U + ME = ME

When we make relationships all about our personal happiness, they never work. Find out what does work.

Transcript

INTRODUCTION

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.  

Happy New Year to you. 

Did you have a good new year’s eve? 

I had a pretty decent one.  Lindsey and I hung out with some friends for the night.  We decided to turn the TV on about 10 minutes before midnight. 

It took about 2 minutes to realize we hadn’t missed much.  I did have 3 observations though.  J

One:  New York has the lamest new year’s eve.  No fireworks over the harbor like Sydney…just a balling dropping.

Two:  Hairstyles are cyclical.  As I noticed Miley Cyrus was rocking Hillary Clinton’s 1993 haircut. 

Three:  Americans still over-romanticize marriage. 

Maybe you caught it, but they were interviewing the crowd about their “wishes” for 2014, one girl blurted out, “To find the love of my life!”

And I got to thinking about all the misconceptions we have about marriage and relationships in our culture. 

And, like a lot of things, I think a lot of our problems start with our false beliefs.   

For instance, when did we become so obsessed with this concept of finding the “love of our lives,” “our perfect soulmate,” “the one who completes us” 

It’s like, we as a country collectively read the same Nicholas Sparks book all at the same time or something. 

But, we have the whole equation wrong. 

We’re looking at marriage…and it’s not just marriage…really, it’s a lot of our relationships…

But marriage is an easy example.

We’re looking at marriage as something that benefits us. 

So thus, we look for a spouse that will fit the bill and most make us happy

And then, when we get in marriage, we’re constantly judging it by whether or not it’s making US happy.

But I think it’s time we blow up that paradigm of relationships.

Because honestly, it’s not working.  Any study will tell you that. 

I want to submit to you today that perhaps our biggest problem in relationships is our own selfishness.

The fact that our friendship or marriage relationship equation is often just U + ME = ME.

Let’s get together and make me happier. 

If you really take the time to audit your friendships…and your dating relationship…or your marriage…

It’s scary…how much the evaluation of our marriages and friendships is based upon whether we’re happy. 

People say in their marriage all the time, “I’m not happy anymore.” 

And sadly, sometimes the assumption goes as far as… “I’M not happy…SO…it’s over”

As if, the “satisfaction of the self” is the ultimate quantifier of a relationship

But I want to tell you…that selfishness…is the ROOT cause of a lot of broken hearts.

I want to flip your idea of relationships upside down today.

And we’re going to do that from looking at the Bible…which gives great advice for relationships.

And this is actually the first week of our brand new series called “Meology”

So all through January, we’re going to be reflecting on selfishness.

And how…this sneaky sin…can become so focal in our lives.

That our favorite thing to study (That’s what ology means…the study of…is me)  

As you’ll see in our videos each week as well J

But we want to take you off of yourself…and more on to God and others.

I think it’s going to be a challenging series…and a highly applicable one as well.

But why are we so selfish?  Why do we bring so much selfishness into our relationships? 

For one…it’s our human and sinful nature. 

We’re born to look out for us…and take what we want…and do what it takes to get what we want…to make us happy.

You don’t have to teach selfishness to children. 

But you do have to teach humility.

I also think that we’re raised that way…particularly in our Western cultures, which is significantly more individualistic then the cultures of the East.

Many of us were just raised to be selfish.

You might not think so…but if I could take you in a time machine to the pioneer days of the 1800’s…and show you how the average American family (even Christian family) treated their children…your brain might explode.

Children were good…farm hands.   More kids…more free labor. 

I’m exaggerating the point, but children were expected to work hard…put in their due…and learn responsibility, learn discipline  

Nowadays…our kids probably get pampered more than the princes and princesses of the middle ages.

“What would you like to do?”

“What 10 activities would you like to be in?”

“Here’s hundreds of dollars of Christmas gifts.”

“Oh, you want that now, here you go…You didn’t earn it but oh well”

“Oh, you don’t need to do anything around here…just play Xbox and check Instagram all night”

We raise kids to think they’re the center of the universe, and then we get mad when they act like it.  

