you want a happy marriage? I know you do. Did you know, there is
one Bible passage that, when followed, will provide you happiness
in marriage? If you follow this verse, never again will your wife
accuse you of not loving her. Never again will your husband accuse
you of not supporting and respecting him. Your wife will never
again accuse you of irresponsibility. Your husband will never
again accuse you of being a nag. Your wife will never again have
trouble submitting to your headship. Your husband will never again
lord his authority. If you, as a couple, follow this verse, all of
your needs will be fulfilled. All of your attainable desires will
be accomplished. All of your realizable goals will be attained.
Your home will be a place of peace and harmony. There will be no
fights. There will be no screaming and hollering. There will be
love and joy. I guarantee you that right now, you have peace,
harmony and joy in your home to the extent that you have already
been living according to this passage, whether consciously or
unconsciously. Did you know that such a passage exists? Do you
know what it is? It is not Ephesians
5:22-33. It is not Colossians
3:18-19. These verses are important, but will only be followed
when you first have this most important passage imprinted on your
mind and live by it day and night. It is a passage you have
probably never considered to be a passage about marriage. It is Philippians
2:3-4. “Do nothing
from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let
each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do
not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for
the interests of others.” You have heard sermons before
about how this passage governs relationships with our brethren. If
we ought to treat our brethren in this manner, how much more
should we treat the one to whom we have vowed our lives and
this passage apply to marriage?
from selfishness or empty conceit.
The KJV says
do nothing from strife or vainglory. According to Strong’s
Enhanced Lexicon, the word translated “strife” or
“selfishness” was used by Aristotle to denote “a
self-seeking pursuit of political office.” It is a desire to put
one’s self forward.
this “strife” happens in the relationship itself as husband
and wife argue about who works more, whose job is harder, who has
had the worse day. Sometimes it happens when couples argue about
who provides more benefit to the family. Sometimes it happens when
spouses proclaim who sacrifices more.
A lot of
times this comes not in the marriage relationship itself, but in
how the spouses talk to others about the marriage relationship.
Wives let their girlfriends know about how awful their husband is
to them. Husbands constantly complain to “the guys” about
their wives’ latest problems. Each spouse lets their friends
know, “I know I do some things wrong too, but my spouse does
______________.” While lip service has been paid to their
faults, the whole point is to put self forward as the better one
in the relationship.
selfishness is seen when partners do not try to actually serve one
another but want to follow some manipulative technique in order to
accomplish their own desires.
you must do nothing from this mindset of political, manipulative
maneuvering to accomplish your own desires. You must not have a
mindset that is focused on your glory and all that you provide to
the relationship. You must be focused on your spouse’s
importance and striving to accomplish what your spouse wants.
regard the other as more important than self.
This is the
opposite of being governed by selfishness and empty conceit.
Instead of viewing yourself as the one who is more important, who
provides the most benefit, and therefore deserves more honor, you
must look at your spouse in that light. Your spouse is more
important, provides more benefit and therefore deserves more honor
and praise for their place in your family. You need to give it to
How do you
accomplish this? By speaking words of praise and honor to them. By
speaking words of honor and praise about them to others in your
spouse’s presence and when your spouse is not present. You can
accomplish this by considering the things that are important to
your spouse and make them important to you, which brings us to
Paul’s third point.
Look out for
the interests of your spouse.
interest your spouse? What things are important to your spouse?
You may not understand why it is so important to your spouse. You
may not understand how anyone can be interested in that. But when
you discover that something is important to your spouse, make it
important to you.
husband like to fish? Learn about fish and go fishing. Does your
wife like to garden? Get out the tiller and plant some tomatoes.
