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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 6
Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 6
TOPICS: Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You, Selfishness, Narcissism, Marriage

You know, the Greek mythology tells us about a beautiful youth who loved no one until, one day, he saw his reflection in the water, and he fell in love with his reflection. He was so lovesick that he finally wasted away and died. Then he turned into a flower that bears his name, Narcissus. I always tell you my opinion ahead of time if it's not from the Word of God. And what I'm gonna tell you is my opinion. I'm absolutely convinced, after all these years in ministry, that the number one reason for broken homes and broken marriages is narcissism. In fact, narcissism is at the very core of all heartache and pain that comes from broken marriages, and the reason why I'm reluctant to deal with this issue of marriage and divorce is because it is such a highly emotional and complex issue.

Now, I'm not gonna solve it in a message, but I took a vow to preach the whole counsel of God, so I can't skip anything, but there can be no doubt that this subject of marriage and divorce touches emotions at a very deep level, at a very deep level. So my desire is not to add to the pain. Do you understand that? That's not my desire, but as I mentioned in the last message, I long to help those who are married to know and learn how to proof, affair-proof their marriage. Those of you who are contemplating marriage, I want you to take notice, and I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is teaching us something very important here, but before I get to the text, I want to remind you of the circumstances of the time during which our Lord Jesus was ministering on earth because, when you understand that, you put things in context, and you don't jump with the text. During that time, there was a raging debate among the scholars, among the Pharisees, among the teachers of the law about marriage and divorce. I mean, you think that we have debates?

Now, there was a raging debate. The Pharisees always tried to drag Jesus into their arguments, always tried to set up traps for him to trap him, and so in Matthew 19, they come to him, and they're trying to trap him on this issue of marriage and divorce. You know, I love everything about my Lord Jesus. I love him deeper and more every day that I've been walking with him, but I'm absolutely mesmerized by how he refused to get trapped in their traps. Instead of answering their question about divorce, he talked about the importance of God's original design, his Father's original design in marriage. In other words, he said, "The best way to avoid divorce is to learn what God says about marriage". That is the best way to have a blessed marriage is to know what God said about marriage. Throughout this series of messages, I entitled it deliberately "Appropriating the Happiness in You".

I've been showing you how God the Son, when he came from heaven, was trying to teach us the original intent of God the Father in communicating what we call the Old Testament, and there's a reason for that because through those 1,800 years, the rabbis made a mess of the Word of God. They added to, they interpreted, they messed it up, they turned it and twisted it, and so our Lord Jesus, God the Son, is trying to show us what God the Father intended all along instead of the mess that these rabbis have made of it, particularly on the subject of divorce. Let me show you. This debate was going on during Jesus's earthly ministry.

So I wanna tell you about that food fight that was going on between the theologians. There were two major divisions among the Jewish teachers and theologians, two major divisions, two schools of thought: The fundamentalist camp was championed by a school called Shammai. They took the verse, Deuteronomy 24:1, where the Lord talks about marriage and divorce. They took that verse, and they said, "Divorce can only take place for one cause, and one cause only, and that's adultery". Now, the translation of the word "adultery" in Deuteronomy 24:1, is "unchastity," sometimes translated "indecency". One rabbi, following Shammai, said, "Let a wife be as mischievous as Jezebel. She cannot be divorced except for adultery". The second group of rabbis followed a liberal rabbi by the name of Hillel. Listen carefully. Hillel defined the word "unchastity" or "indecency" in Deuteronomy 24:1, to mean anything you want it to mean, you know, anything you wanna mean, from burning the dinner, to putting too much salt on the food, to disrespecting your husband in public.

Beloved, I wanna tell you, I am absolutely convinced of this: The way, the definition of "marriage" is in this 21st century, I am absolutely certain in my heart, makes God sick. So let's look at those two verses. Turn with me to Matthew 5:31 and 32, two verses. I'm gonna read them for you. "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you", here's the equivalency between the Father and the Son. They are equal. "You heard that. My Father said. Now I'm telling you anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery". We saw in the last message how to affair-proof your marriage. This is a continuation from the last message where he talked about adultery. Namely, our Lord wants us to go back to the root cause that causes adultery which causes divorce. He always led us to go to the root cause.

