this, that being married is not our purpose in life. What is our purpose? Our purpose in life is to live with undivided devotion to Jesus. That's our purpose. So instead of just looking for the right person, what we wanna do is let God help us to become the right person. And I wanna show you three qualities in scripture that we wanna let God work in us so that we would become these three things.

What do we wanna become? With God's help, we wanna be secure in Christ. The second thing is we wanna be strong in character. The third thing is we wanna be planted in community. Let's all say this aloud, those of you online, go ahead and type it in the comments section. What are we gonna be? We're gonna be. Secure in Christ, strong in character, and planted in community. Let's talk about them one at a time. Instead of just looking for the right person, let's become the right person, and the right person is gonna be, number one, secure in Christ. What do we know? If you wanna end up married and happy, start single and secure. If you wanna end up in a blessed relationship, we're not looking for the relationship to fulfill us, we first find our fulfillment and our security in Christ. And the reason this is so important is, I don't know if any of you have ever dated an insecure person, just raise your hand just a little bit.

Have you ever dated an insecure person? If you're dating them right now, don't elbow them right now, that would make them feel more insecure. What happens is when someone's insecure, you know what they do? They're just, I mean, it just bleeds down to, like, do you like me? Where were you? Or who you texting? Well, what are you looking at on your phone? Were you looking at her? Were you looking at him? What are you doing? Here's the challenge, when it comes to relationships, insecure people need more and they settle for less. Insecure people, they need more, because they're always looking for outside reassurance. Validate me, please make me feel special, tell me that I'm worthy, tell me that you like me, because they always need this outside reassurance. They're looking for meaning in relationships and in dating, and they have to have someone, and they squeeze everything out of them.

And because they have to have someone, they often settle for whoever's available. In fact, I'll use some famous love quotes from movies just to illustrate a point. You wanna see some of the best, I'll give you three of the best in my opinion. Of course you have to have "The Notebook", you even laugh at that as I say it. But there's a famous quote from "The Notebook" that goes like this. Noah says, "No matter what happens to us, every day with you is the best day of my life". That's kind of cheesy, but I have one with Amy I tell her all the time, I say, My favorite thing about everything is you. It's what I tell her all the time. Put that in a movie quote. I'll give you a second movie quote. This one is the "Titanic", this one is really powerful. And the quote goes like this, Rose says to Jack, who's about to die, hanging on the log, she says, "I'll never let go, I promise". And then she lets go. She does.

I'm looking at going, there was room on the log. But nevertheless, there's that quote. Then perhaps one of the most famous one from Tom Cruise who's playing Jerry Maguire, he looks at Renee Zellweger, and says, "You complete me". You complete me, you're what I need in life, you complete me, and this is the message that so many people wrongly believe. I say all that to tell you that marriage doesn't complete you. Christ and Christ alone completes you. Marriage never makes you whole. Jesus alone makes you whole. In fact, the apostle Paul said it this way in Colossians 2:9-10, he said, "For in Christ all the fullness of the deity dwells in bodily form. And you have been made complete in Christ".

The challenge is, everywhere you go, you hear counter godly messages. The predominant cultural message is, you can't be happy without your soul mate. In the church, even inadvertently, without meaning to, the church can sometimes imply that you aren't complete until you're marriage. You're a second class Christian if you're not married. And once you get married, you can play in the big leagues with all the more godly people. And then the devil will whisper to you if you're not married, there must be something wrong with you if you're not married, there must be something wrong with you. If no one's told you in a long time, I want to tell you that you are valuable. You have indescribable worth, You are complete in Christ because of God's love for you and the perfect work of Jesus on the cross.

And that's why you don't have to lower your standards, because you're already complete. You don't have to compromise your values to settle for less when someone asks you to do something outside, you don't have to trace your body to get love. To quote the famous theologian, Beyonce. If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it, okay? You don't have to lower your standards when you are secure in Christ. I'm not a half person looking for another half person to make me whole, because of who Jesus is in me, his work, his grace, his forgiveness, I'm complete, I'm a whole. Single is a whole number, you're complete in Christ. Here's the challenge. Insecure people, they need more and settle for less. But secure people need less and expect more. They need less and they expect more. You say like, well, I got pretty high standards, well, were good for you, you should. When you're secure, you should have really high standards.

In fact, it's funny, people will ask me, and it's a compliment, whenever a guy asks another guy, like, how did you get that girl? That's a compliment, just want you to know that, it is a compliment. Some guy commented on Instagram post I had with Amy. He said, you out punted your coverage. And I say, thank you. Whenever a guy says it to a guy, how does someone like you get a girl like that? The guy goes, hmm, thank you. It's a compliment. It doesn't work with women. If a girl goes up there and goes, how does scrawny legged thing like you get a guy like that? It doesn't come across the same way.

