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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Marital Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Marital Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Marital Regrets
TOPICS: Say Goodbye To Regret, Regrets, Marriage, Relationships

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". No relationship is more intimate and more sacred than the lifelong commitment you make to your spouse. And while weddings are filled with joy and celebration, most couples find the day to day realities to be far more challenging than they anticipated. Today, I'm going to outline four decisions you can make right now to help rekindle the flame in your marriage. My message is titled, "Say Goodbye to Marital Regrets" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

I wanna ask you who are married a very personal and revealing question. If you were to lose your mate suddenly through divorce or through death, would you have any regrets about your marriage? Perhaps you would look back on a heated argument you had with your mate and, trying to gain the upper hand, you grabbed that dagger, that insult, that criticism that you knew would cut deepest into your mate's heart. And though you would try to apologize later for that comment, your marriage was never the same after it. Maybe, as you think about regrets, you would think about that quality in your mate that first drew you to him or her, but you spent the rest of your marriage trying to fix, always trying to fix your mate. Maybe you would think about missed opportunities you had to spend together.

"We were having such a great time in the mountains, why did we feel like we had to rush home? Or why did we think it was necessary to have every dish cleaned before we could take a walk after supper together"? Maybe for some of you, you would think back on an extramarital relationship that changed the dynamics of your marriage forever. Any kind of separation, the separation from a mate because of death or divorce always causes grief. But that grief is compounded when it's mixed with regrets. I think about the story of Abraham and the death of his wife, Sarah. It's recorded in Genesis 23, verses 1 and 2, "Now Sarah lived 127 years: these were the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah died in Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham went into the sepulcher," the grave, "To mourn for Sarah and to weep for her".

He wept because of the death of his wife, certainly because they had been married together for 60 years, but I think part of his grief was because of regrets he felt about the relationship. He remembered that situation with Hagar that destroyed the spirit of their marriage. He thought about, not just once but twice, that he had placed his own welfare, his own safety above the safety of Sarah. You know, the fact is we cannot eliminate grief that comes from the death or divorce of a mate, but we can diminish that grief by committing to four decisions that lead to what I call a regret-free marriage and that's what we're going to look at today.

As we continue our series, "Say Goodbye to Regret," we're going to talk about how to say goodbye to regrets about our most important relationship in life, the relationship with our mate. If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis chapter 2. Genesis chapter 2 and then be ready to turn to Matthew chapter 19. Of the most foundational decision we can make to eliminate regrets in our marriage, the most foundational decision is this: I will not divorce my mate. I will not divorce my mate. Let me tell you from the perspective of a pastor of more than 40 years what I've seen about divorce and remarriage. I've seen that divorce and remarriage do not eliminate problems.

Why is that such an important decision? Why does God place an emphasis on that commitment to remain married? Well, Jesus explained why in the passage we read from in Matthew 19. In verse 3, Matthew records, "Some pharisees came to Jesus, testing him and asking, 'is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all'"? Divorce was a hot topic of debate in Jesus's day. Half of the Jews followed a rabbi named Hillel who said you can divorce for any reason, whatever. Your wife burns the toast? Get rid of her, you don't have to put up with that. Any reason at all, divorce your mate. Another half of the Jews followed after another rabbi named Shammai who said you can't divorce for any reason except adultery. So, the pharisees, wanting to discredit Jesus, said, "Okay, which one do you choose, Jesus? Which rabbi do you choose"? That's gonna guarantee you lose 50% of your followers, whichever one you mentioned. Jesus was too smart to answer that way. Instead, he said, "Let's go back to the original marriage to answer the question about divorce".

And that's what he did in verse 4, "And Jesus answered and said, 'have you not read,'" you pharisees claim to know the scriptures backwards and forwards, let's see what the scripture says. "'have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,' and said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'"? That was a quotation from Genesis 2 and Jesus concluded, "So they are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man separate". Notice the three principles about marriage that explain why Jesus is against divorce. First of all, marriage is uniquely designed by God. That is, each person in a marriage relationship is tailor-made, custom-made, by God to perfectly fit the other partner. That's what verse 4 is about. "And Jesus answered and said, 'have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female'"?

And that helps answer the divorce question, do you understand? First of all, marriage is uniquely designed by God, every mate is custom-made for the other one. "Secondly," Jesus said, "Marriage creates an unbreakable bond". When you marry, you create an unbreakable bond with the other person. Verse 5, Matthew 19, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined together to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh". There's the word, cleave. A man shall leave his father and mother. He wasn't just talking about Adam and Eve. In fact, Adam and Eve didn't have a father and mother to leave. This is a principle for all of us, Moses said and Jesus repeated, we shall leave our mother and father and cleave to one another. That word cleave means to create an unbreakable bond.