Now, there are two things that I believe our Lord would wanna tell us here, two ingredients to a blessed marriage. Two ingredients. Listen carefully. In fact, I share those with couples when I do marriages, which is really rare, because I have some wonderful colleagues who do a much better job. I thank God for them. But the two thing, and I want you to write them down if you're taking notes: Iron-clad commitment to each other, caring communication with each other. Let me repeat these: Iron-clad commitment to each other and caring communication with each other. Let me interrupt myself here and say something to those who are divorced or have been divorced.

Please listen carefully, for whatever reason, whatever reason. That's not the issue. I know that this is the most painful, emotional experience. It is the longing of my heart, the desire of my heart not to add to that pain, but, hopefully, I can give you helpful lessons for the future because, listen to me, there is life after divorce. There is hope after divorce. There is redemption after divorce because I believe with all my heart there can be future joy if you're willing to find it, that is, if you do not spend the rest of your life beating yourself up, if you do not spend time wallowing in your guilt and regret. Once you place it under the blood of Jesus and you are forgiven by God, you are under obligation to forgive yourself. If you are willing to accept God's forgiveness and redemption and resolution, there is a future joy. There is a future hope. That is what the gospel teaches from cover to cover. Can I get an "amen"?

Let me get back to those two things. An iron-clad commitment. I'm aware of the fact that this commitment of putting two people together, binding themselves to each for life is a tall order, and that is why the old Anglican marriage ceremony says, "Marriage is not to enter into inadvisably or lightly". In Matthew 19, Jesus uses the words of the Scripture from Genesis. He says that "a man is to leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife," and that works for the wife as well, leaves her parents, cleaves to her husband. The word "cleave" actually means "glued," "glued together," absolutely glued. That's what it means. That glue becomes the most important bonding. That glue means that their life revolve around each other just as the earth revolves around the sun, and they both revolve around the Lord Jesus.

The reason the Bible sees marriage as a picture of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and the believers, whom we call the church, the bride of Christ, is because Jesus does not love you, redeem you, adopt you, then the moment you mess up, he dumps you. Did you get that? That's not Christianity. That is not the Christian faith. When he writes your name in the book of life, he writes it permanently. He does not dump you the moment you mess up. He wants you to come back and repent and turn to him, and he doesn't say to you, "This is the 1,000,275 times you came to me". He doesn't count. He doesn't count the times we come to him for forgiveness and for repentance, and that is why the Bible says that marriage ought to work the same way. The covenant of marriage ought not to be dependent on the whims and the feelings of one party or the other. The covenant does not become obsolete when one or two does not feel like keeping it. The covenant of marriage is for life.

Now, young husbands, let me give you an advice. I cannot give much of advice to young wives because I don't know. My wife can help you. But I can help young husbands or prospective husbands. There is a way by which you can have a blessed marriage, and let me share with you our experience. I'm not gonna ask my wife to come up here because she will contradict me, but this is how it works when we actually call it "vigorous discussion". Just sounds nice for a preacher's home. We don't call it "arguments". We call it "vigorous discussion". And so, when we have one of those vigorous discussions, we sit together. She tells me what she wants, I tell her what I want, then we compromise. We do it her way. I promise you, you'll have a joyous marriage because, in the end, all that stuff, it's really ludicrous that we argue over. Only persistent adultery, listen to me. Only persistent adultery or death can break up a marriage.

