Title: 4 Keys to a Successful
Illustration: A young minister was faced with his first wedding ceremony. He sought counsel from
an older preacher. The experienced man told the young man everything he needed to do and made one final suggestion: "If you
ever forget what you are supposed to say," he advised, "just quote Scripture. It is always appropriate to quote Scripture."
The young man did a great job in conducting the marriage ceremony, until he pronounced the young couple husband and wife.
At that point, his mind went blank. He did not know what to say. He remembered the advice of the old preacher to quote Scripture,
so he quoted the only verse that came to his mind. It was, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Source:
Unfortunately his mistaken words are all too often true. Many couples do enter into marriage not
knowing what they do. Many couples have little knowledge of how to have a successful marriage. After all, being married and
having a successful marriage are two different things. Today I will be sharing with you from the Bible on the subject: Four
Keys to a Successful Marriage.
Read Luke 16:16-18
There is room for debate as to the meaning of verse 16.
Different Bible translations translate this verse quite differently because some of the Greek grammar allows for various interpretations.
My understanding of this verse is that Jesus is contrasting people’s reaction to the Gospel and the Law. Since the days
of John the Baptist the primary focus had been on the Good News of grace and forgiveness instead of on the Old Testament Law.
People had responded positively to this message, as Jesus said, "Everyone is forcing his way into it." In other words,
they were responding to the Good News in the same way as a crowd of people might respond to a millionaire offering free money;
they were excited and diligently pursuing this great offer of grace and forgiveness. This is a great response but Jesus did
not want people to think that his teachings on forgiveness and grace meant that the principles and commands of the law did
not matter any more. As Jesus said, "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to
drop out of the Law." God is serious about his word, all of it!
What has all this to do with marriage? Well, one area
where people were either ignoring, disobeying, or compromising on following God’s word in regard to marriage. Divorce
and cheating were rampant in Jesus day, as well as in our own, so Jesus reminds them of what God’s word said about marriage
in verse 18. In essence he wanted people to know that divorce is still divorce and in most cases is still wrong. Adultery
was still adultery despite the Good News.
We must take God’s words seriously, including what it says about marriage.
What does the Bible say about building a successful marriage? Before I share the first of four keys to successful marriage
let me elaborate on what defines a "successful marriage " since that is what these four keys are about. I did not say "Four
Keys to a Happy Marriage" because that makes our personal desires or satisfaction the highest goal in marriage. A successful
marriage on the other hand, from a Christian viewpoint, means a marriage that pleases God, i.e. one that is lived in accordance
with his principles. These marriages are often the happiest also but that is not the goal of the marriage rather it is the
result of building your marriage on biblical principles. With that note of explanation let’s get to the first key to
1. The first key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a permanent relationship.
plan is for marriages to be lifelong. Jesus speaks to this in Luke 16:18 where he basically rebukes those who given way to
easy divorce. Jesus says in essence "If you get divorced for unbiblical reasons and remarry you’re breaking your vows
and are therefore committing adultery. Also if you marry someone who got divorced for unbiblical reasons you are also committing
adultery because in God’s eyes there’s still married." I need to point out here that the Bible does make exceptions
and allows divorce in cases of unfaithfulness or abandonment. I realize that these are very uncompromising standards, but
they are God’s standards - so it is important that we take them seriously and understand that when you decide to marry
someone you are committing to a permanent relationship.
I realize that our society doesn’t think of divorce
is any big deal but how does God view divorce?
Read Malachi 2:13-16
That this is pretty heavy stuff! God seems
to take divorce a lot more seriously than we do. Of course this is an Old Testament scripture; perhaps God had a change of
heart about the permanence of marriage in the New Testament? Actually some people were wondering about that very question,
so the asked Jesus for an answer; let’s see what he told them about God’s perspective on the permanence of marriage.
Read Mark 10:2-12
Again I do not think you can miss the intent of Jesus’ words. Marriage is a permanent
relationship. Divorce is not an option except in cases of unfaithfulness or abandonment. What happens if you a have already
been divorced or remarried for the wrong reasons? What should you do? Well you cannot change the past, so you should respond
to this sin as you would to any other sin: confess, repent, and genuinely commit to your current or future marriage as permanent.