Interestingly, it's the same word that is used in Ruth chapter 1. Remember in the Old Testament, the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi? Both Naomi and Ruth lost their husbands and so Naomi said to her newly widowed daughter-in-law Ruth and another daughter-in-law Orpah, he said to them... Or Naomi said to them, "Now that you're single, now that you're widowed, go back and find another mate in your home country. Our relationship is over". Verse 14 of Ruth 1, "And they lifted up their voices and wept again and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law". In other words, she was saying, "I'm out of here, I'm gone". But Ruth clung to her mother-in-law. There's that word cleave, there was an unbreakable bond. And Ruth said, "'Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you: for where you go, I will go and where where you lodge, I will lodge. And your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. When you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus, may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me".

Those of us in the room who were married by Dr. Criswell remember these words. He would use it in every wedding ceremony because it was a picture of the commitment that a husband and wife make, that unbreakable bond, that cleaving. And, unfortunately, today many people don't understand that unbreakable bond. The husband gets an offer of a new job. He says, "Family, I think it's God's will for me to move and us to move". And the wife says, "Well, you can move if you want to, but I'm not about to uproot our family and put them in a new school, a new city we don't know about". What a different spirit that is than, "Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge". Or a wife says, "I just can't stand your in-laws any longer". Her husband says, "I can't stand your parents any longer," and they separate over in-law conflicts. Again, what a far cry that is from the pledge, "Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God".

This word, cleave, means to have an unbreakable bond with another person. Interestingly, in Hebrew it's the same word that describes our relationship with God. In Deuteronomy 10:20 God said, "You shall fear the Lord, your God: you shall serve him, and you shall cleave to him, and you shall swear by his name". We are to cleave to God. Does God say to us, "I want you to serve me with all of your heart, but if you find another God you love more than you love me, you're free to serve that God as well"? No, you are to serve God and no others. You're to cleave to him and him alone. Jesus said that is the same kind of bond in a marriage relationship. Every marriage is designed by God, our mates are custom-made by God. Not only that, marriage creates an unbreakable bond.

And then he gives a third reason: we're not to divorce. Every marriage is orchestrated by God. Look at verse 6, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate". Did you know God is the divine matchmaker? He's the one who designed and orchestrated that first marriage. Genesis 2:22 says after he built eve, he brought the woman to the man. He's the one who brought them together. Number two, what are the decisions that lead to a marriage without regrets? Number two: "I will make my mate's happiness a priority. I will make my mate's happiness a priority".

I read somewhere that only 17% of marriages can be classified as truly happy marriages. What's the root cause of unhappiness in marriage? In a word, selfishness. Whenever you have people in a relationship and both are intent on getting their way every time, you're gonna have friction in that relationship. By the way, that's the cause of conflicts in churches. It doesn't have anything to do with theology with most churches. It's selfishness. One group likes contemporary music, the other group likes traditional music. Some people think the pastor ought to preach doctrinal messages only, other people think he ought to preach application-oriented messages. One group thinks the sanctuary is too hot, others think it is too cold, and everybody wants his or her own way. Whenever you have that, you're going to have friction in a marriage or a church.

In James 4:1, James says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your own pleasures, your desires, that wage war in your members"? What's the antidote to selfishness? It's putting other people's interest ahead of your own. Remember what Paul said in Philippians 2, verses 3 and 4, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves: do not merely look out for your own interest, but the interest of others as well". And then he goes on to say, "Have this attitude in yourselves that was in Christ Jesus, who although he existed in the form of God, he did regard his equality with God a thing to be grasped, held on to, but he emptied himself, he became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross".

Why did Jesus leave the throne room of heaven and come to earth? It's not to meet his needs. His needs were being met in heaven. He had it all, but he was willing to give it all up to come and meet the needs we have. He put our interests above his own and we're to carry that same attitude into the church. That's the context of Philippians 2, there was a schism going on in the Philippian church. You know what the ironic thing is? When we decide we're gonna have our way or the no way, it's gonna be our way or the highway, doesn't make us happy, it just creates conflict that makes both parties miserable. But when you put the interest of your mate, your mate's happiness, above your own, it not only creates happiness in them, it makes for a pleasant marriage as well. One key for a regret-free marriage is making your mate's happiness a priority.

