Friday, 13 September 2013

Yet Another Insight

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Romans 9:20   The Message

For some reason the Lord has been working me over big time in recent weeks.  By that I mean He is convicting me of my sinfulness more than usual.  It is as if everything I read alerts me to one more area of my life in which I am in need of repentance.  So I wasn’t particularly surprised when our morning devotional (Jesus Calling) decided to pile on the guilt.  It said in part:

Give your mind a break from its habitual judging.  You form judgments about this situation, that situation, this person, that person, yourself, even the weather – as if judging were your main function in life.

If judging were my main function in life I would be quite good at it.  I hold what I believe to be correct Christian values, many of which I learned from a Jewish person who was agnostic.  Furthermore I feel that it is my duty to judge others as if they embraced the same values.  I am constantly interpreting events, situations and people’s motives through my filter of values and then pronounce judgment.  To be perfectly blunt, as the verse above says, “I am second guessing God.”

Enough about me, even though I am one of my favorite topics.  Do you or your spouse share my propensity for judging?  If so, you may be prone to judge one another.  That will lead you down a long spiral staircase leading to unhappiness. 

God is the only one who has the right to judge.  In Matthew 7:1 we are told “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  If I as a husband I judge my wife she will not feel loved, cherished and adored.  If my wife insists on imposing her values and expectations on me I will not feel respected.

If the Creator who devised the institution of marriage determined that one of the most important things a husband can do is to make his wife feel cherished and loved and one of the most important things a wife can do is to defer to, hold high and respect her husband then I would suspect those attitudes / behaviors are essential to a good marriage.

Ideally I can learn to quit being God and leave judgment up to Him; I can quit imposing my values on those who never accepted my values to begin with; and I can stop expecting my wife to be anyone other than the incredible person God has made her to be.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Weeds of Anger

Chapter 16 of Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins is entitled “The Weeds of Anger”.  He says, “We tend to think of our anger in terms of episodes. We get angry, and then we get over it…The relationship has been scarred but not broken. It’s not a great way to live with one another, but it’s tolerable.  Anger is a sin.  In Scripture anger is associated with such ugly sins as bitterness, clamor, wrath, slander, malice, and obscene talk. It is also included in a similar list of despicable sins in 2 Corinthians 12:20. Clearly, anger does not keep good company.

In the long run, anger does irreparable harm to relationships.  In reality most of us get our buttons pushed by something or someone at one time or another.  Invariably our response when accused of being angry is to be defensive. “Well if you would… I wouldn’t”; “you never…and that’s why…”  We love to blame our anger on the fact that we were short changed in childhood;  that we were misunderstood by our teachers; that our siblings took advantage of us; that our boss is a jerk, the kids are too noisy, etc.

This is not to discount some horrific things that have happened to some people in the past.  However we have a choice, in fact anger is a choice.  No one makes us angry, we chose to get angry.

Here are some of Bridges thoughts on dealing with anger. 

Let me give three basic directions (for dealing with your anger). First, we must always look to the sovereignty of God. God doesn’t cause people to sin against us, but He does allow it, and it is always allowed for a purpose — most often our own growth in Christlikeness.

Second, we should pray that God will enable us to grow in love.  God is love and He is the source of our ability to love.  If you are truly a born again Christian you have received the Fruit of the Spirit which includes love.

The third direction is to learn to forgive as God has forgiven.  I suspect that much of our anger is not a result of significant injustices or wrongs against us but is the manifestation of our own pride and selfishness.




Monday, 9 September 2013

Delicate Balance

21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? Romans 2:21(a)

There are a number of Bible verses that perplex or confound me.  (Translated I don’t understand them or I do understand them but don’t like what they say)  Such is the case with Ephesians 5:25-27 which says:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

So if I understand this correctly not only am I to love my wife to the depths we were loved by Jesus “But” (I hate buts) I am to help her to become more like Jesus such that she is becoming more radiant, more holy, and without a blemish.  Oh, is that all?

I’m personally doing a lousy job becoming more holy – forget radiant and unblemished.  How presumptuous of me to think I can help my wife develop spiritually.  News flash – God was well aware of my deficiencies (and yours) when He gave me this assignment.

My choices seem to be (a) to ignore this verse, assuming I must be misinterpreting it;
(b) march in and hand my wife a list of areas where I perceive she could grow spiritually; or (c) take the coward’s way out.

Ignoring God is never a good choice.   Running to my wife with a list would be almost as stupid.  Thus, I would opt for the coward’s way out.

My plan is to go to my wife, tell her how much I love her, read the passage to her, and then ask her how she thinks I can best help her to become more radiant and more like Jesus.  She might say that she does not know and asks me my opinion.  Unless I’m feeling particularly spiritual I will not give her my opinion.  For I know that if I were foolish enough to answer her things could get ugly.  Even in what I consider an outstanding marriage, answering that question would be akin to answering the question “does this dress make me look fat?”