(Working On) Wisdom in Marriage

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Big Idea: The Bible has a lot to say about gaining wisdom / understanding / and even knowledge when it comes to marriage / Whether you have been married 40 or more years / 15 years / or plan to be married one day / today I want to unpack three key things Proverbs says about having a strong marriage.
Again / Some of us in this room are married / some of us are not / Either way / as we talk about marriage today / I want to preface the sermon with this statement: These principles will help you gain wisdom in all relationships / not only within the context of a marriage
Story: If you are married, tell a story here about you and your spouse, make it personal for the congregation. If you aren’t married, maybe tell a funny story about your parents’ marriage, or someone close to you.
Marriage can be a beautiful thing / The Bible talks about the Church (the believers in Christ) being the “bride of Christ” / Our own marriages are meant to be this kind of reflection / One of sacrifice / unconditional love / and of true union
Today, let’s gain some wisdom in these areas from God’s Word. There are three things I want to point out today for you, so if you have a Bible, turn with me to Proverbs 12:4.

Seek to be helpful

Proverbs 12:4 “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones.”
Now, upon reading this verse, it may seem like the husbands in the room are let off the hook. The writer talks about wives, as if he is speaking to men only. However, the mindset behind this statement is applicable to both men and women, husbands and wives. This word, “excellent” is an original Hebrew word, often translated “virtuous”.
Essentially, the writer wants us to see that the type of character our spouse has will be a crucial piece of our life. The one characteristic that simply must be present in our marriages is that of self-sacrifice. This, as we probably all know by now, is the way of Jesus… He said;
Read John 15:13
Those whom we truly care about, we will sacrifice for. The reality of sacrificial love is that no matter what the situation, this love will be helpful to the other person involved. For instance, in the case of Christ, His sacrifice made a way for sinners like you and me to be made right with a Holy God. He has given us the ability to now choose to follow Him. But it is extremely hard to achieve this self-sacrificial behavior in our own marriages. Because you and I are naturally selfish. People like the Apostle Paul knew this to be true. He writes this in Philippians…
Read Philippians 2:3
If we really want to have a thriving marriage, it must begin by valuing our spouse above ourselves. We must be willing to lay down our life for our spouse, showing that we care, rather than just saying that we care.
Story: Great time, if married, to tell a story about self-sacrificial love in your own relationship.
This type of love, if we are willing to show it, will remind us that we as a couple are in this relationship together, which leads to the second thing we need to say today about marriage.
Don’t fall captive to comparison
If you still have your Bible open to Proverbs, go a few verses further in chapter 12 with me.
Read Proverbs 12:11
What land is the writer talking about? “His land”. The writer seems to be convinced that the only “land” worth our time and attention is our own. But how many of us would admit that it is often easier to judge another couple for their visible flaws, while ignoring that which needs to be worked on in our own marriage.
It is often said that no marriage is perfect, which if you have been married for more than 24 hours, you would probably agree with. And if that is true, it means we all have things right now that need refining and that need our attention as a couple to work through. But here’s the sad reality, the divorce rate continues to be high. There are many who would rather scrap their current reality and “start over” instead of working through issues as a couple. The Bible speaks to this in a sense, all the way back in Genesis 2. Just after God had formed both man and woman, the Bible says this…
Read Genesis 2:24
Did you catch that last part? “The two are united into one”. So, if this is true, there is no way we can continue to try and work through marital issues on our own. It isn’t a one-way street. As we said in our last point, both parties must be willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the marriage. But this only happens, friends, when we decide to invest time into our own marriage, rather than focusing on judging others.
Story: If married, talk about your wedding day. Make the point that when you tied the knot, it was a commitment “until death do us part”. Or, talk about the wedding vows generally and the commitment made therein.
This leads me to believe that it will take a lifetime worth of self-sacrificial love to work through things together, as two broken, sinful individuals, whom God is purifying and making one. There is an angle to this idea that we must be aware of: we must learn to be grateful for the marriage God has blessed us with. The comparison trap is real, and if we aren’t careful, it will ruin us.
Maybe today, you could spend time being reminded of the qualities that first drew you to your spouse during the dating phase. If you aren’t married today, maybe you could think about what qualities God has given you to bring to the table, and work on growing in each of those. It’s truly a blessing to serve as a model of Christ’s love for the Church in our marriages, but it won’t happen naturally overnight.
This entire conversation leads to the third point I want to share with you today…
Don’t be afraid to seek guidance
There’s a common lie that we as Christians sometimes believe: “if there’s something wrong in my life, it means I need to just have more faith”. I’m here to let you know today that this is simply not true. In fact, when we face trials and frustrations in life, God will look to use them to strengthen our faith.
When it comes to our marriages, maybe today you have been listening to this sermon, hearing about things like working through issues and bumps in the road together, but you have tried that for years, and you are just about ready to give up. Here is what Proverbs 11:14 says…
Read Proverbs 11:14
The first part of this verse is quite simple. The writer seems to believe that if there is no true guidance, people will fall and fail.
Illustration Idea: Give a verbal illustration here having to do with getting lost. Maybe talk about not having a map somewhere and trying to get around. It is impossible.
Some of us here today have found ourselves in maddening circles in our marriage because we have relied only on our own wisdom and knowledge to get us through the tough times. That strategy may guide you through some storms, but certainly not all. God has provided two things for us when it comes to working through marital conflicts of any kind.
First, God has provided Himself. We talked the first week about how wisdom, understanding, and knowledge all come from God’s Word. We can’t rely on a Sunday sermon like this to get us through our week. We must be in the Word every day on a personal level. This, too, must be paired with communicating with God. He’s listening and ready to answer your prayers.
Story: If you and your spouse have ever prayed about something difficult in your marriage, share it here.
But the second thing God has provided is other people around us. Jesus talks about our support system in life. We are called to build our lives on the solid rock (that’s Christ Himself), while inviting others into the process with us. We were never meant to do life alone, and today, hear me when I say that we were never meant to do marriage alone. We need to answer this question: who outside of your marriage can be a resource to you and your spouse? I’m not talking about someone who is perfect and has all the answers, just someone with more experience. Maybe there is a counselor that you both have seen in the past that you can go to. Maybe you have attended one of our classes here at the church that has been helpful for you. No matter what or who it is, we all must have an outlet to go to. We all must have a listening ear that can help us process things in an unbiased way.
This is the very thing the second half of our verse from a moment ago speaks about. What type of counsel (if any) do you and your spouse currently have around you? We as a church would love to come alongside you in any way that we can to see your marriage thrive, rather than just survive.

Conclusion

As we wrap things up, I want to encourage you to turn your attention back to the topics we discussed over the past few weeks; healthy fear of God, wisdom with work, and wisdom with words.
We’ve only spent about 40 minutes each week talking about these serious and important topics. I would encourage you to revisit some of the verses in Proverbs that have been previously mentioned. Spend time reading them slowly and asking God to
help you put them to practice in your own life.
Do the same as it pertains to marriage. Proverbs is filled with good counsel, wisdom, and guidance. But like any amazing resource, you’ve got to be willing to get into it.
We truly wish to see your marriage thrive.
(HERE: share about some of the resources available to people through your church.)
Let’s pray together
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