Intro: What destroys more houses than anything else? Fire, hurricanes, tornadoes? No. something more insidious. Termites. How does a termite destroy a home? One little bite at a time. It may go undetected for years, and yet do irreparable damage. If it can be corrected, and the termites exterminated, it is always expensive.
This type of destruction is a threat to both the house and the home that lives in the house. There are some “little things” that do enormous damage to marriages and families. We are going to look at one of the most familiar sermons in the Bible – Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Although Jesus was not directly addressing the home, the principles here are easily applicable. Let’s consider a few things that Jesus tells us we must avoid (exterminate)
I. Bitterness: Matthew 5:20-22 – 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Jesus compels the Jews to look closer at their interpretation of the most basic of God’s prohibitions. Do not murder begins in an examination of the heart (attitude). People kill their mates more often than any other group.
A. Unresolved anger is the seed of murder. It is also the seed of unhappy marriages. Bitter words leave wounds that may never heal. How do we prevent this? Eph 4:26-27 – 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.
1. Angry words may be the first sign of trouble. Can you correct each other without bitter words?
II. Lust: Matthew 5:27-30 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Again Jesus is correcting their application of God’s law. God is not just concerned with the overt act of adultery, but the condition of the heart that germinates the act. We live in a lust-oriented society. Do you think this has affected the marriages in our land? Pornography is a plague.
According to numerous studies, prolonged exposure to pornography leads to:
- a diminished trust between intimate couples
- the belief that promiscuity is the natural state
- cynicism about love or the need for affection between sexual partners
- the belief that marriage is sexually confining
- a lack of attraction to family and child-raising
- 56% of divorce cases involve the use of pornography by one or both spouses.
A. God calls us to higher standard than our culture: 1 Thess 4:3-5 – 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; The vessel that we are to possess in sanctification and honor is our own body – the temple of the Holy Spirit. In several of his other letters, the apostle Paul made it crystal clear that in order to control their bodies believers must rely on the Holy Spirit.
- “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
- The key to walking in the Spirit is being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:17-18),
- and the key to being filled with the Spirit is for believers to let God’s Word dwell within them (Col 3:16) They must sincerely read, study, and apply Scripture so that it saturates their lives and allows them to yield complete control to the Holy Spirit.
III. Deception: Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Communication is key to success in marriage. Nothing breaks communication quicker than a lie. Jesus warns the Jews against deception.
A. They were commanded against swearing by the name of God and then not keeping that vow (Lev. 19:12). So they would vow by things connected with God, but not mention Him specifically (His temple, the earth, etc.) Jesus calls that deception. He tells them to say what they mean and mean what they say.
1. Make a covenant with yourself and your mate to never lie or attempt to deceive the other. This is the only way to build trust. Eph 4:25 – Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
IV. Retaliation: Matthew 5:38-42 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
A. Eye for an eye – This was the principle of law in Ex. 21:24 & Lev. 24:20. So does Jesus repeal it here? No. God expressed this principle of justice to regulate the decisions of judges & magistrates The Jews had applied it to personal retribution. Personal retaliation destroys personal relationships. Rom 12:16-21 – 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
B. Turn the other cheek. Did God ever command us to do anything more difficult?
C. How do you react when your mate speaks evil of you, or does you wrong? Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Do you escalate the anger? Many troubled couples live in a constant state of retaliation where ever comment is designed to get back or make a point. Destroys the ability for couples to grow closer.
V. Conditional Love: Matthew 5:43-47 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? God calls on us to redefine love in our culture. It is not a feeling that one falls into. It is not even reciprocal. It is submissiveness to the needs of the other person – even the person who mistreats us.
A. Paul commands husbands to love their wives in Eph. 5 and then gives it real application by comparing to the love that Christ has for us. Sacrifice-oriented. G.K. Chesterton said… Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all. Marriage partners need to concentrate on serving each other and learning to love.
VI. Hypocrisy: Matthew 6:1-5 – “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. Are you really who you appear to be? God has always called on His people to be honest and genuine.
A. Do not require from your mate what you are unwilling to do yourself. Own up to your faults and do pretend to be someone you are not.
VII. Materialism: Matthew 6:19-24 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Some people marry for money – but more people divorce over money than any other reason. That may be because it is the most obvious test of that one quality that makes good marriages – unselfishness.
A. Jesus’ admonition is directed upwards – lay up treasures in heaven, not on the earth. Good marriages begin with the proper goals. What do want to accomplish together? Make money, be financially secure? Or do have you established spiritual goals?
B. 1 Tim 6:7-10 – 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Conclusion: How do people who have been married for 20 years decide to get a divorce – termites! Someone has said… Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. God gives us a direction to look as we join our lives together. We can look upward to Him and His sacrifice for us. How should I treat my mate? Like God has treated you. Loving is Giving.