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James Merritt - Here Comes the Groom

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    James Merritt - Here Comes the Groom
TOPICS: Family Ties, Family, Husband

So I want you to take God's word and turn to Ephesians chapter five. And let me begin by telling you a story. I wish I didn't have to tell, I don't know if I've ever told it before. It's an embarrassment to me. You may say it shouldn't be, but it is. I've got a black mark on my ministry that I've frankly never been able to get over. And I'm reminded of it almost every time I do a wedding. I rarely do a wedding that I don't go back to this moment in my ministry. The first marriage I ever did, the first ceremony that I ever conducted, the first couple I ever officially joined as man and wife got divorced. And I thought maybe I shouldn't be in this marrying business. Maybe I'm bad luck. Maybe I don't need to be doing this 'cause I was one for one. First couple I ever married didn't make it.

I was pastoring my first little small country church, Macedonia Baptist Church in the massive city called Tick Ridge, Kentucky. We had about 50 people and I'd been there about six months and I'd never married anybody. I never performed the ceremony and this couple came to me and they wanted to get married and I didn't have any formal experience. I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I didn't know much about premarital counseling, Teresa and I got married, we didn't really have much premarital counseling. It wasn't a big thing back in that day. Well, what I didn't know before I married this couple, when I married this couple, I did not know that this man had already been married before and divorced. I never thought to ask him and for some reason, he conveniently never thought to tell me. And then I found out later that he was an objectively bad husband and he really was the major cause of the divorce.

And had I known that things might have been different, but what I did learn out of all that is number one, you better find out who you're marrying before you married them. That's always a good idea. But then I also realized something else and it's a great lesson and that is too many people have bad marriages because they didn't have good beginnings. It really is, in a way, not just how you start, but how you finish. It's also how you start because this is the way it works. Some of you young people that are listening to me right now, some of you single people, maybe you have a desire to get married and you're doing the same thing I did for 23 years of my life. You're looking for the right person. I mean, nobody purposely looks for the wrong person. Right? Nobody says, "You know, I think you and I can have a relationship and get married. And I really believe we have the potential to make a divorce lawyer really rich".

We don't ever go into it with that kind of thinking, right? We think we're in this for the long haul. We're looking not for Mr. Wrong and Mrs. Wrong. We're looking for Mr. Right and Mrs. Right. And whether it is a science or an art, you think when you find Mr. Right or you think when you find Mrs. Right, now you're going to live happily ever after. The only problem is it's a lot more difficult to find Mr. Right and Mrs. Right than you might think it is. As a matter of fact, you know what I found in most singles? They don't even really know what they're looking for. And sometimes it doesn't work out when you think you do.

I'll give you a story. A young lady was talking to her boyfriend one time and she said, "Why doesn't your mother like me"? And he said, "Look, don't take it personally. She's never liked anybody I've ever dated. Never". She said, "Really"? She said, "Yeah, I'll give you an example". He said, "Before I met you, I dated someone. And this girl was exactly like my mother in every way you could imagine". He said, "She looked like my mother, she talked like my mother, she walked like my mother. She even had the same handwriting as my mother and it was a disaster". And the girlfriend said, "Are you kidding? Your mom didn't like her either"? He said, "Oh no, mom adored her, my dad couldn't stand her".

Now, we're in a series that we're calling family ties. And in effect, what I'm trying to do in this series is basically take the family apart piece by piece, and then hopefully put it back together again. Now, if you were here last week, we dealt with where every family was intended to begin with by God himself and that is with a marriage. When God started the family, he didn't start it off automatically where mom and dad had two kids. He started off with a husband and wife and no kids because that's where every family God intends to start is with a marriage between a husband and a wife. But it's more than just a husband and a wife. What God wants in a marriage is not just a husband and a wife. God wants a godly husband. And God wants a godly wife. That is really a key. And yet I've got news for you. Even for a godly husband and even for a godly wife, marriage is hard work. I don't care how much you love Jesus. I don't care how much husband you love Jesus, how much wife you love Jesus, it is hard work.