Decision number three, and this is so important, I will refrain from using hurtful words with my mate. I read somewhere that for every negative comment you make to a family member, it takes four positive comments to reverse the effects of that one negative comment. I don't believe that. I don't believe you ever reverse the effects of hurtful speech. Hurtful speech, those daggers that you know hurt your mate, it's like putting a nail in a wall. You can remove the nail, but the hole remains and that's the same with hurtful words that we speak. That's why we need to be very careful about the things we say to our mate. In James 3:6, the writer says, "The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity: the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body and sets on fire the course of our life and is set on fire by hell".

Just as one spark can destroy an entire forest, so one hurtful word can destroy the spirit of a marriage. How do you keep from doing that? Use a filter. Use a filter through which to think through what you're going to say to your mate before you say it. You can never retrieve something that you've said. The filter is found in Ephesians 4:29. Paul wrote, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it will give grace to those who hear it".

Think before you speak. The great Bible teacher Alan J. Redpath uses that word, think, as an acrostic for five questions to ask before you say anything, especially to your mate. The t in think stands for true. Is what you're saying true? In Ephesians 4, Paul said, "Lay aside all falsehood". That means also things you say to your mate. Is it true that you never do anything to help me around the house? Is it true to say you always have something negative to say to me? Words that begin with always and never are usually false. It's not accurate. Be sure what you're saying is true. The h stands for helpful. Our goal ought to be to help our mate, not to hinder him or her.

Number three, the I stands for inspiring. Paul says our word should edify the other person. That word, edify, oikodomé, means to build up. Is what you're saying something that is building up your mate or tearing him or her down? The n in think stands for necessary. Paul says, "Only speak according to the need of the moment". Let me tell you a simple truth that trying to learn more and more. Not every thought has to be expressed. You know, everything that comes into your mind doesn't need to be verbalized, necessarily. That's what Paul says, "Only speak according to the need of the moment necessary". And k stands for kind. Is what you're saying kind? That is, even if it's a confrontation that's necessary, is it in the spirit of grace and kindness? Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven you".

And then decision number four to build a regret-free marriage: I will build memories, pleasant memories, with my mate. I will build memories with my mate. A happily married couple was once asked the secret of their happiness in marriage. The husband spoke up quickly. He said, "I'll tell you the secret to happiness. We dine out twice a week. Champagne, violins, candlelight. Her night is Tuesday, mine is Thursday". Now, a lot of couples live that way. They just live separate lives. That was never God's plan. Now, that doesn't mean you have to do everything together. Remember, your mate's opposite you, they're not to be like you. Just because you enjoy playing golf doesn't mean your mate wants to swing a 9 iron. They may enjoy opera, doesn't mean you have to salivate over "Madame Butterfly". You don't need to be alike in everything, but you've got to spend some time together.

That's why God made marriage, for companionship. And yet, many people miss that point. In Ecclesiastes 9, verse 9, Solomon spoke wise words when he said, "Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which he has given to you under the sun, for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun". I see so many couples that are just Marking time, waiting for their child to get out of diapers, waiting for their children to get out of school, waiting for their children to graduate, waiting for the mortgage to be paid off, waiting for the retirement years to come, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. And one day, they awaken and realize most of their life is already gone, or there's a tragedy they experience the loss of their mate and they are filled with regrets.

Solomon says don't make that mistake. Is there a hobby you'd like to do with your mate? Start it today. Is there a trip you've been dreaming of taking together? Go ahead and go today while you're still able. If you have to borrow the money, do so. There is no promise that you're going to have a tomorrow. I've dealt with lots of people. I've tried to minister to people, some of you who have lost their mate, and there's nothing, nothing that can erase the grief you feel when you lose a life partner. But I've seen that those who deal best with grief are those who have a storehouse, a museum of memories they can draw from, with their mate.

Not long ago, I conducted a funeral service for a man who had suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack. And, as I usually do, I stood at the head of the casket as people passed by to pay their respects. And as usual, the wife, the mate, was the last person to pass by and she looked into the face of the person to whom she had loved for more than 50 years and she began to sob uncontrollably. And, you know, I should have been thinking just about that woman, but I couldn't help but ask myself the question, if I face that same circumstance, and there's a 50/50 chance I'll outlive my mate, if I face that same situation, how am I gonna feel? How are you going to feel if you face that situation? You know, nothing will erase the pain of the loss of a mate, but I've committed, and I hope you'll join me in committing, to making these four biblical commitments that will ensure a marriage without regret.
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