What is your goal for your marriage? Have you thought about it? How does it compare with God’s purpose?
As we looked last week at the importance of prayer in marriage, we learned we can be sure God hears our prayers and will answer us when we pray according to His will and His Word (1 John 5:14-15). One prayer we can be sure is His will is to ask Him to show us His purpose for our marriage and help us commit every part of it to Him.
“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24
As I’ve mentioned before, college football is one of my favorite sports. And I’ve been impressed by Tim Tebow.
Tebow was a great college football athlete, playing quarterback for the University of Florida and leading his team twice to the national championship. In 2007, he received the Heisman Trophy–college football’s most prestigious award.
After college, Tebow had a brief professional football career with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets–a career that ended in 2012.
But Tebow was also a good baseball player. And this year he announced he would play that sport again and signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets in September.
The response of sports writers to his announcement was far less than enthusiastic. Nick Schwartz wrote about it on FoxSports.com: “It’s been called a publicity stunt (which is undoubtedly true, to some degree), a farce, a sham, and an embarrassment to the Arizona Fall League, the New York Mets and Major League Baseball.”
You may be wondering what all this has to do with marriage. Nothing, so far. But what happened after this packs a powerful message.
On October 11th, just 32 days after signing his contract with the Mets, Tebow played his first game. It was to say the least unimpressive. He had no hits in three tries at bat. Not a memorable beginning to his baseball career.
But on his way out of the stadium, Tebow took time to sign some autographs. When a man in the crowd suddenly collapsed to the ground, Tebow stopped signing and hurried to the man’s side. He stayed with him until the paramedics arrived—about 15 minutes, all the while keeping the team bus waiting. And as the man was lifted to the ambulance, Tebow said, “God bless you, buddy.” (It turns out this man had a brain tumor and had suffered a seizure.)
The people watching the event unfold had a very different reaction to Tim Tebow than the negativity of the sports writers mentioned earlier. Fans applauded him. One said, “That was class.” Another said, “God bless you.” Even USA Today sports writer Josh Peter, who observed the incident, wrote: “Tim Tebow’s most impressive moment Tuesday came after his debut in the Arizona Fall League.”
Tim Tebow’s greatest accomplishments do not come on the football field. He is not “class” because of what he does on a baseball diamond. His greatest accomplishments come when he serves his Lord by serving others.
In response to a question from an ESPN reporter about his actions, Tebow answered: “People are what’s important. And an opportunity to help someone is more important than anything that I could have possibly done on a baseball diamond that day.”
Here are the first words on the home page of the Tim Tebow Foundation website: “To bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” This would be a good mission statement for our marriage.
Tebow tells why he started this foundation: “From a very early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of God’s word, the salvation we have in His Son Jesus and the responsibility we have to give back to others.” He also writes: “This foundation, and all of our outreach initiatives, were primarily created to show God’s love to children around the world.”
Our marriage should have this same mission. God wants to use our marriage to show His love to the world around us.
Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (bold mine). And Ephesians 5:31-32: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (bold mine).
When we commit ourselves to Christ and serving Him together, He will use us and our marriage to show Himself and His love to the world. But in order to do that, we must offer everything to Jesus.
Our life is not about us. Our marriage is not about us and our happiness. It is about God and serving Him.
When Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth he made it clear that his only purpose was to serve Jesus. We read his words to them in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
In another passage, as Paul was ready to leave Ephesus he called the leaders of the church together for some final words to them. We read a portion of his farewell address in Acts 20:22-24: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Our purpose for our lives and our marriage must be to serve Christ by serving others. And we must begin by serving each other in our marriage relationship.
There have been too many times in my life when it has been about me, not others—including my wife. It has been more about them serving me and getting what I want. The result has always been painful.
I have counseled many couples with marriage difficulties. And almost all of them have had at the root of their problems a focus on self and not the other.
We must take our heart’s devotion off of self and turn it over to Jesus. Only then can we truly love others. Only then can we truly love our spouse. Only then will we see our marriage be the blessing God designed it to be.
When Jesus is first and foremost in our lives, when we love Him above anyone or anything else, something amazing happens. We will not have less time for our spouse. Instead we will have more love and time for them…and more love and time for others as well. That’s God’s astonishing formula.
When we give everything to Jesus, He gives us everything we need to love each other with His love and bless the world around us. And as we do so, we are blessed as well.
One Easter Sunday, Tim Tebow spoke to a large crowd about being traded from Denver to New York. He said: “Regardless of what happens, I still honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because at the end of the day, that’s what’s important, win or lose.”
Can you say the same about you and your marriage?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What did God say to you individually and together? In what ways will it change you this week?
♦ As you think about your marriage, what do you really believe its purpose is? Is it to bring honor to God? Is it to serve Him, your spouse, and others? If not, confess it to God and your spouse. Ask both of them for forgiveness. Commit to change your heart with God’s help.
♦ Can you say individually and together that regardless of what happens, you will honor your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because at the end of the day, that’s what’s important? Can you say with Paul that you are resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified? Can you say with him that you consider your life worth nothing to you; that your only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given you? If not, ask God together to help you to reach this place in your walk with Him.
♦ Close your time with prayer together. Praying Scripture that speaks to what you want to say is always a wonderful thing. Praying an appropriate hymn can also be a blessing. Here is an old song that I love that has beautiful music, and an even more beautiful message. Here is a link to a rendition for you to listen to, and even sing along with. It includes the lyrics. Make it your prayer together.
I Surrender All by Judson W. Van DeVenter (1896):
Next week, we will discuss one more thing from God’s Word that we can pray together for our marriage in confidence that He will listen and answer.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
To hear an interview with Tim Tebow and read the story described in this teaching, go to this link: ESPN.com.