In fact, I've learned in my ministry, it doesn't take a lot of work to have a bad marriage. It takes a ton of work to have a good one. Doesn't take a lot of work at all to have a bad one. So here's what we're going to do to kind of get you ahead. Two weeks ahead, right? For the next two weeks, we're gonna be looking at the role of the husband in the marriage. And then next, we're gonna look at the role of a wife. So I thought it would be a good idea before we get into this for the next two weeks. Let me kinda give you the punchline of where this is gonna go, all right? Here's what we're gonna be talking about over the next two weeks simple put. "God ask wives to willingly submit to their husbands and husbands to lovingly sacrifice for their wives". Now, before you ladies say, "Thanks for telling me, we won't be here next week. We're gonna saturate this place with our absence".

Before you think about doing that, let me just explain one thing to you wives. Wives are not told to submit to their husbands because they're inferior. They're certainly not told to submit to their husbands because they're not as good at leading as men are because some women are better leaders than men. Paul gives one reason. So I'm gonna tell you one reason why wife ought to submit to her husband. It's because Christ submits to the church. That's my reason. That's not good enough for you? I can't help you. You ought to submit to your husband because Christ submits to the church. Then he says to the husbands, "Husbands, you are to sacrifice for your wife". And it is not because you are less valuable than your wife. You're equally as valuable as your wife. But the reason why you ought to sacrifice for your wife is because Jesus sacrificed for the church.

Because what Paul is gonna be telling us over the next couple of weeks is marriage is a signpost that points to Christ and his bride, the church, which is why marriage ought to be made up of a male, he's the picture of Christ; a female, the picture of the church, while they're both called to important, but different roles. And like Christ in the church, Paul said, "What bridges the difference between the man and the woman, the husband and the wife, the one thing that bridges the difference is love". Now here's the good news, ladies, for you. Ephesians five, Paul begins with the husband. And it's so interesting because Paul takes more time and Paul gives more space to what he says to the husband than he does to the wife. I hope this will bless you ladies in here. He says three times as much to the husband as he does to the wife. You know why? It's three times as hard for us to be good. It just is. It's three times. I mean, he knew what he was doing.

And so what we're going to see is the bottom line for you, husbands, is very simple. Here's what Paul's gonna tell us. Before you find the woman that you want to marry, you need to become the man she would want to marry. Before you find the woman you wanna marry, you better become the man she would want to marry. So here's a question to ask all you husbands today, whether you just got married, you've been married like me for four and a half decades. Be honest. If you were your wife, would you wanna be married to you? If you were your wife, would you wanna be married to you? So I'm just gonna give you right out of this text of good steps to take to be a godly husband for your wife. Here's, men, how we need to do it. Number one, lead humbly like Jesus.

Now, the key word there guys is not lead. The key word there is humbly. Lead humbly like Jesus. Here's what Paul says. "For husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body of which He is the savior". Now, the word head means authority. The husband is authority. Now, being in authority or being in authority does not mean, guys, being authoritarian. There's a big difference between being in authority and being authoritarian. For example, there's nothing in that passage that says you can be a dictator, you can be a despot, you can be a drill sergeant. As a matter of fact, you know what I love about Jesus of all the many things I love? You go back to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. When you read about Jesus and His leadership, you'll find something very, very interesting.

People, never follow Jesus because they had to. They followed Jesus because they wanted to. It's really, really, really cool. I mean, Jesus never forced anybody to do anything. He never coerced anybody to do anything. And the only way Jesus wants us to follow Him is gladly and joyfully and willfully and excitedly. You know, I've been a follower of Jesus since I was nine years old. You know in all that time, it hit me the other day. He has never forced me to do one thing. He has never coerced me to do one thing. He has never twisted my arm and said, you are going to do this. And no godly husband should ever force His wife to do anything. As a matter of fact, guys, I'll give you a piece of advice. If I were you, I wouldn't try that. I'm just, from experience, I wouldn't try that. I read about a very mild-mannered man. He was in a very good marriage. But for some reason, he got this real strange idea. He just wasn't being assertive enough. He just wasn't being strong enough.

