Treasuring God’s Gifts
Means We Value Deep
Relationships, especially Marriage
Ex. 20:14, Eph 2:10. 5:27, Luke 10:25-28
In Jesus Name!
May you know well God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who brings mercy, love nad peace into your life!
Really – This Commandment is a Topic WE need to cover?
When I started to write out the topics of this series of sermons, when I came to the 6th commandment, my first reaction is that this would be a fine sermon to hear Chris preach on, or perhaps Vicar Mark, or Vicar Albert.
Simply because talking about Adultery means touching on the subject of the three letter word that begins with S and ends with X.
For me, it is one of those topics I would rather not talk about, it is too personal, too intimate, and like many guys, I’d rather talk about anything else, especially in a group with both men and women in it.
Heck, it is a topic I don’t want to talk about with a group of women or a group of men.
But I think my reticence about discussing the topic gives me a hint towards why this commandment, about reserving that level of intimacy, both physical and psychological/spiritual aspects of the relationship, is worth a commandment.
It is because it is so intimate to a relationship, that God treasures it.
And therefore to diminish it, diminishes something God gave us to treasure…..
Because it teaches something about our life, about our relationship with God…..
Let me explain that some..
Why is this so important to God?
While no one will doubt the physical aspects the relationship between a man and a woman, those acts are by no means just physical.
There is a spiritual/psychological aspect to them, something that uses that word that sends shivers down most men’s spines….there is something ….
Something that takes all of our walls down, that leaves us and our spouse as one, relating to each other, caring for each other.
It is that level of emotional and spiritual intimacy that God desires us to have with Him. That’s why we heard Ephesians 5 tonight as well as chapter 2. That is why the Old Testament Books of Song of Solomon and Hosea talk of marital faithfulness and love as an example of God’s relationship with His people, and even the unfaithfulness of Hosea’s wife, as an example of Israel’s actions towards God.
A bitter betrayal, the deepest betrayal.
A depth of pain that goes beyond our ability to cope with…..
Yet a level of pain God has endured, as again and again He has picked Israel up from her wandering into idolatry…..
It’s hard to imagine God hurting as the couples I’ve had in my office have hurt. It’s hard to realize that you or I could hurt the Creator of the universe, that a congregation, that a people could so devastate God by betraying His love.
But we can… and we do…..
We fail to love Him with our entire heart, our soul, our mind, when we trust in our idols the way we are supposed to trust Him. Even when the idol we trust in is ourselves. When what we are proudest of, what we are in awe of, isn’t the God who created us, who created this planet.
If how we love our neighbor reveals how we love God, as the apostle John writes in 1 John, how much more does how we treasure our spouse, our faithfulness tell us about our relationship with God?
A Relationship to Cherish, to Guard, to Teach
Hear again Paul’s words from Ephesians 5…
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
If what we’ve been working through, that these 10 commandments actually are the Old Testament Beatitudes, the masterpiece of God that is how we, rescued from Satan are to live, then Jesus’s work to render us a “the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or blemish, makes incredible sense.
It is what Hosea did for his wife, the very model of it. Even though her sins, like ours, are scarlet red. It is the depth of Christ’s desire for a relationship with us, the emotional intimacy, the being unified as one. Not sexually, but in ways that are just as deep.
He is faithful, even when we struggle. Even when we take the great blessing He has given us, this great example of marriage, that God considers it the model of our special relationship with Him, and we see it trashed around us, and sometimes, in thought or word and deed, we trash it ourselves. Or don’t speak up when we see it cheapened, and mocked.
God’s faithfulness extends even then, calling us back to our relationship with Him, healing us, restoring us, and yes, He can and has even restored the relationships, He can recreate us, revealing His masterpiece that is creating by uniting us to Jesus.
But it is there, where healing happens, where God ministers to us, Father, Son and Spirit. It is there were marriages find their healing as well, and the example of faithfulness and yeah – intimacy. It is there, in that relationship, that all relationships can find the peace that passes all understanding, that peace in which we find ourselves guarded and treasured by Jesus.
One of the great blessings I have is to work with deacons and vicars (student pastors) who grow in their ability to share the cross of Christ and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I love working with them over the Bible text, and helping them develop their sermons.
This sermon is by one of those guys, Deacon Michael Grobelch, a man willing to sacrifice time with family and his home church to serve alongside of me, going out to fill in as needed when pastors are unable to. This one will challenge you, and how you react to the love of God…
May the meditation of our hearts and the words of my mouth be acceptable to you O Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer! Amen!
