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Preparing for the Ultimate Marriage, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2022 9:00 am

Preparing for the Ultimate Marriage, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 7, 2022 9:00 am

Whether you’re married or not, every Christian should be focused on the marriage to come.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You see, when you open up the scriptures with the question, how do I find the person that I'm looking for? You're not going to find that much help. You've had pretty much all it's going to tell you is, why don't you trust God? He knows what you need. But if you open up the scriptures with the question, how do I become the right person?

Well, all of a sudden they start to light up on every page. Welcome to another day of good news here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. If you're single and involved in a church, you've probably had some well-meaning person tell you that God is preparing you for the man or woman of your dreams. But in the end, unfortunately, this misses the point. So today Pastor J.D. points us away from our relationship status, married or not, and points us ultimately towards our relationship with Christ. This is part of our brand new teaching series on sex and relationships called From the Beginning.

To catch up with any programs you may have missed or to find additional resources, visit jdgreer.com. Today's message is called Preparing for the Ultimate Marriage. I want to deal today with a couple of myths that our society accepts about singleness and romance.

They are both false and both of them cause real damage. The first myth is what I call the marriage equals completion myth. This myth assumes that marriage and a nuclear family is some kind of ultimate state for mankind. And thus, if you do not get married, or at least you do not find that special someone to spend your life with, then you have missed out on the essential part of a full and abundant life.

The assumption behind all of this is that marriage is the ideal state and singleness is an inferior or an incomplete state. Tied closely to this myth is myth number two, what I have heard called the right person myth. This myth states that life's primary quest is to find the right person and when and if you do find the right person then your life will be perfect. And until you find that right person you're going to be unhappy. Your top priority is to find that person because that's the key to an abundant life, finding him or her. Both of those myths are false and both of them lead to confusion and to pain. The point is whatever stage God has you in you can be happy and fulfilled because happiness and fulfillment do not come from your marital status.

Happiness and fulfillment come from the God who gifts and empowers you and walks with you every step of the way. Now listen, I know for some of you this just sounds absolutely crazy. You're like, what?

Be happy without being married? I don't know what you're talking about. Listen, this requires a level of commitment that some of you are nowhere near. Christianity is not for the half committed. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work as a religious garnish to your life. When Jesus called disciples the only way that it works is for you to go completely sold out to him. It doesn't work any other possible way and my prayer in all this is that for some of you your singleness would work something like sometimes tragedy works in people's lives where it takes that out of this superficial faith and drives them deep into godliness because that's what God is doing is he's saying you need my power, you need my help for this.

Andy Stanley says it works like this. When you believe this myth, the right person myth and the dating stage, you're always on the prowl. You got to find that right person. You obsess about it.

You're always worried about it. You start to wonder things like what if I don't find them? What if the right person for me gets married to somebody else because they're out of the will of God? What if I'm being too picky?

What if they don't like me? Oh if I don't get this right I'm going to be unhappily married or even worse I'm going to be single. Finally for many of you, for many of you, you find that someone who just sweeps you off your feet, you fall in love, your heart is all aflutter and you think thereof now find them he or she is it.

They're perfect. Our relationship is special and we never fight. We're just perfect together. It always makes me laugh when somebody that is dating says we never fight.

I'm like just wait, just wait. You think you're going to ride off into the sunset and it's just going to be awesome but then you get married and you figure out they're not nearly as special as you thought. The guy smells bad all the time and he seems totally oblivious to your needs or you figure out that she's selfish and she expects you to be able to read her mind and sometimes she acts like she's lost her mind and then those little habits they have start to drive you crazy. In the dating stage you thought they were quirky and you thought they were cute almost entertaining. Now you think I think something is seriously wrong with you and then their selfishness or their bad temper or their thoughtlessness really starts to hurt you. Then your sexual desires are all out of sync. You just can't seem to get on the same page.

Looking at them no longer intoxicates you. So you come to a crisis point in your marriage and you say I know what will fix this. Let's have a baby. Oh yes, that's brilliant. That is brilliant. Let's bring another life into this dysfunctional relationship. Did you know of the top three times that a married man is most likely to have an affair is when his wife is first pregnant. Why?

Because he doesn't fix anything. After having the baby and losing sleep one of them is at work and guess who they finally see? Oh the right person and then they say to themselves I get it now.

I get it. It's that I married the wrong person but I just met the right person and so you think I'm going to correct the problem because I made when I was younger because when I was younger I didn't really know what the right person was but now I'm older and now I do know what the right person is so I'm going to get rid of the wrong person. There's no sense persisting in an error. Might as well just cut bait and start over again and let's get married to the right person and then I'm going to be happily married. So you get rid of the wrong person. You get married to the right person but that doesn't work either. Let me tell you why. It's because you always marry the wrong person.