I'll show you a picture of Amy. How did that guy get that girl? And how did that couple go to this kind of spiritual legacy over time? Not because I'm smart, not because of how I look, not because I had money, 'cause I didn't have any money. What happened is I had been changed by Jesus, transformed by Jesus, was in love with Jesus, secure in Christ, and I just believed that when I met this girl, that together, we could better serve Jesus than we could apart. She didn't complete me and I didn't complete her. I was complete and fulfilled in Christ. And that confidence of calling and security was attractive to her and who she was in Christ was attractive to me.

And you recognize that when you've been forgiven by God, and you're called by God, and you're chosen by God, you're special, there's nothing insecure. I don't need to settle for somebody who's not doing that. I am secure in Christ, so I expect more. Your standards go up, and because of that, you become attractive and you start attracting the right kind of person. Because at the end of the day, our purpose isn't to get married. I don't need someone to make me, our purpose isn't to get married, our purpose is to live a life wholly devoted to Jesus. So how do we find the right person? No, a better question is how do we become the right person?

Number one, we wanna be secure in Christ. The second thing is with God's help, we want to be strong in character. We wanna be strong in character because it's incredibly calm, and some of you may be living this right now or you have friends that are to, like, I'm not married so I can do whatever I want, like, it's party time. Later on we may settle down and we may do the church thing later on, and we may do the Jesus thing later on, but right now I'm just gonna live however I want, and then later on I might settle down. And I wanna remind you that you don't build a life of righteousness on a foundation of sin. What you're doing today matters and today will impact tomorrow. We wanna be strong in character today. So what does that look like? What does strong character look like?

I love these five qualities that Paul highlights for Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12. If you want a growing character grow in these five traits. He says, "Set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity". I would look at it this way on the screen, we wanna be wholly devoted to Jesus, I'll put it in words that we would use today. We wanna be wholly devoted to Jesus with the words that we speak, how's your character? Well, what comes out of your mouth reflects what's in your heart. Are you speaking words of life, and words of faith, and words that are God honoring? Or do you sound like a TV-MA show on Netflix? What kind of words do you speak? Secondly, we wanna look at our behavior. How is it that we live? What is it that we do? We also wanna look at the way that we love one another. The greatest of these is love.

How do we treat others with the love of God or with judgment and narrow mindedness? We wanna grow in our faith, our faith in Jesus, our character, where faith isn't just something that we kind of believe, but it consumes our lives, we're centered around Jesus. And then our character always represents our purity, or we might say our sexual integrity. And a lot of times when we're single, we're attracted to people, and sometimes we feel like we have a lust problem. And so I've heard people say, well, once I get married, that's gonna handle my lust problem. The problem with getting married and your lust problem is you just become a lust problem with a ring on it. Marriage doesn't solve your lust problem. What we wanna do is before we're married, we want God developing our character, our foundation inside of us, that we're becoming pure, we're looking at our lives saying, search me, oh God, see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in your paths of righteousness.

In other words, if you wanna marry someone with a strong character, develop a strong character. Let God work in you. We're not cleaning up later on when real life happens, this is real life. Who you are today impacts the people that you're around, that's a foundation that you're building on. Do you wanna marry someone with a strong character? Let God build your character today, because you don't attract is what you want, but you attract who you are. So what are we gonna do? We're gonna let God work in our lives. With his help, we're gonna be secure in Christ, we're gonna be strong in character, and we're gonna be planted in community. We're planted in community. If you wanna a relationship that's strong and God honoring, it is impossible to describe just how much your friends and your community matters. People sometimes ask me like, hey, you know, what do you think of our relationship?

One of the first places I look is at they're friends. You go to a wedding and you look at the bridesmaids and the groomsmen, and there's a very strong predictor of the spiritual success of that marriage. What they did the night before is an incredibly strong predictor, when they went to a strip club, or got wasted, or whatever, the odds of that marriage working is nothing like when they had prayer time and opened up God's word together. Because who you are with is a reflection of who you are. I'll say it this way, the strength of your community will shape the quality of your marriage every single time. The strength of your community, it will shape the quality of your marriage. You can say it a million different ways. Show me your friends, what comes after that? Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

Proverbs 13:20 says it this way, "If you walk with the wise, you become wise, but a companion of fools", again, got nothing but fools in your relationship, "You're gonna suffer harm". What I found is when I became a follower of Jesus, I didn't see great marriages around. When I looked at the marriages in my life, do I want to be like them? I didn't see very many that I wanted to be like. And so I recognized one of the most important things that we could do would be to surround ourselves with some people that would model and mentor what marriage would be. And there was this one couple, they were just a little bit older than us, Rich and Anna, who had a blast together, who worshiped together, who had a ministry together. And we said, we wanna have a relationship like them.