And we, too, we’re those kids who are now adults. 

But eventually our love of relationships and marriage clashes w/ our philosophy of selfishness      

We want to be in a relationship so….WE can be happy. 

But then, when the U + ME = ME being happy equation starts making us…actually very UNHAPPY…we’re surprised. 

But we never stop to think about the elementary philosophy of that idea.

If the friendship…or the marriage…exists so the other person makes you happy…how is there supposed to be time to make them happy?   

Maybe you’re unhappy because you haven’t made them happy…so thus, they’re making you really unhappy?

 

 

UPSIDE DOWN THINKING

But the Bible is going to….very wisely…turn this all upside down. 

Jesus is in his teaching, often turns much of life upside down.

His teaching on the Kingdom of God…what life be like if God was king…

His teaching is sometimes called, “The upside down kingdom”

Like for instance, look at this:

(Matthew 20:16) - NIV

 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

That’s not how we think.

We’re almost always thinking about what we can be first.     

But selfishness is possibly the most dangerous threat to oneness…to unity in marriage.

It’s a threat to the equation of U + ME = US….Because selfishness says U + ME = ME

By the way, if anyone remembers the fake boy-band song U + ME = US…you are my favorite person in this church right now

Next to my wife…and Jesus.  But not that in order.

Author and speaker Dennis Rainey, says, that “Selfishness affects how we talk to each other, how we divide responsibilities in the home, how we resolve conflicts, and even how we spend our time”

Selfishness determines whether you will take the garbage out.

Selfishness determines if your goal of advancing in candy crush is more important than hearing about the other person’s day.   

Selfishness affects your ability to compromise…to ask for forgiveness.

It affects your ability to spend time serving your spouse rather than wasting away on the couch checking your 4 fantasy football teams…or spending your 3rd hour of the day on Pinterest.

And honestly…it’s the little things like this that wear marriages down over time. 

Not the one big fight…or the one money mistake.

And the Bible is not surprised by our selfishness or its ruin

(James 3:14-16) – NIV

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Notice that it’s when we get caught up in selfishness that…then…discord…fights…sin…everything else comes into play

But there is a better way…

(James 3:17) – NIV

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

That’s good THEOLOGY…not MEOLOGY

Philippians extrapolates this thought some more

(Philippians 2:3) – NIV

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

Notice it says do NOTHING out of selfish ambition.  Nothing.

Our needs…our goals…our dreams…don’t automatically get to come before our spouse’s.  Or our children’s. 

The Bible says…we put them first.

In fact, that’s what love is.

Maybe you remember this from your own wedding if you’re married.

The most popular passage at weddings is on love (surprise!)…it’s from 1 Corinthians 13.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) – NIV

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.

Very poetic.  But what if we put your name in there?  Is that you? 

If you’re not married…think about maybe how you treat your friends…your family.

(read it again)

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) – NIV

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.

“Ooof…Jesus help us” J

Or, let’s go at this a different way. 

I’m going to ask you four questions.  Think of it like a quiz. 

If you’re married, think of your marriage. 

If you’re dating someone…think of that.

If you’re single…think of a relationship with a close friend…or a roommate…or maybe even what you might be like in marriage?

Number One:  Would you say that you consider your spouse’s needs above your own?

Number Two:   Are you the one who does the thankless and menial tasks in love to God and your spouse?

Number Three: Are you good at receiving instruction and correction when you are challenged?

Number Four:  Do you encourage your spouse more than you criticize them? 

Just to be transparent here…I failed the quiz        

I got a few points.  But not as many as I wanted to.

Marriage is hard.  Relationships are hard.

We’ve got this ingrained selfishness…this pride…that says, “I’m more important than you.  So, no, I can’t help you right now.  And yes, you need to adapt to my schedule right now, and no, you aren’t right…again”

But look again to Philippians 2:3

(Philippians 2:3) – NIV

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

Value others above yourself              

Our culture says, “You’re special.  You’re really something.  You just look out for you.  You’re unique. 