So he went to a therapist and said, "Look, I kind of feel like I need help here". So the therapist said, "You know what? I know a great seminar you ought to go to on assertiveness training". And he said, "You ought to go to it". So he goes to this seminar to be more assertive in his leadership. And unfortunately, he kind of went far beyond what the seminar recommended. So he comes home, his wife meets him at the door, and she's just gonna ask him, "Hey, how was the seminar"? She never got a chance. He took her by the hand, he walked over to the chair with a stern look. He said, "Sit down". And she thought, "That's not like you," but she did. And man, he started in. He said, "Let's get something straight". He says, "From now on, I'm the boss around here. I'm in charge. When I come home from work, I want dinner on the table. I want it hot. I want you to start making some gourmet meals and some incredible desserts. I want you to learn to make incredibly passionate love to me whenever I want it. And I want you to go upstairs right now, lay out some clothes on the bed because I'm going out with the guys tonight and I want you to run my shower. And furthermore, when I get out of the shower, guess who's gonna dress me and comb my hair"? She said, "The undertaker".

Now, that is not the way Jesus led His disciples. That is not the way a husband is to lead the wife. That's not the way Jesus leads the church. Jesus was a prototypical servant leader. Some people think being a servant and being a leader is an oxymoron. They're not. They're actually joined at the hip. The greatest way men you'll lead your wife, can I tell you the greatest way? You wanna be the leader in your home? Serve her, put her first. By the way, my mentor, Adrian Roger, said it best. He said, "If you gotta tell somebody you're in charge, you're not". That's true. If you gotta tell somebody you're in charge, you're not. Barney Fife spent his life telling Andy he was in charge, but he wasn't, right?

If you gotta tell somebody, you're not. And the way God wants you to lead is to serve your wife. You put her needs ahead of yours. Hey, here's a good thought, guys. If you want your wife to look up to you, don't ever look down on her. If you want your wife to look up to you, don't ever look down on her. And yet it's still true. God looks to the husband as the leader of the home. You know that going all the way back to the first marriage. Adam and Eve both ate of the forbidden fruit. As a matter of fact, we all know who ate it first. Eve. But when God came calling and God knocked on their door, he didn't ask to see Eve. He asked to see who? Adam. Now, and you know the story, they all played the blame game, right? So it was really funny how that started out, right? So God goes to Adam, what does Adam say? "It's the woman you gave me. She's the one that did it". And what does the woman say? She said, "No, no, no, it was the snake. He's the one that did it".

And the poor snake, he didn't have a leg to stand on. I mean, they're all, everybody's blaming everybody else. But the point is this. Here's the point. And this is something some of you husbands are not gonna like. If something isn't right in your marriage, I don't really care to hear at this point what your wife has done or hasn't done. If something is wrong in your marriage, the first place you should look is in the mirror 'cause that's where God is looking to. He's looking to you. First thing Paul says, "Husband, lead humbly like Jesus". Then he says a second thing. Love sweetly like Jesus. Lead humbly, love sweetly.

Now, Paul has already said something. He doesn't back up, which I appreciate. Ladies, he doesn't equivocate. He's not gonna debate it. He's not gonna discuss it. He says, "Look, the husband is the head of the home. He is the leader. That's what God says, that's the way it is". But then he does something really, really cool. He says, "Now, husbands, you are the leader of your home, but now I'm gonna tell you exactly how you really show your leadership". And he said, "The way you lead is with love". And to make sure he understands what he means by that, you know what Paul does for us, guys? 'Cause we're kinda thick headed. He takes six verses and 105 words to tell us how to love our wives. Okay? So I'm gonna give you some help. If you have a hard time, listen to what he says. He starts all by saying this. He says, "Husbands, love your wives". How? "Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her".

Now, I want you to go back 2,000 years. You're in Ephesian, you're sitting in that church. You're sitting in that church house. When Paul says this, "Hey, by the way, husbands, love your wives the way Christ loved the church," you probably would've fallen out of your chair because in the culture of that day, marriages were not based on love at all. The way a husband chose a wife, he looked at three things. What is her social status? Does she have any property rights? Does she have any legal heirs? Things that I could inherit. Now, to be sure, I'm not saying husbands in that day didn't love their wives. That's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is this. The primary way husbands love their wives or thought they were sort of their lives, first of all, was what they called, there's three words for love in the Greek language. There's the word eros. That's erotic love, that's sexual love.

