Well the day that you have been waiting for has finally come. All the planning, all the preparation and all the prayers have been leading up to this moment, when the two of you will make your public promise to commit yourselves to each other for life. And all of us who are here today are here to support and encourage the two of you as you make this commitment to each other.
And as the two of you have thought about how you want your future marriage relationship to be defined, the word that you have come up with is abundance. And you have chosen the word “abundance” not only because you want it to define your relationship in the future, but also because you have already experienced abundance through the rich, abundant love of your families.
And abundance is a world view word, that is, how we think about abundance depends on how we see the world. Generally speaking, people tend to fall into one of two categories: either we look at the world through the lens of scarcity, believing that there are not enough resources to go around, so we are compelled to gather as much as we can to try to make sure that we have enough. Or, we look at the world through the lens of abundance, believing that somehow, someway, through God’s ongoing relationship with the world that He created, there are more than enough resources available for everyone, so there is no need to strive to try to gain as much as we can for ourselves. Yes, we endeavor to be good managers of all that God is given to us, but we can simply rest and have confidence in the abundance that God is bringing into this world.
Here is the problem with a scarcity worldview: First of all, it is exhausting. There is no such thing as having enough, so we are always striving for and always worrying about the unattainable goal of having enough. Second, we put all the onus for getting enough on ourselves, so when we fall short, as we often do, we slide into self-condemnation, and nobody, not even God, is as hard on us as we are on ourselves. Third, we cut ourselves off from fully living the life that God wants to give to us.
In John, chapter 10, verse 10, of the Bible, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” So what does Jesus mean when He talks about abundant life and how do we live an abundant life? I think that there are three important aspects to living an abundant life, and all of them are important, not only to everyone everywhere, but especially so for the two of you as you begin your married life together today. And those three aspects are deep truth, relational faith and self-less love.
Deep truth goes beyond the basic facts of life to the deeper truths of the universe like: Does God exist, and if so, how do I relate to that God? Is God a good and loving God who is not only able, but also wants to take good care of me?
Deep truths also include answers to questions like: Who am I really? If I had the courage to peer down into the deepest, darkest depths of my soul, what would I find there? Would there be courage and light, or would there be darkness and despair? How do I reveal myself to others, especially this most significant other to whom I am joining my life today? What do I do when conflict scrubs away some of my surface persona and reveals aspects of myself that I do not like?
These are hard questions that we cannot answer on our own, but remember that God the Holy Spirit is always with you, and He will help you to answer these questions over time so that your lives will have a bedrock foundation that will carry you through this life and into eternity.
Next, relational faith. When we think of faith, we usually think of believing in certain statements, like God created the world, or Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. But faith has a richer, fuller meaning when it incorporates relationship. When we believe in someone, we have a trust relationship with them. Having a trust relationship with someone means that there is something important that is at stake between the two of you and you trust that the other person will do their part to keep that important something alive while you do your part to do the same.
Trust relationships are important in friendships and in business relationships, but especially so in marriages. I believe that the main reason why so many marriages fail is because one or both partners lose relational faith in the other. And one of the hard truths about marriage is that, given enough time, everyone who is married will give their spouse cause to lose some relational faith in them. That is why you need a partner in your life and in your marriage relationship, and that partner that all of us need is God.
So remember that God the Father is always with you. And He will lovingly gather you up into His lap and hold in those times when you are lonely, hurt and afraid. He will carry you through the difficult times in your marriage so you can be steadfast in your commitment to each other until your relational faith can grow again. And, over time, God will help your relational faith in each other to become stronger, richer and more resilient.
And now we come to self-less love. Love is important because, as St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, we can have great abilities or do amazing things, but if we don’t have love, it is nothing. He then goes on to describe love by saying:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
His words make it clear that love is not a feeling. Love is a way of being. And being a person who offers self-less love is important because our inherent self-interest causes resistance that keeps true love from flowing freely through us to the person we love. So we all need someone to help us to love with self-less love.
Therefore, remember that God the Son, Jesus Christ, is always with you to pour into your life His self-less love that you need for your own sake. And, over time, Jesus’s self-less love will transform you into someone who knows the deep truths that He teaches you, who has relational faith in your spouse because you are rooted in the relational faith that you have in Jesus, and who loves your spouse, and others, with self-less love because you are immersed in self-less love from Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate self-less lover when He gave up His life for us to bring us into the family of God, where we can relish the richness of deep truth, savour the security of relational faith that will never disappoint, and rest in the abundance of God’s self-less love for us.
Deep truth, relational faith, self-less love, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: these are the keys to living an abundant life. So always remember, God unconditionally loves and accepts you, and He will help you to unconditionally love and accept each other. Amen.