Here's why. It's because you're a sinner and they're a sinner too and if you try to correct the problem in your marriage by changing partners you're correcting the wrong problem. Like I've told you lonely insecure single people become lonely insecure married people. In fact the problem of loneliness and insecurity gets worse because problems like loneliness and insecurity are not cured by another human being.

Here's how Gary Thomas says it. Marriage does not solve emptiness. Marriage only exposes emptiness. If somebody can't live without you he or she will never be happy living with you either. I know that's totally deflating on that romantic line.

I can't live without you. Be like that's red flag because that means you're not going to be able to live with me either. Marriage to a new person won't fix your personal problems. A lot of people blame their issues on their marriage.

Oh this person makes me like such and such and this person brings this out of me. News flash marriage does not create problems. Marriage reveals problems. There are no married people issues. There are just individual people issues that get revealed in marriage.

I love how Tim Keller says it. The best that you can hope for in marriage is less of a bad match for you since everybody ends up being a bad match. So what if you, here's the question, what if you gave up the idea that there is a perfect person and what if you understood that that's not what marriage was about anyway and what if you understood that God's main purpose in life was preparing you for himself and his kingdom and that marriage was a way that he can do that and it was a way that he can supply some of your needs but it is not the only way that he can prepare you and not the only way that he can supply your needs.

Think about it. This is radical but would that not change how you approach singleness. Rather than being on a rabid obsessive search for the right person who was the key to a happy life and without whom you're doomed to misery you could put your eyes on God and focus on becoming what God wants you to be for him and let him choose what ways he will supply those needs. Listen to this, after talking about all the needs that we obsess about, food, clothing, relationships would definitely be in the list. Here's what Jesus said after all talking about all these needs he said Matthew 6 33 seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Man I love that verse. That is a life verse for me.

Focus on preparing yourself for the kingdom of God and doing what he wants and trust God to supply whatever you need. Jesus is not disconnected as if we had no needs. He made us. He knows what we need. He knows that we need food. He knows we need clothes. You know his answer is not trust me and sit around naked and hungry.

That's not like a person who's trusting God sitting by the road who's you know naked and starving. He just I know what you need. I created you. I know you need food.

I know you need clothes. I'm the one who said it's not good that you should be alone. So why don't you trust me to provide that for you and in the meantime why don't you put your focus on me and my kingdom and become what you're supposed to be for me and then trust me to supply that need. That means when I'm single my focus should be on becoming the right person, be on becoming the right person, not on finding the right person and becoming the right person for him and not for somebody else. You see a lot of times we talk about the single stage as if all it is is for you to get prepared for marriage. Our preparation in life is mainly for our ultimate marriage to him not for our temporary marriage to somebody else. Our most important identity is never as the spouse of somebody else.

Our most important identity is as the bride of Christ or you could think of it this way. All of us married or single we're all preparing for marriage except for many of us it's just not marriage on this earth. Some of us are going to get to skip the JV version of marriage and we're going to go straight to the varsity version. Some of us are going to skip the JV version of marriage which is marriage down here and we're going to go straight for the varsity version in heaven. Let me tell you the ironic benefit for you that are single if you begin to think this way. Here's the ironic benefit when and if God does bring that person to you ironically you will be ready for them. Most single people you see are not ready for marriage and that's why marriage is so difficult for them and that's why so many of them end up so bad and why they end up in divorce because they obsess about finding the right person rather than becoming the right person.

We tend to think that when you get married you're just going to be able to stand at an altar and promise to be an awesome spouse and as long as you found the right person and as long as you were sincere in your promise then that's going to give you the ability to make it in marriage and have a happy marriage. Does that work in any other dimension of life? Do you succeed at anything based on the strength of your promise? You know those of you that have ever run a long distance run know that. How many of you run a marathon? Put your hand up. I know you're proud about it because you put 26.2 in the back of your car. You want to brag so put it up right now.

All right 26.2 or 13.1 you run half. All right you don't just sign up and do it. You sign up and then you train and you prepare because if you sign up for a 26 mile marathon and you're very sincere and you don't train then you're going to do what I would do and that is make it about a mile and a half and be like I'm done or it's a Krispy Kreme right because preparation is more important than a promise. Again I'm quoting Andy Stanley here is that it's preparation not promise that ends up being more significance.

Now is the time for you to prepare again not for marriage but for the kingdom of God. We'll get right back to our teaching in just a moment here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. You know we work hard here at Summit Life to stay engaged with you our faithful listeners and one way to be sure to stay plugged in is by following Pastor J.D. on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter these are all tools that can help spread the good news of the gospel each and every day. With daily encouragement and shareable wisdom you can send the message of hope to those you love simply by following us today. Search for Pastor J.D.