Or as my friend Jared Hibma likes to joke, “You’re unique.  Just like everyone else.”

But the Bible says… “Yes, God has uniquely gifted you…” but that’s not a license to make the world about you or to determine that the object of life is to make yourself happy”

The world is about God and our goal is to glorify Him.  Not our own pursuit of happiness.   

If we just make relationships about what WE will get out of it…then we will destroy relationships.

The most annoying people to be friends with are the people who always make it about themselves.   Always talk about themselves. 

As proven by our video today. 

But how often are we that person without knowing it?

But the Bible calls us to value others above yourself. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to devalue you yourself.  Verse 4 explains it more

(Philippians 2:4) – NIV

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

So we put others’ interests first.  We put them first.  That’s how we love.

That is love. 

 

 

 THE JOINING OF TWO SINNERS

We’ve got to remember to that marriage is just the joining of two sinners

It’s been said:  “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love?”

This is why I always advise single people (whether you’ve always been single, or you’re now divorced) to date someone at least a year before they get married. 

You need to take time to see someone’s dark side.  Because they have one.

Sometimes adults say, “Nah..I know what I’m looking for” 

But as an adult…time is almost more important because adults are better at hiding who they really are

Marriage is like the parable of the two porcupines.  Do you know that one?

Two porcupines…were freezing together outside in a brutal MN winter. 

Shivering in the frigid air, the 2 porcupines move closer together to share body heat and warmth

But then, their sharp quills prick each other painfully, and they move apart. 

But then, they’re victims once more to the bitter cold around them. 

But if they don’t come together…they will surely die in the cold. 

See…this is why the vast, vast, vast majority of people in our culture still want to get married.

It’s hard to be alone.  We want to be with someone.

But when you get with another sinner…they poke you in the face with their quills.  

But because so many of us are living under this false belief that marriage exists to make US happy…we end up just yelling (or nagging) at the other person most of the time, “Hey…you’re poking me in your face with your stupid quill!” 

“You’re doing it on purpose.  I just know it.  You’re doing it to spite me.  You just like to push my buttons”

But, now, hearing the words of Scripture, “IN Humility…consider others better than yourself” 

Maybe for the first time in a long time you can say…”Oh…honey…am I poking you?”

Most of us get so worked up about our spouse’s problems we irrationally forget that we have just as many problems!

But this is what a Christ-follower does:

They take the lead in letting God work on their own quills…their own sin. 

They say…I’m going to start admitting my faults.  I’m going to start doing everything I can to submit to God and let Him change me and humble me and make me more loving.

Because maybe if God can remove some of my own spikey quills…maybe we can get closer.

But see, a worldly relationship says, “Hey…fix your quills!”

“You never take out the garbage 

“You never talk to me

 “You always focus on the past

And if that works… let me know. 

I think it’s time we try God’s way. 

So what would it look like to put the person you’re dating….a close friend…your spouse FIRST?

And how could you do that this week?

Is there something you could do around the house? 

Is there something you could write to them?  Tell them how you feel? 

Is there something you need to adapt in your schedule to put them first? 

What’s God saying to you now?

A meal you could make?  A project you could do?

Seriously…start thinking of examples…because by the time you leave here…your sinful heart is gonna say, “Nah…that dude’s crazy”

In fact, if you’re married, let me recommend you watch a movie together this week.

Not just any movie.  Die hard 14 won’t do the trick.  

Have you ever seen the movie “Fireproof?” 

If you haven’t, rent it this week.  You can get it on:

iTunes

Netflix DVD

Amazon Instant Video

Or just order it online

Sit on the couch by each other, pop some popcorn, hold hands (even if you don’t feel like it), and watch it

It’ll speak this message well.

And be careful in how you implement this week’s message. 

Wives…this doesn’t mean he can walk all over you.

Don’t let your husband get in the car and say, “So you looking forward to serving me some drinks during the NFL playoffs today?”

It’s a relationship. 

A relationship of MUTUAL submission Ephesians 5 says

Men…don’t fall for the trap of “Happy Wife…Happy life”

That’s just a phrase made up by men without…oh, what’ a nice word…guts. 