So we intentionally sought them out and just befriended them and asked them for advice. I'll show you some photos of them. This is Amy with her big hair and this is Rich and Anna, I think we're making Easter eggs together. In this photo we were in a tent because I made a tent in the living room and had a camp out night, not an overnight camp out, but a camps in our home camp night. And Rich and Anna came over, and of course they were kissing in almost every picture. And then this is one we went to visit them years later at their house together. And I think you probably can't see it from there, but Rich has his hand on her butt, which is where I learned that from, from our mentors.

If you ask me why my hand is on her butt, because my spiritual mentors taught me that posture. What we did is we asked them what makes for a good marriage? And the first thing they told us is, you gotta learn to fight. I never expected that from them because we never saw them fight. But they said that all couples are gonna fight, good couples fight fair, the wrong couples fight dirty. You know, you learn to fight. And so they taught us about conflict and then they showed us about having fun. They went on dates all the time, they laughed together, played games together, and then they talked to us about intimacy, the importance of intimacy that when you're physically intimate, it creates emotional intimacy, which compounds to more physical intimacy, and the presence of any type of intimacy leads to other types of intimacy.

And the lack of any type of intimacy tends to lead to the lack of any types of intimacy. And then we met some of their friends, and their friends oddly had strong marriages for the most part as well. And then their friends became our friends, and we've had a community of friends with mostly strong marriages. It's not that we don't have friends that don't have good marriages, we do. But in our core, we tend to become like those who are around us. When you look at our closest friends today, they honestly have very strong marriages, they are very, very good parents, they are physically healthy, they are planted in community, they're financially strong. You're like going, well, you guys are pretty arrogant, only picking the elite people. And actually, we just kind of became that way together, because what was positive in their life became positive in ours, was positive in our life became positive in there.

If you could imagine if my three closest friends, one was a porn addict, one couldn't relax without marijuana and beer, and the other one cheated on his his wife three times and had a DUI, how much value do you think they would add to our marriage? Because the bottom line is in many ways the life you have is a result of the people that you're with. And so if you find yourself right now wanting to be marriageable, but you don't have great community, it's a good place to start, like today, to start developing the right support system, the right voices that will encourage you. 'Cause one day when you get in trouble in your marriage, you're gonna go to a friend, and have friend's gonna say, don't you put up with that, who do they think they are? Or they're gonna say, hey, why don't you just pray about it and get back there and do the right thing. Because the strength of your community will impact the quality of your marriage.

So what do you wanna do? Let's not just look at them, I want the right person, but let's look at us, God make me the right person. Who do I wanna be? What I wanna be is I wanna be secure in Christ that Jesus is my Lord, my savior, he directs me. I wanna be strong in character, doesn't mean that I'm perfect, but I'm being perfected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and I wanna be planted and strong in spiritual community, because the people of God are with the people of God. And so if that's what I want to be, then what am I looking for? It starts to become real clear, I'm looking for someone who is secure in Christ. This isn't someone that needs a relationship, needs validation, needs you to like my photo.

This is someone who's confident in who they are in Christ, they're forgiven, they're strong, they have a ministry, they have a purpose, they have spiritual momentum, and I like that. And they're strong in character because when half of the marriages end in a divorce, and most of 'em because there wasn't character somewhere, I want to be strong in character and I want someone who's strong in character. And community matters more than you could imagine. And when I walk in with great, prayerful, godly friends, and I see someone else who has, oh, all sorts of friends, we love people far from God, but they're core, they're strong, spiritual, and they're walking with God. I say, here's someone who is working to be wholly devoted to Christ. And then those of you who are married, like, why are we talking about dating, what about married people? Oh, what do you want in your marriage?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you wanna be secure in who you are in Christ. Your spouse doesn't complete you, Christ completes you. And when you're complete in Christ, you come in whole and love someone as Jesus has loved you. And you're strong in character, you're not looking over your shoulder, and compromising, and cutting corners, because you've got a righteous foundation that strengthens your marriage, and you're planted in community, you don't just call yourself a Christian, you're a disciple of Jesus. You've got people praying for you and you're praying for them, and you're involved in ministry, and you don't just go to church every now and then, you are the church, you're a disciple of Jesus. And when these things are in place, the odds of a God glorifying relationship go way, way up. And when they're not in place, the odds start to come down.

So how do we find that person? Do we slide up into their DMs? Do we swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe? Do we say, is it hot in here or is that the Holy Spirit burning in you? No, sorry. You just walk towards Jesus. You just pursue Jesus. You just pursue Jesus. You just walk toward the light. You just walk toward the light with everything, and your purpose isn't to get married, your purpose is to be wholly devoted to Jesus, and you're just walking toward Jesus. Then every now and then when you're walking towards Jesus, you just look to the right, and you look to the left, and you're looking for someone else who's cute and walking with Jesus.