Greer on your social platforms or visit our website for links to his daily content. We'll see you right now at jdgreer.com that's jdgreer.com and while you're there would you consider a generous year-end gift in support of this ministry? Now let's return to our teaching for more wisdom from God's word.

Once again here's Pastor J.D. You see when you open up the scriptures with the question how do I find the person that I'm looking for you're not going to find that much help. In fact pretty much all it's going to tell you is why don't you trust God he knows what you need.

But if you open up the scriptures with the question how do I become the right person well all of a sudden they start to light up on every page. You see be honest with yourself for many of you that are single if you met the right person today you probably wouldn't be the right person for them. All right here's what I've heard it said are you the person that the person you're looking for is looking for? Let me say that again are you the person that the person you're looking for is looking for? Many of you have in your mind who the perfect person is but you're not the right person for them and if you ever found that person you're looking for you're not the person they're looking for. So why don't you instead focus on what Jesus said in Matthew 6 33 and that is becoming who you're supposed to be in the kingdom of God and let God supply that when you need because that's his way of doing things. I've heard marriage described before as two people that are running the same rig you got a guy well I'll use a guy you got a guy that you know is running like in a marathon here he goes right and he's headed toward the kingdom of God and the goal he's becoming what God wants him to be and basically what you do is you look to your left and there's a girl who is running the same speed as you and you're like I like her stride and you say would you like to run together and that's essentially courtship and marriage. So what should you do now if you're single let me break this down into a few really concrete action steps for you.

What does that mean? What does it mean to get prepared? Here's here and again all these things are for God not just for a spouse. Number one, break bad habits and start good ones. You ought to use a single stage to break bad habits and start good ones. Get out of debt. That's a bad habit that you need to get out of so that if God does give you a marriage and a family it can be in a stable foundation. Good qualities or good habits to start. Figure out where you serve in the kingdom of God. Create generosity in your house. Establish a daily time with God. Discover what your ministry is and start going on mission so that when you are united to somebody you've already got those things in place. Here's number two, get into real community. There's nothing that is as good for the people that are dating or the people that are married like just being involved in a healthy church. It's good for the dating stage because a lot of times that community can help see things you don't see and identify patterns or sometimes say this is not right altogether. And our counseling pastor says that more people are saved from his office by simply being in a healthy small group than just end up in his office.

He says by the time they get to my office if they're not in healthy community, he said usually the handwriting is written on the wall. There are so many marriages, not all of them, but so many marriages that all they need is good community in order to be able to grow. Here's number three, establish your career in your ministry. Establish your career in your ministry.

I read this verse when I was in the 11th grade doing my quiet time. Proverbs 24-27, put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready. After that, build your house.

I went to my dad and I said, Dad, what does that verse mean? He said it means get a job. You get a job first and you get established and then you build your house. Then you invite a wife into that. Guys, you get a job and you will become much more attractive, I promise you. Number four, decide now the kind of person you're going to date. Decide now the kind of person you're going to date. If marriage is a gift, then decide in advance that you're going to wait for the one that's a gift from God. If you are a Christian listening to me right now, listen, do not date a non-Christian unless your faith is just not that important to you. Or maybe even more, don't date a non-Christian unless your children's faith is not important to you.

Why? Because you're going to unite yourself to somebody spiritually who's going to have the most significant impact on you and your kids more than any other person. And if that person does not love and follow God, then you are basically saying, I don't care about my children's faith. If you are a non-Christian, listen, do not date a Christian unless you plan to become one. When you think about it, if you're not a Christian and you're dating one, understand if you're not a Christian and you're dating one, understand that their hope is that you become a Christian. Their family is praying for your salvation. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just trying to tell you, the whole family is praying for you and nobody in the family is ever going to be really happy until you become a Christian. I'm just being honest with you.

I've observed this for many years. So you don't plan to become a Christian, save yourself from heartache and some awkward family table discussions and just decide you're going to date somebody that's going the same direction you are. You say, well, he or she is a Christian, they've just fallen out of church. Listen, people will come back into church during the dating stage and then when they get married, it goes right back to what they were.

I would tell you, it is better for you to date an honest pagan than it is to a hypocritical Christian. Here's the last thing, number five, cultivate gospel character. Cultivate gospel character.

Give you a little roadmap for doing this. 1 Corinthians 13, see the irony of 1 Corinthians 13 as a preparatory passage for you. This is the number one passage read at Christian weddings. The irony is, it's the love chapter.

It's got nothing to do with romantic love. It's sandwiched right between 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, which is why it's called chapter 13, but 12 and 14 are about the church. And in between that, Paul puts 1 Corinthians 13, which is an explanation of what love in the church looks like.