I believe with all my heart that God is pleased when forgiveness takes place between husband and wife. God is pleased when confession and repentance takes place between husband and wife. God is pleased when reconciliation takes place between husband and wife, but let me hasten to say that one indiscretion, listen carefully 'cause I know some people are gonna write me letters, send me emails. One indiscretion is not the unpardonable sin. Continuous unfaithfulness, deliberate, continuous unfaithfulness is a marriage breaker. Now, I personally believe that this is the meaning of the text. Learn to affair-proof your marriage. You say, "Michael, how can I do this"? Well, first of all, get over your narcissism. Get over your narcissism. Why do I say this? Because, the truth is, we're all narcissists to different degrees. We all are. So say, "How do you know that"? Well, if you want to overcome your narcissism, do the following: Make a study of discovering your spouse's real needs. You get that? Real needs. And seek, by God's power, God's strength, God's mercy, and God's grace, to meet that need.

Now, there are some people who know their spouse's need, and they endeavor by God's grace to provide this need or meet that need, ah, but listen to me: They expect reciprocation. That's where the problem arises, and hurt arises when the reciprocation does not take place. Please, please, please, don't focus on what you want and need but on what he or she want and need. I believe, when you do that, you will go a long way toward avoiding the roving eye. Let me repeat. Narcissism is a deadly poison, and when you subdue narcissism by God's power, you will have a joyful marriage. Now, you notice I didn't say, "perfect marriage". I didn't say, "perfect marriage". There's no such thing. By the way, young people, if you think, "Oh, there's a perfect marriage," it doesn't exist. You know, people used to say to me, in the past, they would say, "Oh, it's a match made in heaven". I said, "Yeah, so is thunder and lightning". There's no such a thing as perfect marriage, but there is such a thing as a joyful marriage.

Someone may say, "Well, Michael, I just don't have the time or the effort or the energy to do what you're asking me to do". Why, just listen to me for a minute, okay? If you want to get physically in shape, what do you do? What do you do? You exercise, and you work out, right? Or if you want to get ahead in your profession or your vocation, what do you do? You work at it, and you work at it and daily improve, right? Am I right? Then why on heaven's name, when it comes to marriage, you don't want to make the investment? I'll let you answer that yourself. So, first of all, it's an iron-clad commitment; secondly, caring communication. I chose this word deliberately, "caring communication". "Well, Michael, still, what do you mean by 'caring communication'"?

Well, let me say at the outset, making an unreasonable demand or blackmailing your spouse is an absolute no-no. Giving your husband or wife what you want on their birthdays is a no-no. Constantly using your upbringing and your past as an excuse for whatever you're doing is a no-no. Listen, iron-clad commitment and caring communications are two ingredients for a joyful marriage, and that, my beloved friends, is how you affair-proof your marriage. Lift up one another. Encourage one another. Esteem one another. Honor one another.

Let me tell you this as I conclude. Sir Winston Churchill of England, one of the great leaders of all times, was attending a formal banquet to which a lot of prominent people were there at the banquet, and after the dinner, they were all allowed to ask Sir Winston Churchill any questions they want to ask, and one question was as follows: "If you were not who you are and could be someone else, who would you like to be"? And you can imagine people sitting there, waiting, knowing Churchill's, his oratory and ability and all that, and they just could... well, they were so curious to know, "Is he gonna say, 'Caesar' or 'Bonaparte'"? I mean, some of the great names? But, instead, his wife, sitting next to him, dear, Clemmie, and he held her hand and said, "Let me rephrase this question: 'If I were not who I am, who would I most like to be?'" And he paused, and he paused. He's still holding his dear, Clemmie, whom he loved so dearly, and, finally, he said, "I would like to be Lady Churchill's second husband".

Now, beloved, this commitment to building up your spouse can only be second-most important thing you do. You say, "What is that first and most important thing you do"? In fact, the first thing you must do that's gonna help you to accomplish the second thing is to lift up the name of Jesus. Lift up the name of Jesus. That will empower you to lift your spouse up. Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this: Is narcissism destroying your marriage? Is being wrapped up in yourself strangling the most important thing in your life after salvation? Is being in love with yourself making you wilt? Today, you can open up your heart to the Holy Spirit of God, and he can empower you, and he will.
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