You made a promise to when you said your Vows on your wedding day. A promise is a VOW and our vows are a COVENANT, not just between you and your spouse, but with our covenant God!
I think of a covenant as something I’ve said I would do…not something that someone asked me or something that someone is making me do. A covenant is my commitment. It’s an agreement ; I’m guaranteeing a pledge or a bond. We don’t use the word covenant in our daily vernacular, but 200 years ago, this word was commonly used.
The world has made the marriage vows, the promise of a lifetime of love and commitment into an optional legal agreement. If one spouse doesn’t hold up their end, the other spouse involves lawyers and a judge. YET WHEN WE ARE MAKING OUT VOWS AT THE ALTAR, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LEGAL SYSTEM and everything to do with our covenant God.
I was having a conversation a few weeks ago with an acquaintance. He felt his marriage was potentially temporary; they were only keeping their “commitment” to be there for the kids. He figured when the kids were grown, they would probably no longer have a marriage.
Many people naturally feel that commitment to their kids because the kids ‘NEED’ them. My 7 year old is generally helpless without parents. BUT God reminds us that our first covenant is with Him, then with our spouses.
In Arizona, Louisianna, Arkansas, they have what is referred to as “Covenant Marriage” Law. These are marriages in which the couple agrees to have premarital counseling AND they legally aren’t allowed to have a ‘no-fault’ divorce. This sounds like a well-intentioned law, but even in the full view of a fault, doesn’t a covenant need follow-through in the face of a mistake? What do I mean by that?
Marriage is a covenant TO GOD that says, “Lord, I will give YOUR best to this person, I will serve them, I will love them, I will be YOUR hands and feet in their world.”
When we love the most, when it’s deserved the least, that’s when we are being God’s hands and feet. When our spouse blows it – they lose their temper, they fail in some way – When they are at FAULT – We KEEP our covenant with them – we respond as the Bible asks – pouring out forgiveness on them… freeing them from guilt and shame. That is following through on our commitments.
That is keeping our covenant.
A marriage is a covenant relationship that doesn’t sit on the edge of its seat waiting for the other person to break their promise so we can take the easy way out and get out of our covenant to them. We make a covenant, a promise that says NO MATTER WHAT, even when you totally blow it, I’m not only going to love you, I’m going to love you more.
Psalm 116 in The Message (MSG)
12-19 What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.
When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who love him.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of God.
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in God’s house,
in Jerusalem, God’s city.
God asks us to keep our promise, our vow, our covenant to our spouse because He wants us to be like Him and He’s made an irreversible covenant with us.
He is a covenant-keeping God. We see those covenants made right and held true in spite of the failures of the people they were made to, people including you and me.
Many times in the Old Testament the Lord is referred to as our husband and Israel is referred to as the unfaithful wife. God made a covenant with His people, just like a husband makes a covenant to his wife. It says in Jeremiah 31, “They broke my covenant, even though I was a husband to them”…. In Hosea, Israel is even referred to as a harlot – a cheating wife, who continues to worship other gods, YET even in her unfaithfulness to God, He continues to uphold His end, reaching out to them in forgiveness. But God doesn’t stop there… He doesn’t just say, I’m going to continue to accept you – He actually makes a NEW covenant with them that makes atonement for their sins by sacrificing what was most precious to Him, His Son Jesus.
We serve a great God who always keeps His promise. In fact, He cannot act any other way. 2 Timothy 2:13 says that if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.
What Character, what love! What an example!
God promised us a Savior and He followed through by sending His Son Jesus as a fulfillment of that promise. It’s called the New Covenant. In the Old Testament, (which interestingly enough, the word testament actually means covenant, so when you hold your Bible you are holding the old and the new covenant), there were 354 prophesies that Jesus fulfilled when He came to be our perfect sacrifice. Ephesians 2 says that we were strangers to this new covenant, but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
What we are getting at here is that God had this plan in place, this new covenant of Christ’s blood for you, when you wanted nothing to do with Him. Even before you were created, the Bible tells us that Jesus was the lamb slain for us from before the foundation of the world.
1 Peter 1 says “It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew He was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.”
We trust our God’s Promise, His Covenant. Psalm 105 tells us that He remembers, He remembers His Covenant for a thousand generations. We can see He’s been as good as His word.
So what is the covenant you made with your wife/husband? It might have gone something like this:
Husband: “I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.”
Wife: “I, _____, take you ______, to be my wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.”
In your marriage, the commitment that you made, the vows you said at the altar… they are going to be broken! Our first tendency is to point the finger and say you have done something to me, and thus I’m justified in walking out! But God gives us the perfect example, in His relationship with us. Only in God’s economy, we see that He remains faithful and steps forward in a new covenant when we’ve broken our end of the deal time and time again.
Maybe you had a nominal relationship with God when you said your vows – and you’re realizing you didn’t make that commitment to God, you made it to her and she made it to you… And now you see she didn’t really fulfill her part, and you haven’t either.
Today might be the day you make a NEW covenant!
Covenants are sure-footed, stable. Evidence of a covenant or a commitment that is lacking God, is a marriage that is weak and unstable, on shaky ground.
Your heart is yearning for firm footing in your marriage, you’re realizing it’s time to get on your knees together.
Make your weak two stranded cord STRONG by putting God in the middle of your marriage.
You can do that by recognizing the covenant God has made with you, and asking him to help you and your spouse to remain faithful to each other and your words, actions, and thoughts. Remember that marriage is a covenant TO GOD that says, Lord, I will give YOUR best to this person, I will serve them, I will love them, I will be YOUR hands and feet in their world.
We are so often waiting for the next failure to finally have release. To say, you have wronged me for the last time and I’ve had it. I’m leaving! It’s during moments like that that we try to come up with ways to LEGALLY dissolve our marriage but we don’t consider the covenant we made.
Before you start searching the internet for the nearest divorce lawyer or simply judging your spouse for their failures, consider how we act towards God. Not only do we not hold up our end of the agreement, we follow whole heartedly after false gods. When we play the part of an unfaithful wife, totally turning our back on Him, here’s His response:
Hosea 2: 19-20 “I’ll make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice; unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you Mine.”
The righteousness God offers we can only get from Jesus. Our God is a JUST God – because sin must still be dealt with. But He shows me that justice daily by Jesus’ payment for my sins on the Cross. We’ve been unfaithful, yet He shows us His unfailing love and compassion, not based upon our performance. This is NOT Him saying, “Well, you’ve been so awesome and giving to Me, so I’m going to keep my covenant to you”… No, this is in light of our failures and sin!
A covenant motivates us.
When our spouse has broken their commitment, will you follow the example of God and actually LEAN more into the relationship? We are living in a time where a watching world could declare a wounded marriage dead … without hope. By following the Bible’s direction we can have a hurting marriage and watch it become a testimony to our covenant God.
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