Here's the irony. The love that you need for marriage, there's nothing wrong with reading 1 Corinthians 13 in a marriage. I'm fully in support of that. The irony is that the love that you need for marriage is cultivated in the church. I'll see what I mean.

We'll do this quickly. Love is patient. Well, patience means that you're okay with other people not being perfect and you're okay with them disappointing you and you don't lash out in vengeance at them when they hurt you. That's a great quality to have in marriage. Love is kind. Love is considerate. It thinks of other people's needs instinctively.

You anticipate what they need and you serve them. And that makes for a great spouse. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Somebody with love, this kind of love, they forgive other people quickly when they hurt them. You don't keep it in your heart and nurse it and turn it over and over and over again until you explode and hurt. Love does not envy.

This is huge. Love does not envy means I'm happy that you're happy even if I don't feel good. That's crucial in marriage so that you're not the kind of person who says, I'm not happy in life right now so I'm not going to let you be happy either. You have any bad marriages?

I see that that's the issue. It's like, well, I don't feel good so I'm just going to make you not feel good so that you feel like me because I feel better when you feel crappy like I feel crabby. Love does not boast, is not proud. Love doesn't think that life is all about them and that they deserve good things and that everybody else is obligated to give those good things to them. Love does not dishonor. It means it never uses people for its needs. I'm not going to exploit you as a commodity for my sexual needs.

I'm not going to use you emotionally or to prop myself up. Love does not dishonor. Love never gives up.

Paul says love doesn't give up on people after they failed you, after you've screwed up and made a mess. Those are awesome qualities to have in a spouse. They're cultivated in the church. And when you get involved in those kind of relationships in the church, if God does bring marriage into your life, you'll be an awesome spouse, I promise. The church is the laboratory in which good spouses are made.

I'll tell you why. It's because ultimate marriage love is demonstrated in the church by the groom to the bride. You go back through 1 Corinthians 13, what you'll see is that Jesus is the epitome of every one of those things. And it's as you come to know his love that you become that kind of love. Your experience of vertical love between you and God becomes the overflow of horizontal love to other people.

I mean, think about it. The cross is the ultimate example of suffering patiently. We should consider him who endured such hostility against from sinners. We esteemed him smitten by God and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The cross is the ultimate example of being considerate. Though he was rich, yet for our sake, he became poor so that we could become rich through his poverty. The cross is the ultimate example of keeping no records of wrongs.

As far as the east is from the west, that's how far he removed our transgressions from us. The cross is the ultimate example of love never giving up, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. When you've experienced that relationship of love, then this kind of love to your spouse becomes second nature.

It's just part of who you are. The quality of a horizontal relationship of any kind is solely dependent on the vertical relationship that you have with your heavenly father, the great bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Listen, there are many of you that for you, this is the idol, the idol in your life.

If you're not familiar with church, an idol is simply something that you put so much weight on, you couldn't be happy without it, you've given it the place of God in your life. Listen, you're not created for marriage. You're not created for power.

You're not created money. You're created for the heavenly father. Power, money, marriage, they're all fine.

They're all good. They're all blessings, but only after God is in the right place in your life. And the problem that you have, the reason you're unhappy is because you've taken a good thing like marriage and you've made it an ultimate thing, but God is the only ultimate thing.

So why don't you put him in the right place? Father, open our eyes and our hearts to the great love by which we learn to love. By which we learn to love, we love you because you first loved us. The Bible makes it clear that we're not created for marriage. We're created to bring glory to God. That's where true joy and fulfillment is found. And we can do that regardless of our relationship status. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor and author J.D.

Greer. As God has blessed you this past year through the teaching on this program, will you consider extending that gift to someone else by donating today? Your support right now at the end of the year is critical in helping us continue this ministry in the coming months, and we'd love to have you partner with us. As our way of saying thanks for your support, we'll get you a copy of our latest exclusive resource, the 2023 Summit Life Day Planner.

It's a great tool for busy students, parents, businessmen and women, anyone really. Throughout the planner, you'll find Bible verses to remind you of what you're learning on the program. We're even including a year-long Bible reading plan to help you grow deeper in the gospel throughout the year. Ask for a copy of the 2023 Summit Life Day Planner when you give a one-time generous gift today at the suggested amount of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at jdgreer.com. You may have heard us mention gospel partners here on the show. They're such an important part of the health of Summit Life. Did you know that when you give, our monthly Bible-based resource will be sent to you automatically?

Just another way we like to say thanks for your regular giving. You can learn more about becoming a gospel partner at jdgreer.com. We hope you'll join with us today. I'm Molly Vitovich. Come back tomorrow when J.D. Greer will tackle a very sensitive and controversial question.

How should the church respond to homosexual relationships? Be sure to join us Thursday on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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