Passive men. 

Happy Wife…Happy Life…usually leads to someone serving divorce papers because marriage is a relationship…and a relationship has nothing to do with getting walked on. 

Men hate it, and women find that what they want…is a man

Not a passive boy…but yet, often, they were responsible for creating the passive boy

So, serve your wife.  Love her.  Put her first.  But this doesn’t mean you get walked on.  Lead your family.  Have…a RELATIONSHIP

This isn’t why we do it, but many studies show, like the one from the Institute of Child Behavior and Research, that those ‘whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness ... are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy.’ 

 In our “Meology” obsessed world, we never would think this is true, but in God’s upside down Kingdom, his Word is proven true once again.

And we look to others interests first, because that is what Christ did for us

Look at how the Philippians passage continues

(Philippians 2:5-8) – NIV

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!

We should imitate Christ in our relationships…the one who gave up everything…

For sinners…no less.

This is the Gospel.  The good news.

Tim Keller says, “We are more selfish, flawed, and sinful than we ever dared to believe, and yet more loved and accepted in Jesus than we ever dared hope”

And so we should imitate the Christ’s love. 

And put the other person first.  And love them first.

Yes…they’re flawed.  Yes…they’re wrong.  Yes…they’re a sinner. 

But so are we…And look at how God treated us!

He is our example for relationships.

He is our example of what true love is.

(John 15:13) – NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Marriage doesn’t exist to make us happy.  It exists to glorify God.  To show an earthly example of what unconditional love is. 

And so…we are called to a self-sacrificing love.

To put others first.  To value them above ourselves. 

And we NEED that Biblical wisdom.  More THEOLOGY and less MEOLOGY

Otherwise I fear…that when we face the adversities of marriage, which will surely come, I fear our relationships won’t last.   

I want to close with a story about an elderly married couple…written by their daughter, Jill Severson, and from her perspective. 

Their daughter writes: 

My parents got married when they were 19 and recently celebrated their sixty-second wedding anniversary.

But today, things aren't easy for them. My mom struggles with Alzheimer's.

Something about the evening makes her even more confused.

Medical professionals have a term for this: Sundowners.

It's a common experience for folks with Alzheimer's.

For mom, when evening comes, she gets disoriented and demands to be taken "home."

My mom and dad live in an apartment facility for the elderly, so we're never sure what mom means by "home."

One night I was watching TV with my mom and dad in their apartment and mom started pleading, "I'm tired. Can someone help get my coat and take me home?"

At first her questions are addressed generally to the room and then to me and my husband.

She gets frustrated and cries "ACK" with full German disgust.   

But she focuses on her husband: Why won't he take her home?

Two years ago my dad had his voice box removed so it's difficult for him to talk.  

He can't comfort his frightened, sick wife.

But my mother can't remember the surgery so she demands, "Why won't you talk to me?"   He shakes his head back and forth. This makes her angrier.

“He just shakes his head and never talks to me," she shouts to the room.

She calls him selfish, uncaring, and a host of hurtful words and names.

My Dad's eyes are misting. He's a tough man. Strong language is not foreign to this old Norwegian painting contractor.

But he understands what she is really saying: "I'm scared and confused." That's what really breaks his heart.

Finally my mom decides that she could spend the night "here" (her apartment).

She turns as sweet as she had been horrid. "You poor man," she tells my Dad. "Swede, you are a good man, we can stay here can't we? We'll be fine for tonight."

She goes to her room and gets ready for bed.

Coming to my Dad one last time before retiring she puts her hands on each arm of his chair, gets her face about a foot from his, and with the most endearing look asks, "Do you have something to say to me?"

"I love you," he mouths.

"I love you too," she replies. And then goes to bed.

They have a love that lasts a lifetime—so ingrained that even the loss of memory and voice cannot touch it. 

May we strive to love at all costs.

Even when we don’t want to.

Even when we don’t feel like it.

Even when all we care about is ourselves.

May we love others…as Christ loved us.

Let’s pray. 


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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