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4 Words that Can Change Your Marriage: Loving Selflessly

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 4, 2022 3:00 am

4 Words that Can Change Your Marriage: Loving Selflessly

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 4, 2022 3:00 am

Marriage is not a successful arena for a “me first” mentality. Marriage works best when spouses are givers. Newswoman Diane Sawyer said, “A good marriage is a contest of generosity.” And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see how that plays out in real life. It’s a look at the Bible’s prescription for loving selflessness in marriage – a plan crafted by the Creator of marriage. And you can invite your spouse to listen at

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Sign up at Selfishness. I want my way. Don't let that dominate your marriage. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie explains that selfishness is often at the core of the troubles people have in their marriages.

Extramarital sex. Selfishness. Making decisions without consulting your partner. Selfishness.

Marriage is falling apart. Selfishness. We want what we want. Jesus Christ says, be unselfish.

Humble yourself. Marriage is not a successful arena for a me first mentality. Marriage works best when spouses are givers. Newswoman Diane Sawyer said a good marriage is a contest of generosity. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see how that plays out in real life. It's a look at the Bible's prescription for loving selflessness in marriage, a plan crafted by the creator of marriage.

And for a copy of this study, go to Ok. Grab your Bible. We are going to look at two passages together. Ephesians 5 and Philippians 2.

Ephesians 5 and Philippians 2. And the title of my message is Four Words That Can Change Your Marriage. I wonder if you can think of what they might be. A couple of people opined on this on my Facebook page.

I said, can you guess what they are? One guy said, sorry honey. You are right.

It is not bad. Another said, here are four words that can change your marriage. Only a guy would say this.

Make me a sandwich. That will not change your marriage. Let's see if we can find them now. Ephesians 5 verse 25.

Here they are really. Husbands love your wives. Those are the four words. Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her that He might sanctify and cleanse her with a washing of water by the word that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she should be holy without blemish. So ought husbands to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever yet hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular love his own wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

We will stop there. Notice four times in eight verses men are simply told to love their wives. How are we to love our wives as Christ loved the church? Now we have a great example of that in Scripture in many places. But let's go to a passage now Philippians 2 and let's see how Christ loves the church. Now later Paul writes, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. So here is now what it is to have the mind of Christ in your marriage. Philippians 2 verse 2. Fulfill my joy, Paul writes, by being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but for the interests of others.

A more modern translation puts it this way. Don't push your way to the front. Don't sweet talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Wow. Do these words ever fly in the face of conventional wisdom today? I mean our culture says man look out for number one. Doesn't matter how you get to number one. What you have to say about a person. What you have to do.

What corners you have to cut. Just get there because it is all about you. What does the Bible say we should do?

Verse 4. Don't look out for your own interests. Look out for the interests of others.

Well that flies in the face of every culture and philosophy we have ever heard. Look back historically. Greece said be wise. Know yourself. Rome said be strong. Discipline yourself.

Epicureanism. The pursuit of pleasure says be sensuous. Enjoy yourself. Education says be resourceful.

Expand yourself. Psychology says be confident. Assert yourself. Materialism says be possessive. Please yourself. Humanism says be capable. Believe in yourself. Pride says be superior. Promote yourself. Jesus Christ says be unselfish. Humble yourself.

That is the Bible in contrast to the world. You are thinking oh great. Give me a break.

Do you live in the real world? If I humble myself I will never get ahead. If I humble myself I will be taking advantage of. Wait.

Hold on right there. Here is what the Bible says. Humble yourself unto the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time. This is what God says.

I think I want to do it God's way. Really what does it mean to humble yourself? It means to put others before you. You know some people talk about how humble they are. They will say I am so humble.

They are so humble they are quiet. I am so humble. What? I am so humble.

What? I am so humble. Ok. Whatever.

You are kind of weird too. No. It is humility. They will say I am so humble. I am so humble I don't even pronounce H. I just humble.

You are just strange. First of all a truly humble person wouldn't say I am so humble. A truly humble person would instead come and say, man you know what I appreciate about you.

You know what they would actually start putting you above themselves. That is an act of humility. It is called meekness. Jesus was the meekest man that ever walked the face of the earth. Jesus said, come unto me all you that labor in a heavy laden I will give you rest for I am meek and gentle.

Now let me ask you a question. Do you think Jesus was weak? Oh no. He was the very personification of strength. He was so strong physically I believe Christ was strong.

How else could a man carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem after he had been flogged 39 times. But more than that being God walking among us he had all power given to him. He even said all power is given to me in heaven and earth. But he was meek. What is meek? Meek means power under constraint. Power under constraint. Meekness is not weakness.