And that's primarily the way that husbands looked at their wives they got married. You are to have my children, you're to bear my children, you're to meet my physical needs. But then there was the second kind of love, it is called a philos. We get the word Philadelphia off that. It's a philos kind of love. It's like a friend. And so there were men that would marry a woman not because they really loved her like they should, they really looked at her more as a friend, but she was a baby factory. That's really what she was. You need to have and you need to make sure you give me a son. Well, when Paul talks about loving the wife, to the shock of this church, he doesn't use eros and he doesn't use philo. He uses a word that is so unique to the New Testament. You know what it is. It is the word agape. In fact, he uses the word six times in these verses. And agape is so different from erotic love. It is so different from philos love.

Here's what agape love is. Agape love is a love that always sees what it can give to the other person, not what it can get from the other person. A gape love is a love that is unconditional and unending that you give to the undeserving and the unlovable. And here's the kicker. It's not a feeling. It's an act of the will. I've had husbands come in. I've had this happen in my ministry, you can imagine. And then we get a divorce and they'll say, "I'll tell you why. I just don't love my wife anymore". And they think I'm gonna be sympathetic, right? Well I'm fresh out. You know what I say to husbands like that? I'll say, so what you're telling me is you've lost that loving feeling. Is that what you're telling me? "Yeah, I just don't love her anymore". I said, "Well, I got a great piece of advice". "What's that"? I said, "Go start loving her".

They look at me like I've lost my mind. What do you mean? I said, go start loving her. He said, "You don't understand. I don't love her anymore". I said, "I know what you said is you don't feel love anymore. I don't care what you feel. Your feelings are irrelevant to me". Love is not a feeling, it's not an emotion. It is an act of the will. And it's the kind of love that always puts the other person first. It's the same love of John 3:16. "For God so loved," the same word. "For God so loved the world". So here's what Paul is saying. "Husbands, you are to love your wife the way Jesus loved the church". Well, how do we know He loved the church? He gave His life for the church.

Now, let me just say something to you. See how well you know your Bible. Jesus is about to go to the cross and He is about to die for you and for me. Easy question to answer. Did He feel like doing that? No, as a matter of fact, remember what he said to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane? "Hey, if it's okay with you, I'd rather not do this. I don't have this crucified feeling today". Didn't matter 'cause love's not a feeling. Love is an act of the will. The son made a commitment the moment He came out of His mother's womb. He made a commitment. I'm going to the cross. I'm gonna die for your sins because I love you as an act of my will. He gave His life for the church. And men, the way you love your wife the most is not through giving her material gifts. It is giving her your very life. I had to ask myself, I'm working on this and I'm a husband. And I had to ask myself a very tough question I wanna ask all of us in this room who are married.

Do you love her enough not just to live for her, but to die for her, but this is the big one, and to die to you? See, I believe every man in this room, if I were to say, do you love your wife enough to die for her? "Oh yeah, man. I'd take a bullet for her anytime". Well, do you love her enough to die to you? Not for her, to you. To die to what you want, to die to what you think she ought to bring to the marriage, to die to her role in the marriage. See, the best way you can love your wife, quit worrying about what she brings to you in the marriage. Start focusing on what you bring to her in the marriage. And when you do that, Paul says, it ought to lead to this. "To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without staying or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless".

This is an amazing thing that Paul says. He says, "Do you know what Jesus is doing for the church right now? We're his bride". Do you know what Jesus is doing for the church right now? He is doing everything He needs to do to help us be what we need to be. Well, guess what? Husbands, do you know what your number one job is for your wife? It is not to get her to give you sex. It is not to get her to cook a good meal. It is not to get her to clean the house. It is not to get her to do whatever you want her to do. Your number one job as a husband, and if you don't do this, it doesn't matter what else you do. You have failed as a husband. Your number one job as a husband is to do everything you can to make her what God wants her to be. That's your number one role, to do everything you can to do what you can to draw her closer to God. And then Paul drops the hammer. He says, "In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself".

