“Love and marriage, love and marriage. They go together like a horse and carriage.” This was the grand insight of that wise sage Frank Sinatra.
We are here today because you guys are pledging your love to one another. In a few moments you are going to take some vows saying, in essence, that you are going to love each other for the rest of your lives.
People talk of it in all different ways. Here are some ways that I’ve heard it talked about just recently. One person said that “Love is a war!” Well, that might define some people’s marriages, but I’m not quite sure that’s exactly what love is. I have also heard one say that “love is our destiny.” Frankly, I haven’t a clue what that means. Here’s the one I really like. Robert Frost once said that “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Again, I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like something you might tuck away for your honeymoon.
It would seem like people are coming up with all kinds of definitions of love and always trying to grab this nebulous thing.
But if you really want to understand love, the best place to go is the Bible. As a matter of fact, the passage I just read gives us a perfect description of love. We are told in this passage how love really expresses itself.
The whole passage is worthy of consideration, and I would commend that you both take time to study it. But I want to highlight just portion of the text. I want to consider this little tidbit that says “love is kind.”
Now, we have an idea what kindness is. It means that we are to do good to one another, right? We have what we call “Random acts of kindness” day here in America. And that is supposed to be a day where you go and do nice things for people at random.
The word here in the Bible is actually an interesting word. It comes from a word that means “useful.” So, there is a sense in which you could translate this “Love is useful.”
And this is the way you need to see yourself in the context of your marriage. You must be kind to one another. You must make yourself the most useful to one another.
Perhaps you guys have seen the little cartoon of the cave man who has fallen in love and taken a wife. In one hand he carries a club; in the other he grasps her hair, dragging her behind him.
This may be a silly depiction, but it actually expresses very well the way most people see love and marriage today. “Me got wife. Me got slave. Me got someone to make me happy & do dishes.” “Me got someone useful to me.”
But this isn’t the way you are to perceive one another. Nate, it is not so much that she is useful to you, but that you are useful to her. The same is true for you, Jess. You are to go out of your way to do that which makes your spouse happy.
This is why kindness is so often thought of in terms of being courteous and using proper manners. When you say, “Can you please pass the butter,” what you are doing is speaking in a kind way. You are speaking in a way that pleases the other person and gives them no reason for offense. You could say, “Give me the butter!” Or, better yet, you can reach past their nose and stick your armpit right in their sandwich and get the butter yourself. But what does that do? That’s a real turn off. That makes the other person all kinds of disagreeable. Why so? Because that kind of behavior is not kind (it is not of any use to them—or any good use).
And that is one of the things that is incumbent upon each of you as you come together as husband and wife. From this point forward both of you need to make it your aim to fill your home with kindness.
So, Nate you need to recognize that you have an obligation to be kind to Jess. You are to seek Jess’s welfare. To be useful to her by being courteous, gentle with her, patient when she might be a little irritable. You are to be kind to her in that you give her the attention she needs, even when the game might be on.
And Jess, you are to do whatever is within your power to be useful/kind to Nate. When he biffs it, you need to control your tongue and have a forgiving spirit. You need to support him and do whatever is within your power to help him be the man he needs to be.
Now, I don’t doubt that I have not said anything overly surprising so far. Like I said earlier, we have an idea what kindness is.
But I would say this. We still don’t have a full understanding of love. It is still somewhat vague. We still don’t have a clear concept of what kindness is, and we will never have a clear picture until we come to grasp it as it is defined by Jesus.
You see, guys, we are sinners. By nature we are not kind. That’s the quirky thing about Random Acts of Kindness Day. Somebody made up this holiday because they recognized that we don’t show kindness as we really should.
And so that’s why we will never really know kindness apart from Jesus. And we will not really be able to show real kindness, until we come face to face with Jesus.
You see, Jesus has demonstrated the greatest kindness. He made himself useful in that he came down to earth to provide a way of salvation. And he did that by dying on the cross—by taking the penalty that we sinners deserve.
And if you look to him, he promises that he will do something amazing. He will not only do you the favor of forgiving you for all the unkind things you have done in your life.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk with some friends of mine, and they told me about their experience with kindness. My friends said that throughout much of their marriage they were yellers. It’s not that they didn’t love each other. It’s just that they weren’t very good at it. They yelled a lot, at each other, and they yelled at their kids. It was just their nature to yell.
You know what though? Things are different now. They have grandkids that come over quite a bit now, and they are just as sweet as anything with those kids. Some might attribute that to the fact that they are older now. You know, with age they’ve mellowed out. I don’t think so though. I attribute it to the fact that they have in recent years become Christians.
Their marriage completely changed because they themselves had been completely changed by the goodness and kindness of God.
Nate and Jess, my prayer is that as you are united today in marriage, you (like my friends) will also united to the Lord Jesus Christ, so that a fountain of kindness may ever flow in your home.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.