It is a man who has a lot of strength or a woman but controls it or reigns it in. Have you ever seen someone riding a beautiful stallion. They have complete control of that horse. It turns where they want to turn.

It stops when they want to stop. Imagine you have a preacher who had a horse and he thought it would be more spiritual to have it go to commands that he would give that would honor God instead of giddy up and woe. So he decided that for giddy up it would be praise the Lord and woe would be hallelujah.

So I thought this would impress his friend. So he is riding around his horse instead of giddy up. Praise the Lord. Bump off the horse. He goes oh it was great. And then for woe. Hallelujah. Horse stops.

Oh that is great. So one day he is out running with his horse and his horse got a little carried away. Now they are running toward a cliff. He knows he will die. He has to stop the horse.

He is getting closer to the edge. Oh what is that word for stop? I forgot. Glory to God.

The horse is still running. Praise Jesus. No that is it. Oh no.

No. Hallelujah. It stops right on the edge.

Little pebbles going over the side. Preacher wipes his brows. Praise the Lord. Ok. And I was that preacher and it hurt.

No. But you know you control a horse. That is a horse that is chosen to be meek.

It is chosen to submit its will. And in the same way for us meekness is submitting our will to God. Now apply this to marriage.

Listen. This is not about greater or lesser. You are equal in the sight of God. But your roles are different. And if you don't understand the differences between men and women and the way God has wired us well it is just ridiculous. Because the Bible is clear about this and of course there are so many other ways that we see this demonstrated.

But here is the point. We have to find our place and do what God has called us to do. As I have said earlier don't read your mate's mail.

Read your own mail. Do what God tells you to do. If you were to boil down the problems in most marriage or the problem I might say in most marriages I would identify it as one word. Selfishness. Selfishness. And if you want to know the solution to most marriages that are having problems I would put another word in its place. Selflessness.

That is what we are talking about here. Substituting selflessness for selfishness. Harvest at Home. We have worship. We have a message from the Word of God.

If you want to find out more just go to and join us this weekend for Harvest at Home. Well we continue now with Pastor Greg's insight in today's study. Four words that can change your marriage. So what do we learn here from what Paul's written in Philippians?

Number one. Don't allow your marriage to be driven by selfishness. Verse three. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. Most conflicts are a result of this.

James writes in James 4. Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come.

Listen. Because you want your own way and you fight for it deep inside yourselves. We are pre-wired that way.

I want my way. It goes back to our childhood. Look at kids. One of the first words they learn is meh. Put a toy on the ground.

Nobody cares about it. One kid picks it up. Now the other one wants the same toy. And they are literally pulling on the same toy. Look there are other toys. They want that toy.

They want their own way. That is how we are. So don't let that dominate your marriage. Think of immorality and all the ways it shows itself. Premarital sex. Selfishness. Extramarital sex. Adultery.

In affairs it is sometimes called. Selfishness. Making decisions without consulting your partner. Selfishness.

Marriage is falling apart. Selfishness. We want what we want. It is not always an issue of one wants what is right and one wants what is wrong. Though it is sometimes that.

Or you know we are violating what the Bible says. It is difference of opinion you know. She wants to paint the walls white and he wants to paint them black. The point is you know here is what I do personally.

In my house my wife she rules. Ok. So she will say, what do you think I should do over here.

I am thinking of doing this. And I will say, well I think this. Well I don't really agree with that. Ok whatever.

I will give you my opinion. And sometimes she will do what I said. Sometimes she won't. But I let her decide.

Kathy inside the house. Anything you want to do that is for you to decide. That is her domain. And you know that is one way to approach it. But the point is you need to learn how to negotiate through these things because it is not always black or white or right or wrong.

It is just a difference of opinion. Number two. Put your mate above yourself in marriage. Put your mate above yourself.

Verse 3. Be lowly in mind and esteem others better than yourself. Another way to translate this is be humble thinking of others is better than yourself. This is interesting because the word used here for thinking doesn't mean to pretend others are more important. It means to actually believe others are more important.

Interesting. See because we don't generally think that way. We think hey we are the moral center of the universe right. We have it all wired. We have it all figured out. We think we are all that and a bag of chips.

And now we marry someone that has a different opinion than we have and they want to do it a different way than we want to do it. The Bible says think of them as better than yourself. Well they are not better than me.

Really. Do you think you are that great. Now seriously just go back 24 hours and think about some of the thoughts that have popped into your mind. Think about some of the things you have contemplated and you are telling me you are so good.

Listen. You fall so short. Are you sitting there right now husband and saying I am a better husband than she is a wife. Wives are you sitting there saying I am a much better wife than he is a husband. You need to do a little self check for a moment and realize that others should be put in a position of being better than you. Especially your spouse in your marriage.