In other words do as Jesus told the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, "Go and sin no more."
1. The first
key to successful marriage is to be committed to a permanent relationship.
How does this principle help build a successful
marriage? This commitment to a lifelong relationship helps build a successful marriage in two ways. First, you’re much
less likely to get married without due thought and consideration if you know that there is no turning back or changing your
mind after the marriage. Imagine that the law in America is that you can only by one car in your entire lifetime and that
you can never decide that this was not the car for you, you could never trade it in for newer or better model, and you could
never junk it because it cost too much or broke down too often. Don’t you think that you might be very careful about
making this purchase? Of course you would and the same principle applies to marriage. When you recognize its permanence you
will be wiser in making that commitment.
1. The first key to successful marriage is to be committed to a permanent
This principle helps build successful marriages in another way also. If divorce is out of the question,
then you are a lot more likely to work hard at building a better marriage. This is essential because marriage is not easy.
Someone once said, "Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings, or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until
you try it." The only way a couple will get beyond the struggles and difficulties of marriage is to be committed to a permanent
relationship, otherwise they will take the seemingly easy way out of a troubled marriage which is divorce.
marriage is not built on compatibility; it is built on commitment to a lasting relationship. Your marriage partner is going
to change physically, emotionally, financially, in their personality, etc... You’re going to have to deal with sickness,
arguments, laziness, financial crises, intrusive in-laws, bad and even sinful habits, and more, so you had better be committed
to a permanent relationship. In saying all this I do not want you to think of marriage as a bad thing because it is not, it
is wonderful but it is not easy and therefore takes real commitment.
1. The first key to a successful marriage is
to be committed to a permanent relationship.
2. The second key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a faithful
What I mean by faithful is that you will not cheat on your spouse. You will have no intimate relationships
with anyone else ever. No exceptions and no excuses. The Bible refers to any intimate relationship of a married person with
someone other than their spouse as adultery. The Bible has a lot to say about adultery and it certainly is different for how
the world portrays adultery. The world, especially the media, portray adultery as nearly harmless or even fun as long as the
other spouse does not find out. Our culture is vastly more upset at the downturn in the economy than in a President engaging
in an adulterous behavior in the White House. Adultery is just no big deal in the world. Yet despite how the world in general
feels about adultery, this is not how God feels. Let me share with you what the Bible says about adultery.
of the 10 Commandments is "You shall not commit adultery." (Exodus 20:16) In Old Testament times the punishment for committing
adultery was the same as for intentional murder, i.e. stoning to death. When King David committed adultery, he repented and
was forgiven, yet he had to pay a terrible price in consequences. First his son died no matter how much he prayed and second
one of his other sons took over his kingship by force and slept with David’s wives to publicly humiliate his father.
Adultery is a serious offense in God’s eyes. Of course the New Testament has a lot to say about adultery also. Let’s
read one of those passages now.
Read Hebrews 13:4
2. The second key to successful marriage is to be committed
to a faithful relationship.
Commitment to faithfulness in a marriage is not only successful in that pleases God, but
it is also vital to a lasting and fulfilling marriage.
Illustration: Paul Harvey is always advertising the product:
JB Weld. JB Weld consists of two tubes of "stuff." If you squeeze a little of each out and let them sit, nothing happens.
But, if mix them together, they can bond metal and do all sorts of wonderful things. Apart, they do nothing. Together they
become very strong - probably due to some chemical reaction that happens when they mix.
Intimate relations in a marriage
relationship is somewhat like the chemical reaction that allows that stuff to become one durable substance. It solidifies
two people into "one flesh," bonding them emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. It "sets" the relationship between
husband and wife…
Intimacy is more than just a physical act. Intimate physical
relations outside of marriage break the bonds that hold a marriage together. Although it is not impossible, very few marriages
fully recover from infidelity.
