What does it take to support a growing and successful marriage? Craig and Amy Groeschel describe five priorities, the most important of which is to seek God. All other things flow from your relationship with Jesus. In the study, From This Day Forward, the Groeschels help us to understand what it means to seek God. ~ Fred Bittner, FaithGateway Bible Study
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Our first priority in life is not seeking a spouse… it is seeking God.
If you hang around the church, even for a little while, you will hear the famous words of Jesus about the greatest commandment in the entire Bible. When Jesus walked on this earth, the religious leaders of His day kept trying to get Him to say something wrong so they could accuse Him of false beliefs and turn the crowds against Him.
On one of these occasions, a group of high-level religious professionals came and asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36). Jesus replied with confidence and passion, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Then the Savior went on to explain that this is the most important commandment, and second on the list is to “love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matthew 22:39).
In simple terms, Jesus was saying, “Make God number one in your heart and life. Everyone else, and everything else, should come in second, third, or farther down the list.” The whole Bible rings loud and clear with this message.
Put God first, seek Him before all else, and let nothing else take the central place in your life that only God deserves.
If you ask most Christians if God is really number one in their heart and life, they will say a quick and emphatic yes! But we should all slow down and take a good look at our schedule, finances, priorities, and earthly relationships. Is God really first? Do we seek Him before all else and above all else? There is a biblical word that describes the reality that settles into our lives when another person (or thing) begins to come before God in our heart, schedule, and devotion. The word is idolatry. All through the Bible God is clear that this is one of the biggest sins and pitfalls that His people will ever face. As a matter of fact, idolatry is so prevalent and the temptation to commit it is so great that the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-6) address this issue:
Commandment 1: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Commandment 2: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything . . .”
God knows that if we put Him first, love Him most, and follow Him above all, every other relationship in our life will be better, stronger, and built on a firm foundation. This includes a marriage. When we seek God first, He will prepare us and help us to be the spouse we are meant to me.
So, how are you doing? Don’t answer too quickly! Is God first in your life? Is He truly number one?
As you watch the video teaching segment for session 1, use the following outline to follow along or to write down anything that stands out to you.
Two views of marriage:
- The world, and even some Christians, discourages marriage and focuses on the fact that it is hard and challenging.
- God invented marriage and wants us to know that it can be an amazing gift and that there is hope for your marriage. God can heal even the most broken and challenging marriage.
Statistics show that 50 percent of marriages don’t make it. This can dishearten and discourage us. Or we can determine that we will approach marriage from a different perspective and make specific and serious commitments to build a healthy, lasting, God-honoring marriage.
Rather than just hoping for the best, we can make five commitments that will help us develop the kind of marriage we long to have. These commitments are:
- Seek God.
- Fight fair.
- Have fun.
- Stay pure.
- Never give up.
In many wedding ceremonies the couple will say the words, “From this day forward.” This declaration and attitude brings a hope-filled perspective that honors God. We can be confident that if we take the right steps, make the right decisions, and engage in actions that are biblical and consistent with God’s design, things can begin to get better “from this day forward.”
Many people are not seeking God… they are seeking a spouse.
Looking for The One! Often we are looking for that perfect person who will meet our needs, make us whole, and bring us ultimate joy and meaning. But this is dangerous and built on a false idea.
Let God be Your One and your spouse be your two! The only way a marriage will be truly healthy and happy is if we get these things in the right order.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Words to those who are not yet married…
A wise declaration and commitment: “I will seek The One while preparing for my two.”
When a person is not yet married, their greatest goal and desire should be to seek, honor, follow, and grow in love with God.
But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33
A dangerous mindset… putting off “the God thing” until we find a spouse and then trying to get things right with God.
Words to those who are married…
A wise declaration and commitment: “I will always seek The One with my two.”
We make a dangerous mistake when we let anything else become our one and put God in the second place. This includes our spouse, kids, career, or anything else in life.
When we let anyone or anything take first place in our life, before God, there is a word for this: idolatry!
When we put a person in first place in our life and heart, we place undue and unrealistic pressure on them which they can never fulfill.
Finally, when we idolize a person and they let us down (and they always will), then we demonize them.
Craig and Amy… Seeking the One with Your Two
Understand the critical role of a husband giving leadership in the relationship.
Be natural in how you seek God as a couple.
Many men feel unprepared or uncomfortable taking leadership in this area of the relationship.
A keystone habit to get you started: Pray together every day.
- It can be short and focused.
- It should be natural.
- It should not be a formula.
- It can be anywhere.
- It can be anytime.
- It can be a specific time.
- It grows our humility.
- It builds unity.
- Name some of the things (or people) that can take first place in our heart in the following seasons of life:
- When we are children
- In our teenage years
- In the college and early adult years
- In the early years of marriage (when young children are often in the picture)
- In our middle-age years
- In the later years of life
Describe why putting this thing or person first can be un-healthy and how it could hurt our relationship with God.
- Tell about a person you know who really puts God first, seeks Him passionately, and keeps Jesus in the center of their life. How has this person’s commitment to seek God first impacted the rest of their relationships? If they are married, how has their devotion to make God number one in life impacted their marriage relationship?
- God loves to give us fresh new beginnings, and His mercy is endless (Lamentations 3:22-23). Craig and Amy suggest that you can have a new start in your marriage today, “from this day forward.” How can this attitude help set the tone for the rest of your married life? Why is it important to forgive and leave some things in the past as we press forward into a new future?
- What are some of the ways our culture and the media propel people toward the idea that life is about finding “The One” perfect person who will meet our needs, make us whole, and lead us to pure happiness? What are some of the dangers and possible consequences of viewing a spouse (or potential spouse) as “The One”?
- Read: Matthew 22:34-40. If God is going to be our “One,” we will need to love Him with everything in us. What are specific and practical ways we can do so with our whole heart, soul, and mind?
- When a husband or wife is growing in their love for God (their “One”) each day and putting God first in their life, how can this impact the way they interact with their spouse (their “two”) in any of the following situations:
- When they have a disagreement over a decision or life situation
- When there has been a breech in trust or a deep hurt between them
- When the couple faces a loss or time of pain together
- When their spouse does not care for them the way they hoped or dreamed they would
- When a spouse becomes ill or faces a time when they can’t offer a lot or fulfill some of the normal marital responsibilities
- Make up your own scenario…
- What are some specific and practical ways a married couple can “Seek the One with their two”? Work as a group to form a list of at least eight ways a married couple can grow in their faith together.
- In the video, Craig talks about how making a person our “One” puts undue and unrealistic expectations on them. If we look to a spouse to meet all of our needs, make us happy, and fulfill our dreams, what are some of the possible negative consequences this will have on our marriage relationship?
- The danger of idolizing our spouse is that when they let us down, we will begin to demonize them. Craig gave a couple of examples of how this can happen. Add to the list and talk about others ways husbands and wives can make a shift in how they see each other.
- Tell about your journey of praying together as a couple. Then try to come up with one way the two of you can take a step deeper into prayer and how your group members can cheer you on and encourage you to grow in this discipline.
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Come join the conversation on our blog and share some of your answers to the study questions! We would love to hear from you!