“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Tyler and Anna, this verse has been a meaningful one for you in your relationship. You have rightly seen each other as a gift from God and that gift has led you to the this day. You are about to enter a covenant relationship that is like no other on earth. It is a relationship that God intends to only be severed by death. On this day, August 15th, 2014 you two will become one flesh and this verse has much to say about how you should view this day and the rest of your lives together.
James tells us that God is the source of everything. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” It was this way from the very beginning of creation. At one point there was no earth or sun or moon or galaxies or animals or sea creatures or human beings. God formed and crafted this earth through spoken words. Out of nothing came everything. When God spoke planets began spinning into their assigned orbit, vast oceans met dry land and formed shorelines, sunrises and sunsets began a constant rhythm that have not failed to this day. Birds began flying, bugs began crawling, lions began roaring, dolphins began swimming and Adam began breathing. God was the source of this all.
We see that God has given us an entire world that he called good. He made it for us to enjoy. He made Adam and Eve to enjoy each other. There is not one single thing you have received in this life that has not been from your heavenly Father. Each of us sitting in these pews or standing at this altar will not breathe a single breath unless God grants it to us. He speaks and new life is born. He speaks and old life is stopped. He speaks and storms are silenced or spun into existence. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God who is the source of everything. To him alone belongs glory.
Not only is God the source of everything but he is the giver of everything. God did not speak this world into existence, wind it up like a mechanical watch, and walk away from it all. He gives good gifts and perfect gifts to us. He is like a generous father who loves to shower his children with presents on Christmas morning.
Some of these gifts we are keenly aware of, like a spouse, or a job we enjoy, or good health, or forgiveness through the cross for our sinful hearts. Many of these gifts we are unaware of and don’t even think about. Did you wake up this morning and breathe without pain? That was a gift from God. Did you drive to this church tonight without getting into a car crash? That was a gift from God. Did you enjoy a bottle of water this afternoon or some food to satisfy your hungry stomach? That was a gift from God. What a wonderful and loving God we have who gives us good and perfect gifts!
James also wants us to know that God uses these gifts as a way in which to show the personal relationship he has with his children. He gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. The gospel of Jesus Christ saves enemies of God, brings them into the family of God, and gives them access to God’s grace and mercy and love.
God does not only give us good and perfect gifts that are material and tangible but he gives us so much more.Tyler and Anna, you were at some point in your life under God’s wrath because of your sinfulness. Your sin separated you from a God that is more awesome and beautiful than you could ever imagine. Through Christ living the life you could never live, dying the death you should have died, and conquering the power of sin, death and Satan, he has brought you into a personal relationship with God. This reality rests squarely on the Jesus Christ; your cornerstone.
“Christ alone; cornerstone. Weak made strong; in the Savior’s love. Through the storm, He is Lord. Lord of all.”
Finally, we see that God is unchangeable. “With whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” We live in a constant state of change. Things that seem so lasting and permanent can be snuffed out or taken away in a heartbeat. A home with all earthly goods and possessions can turn into ashes on one bitterly cold evening in December. Life is but a vapor. We are here one day and gone the next.
Yet, God does not change. His attributes and promises are never changing and will never change. The same God that spoke this world into existence is the same God ruling over this marriage ceremony right now. If God is unchanging that means his promises are unchanging. If his promises are unchanging nothing in this life can separate us from his love! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:36-39).”
What do these four truths have to do with marriage then? Everything. Matthew Henry describes God this way: “What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; yes and infinitely more.” Just as the sun is the source by which we see, experience and enjoy life, so God is the source by which our lives are completely dependent. We are in desperate need of his sovereignty, grace and glory whether we realize it or not.
If God is the source of everything and the giver of everything, he will be the source of your marriage and the sustainer of your marriage. You both are entering this covenant as a man and a woman in need of God’s grace and mercy.
Tyler and Anna, you will have times where you will be exhausted with life. You will have times when the trials are deep and the road is dangerous. You will have times where you will experience circumstances that never entered into your realm of thinking. You will have times of disagreement and frustration. God has storehouses of gifts in the form of his help and grace and love waiting to be poured out on you for those very instances. Cry out to God in these times together and you will find a depth of God’s comfort and strength that you will have never known in times of plenty and comfort. And when times are good and plentiful, be thankful that every good gift and every perfect gift is from the Father of lights.
God is a personal God and displays this through the gifts he gives. Tyler and Anna, he has given each of you unique roles within marriage for you to fulfill. He has not given them to you as a burden or as a mere duty to obey, but as a good gift to be enjoyed when you act your part the way God designed.
Tyler, God created Adam first and he gave him a mission. He was to tend to the garden and name the animals. Adam was the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in his own image. You were created to orient yourself to God and his work. Yet this was not enough for Adam. He needed a companion. Anna, God created Eve to orient herself to Adam as he orients himself towards God and his mission. Eve was made to provide friendship and support to Adam.
These are your God given roles designed to bring joy and delight in one another and in God. God is the Author of a story you are about to embark on and you two are actors in this drama. Will you play your part well to the glory of the One who made you?
Tyler, your role is to love your wife as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).” Jesus’ relationship with the church cost him his life in order that they would be made lovely in the sight of God; holy and blameless.
Just as Jesus is the head of the church so you are the inescapable leader of your marriage. You will lead either through action or inaction, but you will lead. The kind of leadership and headship you are called to display is not one of dominance but one of being a servant. If an aroma of Christ is to be present in your home for all to see it will begin with you loving Anna as Christ loved the church. Your job is to show a world around you what Christ’s love for his church looks like by the way you love Anna. It’s the role of a lifetime! So treat her well, cherish her through sacrificial love, feed her spiritually, and protect her. Lay down your life for her.
Anna, your role is to submit to Tyler’s servant leadership. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).” One of the primary ways you submit to Tyler’s leadership is through showing him respect. Honor him and submit to his leadership. Praise him when he leads well and encourage him when he doesn’t. Use your tongue to build him up and not tear him down through nagging or arguing.
Tyler and Anna, when you act out your roles in a God-honoring way you are writing a story. You are small parts in a bigger story that is being unfolded in God’s drama of redemption. It is a story that began with God’s creation of a perfect place where Adam and Eve lived in perfect relationship with God. When they stepped outside of their roles, sinned against God, and chose their own script, sin entered the world and corrupted everything. They were expelled from the garden and from that perfect relationship they had with God.
Then, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, stepped onto the stage. Where Adam failed Jesus succeeded. He resisted the temptation of Satan and won for himself his bride through the brutal, bloody and torturous death of a cross. He stood on the neck of Satan and offers life everlasting to those who would repent of their sin and put their trust squarely on the perfect work of Jesus Christ. He purchased us free passage into a promise land where one day we will all sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. This is the gospel, Tyler and Anna.
You need the gospel. Not to just save you from your sins. You need the gospel for every day of your married life. There are going to be times that you will fail in living out your roles as husband and wife, just as Adam and Eve did. Tyler, you will fail to lead. Anna you will fail to submit. What will you do when this happens? Look to the cross.
Milton Vincent writes, “The gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life.” The gospel is for every facet of your marriage. You are acceptable to God not based on your performance of your roles but based on the perfect work of Jesus Christ. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).” This is a good gift. Indeed it is a perfect gift. It is the greatest gift Jesus, the groom, could have given his bride, the church.
“This is the story of the Son of God Hanging on a cross for me But it ends with a bride and groom And a wedding by a glassy sea Oh, death, where is your sting? ‘Cause I’ll be there singing Holy, holy, holy is the Lord”
The best is yet to come.