2. The second key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a faithful relationship.
3. The third key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a cooperative relationship.
When I say cooperative,
I mean being a team player. Each person, husband and wife, must do their part. Cooperation means that each person is willing
and committed to fulfilling their God-given role and responsibilities within the marriage. A football team in which every
player tried to be the quarterback would not be successful; each team member must fulfill the position or role that the coach
assigns them in order to be successful. It is the same with marriage. No marriage is going to be fully successful unless both
husband and wife cooperate by listening to our leader or coach, Jesus Christ, and fulfilling the role he has given us.
does the Bible say are the responsibilities of the husband and wife? I do not have time to elaborate extensively on the subject
so let me give you a summary of each spouse’s responsibilities according to the Bible along with scripture references.
First, husbands you are to "love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians
5:25) This means husbands are to be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to meet the needs of the wife. Second, husbands
are to be "considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect. . ." (1 Peter 3:7) In other words do not be
a self-seeking dictator, making demands of your wife but respect her as a gift from God made in his image and co-heir with
Christ. Some husbands seem to treat their pet dogs with more affection and attention than they do their wives. Third, husbands
are to be gentle with their wives. (Colossians 3:19) In other words, husbands don’t make your wife cry unless it is
with tears of joy.
3. The third key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a cooperative relationship.
you have a part to play also in this cooperative relationship. First you need to be supportive of your husbands. Genesis 2:20
tells us that God created Eve to be a helper for Adam. She was to be someone there to support him. A husband needs to know
that his wife will support him no matter what, not criticizing and undermining his plans. Second, wives are to be submissive
to their husbands. (1 Peter 3:1, Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22) Being submissiveness means letting your husband take a leadership
role in the marriage without resistance. Remember only one person can be quarterback. The coach decides who that will be and
will deal with it if the husband is making bad decisions.
So far we’ve covered three keys to successful marriage
The first key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a permanent relationship.
2. The second key to a successful
marriage is to be committed to a faithful relationship.
3. The third key to a successful marriage is to be committed
to a cooperative relationship.
Now let’s look to the fourth key to a successful marriage which is the most important
4. The fourth key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a Christ-centered relationship.
A little boy sat through a Sunday School class and learned about the time Jesus went to a wedding and made water into wine.
"And what did you learn from that story?" asked his father, afterward. The boy thought for a moment and answered, "If you’re
having a wedding, make sure Jesus is there." That’s pretty good advice. If you’re having a wedding, make sure
Jesus is there. Better yet make sure Jesus is there for the whole marriage! Source: www.sermonnotes.com
building a life to people building houses. Some build on a foundation of sand, which is without Jesus Christ at the center
of their lives, but the house can not stand when the storms come. Others people build their house on a rock, which represents
Jesus Christ at the center of their life, when the storms come, this house will stand. It is the same with your marriage.
If you build your marriage with Christ as the focal point of your life and marriage, it will endure the storms of life.
a real, sincere relationship with Christ your marriage will not be fully successful and may not even last. The reason is because
each of us without Christ is blind to our own faults, unable to change our behavior, and unwilling to forgive other people’s
faults. How could a marriage endure and prosper in such circumstances? The answer is that it cannot, so make sure that you
stay close to Jesus.
4. The fourth key to successful marriage is to be committed to a Christ-centered relationship.
Let me conclude with a positive example of marital commitment.
Illustration: "Dear Ann Landers: I’m going
to tell you about a love story that I witness every time I go to the nursing home to see my husband who has Alzheimer’s
disease. Unfortunately, I know firsthand how this terrible illness affects family members, but I would like the world to know
what love really is. I see a man who, I understand, has spent the last eight years caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s.
They have been married more than 50 years. He cooks and feeds her every bite of food she eats. He has bathed her and dressed
her every day all these years. They have no other family. She lost a baby at birth and they never had any more children. "I
cannot describe the tenderness and love that man shows for his wife. She is unable to recognize anyone, including him. The
only things she shows any interest in are two baby dolls. They are never out of her hands. "I observed him when I parked my
car beside his the other day. He sat in his old pickup truck for a few minutes, then he patted down, what little hair he had,
straightened the threadbare collar of his shirt and looked in the mirror for a final check before going in to see his wife.
It was as if he were courting her. They have been partners all these years and have seen each other under all kinds of circumstances,
yet he carefully groomed himself before he called on his wife, who wouldn’t even know him. This is an example of the
love and commitment the world needs today."