If I know how wicked I am and what I am capable of how can I be so hard on other people. The great evangelist D.L. Moody once said quote, I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than any other man I have ever known. That's right. And I have that trouble too.

Not with D.L. Moody but with Greg Laurie. See we not our mate are most likely the problem in our marriage.

We not our mate are probably the problem. And then over in 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul really shows how love displays itself he says love does not behave rudely in 1 Corinthians 13 five. You know some guys would show more kindness toward a total stranger than that person that is bone of their bones and flesh of their flesh. You know an attractive girl is making her way to a door. Maybe she has something in her arms and you run ahead and gallantly hold the door.

She walks through. Thank you. You are a gentleman.

Well thank you. Then your own wife comes home from the market. She is unloading groceries and she says can you give me a hand. You say you got a foot.

Kick the door open. What's with that. Don't tell me something like that has never happened to you before.

Where do you think I get all these illustrations from my own life. Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 God's love is not provoked which means aroused anger or a sudden outburst. Listen if in your marriage it's been reduced to shouting matches Houston we have a problem. If you're hitting her or him this is wrong and you need to stop. So you have to always raise your voice and whenever there's a disagreement you get really loud and you hit things and you throw things.

You don't want to go there. Listen you need to get control of yourself because one of the things that is identified as the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. God can give you control over your temper. And it gets to that point then sometimes honestly it's good to just walk out of the room. Can I walk out for like a month.

No a month is too long. But for a few minutes to cool off sure. But sometimes these things that you know they get worse and worse and then next thing you know the cops are called or whatever. And what a horrible thing to do to children. Don't do this to your kids people. Don't do it because little eyes are watching and little ears are listening.

And they're picking up more than you realize. See I was raised in this environment. I've told you this before.

I lived every day of my life except when I was with my grandparents or a military school in the presence of domestic violence. Screaming. Yelling.

Insanity. And I know how horrible that was as a kid. And I was determined when I get married that is not what my home was going to look like or sound like. I am not going that way. And this is a horrible thing to do to your children. This is not how love displays itself. I don't even care what the issue is. Because when it comes to a point where if someone is hit the issue is now a non-issue and now the new issue is you should have never done that you see. So you take it to a new level. Don't let it go there.

That is not the way that love is. Cliff Barrows probably heard of him. Long time associate of Billy Graham. He was married to his first wife Billy for 49 years until she went to be with the Lord. Cliff married again.

A wonderful lady named Ann in 1995. And so in an interview he was asked the secret to a long and happy marriage. I like what Cliff said.

Here is what he said quote, I think there are nine words we should be willing to say every day. Here they are. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

That is good advice. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

And then he adds an additional four words that are often helpful too. It was my fault. It was my fault.

How many of you are married? Raise your hand. Turn to your spouse. Turn to them.

Say this to them. It was my fault. I am sorry. I love you. See. It helps doesn't it. You know you can be in a big conflict.

And you are like you know she is yelling or you are yelling or whatever it is and then you just look at them and say you know what. I was wrong. I love you.

Diffused. Didn't take you that long did it. These are simple truths that we can apply in our lives to love as God wants us to love. So love your mate. Honor them.

Who is the greatest example of loving us we ought to love? Well I am. And no I have just written a new book Humility and How I Found It. No.

We laugh because it is absurd. But I will tell you who the person is. You already know who is the greatest example of humility and love. Who.

Take a guess. Perfect. Let's read on in Philippians 2. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God did not consider robbery to be equal with God but made himself of no reputation taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even the death of the cross. Jesus was God among us. He was not man becoming to God.

That is impossible. He was God becoming man. He never voided his deity but he veiled it.

He sort of hid it but he still was God. Which is so amazing when you look at how he served others. Always had time for others.

Always helping others. Even in the upper room he got down on his knees and he washed the disciples feet. That is normally what a servant would do.

That is incredible. And by the way he also washed Judas' feet and that is right before Judas betrayed him. If I was Jesus I would not have washed Judas' feet. I would have broken his feet. Then I would have said yeah try to betray me now.

See how that works out. No. He washed his feet. He was humility. Loving.

A servant. And then he made the ultimate sacrifice by going to the cross and dying there for our sin. Yes we are to love our wife as Christ loves the church and there is no greater example of love ever shown in the universe than the love of God for humanity by sending his Son to die on the cross in our place and the Son willingly going and taking the sin of the world. If he just took my sin it would have been bad enough. If we added your sin or just the sin of those listening today it would have been more than enough.