Think back to your wedding day, the apple of you eye stands across from you and becomes your spouse, and you heart fills with unspeakable joy and happiness. Then one day you find out that the one you love, that you trust; betrays you by sleeping with someone else. Your anger reaches biblical proportions; you want to strike out at the cause of you humiliation and your pain. You feel betrayed, stabbed in the back; the bond of trust is broken; never being able to reach that level ever again.
You and your spouse enter counseling and after a period of time, after much prayer, and after many sessions with your pastor; he says to you: You need at take your spouse back; to forgive them; to love them once more.
Every fiber of your being screams out “No, I’ll never do that!” You tell him that “You don’t know what you are asking me to do; God doesn’t know what He is asking me to do”! He doesn’t understand what it means to be betrayed.
God doesn’t understand what it is like to be betrayed? Really?
What about where Judas betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees for 30 pieces of silver; the man who for the last three years had been his friend; his mentor, his teacher; and for a few paltry dollars gives up the Creator.
Or what about when Peter, St. Peter, denies Jesus three times, before the rooster crows. Peter abandoned Him, and acted as if He was some common criminal.
Or what about you and I, we betray God each and every time we sin; we go against His will. Every day we betray Jesus, we mock him just like the soldiers did; only we do it in more subtle ways or so we think. Every time we have an impure thought, either when we look at a woman on the street (us guys) or when we read those romance novels and let our imagination run wild (you ladies) we betray God and the order that He has set.
We betray God when we gossip about the plans the church leadership has in place or we gossip against the leaders themselves. God has put these leaders in authority over you and over me and we are obligated to follow as long as they do not stray from the Word of God. Yet we still rebel like little children when we don’t get our way; we threaten to go home with our bat and ball and be done with the whole mess. Yet God has called each and every one of us here for a reason a purpose.
So how could God call on us to take back that cheating spouse; to try and rebuild those bonds of trust that were broken with a single act? God does know about betrayal and He certainly know about the intense feelings that are the result of being betrayed for He Himself was betrayed her on earth.
I think God’s purpose in sending Onesimus back to Philemon was twofold. The first was to restore Onesimus to his proper place – Onesimus was a runaway slave who broke the bond of trust with Philemon when we ran away. By going back, Onesimus could be beaten, stoned, or even killed for his actions. Certainly he would be disciplined and not enjoy the freedoms that he had previously enjoyed. It would be a very long time before Philemon would fully trust him again; there would be the lingering doubt, that little cloud that was always there. It may be months, or even years until Philemon fully trusts Onesimus again. I think we all can relate to those feelings and misgivings that after our earlier example.
That is why I think God’s main purpose is sending Onesimus back is so much for Onesimus’ benefit as it was for more for Philemon’s benefit.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail: when you are betrayed the raw emotions that you experience are, in a word intense. They are so intense that we sometimes lose all perspective and this is where crimes of passion are committed. When this occurs, all of the checks and balances God has put in place are in a moment, thrown out – they are no longer part of the equation and we do or say a thing we’d normally not even contemplate and that compounds the problem of the initial betrayal. Know both sides become emotionally distraught and the problem becomes worse.
God wants Philemon and Onesimus to reconcile with one another; to begin the process of forgiveness; to begin the process of healing. Don’t get me wrong, this process is going to take a while. Some of us hold grudges, and allow that bitter poison to consume us and turn us into something we don’t like or even recognize. But if we are confronted with our sin, and we are confronted with those we hurt, and we see the width and breadth of the damage we caused to the one we loved; we can begin the process of healing; we can begin the process of forgiveness. We find ourselves at the foot of the cross, looking up at the damage our sin has caused to Jesus; and He says I did this for you, even though you betrayed Me. I forgive you, I paid your debt, I paid you bill; what I have is yours. That is what Paul is trying to do with Philemon and Onesimus; he is trying to get them to acknowledge their sin and to begin the process of healing and the process of forgiveness for we know that we need to forgive others as God has forgiven us. We are lifted up out of the morass of sin and the bitterness that it causes and God brings us into His presence and He brings us to His Table where our sins are forgiven; and they are removed from us as far as the East is from the West. We have become co-heirs with Jesus; we are made new again; and we are able to experience the peace of God, the peace that surpasses all understanding; the calmness of body, mind, and soul. Where God heals us, and cares for us. This is what Paul want for both Philemon and or Onesimus, we wants them in the fold, working towards a common goal; to work for God’s plan and not their own designs. He wants them to be at peace, to begin to heal, to begin to forgive and ultimately, to place each other in the hand of God, as equals, as workers in the kingdom, as brothers in Christ until the time that God comes again.
In the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- A Call to Teach/Preach about Jesus with our hearts as well as our minds… (justifiedandsinner.com)