There's one thing we all do, guys, every single day. We do. We love our body, right? Paul said, "I'll buffet my body". Some of us buffet our body, but we love our body, right? We feed it, we bathe it, we pamper it, we clothe it. A lot of us exercise it. We try to keep it healthy. Well, Paul says, "Just as you provide for your body and protect your body and preserve your body," he said, listen, "then preserve your wife and protect your wife and provide for your wife". And then Paul goes deeper. Just keeps digging. He says, "After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body just as Christ does the church". Paul said, "Look, look at your bodies. We are to provide and care for our wives just like we do our bodies".

By the way, that word feed is a very interesting word in the Greek language. That word feed is used in only one other place in the New Testament. Only one. And it's talking about giving children what they need that they cannot get for themselves. And the word care for, that's also a word. It means to warm with body heat. It describes a bird's nest. It's the protection that a mother bird would give to her baby bird. And what Paul is saying is, here's the way you love your wives, just the way you would love a little child or a grandchild, just the way a mother bird loves a baby bird by providing what they need and protecting them no matter what it may cost us.

As a matter of fact, have you ever thought about what the word husband really means? Have you thought about the word husband? You know where you get that word? The word husband literally comes from the word house band. House band. The husband is to be a band that stretches around his wife and stretches around his family and protects them and provides for them and preserves them and promotes them to being good and to being godly. He said, "Look, this is what Jesus is doing for the church. This is what the husband ought to do for the wife". So what do you do? Here comes the groom. Well, what kind of groom are you going to be? I'm gonna lead my wife humbly and I'm gonna love my wife sweetly. And when you do those two things, it's kinda like the third domino just falls 'cause here's what you do. You live continuously like Jesus, you lead humbly like Jesus, right? And then he says, "You live, you love sweetly, and then you live continuously like Jesus".

So Paul concludes all this and he does the smart thing 'cause Jesus did the same thing by the way. You know, when the disciples, when the Pharisees came to Jesus, they were talking about marriage and divorce, they said, "Man, hey, is it okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason"? They're looking for this real, profound, PhD thesis on what marriage ought to be and all about divorce. Jesus does this real smart thing, and I think Paul knew what Jesus, you know, I think I'll do what Jesus did. You know what Jesus did? He goes all the way back. He makes a beeline back to the very first marriage in the Bible. Here's what He says. "For this reason". For what reason? For the marriage reason. "A man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh".

Now, wind the world. Will I even do what they did? Why would I do what Paul did? Why would I do what Jesus did? Why in the world? We're in the 21st ripping century here. We're in the, I mean, we're in the rocket age. Why would you go back to something that happened thousands and thousands of years ago in an ancient book that was written thousands and thousands of years ago? Well, that's because one thing has never changed about marriage since the beginning of time. Hasn't changed, doesn't change, won't ever change. You ready? It is a covenant relationship. Marriage is a covenant relationship. Where do you get that? The husband is to be united to his wife. I told you last week, that word united means to be glued to. You're stuck with. It means to hold fast. It means to unite through a covenant, through an oath, through a binding promise.

I've said this before and I will say it again and again and again. I've said it to every couple that I marry. The number one thing a man and a woman has to remember before they get married and after they get married is this. Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant. There's a big difference. You can break a contract or you shouldn't, but you can. You really cannot break a covenant. It's not even a commitment. It is a covenant. In fact, a matter of fact, in Malachi chapter two, the last book of the Old Testament, God is speaking to a husband. He describes the husband's wife this way. "Your partner is the wife of your marriage covenant". Teresa is my wife of a marriage covenant. When a man or woman get married, the first promise they make is not to each other. When a man and woman get married, the first promise they make is to God and only then do they make a covenant promise to each other. And then when they become one flesh, when they consummate that marriage, then they seal the covenant.