Is it important to your husband to pack his lunch? Then pack his
lunch for him. Is it important to your wife that your drinking
glasses are put in a certain cabinet? Then put them in that
cabinet. Is it important to your wife that you call if you are
going to be late? Then call her. Is it important to your husband
that you give him a kiss when he comes through the door? Give him
I could go
through lists and lists of issues. And the important issues are
different for each and every one of you. Maybe it is important to
your spouse that you help out with his or her tasks or
responsibilities. Maybe it is important to your spouse that you
provide words of affirmation, praise and honor. Maybe it is
important to your spouse that you bestow gifts. Maybe it is
important to your spouse that you spend quality time together.
Maybe it is important to your spouse to show affection with a hug,
a kiss, a shoulder rub or even with sex. Whatever the case, no
matter how great or small, make what is important to your spouse
important to you.
convinced that this is the number one key to having happy, healthy
marriages. And when both of you are doing this, everything that is
important to you both will be accomplished. It is not easy.
Because of different backgrounds, what is important to your spouse
may not matter to you. In fact, I am sure that it makes absolutely
no sense to you why your spouse gets excited, emotional,
passionate, upset, angry, about the things he or she does. But
those are the things to which you need pay attention. Those are
the things upon which your spouse places importance. Make those
things important to you and you will have a happy marriage. I
accomplishes marital harmony.
Philippians 2:3-4 replaces
selfishness with service.
“The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). What a selfless attitude. This is the attitude that
Paul used as an example in Philippians
spouse replaced selfishness with service, wouldn’t that make you
happier? If your spouse were more selfless and less selfish,
wouldn’t it be easier for you to be a servant? Of course it
would. Don’t you think your spouse feels the same way about you?
One of you has to start the cycle. Since this command is given to
you, why don’t you be the one to do it?
Philippians 2:3-4 provides
ever heard the statement, “People don’t care how much you
know, until they know how much you care.”? This demonstrates the
universal desire, perhaps need, to be understood. People want to
know that you care about their feelings, their needs and their
desires. They want to know that you have taken the time to figure
out what is happening in their lives and minds.
your spouse does not want an action or a reaction, they just want
to see that you understand what is important to them. They just
want to see that you understand where they are coming from. They
just want to see that you understand why they are upset about
something or happy about something else. They want to know that
what they think or feel is valid and they are just as worthy a
person as you are. When you are taking the time to uncover and
discover what is important to your spouse, you are naturally going
to provide that understanding for them.
Philippians 2:3-4 grants
No one wants
to spend all their time doing something that is unimportant. We
all want to be important, make a difference somewhere, be
significant. One of the greatest things we can do in any
relationship, especially the marriage, is to add significance to
our spouses. To let them know they are important. They provide
something important to the family. This is not just an ego-boost.
This is a step that will increase their confidence in their work.
tells the following story in his book Developing
the Leaders Around You:
member of my staff who was once dean of a vocational college told
me of a day on which he was showing around a new employee.
As he introduced each person and described each person's position,
the receptionist overheard him say that hers was a very important
position. The receptionist commented, "I'm not
important. The most important thing I do each day is fill
out a report.”
you,” the dean replied, “this school wouldn’t exist. Every
new student who comes here talks to your first. If they don’t
like you, they won’t like the school. If they don’t like the
school, they won’t come to school here, and we would soon run
out of students. We would have to close our doors.”
I never thought of it that way,” she replied. The dean
immediately saw her appear more confident, she sat up taller
behind her desk as she answered the phone (pp 74-75).
demonstrate to your spouse that what they think is important and
significant, you are demonstrating to them that they are important
and significant. They will have more confidence in their role,
taking pride in their part and being more willing to go the extra
Philippians 2:3-4 breeds
trust and mercy.
2:3-4 without also reading James
3:13-18. This passage also discusses removing selfish ambition
or strife. In contrast, it presents the several aspects of a
relationship that will be present when you remove selfishness. We
have already mentioned the peace and harmony. Notice the phrase
“full of mercy.”
2:3-4 governs your marriage, mercy will be present. We are naïve
to think that in every step of the way we will always live
perfectly according to Philippians 2:3-4. We will have lapses and sins within the marriage.