You say, but pastor, why be so shallow, cute? Oh, cute matters. Don't let anyone tell you cute doesn't matter. They're walking with Jesus and you wanna be attracted to them. You wanna be attracted to them because one day you're gonna get in a fight, and when you get in a fight, when you're madder than you can imagine, what you wanna be able to say is, well, at least you're cute. That's what you wanna be able to do, because that matters. And you're walking toward Jesus and you find someone that's cute.

And so you walk toward Jesus a little bit closer to the person, and you start to get to know them. And when you find that they're secure in Christ, and you find that they have great character, and they're planted in community, and you like them, and you enjoy them, and you're attracted to them, you ask yourself, could we serve Jesus better together than we could apart? And when you recognize you can, you grab their hand and you walk to the aisle, and you walk past the aisle, and you keep walking to Jesus, and your verse becomes this, "Glorify the Lord with me together, let us exalt his name together". And that's when you get married. Because our purpose isn't to be married, our purpose is to be wholly devoted to Jesus. So it's not, I'm looking for them, but God, do a work in me. And when you do a work in me, I'm much more likely to attract the person that together we can serve you better.

So Father, we asked today that you would do a work in us, in all of us, single, dating, married, divorced, full of hope, or maybe feeling hopeless when it comes to relationships. God, do a work in us.

As you're praying and reflecting today, no matter your relational status, if you want to ask God to do a work in you, we're gonna pray a real simple prayer.

Search me God, search me, see if there's any offensive way in me. Lead me in the way of everlasting.

If you want God to do a work in you to help you be secure in Christ, strong in character, planted in community, would you lift up your hands right now? Those of you online, just type in the chat, "do a work in me, God", just type in the chat. Lift up your hands and type in the chat.

God, we pray that as you're drawing us close, we just ask you, you can just pray this in your own way, you can type it in the comments section, just search me. God, you can just even say it kind of quietly under your breath, search me God, search me. Show me. God, make me secure in you. So I actually maybe need less and expect more, because my security is not in a relationship, my security is in you. God, help strengthen our character, our words, God, our behavior, our purity, God, our actions, in all ways strengthen our character. And God, I ask that today for some we'd be convicted that we need community, it's time for a life group, it's time to serve in the church. God help us to recognize the power of your people that we need each other. Search us, God, do a work in us.

As you keep praying today, we're talking a lot about being wholly devoted to Jesus, and some of you might say like, hmm, I'm not anywhere close to that. And I would say, well, that's a good place to start, because all of us start there. You might think, okay, well, if this Jesus stuff is real, I need to get things cleaned up first, and kinda need to get ready, I need to fix some things. And I wanna tell you, like, we don't follow Jesus that way. It is completely impossible to ever prepare ourselves enough for him, to get good enough for him. And this is what makes a love of God so amazing that he loves you exactly as you are. And he sent Jesus, his son, who was perfect and without sin, and Jesus died on a cross to forgive our sins. God raised him from the dead, and his perfect work, his sacrifice, the shedding of blood, brings forgiveness for our sins.

And now scripture says, whoever calls on him, whoever turns to him, whoever makes him the Lord, God forgives all of their sins and you become brand new. You don't get better by trying to be better, you get forgiven by coming to him. We seek him first, he transforms our lives, we don't clean up, we come to him. Wherever you're watching from, some of you recognize, you're not serving him, you don't know him. He's a relational God, he wants to love you, he wants you to receive his love, and he wants you to love him back. How do we get ready? We just surrender. Just yes, just take my life. I've just come to you right now, I'm not thinking about it, I'm not changing it, I step away from my old life, I surrender to you, Jesus, I give you my life. I don't deserve anything, but I give you my life. By your grace, you give me new life, so today, by faith, I give you mine.

Wherever you're watching from, those who say, I need that, I want that, that's me right now, I step away from my own life, I surrender my life, Jesus, I give my life to you, that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now, all over the place, lift them up, lift them up. Oh, come on somebody, let's thank God for what we see today as we've got people today and all of our churches saying yes to Jesus. Those of you online, just just type in, I'm trusting my life to Jesus, I'm trusting my life. Type that in the comment section and we're gonna pray together. Just pray, "Heavenly Father..." pray aloud:

Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus, save me. Change me. Make me new. Fill me with your spirit so I could be secure in Christ. So I could be strong in character So I could be planted in community. So I could know you and make you known. I give my life, fully devoted to Jesus. Lead my steps, take all of my life. I surrender to you. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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