Now, why is this so important? Why is this such a big deal? Well, Paul tells us. He says, "This is a profound mystery". He says, "I know it's kind of hard to grasp," but he says, make it plain, "I'm talking about Christ and the church". What does that mean? The reason why a lot of people have bad marriages is 'cause they never understood what the purpose of marriage was to begin with. The purpose of marriage is not just make it moral and legal to have sex. Now, that's a benefit, that's not the reason you get married. The reason to get married is not because two can live cheaper than one. That's true if one doesn't eat. That's not a reason to get married. No, the real purpose of marriage, Paul says, the real reason why you are united to your wife, the real reason why you hold fast, the real reason why you're glued to that is because you're going to keep your promise and you will never understand your marriage or any marriage until you understand the truth of this verse. Because marriage at his deepest level, here's what marriage is supposed to be.

It's like a screenshot. It's like a photocopy of the relationship between Christ and the church. Paul says, "Every marriage is to mirror the relationship of Jesus and the church". And that relationship is based on a life that keeps the covenant. So I'm about to get real deep here. I'm about to say something that a lot of you are not gonna like, may make you a little bit angry, just hang with me. Let me tell you why we have a church today. I don't mean just this building. Let me tell you why we have a church today, why there is a church today, why we be a part of the church today, why we could be one with Christ in the church today. There's only one reason why all that can happen. There's only one reason why all that is true. You ready? Because Jesus keeps His promise. That's it. That's the only reason we have a church. Jesus keeps His promise. Jesus kept the covenant that God made first with Adam, then Abraham, then Moses, then David.

God made a covenant. He says, "Look, I'm gonna forgive your sin. I'm gonna redeem the people for myself. I'm gonna become one with them in an eternal relationship that will never end. You have my word". And just like Jesus, we are to keep our covenant. We already know something about Jesus and His bride, okay? His bride is not perfect, and His bride is not always beautiful, and His bride sometimes burns the biscuits and his wife, his bride sometimes doesn't keep the house very clean. No matter what we do as a church, He will never break covenant. He'll never divorce us. He'll never call a lawyer. He says we're in it, not 'til death do you part, until I bring you up to be with me forever and forever. We are in this forever. And what Paul is saying is, just as Jesus keeps His covenant with His bride, you husbands are to keep your covenant with your bride.

Now, here's where I'm gonna say something that you're not gonna like. Most of you husbands are not gonna like it. And some of you wives are not going to like it, but I'm gonna give you the key to staying married. And you're gonna like what I'm gonna say, I'm just go and tell you right now, but I must tell you, it's right out of the text. The key to staying marriage, staying married, husbands, you listen. Every husband here, raise your hand. All right, keep them up just a minute. Keep them up, we'll make sure you're awake. All right, good. Husbands, the way you stay married to your wife is not to stay in love with your wife. If you heard that, give me an amen, guys.

So you heard me? The way to keep your marriage is not to stay in love with your wife. By the way, wives, the key to staying married to your husband is not to stay in love with your husband. The key to staying married is to keep your promise. That's the key. You keep your promise. So let me just make this very plain. Husbands, you owe it to your wife to keep your promise. You owe it to yourself to keep your promise. You owe it to your children to keep your promise. You owe it to your parents to keep your promise. And you owe it to God to keep your promise. You made a promise. You didn't just sign a contract. You made a promise and you owe it to God, to yourself, to your family. You keep your promise. You made a covenant with God as well as your spouse when you got married and God just simply says one thing. "You made a promise, I expect you to keep it".

Now, we're gonna wrap this up. Let me just be honest. I am not gonna stand up here and give you pie in the sky stuff. I'm not gonna be Mr. Positive thinking for just a moment. I'm not gonna tell you this is easy 'cause I'm telling you again. I have, because of Teresa mainly and the grace of God, I have a great marriage. I have a great marriage. I sent her, oh, we're gonna do this. I'm gonna do it, I got time, I'm gonna do this. So I sent Teresa, I sent Teresa this text this morning after I got to church. Nobody's ever loved you like I do. You are the love of my life. We're gonna spend eternity together. I can't even put into words how much I love you. I hope you have a wonderful day, cannot wait to see you at church, and I've always been faithful to my sweetheart.

