One of the temptations that most pastors need to avoid is that of “over-complicating” matters of faith.
The Apostle Paul spoke directly to this when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:4 “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Over the past four decades I’ve had the privilege of officiating approximately 400 weddings. It is one of the great blessings of the pastoral call. You share in a day and specifically a moment that will be etched in the memory of the couple and their families forever.
My goal at every wedding is to simply share with the couple something simple and memorable that just may be of some benefit to them as they seek to live out their vows in the years ahead. In a wedding that I was privileged to officiate for a family member the Lord gave me three simple two-word phrases that I’ve read read in different places but more importantly, endeavored to live out in my own marriage. Those three two-word phrases may seem uninspired or simply too pedestrian to really matter, but that’s not the case. In fact, they are three of the most powerful phrases any couple could ever practice.
The first is simply the two words that express gratitude: “Thank you.” I can’t tell you how many couples will share with me in private conversation that they feel a lack of appreciation from their spouse. More often than not it’s perceived as being taken for granted or, that the spouse doesn’t really understand what it takes for them to fulfill their responsibilities. Thank you is a simple thing to say but if it’s done with sincerity and, this is important, specificity… it can be very powerful.
The second phrase is incredibly important because it can spare you long months or even years of deeply held hurt and pain. The simple phrase “forgive me” when offered with sincerity and humility cracks through a wall of words that have created a barrier of animosity between a couple. Notice that it’s not the words “I’m sorry…” which are far too common in our culture. Rather, “forgive me” expresses a deeper understanding of one’s responsibility for what took place and…implicitly asks for a response from the person that’s been hurt. I can’t tell you how many times these two words have broken through years of disappointment and heartache.
Finally, the last two words apply an action that you purpose to initiate. The words “I will” indicate that you are going to something to change a circumstance. “I will” indicates that you know that you can make a difference by initiating an action and in so doing demonstrate that you care about the person that you love. It’s important that those words be expressed before an act is requested. In other words, initiating before being asked adds a great deal of significance to that specific action.
Think about these three simple phrases, “thank you”, “forgive me”, and “I will”, and ask yourself which one of these is most needed in your marriage or most intimate relationship. This would make a great conversation starter for any couple seeking to grow closer in their communication.
Next week, I’ll share with you how the Holy Spirit links these three simple phrases to an even more profound experience in my life.