But he took the sin of the whole planet upon himself. And then he rose again from the dead three days later and now he stands at the door of our hearts and he knocks and says if we will hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Let's all bow our heads. Everybody praying everywhere. Father thank you for your Word to us. And I pray for any person here that does not know you. Help them to come to you. Help them to believe in you. Help them to be forgiven of all of their sins right now. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important word of prayer. And if you know you need to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will come back to help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up. And then we're making available a wonderful book of encouragement for those who've suffered loss. It's called Divine Disruption. You know Pastor Greg I've heard of some people who walked away from God when it seemed that he didn't answer their prayers for a loved one.

A loved one who passed away. What would you say to someone who is wondering if God is on their side? You know they're wondering if if God can be trusted.

Well I think we have to look at the big picture. Is it a punishment or is it a reward to go to heaven? I would liken it to this. Let's say you went to Disneyland on a really hot day. You were standing in a really long line and suddenly the CEO of Disneyland came out and he gave you his name and then he said I want to take you to the front of the line and I want to get you in the front of every ride as you come in to the park. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? I think all the people waiting in line would envy you.

Hey you lucky dog how did you pull that off? An early death means an early crown. If you're walking with Jesus you don't have to fear death. Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Wait what? Gain? Yes gain because you go into God's presence. So for the person who goes to heaven it's a wonderful thing. Now honestly for us that say goodbye to that person it's a very painful thing and I know we wish that our loved ones could live forever. Well they will live forever if they're a Christian but in God's presence not forever on this earth and saying goodbye is hard. So when a Christian has a fellow Christian maybe a relative maybe a friend die you need to remember this you'll see them again.

They're not just a part of your past they're also a part of your future therefore you do not say goodbye you say I'll see you later. So here's a book that I want to offer you right now that deals with that and much more. It's called Divine Disruption written by Pastor Tony Evans.

Now you all know Tony has a great radio broadcast. He's a prolific author but what's unique about this book is he wrote it with his two sons and two daughters. It deals with the loss that the Evans family is faced especially having their mother go to be with the Lord and how hard that's been for them but how they've been able to deal with this loss with great trust in God. So it's called Divine Disruption and the subtitle says holding on to faith when life breaks your heart.

So if life has broken your heart if you're hurting right now I think this book is really going to be helpful. I'll send you a copy of Divine Disruption for your gift of any size. Now some of you can send a large gift some a smaller gift but whatever you send we will rush you a copy of Divine Disruption by Tony Evans and his children and I know this will be a blessing to you. Yeah yeah that's right and each of Tony's kids is in ministry and they're all great communicators so you'll get five different perspectives packed in one book.

And a little tip chapter 11 is so helpful with some of Tony's strongest encouragement. We'll send you Divine Disruption to thank you for your partnership with us so this daily study time can continue. We're entirely listener supported and your donation not only feeds your own spiritual education and edification but it also helps us reach out to others in your community. So we hope you'll call us today at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to Well Pastor Greg a couple of moments ago you talked about the importance of coming to the Lord to have our sins forgiven. Yeah. If somebody listening right now wants to do that could you help them?

Yeah I can do that Dave I'd be happy to. In the book of Isaiah we read these words seek the Lord while he may be found call upon him while he is near let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous man their thoughts let them return to the Lord and he will have mercy on them and to our God for he will freely pardon. Listen that's God's word to you and let me address this to the person who has never asked Jesus Christ to come into their life.

Why don't you do it now? That verse says seek the Lord while he may be found. God has touched your heart today perhaps and you've thought I need this relationship with the Lord. One of these days I'm going to make that commitment to Christ.

No don't wait for one of these days this is the day this is your moment. Seek the Lord while he may be found call upon him while he's near. Listen God is near to you and he is ready to come into your life and there's another part of this verse when it says let us return to the Lord. I want to also extend an invitation to you that have fallen away from your faith you've fallen away from the Lord and you need to make a recommitment so if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life if you want your sin forgiven if you want to go to heaven when you die or if you've fallen away from the Lord and you want to return to him pray this prayer with me Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I also know that you are a Savior and I need your help I need your forgiveness come into my life and forgive me of all of my sins I choose to follow you from this moment forward be my Savior be my Lord be my God and be my friend thank you for hearing this prayer thank you for answering this prayer in Jesus name I pray amen. Hey I want you to know on the authority of scripture if you just prayed that prayer in minute Christ has heard you and he has forgiven you so God bless you. Yeah and we want to help you begin to grow in your new faith we want to send you some resource materials we call our new believers growth packet it'll answer some of the questions you might have and get you started off right so get in touch and ask for your new believers growth packet we'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg for the first time today call us at 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or go to and click the words know God. Well next time Pastor Greg has some counsel aimed primarily at wives more insight from his Christian family series called home sweet home. Join us here on a new beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. The preceding podcast was made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know God learn how to become a harvest partner sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-12 20:07:05 / 2023-06-12 20:18:30 / 11

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