Now, I'm not saying that to pat myself on the back. I made a promise. I made a promise. I made a promise to God. I made a promise to her. I made a promise to my children. I made a promise to my parents. I made a promise to myself. It is 'til death do us part. We have a great marriage, but I'm telling you it is hard work even to this day. I've told you before, there are days I could eat her up and there are days I wish I had. And the same goes for her. And I'm here to tell you after four and a half decades, even the best marriage, it takes hard work, it takes blood, it takes sweat, it takes tears to stay together, but that's why, guys, you've got to lead like Jesus. That's why you've got to love like Jesus. That's why you've got to live like Jesus. And know that the one that keeps His promise to you will give you the power to keep your promise to her.

So Pastor Tim Keller said it best. I'll let him say it. He said, "In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. When that happens, you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love". Did you see this? "You do the acts of love despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions, you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And if you do that, as time goes on, you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. That is what happens," listen, "if you decide to love".

So I'm asking every husband in this room, every husband listening to me right now, every husband that will hear this in a year from now, on our TV ministry all around the world, I'm talking to every husband here. Love is not an emotion. It is an act of the will. And I don't pretend to tell everybody God's will very often, but I'm gonna tell you God's will today. It is God's will that you will stay true to your promise, to love your spouse 'til death do you part. Because the same God that keeps all of His promises to you, expects you to keep your promise to Him.

Would you pray with me please? Right now. With heads bowed, with eyes closed. I wanna talk to every husband, every wife, every son, every daughter, every mom, every dad, I have a simple question. Are you a godly, fill in the blank. Godly husband, godly wife, godly dad, godly mom, godly son, godly daughter. Are you godly? Not good, good good or dime a dozen. Are you godly? By the way, you can't be godly if you don't know God and you don't know God if you don't come to Christ because you can only get to God through Christ. So I just wonder who here today would realize, I know what my biggest problem is. I thought it was her. No, it's not, it's me. I thought my biggest problem was him. No, it's not, it's me. If you want to marry the right person, you gotta be the right person and you won't be right 'til you get right with God and you cannot get right with God 'til you go through Jesus. So I just wonder who here today would say, "I know what my problem is. My problem is I'm not a believer. My problem is I'm not saved".

Last week, Teresa and I did a marriage retreat up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for about a hundred couple, about 60, 80 couples. A lady came up to me, hand me her note, hand me her name. Here's what she said to me. Please pray for my marriage. My husband has been unfaithful to me from the time we got married. He has been unfaithful throughout our marriage and he's unfaithful to me today. So I got a chance to speak to this lady and I said, "May I ask you a question"? She said, "Yes". I said, "Is your husband a believer"? And I know you don't know that. She says, "Well, he says he is". I said, "Well, if I get a chance to talk to him," which I didn't, but I said, "if I get a chance to talk to him, I'd love to". 'Cause I don't believe he is. You cannot do what that husband's doing and go to sleep well at night. If you're a believer, you can't do it.

So I'm just asking a simple question today. Anybody here, anybody at all would say, "You know, I've been playing games. I don't know God. I'm a good person, I'm a good this, I'm a good that. Godly, nope, not in the neighborhood. I've never really trusted Christ as my Lord and my savior. I've never given my heart to Him". You see, for some of you today, it may be that what your wife needs is not a better husband. What she may need is a new husband. What you may need a husband or, ladies, what he may need is not a better wife, he may need is a new wife, a godly wife, a wife that knows the Lord. And if there's anyone here today, young or old, single or married, and you'd say, "I don't know Christ. I don't know the Lord, I never trusted Jesus". Or you'd say, "You know what? I don't know if I do or not, but I'd like to make sure". Why don't you just say something like this in your heart right now? Right now, why don't you just say something like this? Why don't you say something like:

Lord, I wanna nail down my relationship with you forever and forever today. I don't wanna be a good person. I wanna be a godly person. If I'm married, I wanna be a godly husband, godly wife. If I'm single, one day, I wanna be the godly husband, the godly wife. But I can't do that without you. I need a savior. So I'm asking you today to become my savior. (Would you do that?) I'm surrendering to you today as my Lord. I give my life completely and totally to you. I repented my sin. I turn away from my old way of living. And today, Lord Jesus, I ask you to become the King of my castle. Today, I surrender all that I am to all that you are. Forgive me of my sins. Thank you for giving me eternal life. And now, help me to live for you for the rest of my life.

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