My Pledge Of Love
My Pledge Of Love
Text: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Thesis: To show that marriages must be based upon love that pledges only good for one another.
1. Men, you know what happens this time every year: February is the month when the seed catalogs arrive in the mail! Plans are made for the best gardens ever with beatiful produce harvested. But by June, those gardens aren't looking like we thought they would. By August, we often mow down those gardens with feelings of disappointment.
2. James Wharton: "The difference between courtship and marriage is the difference between the pictures in the seed catalog and what comes up."
3. Why don't some marriages turn out the way we hoped they would? Could it be that God's
advice for marriages wasn't followed? Did we uphold the pledges we made on the day our
lives were joined together?
I. Marriages Are Based Upon Solemn Pledges
A. The serious nature of vows:
1. Eccl. 5:2,3 - We are warned not to be rash with our mouths, and not to utter anything hastily in the presence of the Lord.
2. Eccl. 5:4,5 - Vows that are made to God are to be paid. If we don't intend to pay our vows, we would do better not to make the vow in the first place.
3. Eccl. 5:6,7 - Many have allowed their mouths go cause their flesh to sin. God doesn't accept excuses when someone has pledged themselve to Him!
4. These are important principles that apply to any promise or vow we might make to God. How many have made such promises in the midst of sickness or other crisis, vowing to serve God if only He will deliver them? Their vows were later forgotten.
B. Are our marriages vows to God?
1. Mal. 2:13-15 - Malachi presents marriage as a pledge:
a. The Lord was witness to the husbands and their wives. He has seen the treachery with which the wives were treated. Though the husband may have put away the wife, in God's sight "she is your companion".
b. The wife is regarded as "your wife by covenant". A covenant is an agreement into which two parties willingly enter. They each vow to uphold the terms of the agreement. In this way, therefore, marriage is clearly based upon a pledge.
2. Mat. 19:6 - Jesus stated that God joins husbands and wives together. Does God force anyone into marriage? No, most enter these relationships willingly. But once we agree to enter into marriage, God is the One who joins the two, and they are not to be separated.
3. 1 Pet. 3:7 - As noted last week, husbands, by their rough treatment of their wives, can disrupt the line of communication they once enjoyed with God. God gives a great deal of importance to the marriage relationship!
C. A wife was once asked, "Has your husband lived up to all the things he said before you were married?" "No. He's only lived up to one of them." "Which one is that?" "He said he wasn't good enough for me." (Ron Dentinger, Dodgeville, Wisconsin Chronicle; Reader's Digest, February, 1995, p. 59) In how many marriages is this situation the case? What one promised to the other was never carried out? The pledges made in the marriage ceremony were conveniently forgotten.
II. What Spouses Must Pledge To One Another
A. A young person may sign a contract for a loan, not really understanding all the terms of that agreement. They could have known, but they were so eager to buy that new car they didn't take the time to read the contract. Does that happen with some couples? Do some really not understand the nature of their pledge?
B. What God expects couples to pledge to one another in marriage:
1. Mat. 19:6 - A life-long pledge: Implicit in the marriage relationship, as God defines it, is the union of one man and one woman for life. In marriage, I pledge myself to my spouse for the rest of my life. It is a vow God expects me to fulfill (with only one exception given later in this same passage).
2. A pledge of faithfulness:
a. In 1989 Peggy Vaughn published The Monogamy Myth, in which she claimed that 60% of married men and 40% of married women will, at some time in their married lives, have an affair with another. Other studies have found smaller percentages.
b. Prov. 5:15,18 - The wise man urged men to be satisfied only with the wife of their youth. Don't turn to another.
c. Mat. 5:28 - Jesus taught the principle of fidelity clearly. He stated that even looking at another to lust after them is tantamount to adultery.
3. 1 Pet. 3:7 - A pledge of sensitivity is involved in Peter's instructions. He talks about dwelling with one another with understanding, giving honor to one another, each viewing the relationship as "heirs together of the grace of life".
4. 1 Cor. 7:3 - Paul speaks of a pledge of affection for both husbands and wives. He will go on to speak of the physical relationship, but it begins with "the affection due" each other. "Affection" is from eunoia, meaning "good mind". Do we have good minds toward each other?
5. Lk. 6:31 - A golden rule pledge is implicit in any relationship we have on earth. Why would it not also to apply to marriages? Yet many husbands and wives treat total strangers with more kindness than they treat one another!
6. A pledge of love:
a. Eph. 5:25 - Husbands are clearly commanded to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church.
b. Tit. 2:4 - Paul ordered older women to teach younger women to "love their husbands".
c. We all understand that Biblical love is much deeper than the world's view of love. It is a commitment, just like the commitment God makes to us!
C. Dwight Small: "Agape is not born of a lover's need, nor does it have its source in the love object. Agape doesn't exist in order to get what it wants but empties itself to give what the other needs. Its motives rise wholly from within its own nature. Agape lives in order to die to self for the blessedness of caring for another, spending for another, spending itself for the sake of the beloved."
1. In Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of Our Teeth the character Mrs. Antrobus says to her husband, "I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I married you because you gave me a promise." She takes off her ring and looks at it. "That promise made up for your faults and the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married, and it was the promise that made the marriage."
2. Marriages don't have to be "endurance tests". It is not God's will that we merely refrain from
divorce, but that our marriages thrive and become deeper as the years go by. With God's
help we can make this pledge of love, even after many years of living without it. And our
marriages can become what God wants them to be!