But, when following Philippians
2:3-4 has been the rule, your spouse will have a reserve of
trust and mercy built up. They will be much more ready and able to
forgive when you apologize.
Philippians 2:3-4 stops
point James makes in James
3:17 is this course of action removes hypocrisy. The best way
for me to make this point is to use myself as an example.
major part of our married life, I have been the one who controlled
the finances. I’ve balanced the checkbook. I’ve paid the
bills. I’ve decided when we could or could not spend money. Less
than a year into our marriage, Marita was always mad because we
never had money. However, the real issue wasn’t that we never
had money. The real issue was because I was in control of the
money, if I saw something as important, we had money for that.
But, if something was important to her and not me, in my mind it
was a waste of money and since we didn’t have money to waste, we
didn’t have enough money for it. The fact is, without realizing
it, I was being a hypocrite. Because most of the things I felt
were important to spend money on were, in reality, no more
important than what she wanted to spend money on. I just had a
But, when we
are striving to see what is important to others and making
decisions based on that importance, the hypocrisy is removed. That
doesn’t mean Marita and I are always spending money. That simply
means it is easier to keep things on an even keel. This can apply
to so many different aspects of the marriage relationship.
Philippians 2:3-4 communicates
most important reason for getting rid of your selfishness, viewing
your spouse as more important and seeking after what interests
your spouse is this communicates love in the clearest way.
The fact is,
we do not all communicate and perceive love in the same manner.
For some spouses, you can tell them you love them all day long and
at the end of the day they will tell you they think you don’t
love them anymore. For some you may rarely tell them, “I love
you,” but if you wash the dishes or wash the car, they know you
love them. We are different. And your spouse is probably different
from you. So, you may spend your days spinning your wheels
demonstrating love in the way that is important to you and they
are not getting it. After a while, you just give up.
you are taking the time to find out what is important to your
spouse and making those things important to you, then you will
naturally be communicating love in a clear way. If having a clean
house is important to your spouse, then taking the time to dust,
vacuum or simply rinse out your glass after you have had a coke
will demonstrate love. If being affectionate is important to your
spouse, then stopping whatever you are doing when you see them in
order to give them a kiss or a hug will demonstrate love. But,
until you take the time to figure out what is important to your
spouse, you will be spinning your wheels.
How not to
apply this most important passage for your marriage.
two things you must not do with Philippians
2:3-4. If you do these two things then far from bringing about
a happy marriage, it will make your marriage worse.
Don’t use Philippians
2:3-4 in order to manipulate your spouse. Your spouse can tell
the difference between real loving devotion and you just trying to
get something out of them. If you are somehow trying to get
something out of your spouse and fake these points, they will know
and it will be meaningless. More than meaningless, it will drive a
wedge between you that will be harder to overcome. Of course,
allow me to be clear. If you have not been living according to
this passage in your marriage and decide to start doing so, at
first your spouse will probably think you are just trying to
manipulate them. It will take a while to get past that. You must
keep up your resolve to live by this passage and in time it will
don’t use Philippians
2:3-4 to attack your spouse’s behavior. If you go home and
start telling your spouse how they have not been living by this
verse and they need to straighten up, then not only have you
missed Paul’s point, you will be actively destroying your
marriage. Paul’s point was not about what other people owe you
in your relationships. It was about what you must give. Just so,
this sermon is not about your spouse. This sermon is about you. If
you do anything with this sermon, do not complain about all the
times your spouse has not followed it. You apologize for all the
times you have not followed it, no matter what your spouse has
ever done. Then, make good on your apology and start following
Paul’s command in your marriage.
In following this passage, you will, no doubt, study other
passages about your role in marriage as either the husband or the
wife. But Philippians 2:3-4
is the most important passage for your marriage. If you follow it,
the other passages will fall into place in their proper
perspective and emphasis. I guarantee it. Not because I am an
expert on marriage, but because God is.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