************ Sermon on Proverbs 3:3 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on June 26, 2004

(Prov 3:3) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Wedding Text for Josh & Joni Verburg

What is love? I decided to look up the word "love" on the internet, just to see what I would come up with. Google lists 113 million different sites. This is what I found:
-I love New York (we've all heard this advertisement campaign)
-I love Dogs.com
-I Love Cats.com (actually, I hate cats)
-I love Cheese.com (a peek at the site showed me mouth-watering cheese from Wisconsin)
-Love Poems.com (I will quote a couple of them later in this message)
-The Love Calculator.com (On this site you type in your name and the name of your spouse or fiancé and it gives you the odds of your relationship surviving. Josh & Joni, you got 63%. I entered Adrian & Ruth – my wife and I – and we got 0%.)

What is love? Ask the average man and woman on the street and they will talk about a feeling. It is something they fall into and something they fall out of. It is something that comes and goes like the tide. It is based entirely on hormones and on likes and dislikes.

What is love? Josh & Joni, as Christians you know that love begins with God. Listen to these words written by the Apostle John:
(1Jn 3:16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

(1Jn 4:7) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

(1Jn 4:10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

(1Jn 4:19) We love because he first loved us.
All true love begins with God. In fact, apart from God we would have no idea at all of what love really is. And, apart from Christ we would have no idea of what love is like. And, it is only in union with Christ that we are able to love.

The Hebrew word for "love" in your wedding text (chesed) means to be kind, merciful, and compassionate; to do good deeds; to show favor. This is a giving love. This is a love that gives for the sake of and for the good of the other person. This is a love that is willing to make sacrifices. This is a love that keeps on loving even when nothing is given in return. This is a love that puts the other person first.

Josh & Joni, your text also speaks of faithfulness. The Hebrew word for "faithful" means certain, right, sure, true. It means being dependable and trustworthy and reliable and loyal.

Faithfulness, like love, begins with God. Because if there is anyone Who is faithful, it is God. If there ever is One Who never lets us down, Who is always there, Who we can always rely on, it is God. God is faithful.
(Deut 7:9) Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

(Ps 145:13) The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
As with love, it is only in union with God that you are able to be faithful and trustworthy and true.

You are to be faithful to each other. In other words – and both of you should know this – divorce is never an option. It is not something that you even consider or ever bring to mind – even in the midst of a huge, big fight. You are to be faithful to each other. In other words – and both of you should know this – adultery is never an option.

I want you to notice that love and faithfulness always go hand-in-hand. The God Who loves us is also the God Who is faithful to us. And, He expects us as His children to be like Him – to be loving and faithful at the same time. You are to give of your self for the good of the other person and you are to do this faithfully, time and again, for days and years and decades.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you," says your text. "Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." In Exodus and Deuteronomy we see the same sort of binding language used for the Law (Ex 13:9; Deut 6:8-9). So later Judaism literally bound the Law into an amulet worn on the forehead or neck. But what is in mind is not an ornament but an attitude, a mindset, which is so impressed on your heart and mind that it is part of your character and personality.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you." You need to be loving and faithful at all times and in all places and in all ways. Your love and faithfulness needs to be 100%. Nothing half-hearted or part-time here. Let me quote two poems I found at the Love Poems site:
For, you see, each day I love you more,
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.

- Rosemonde Gérard, "L'éternelle chanson" -

As I stand here today with the world as my witness,
I pledge to you my undying and everlasting love.
I will stand beside you as your partner,
I will stand before you as your protector,
And I will stand behind you as your solace.
Please spend and end your life with me.

- Earl -
Love and faithfulness – that is what we hear expressed.

How can you have this love and faithfulness in your marriage? What do you need to do? As I already mentioned, both love and faithfulness begin with God. You need to have a relationship with God in Christ. You need to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Prov 3:5). Christ Jesus needs to be the head of your home and the King of your life. You need to spend time with Him everyday in Bible reading and prayer. You need to worship Him. You need the fellowship and encouragement of other believers.

Josh & Joni, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you." This is my prayer and God's will for your marriage.
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