Friday, 4 October 2013

In The Scheme of Things

Sometimes wisdom comes with age, i.e. something that may have upset me years ago no longer seems very important.  Now there could be some logical explanations for why I may not react in a negative way to the same stimuli.  First is that my memory is nowhere near what it used to be.  I have limited disc space which I cannot afford to fill with useless clutter.  It is hard to hold a grudge when you can’t remember what it is you are upset about. 

Secondly when you are playing in life’s fourth quarter (that means I’m old) you can’t afford to alienate the few people who might show up to your memorial service.

Here’s the point (which you were hoping I would get to) when something bothers me about something that someone has done I ask myself two sets of questions.  The first set I’ll refer to my “Eternity Questions”.  In other words in the total scheme of things how important is this current transgression.  Will it be important an hour from now?  Will it be important a week from now, how about a year from now, or 100 years from now?    There was an old expression that referred to “making a mountain out of a molehill”.  It is amazing how I don’t hear old expressions anymore, but I digress.  In other words am I taking something that is insignificant and blowing it up out of proportion to its importance?   This becomes even more obvious when you apply the Eternity test.  If what I am dealing with doesn’t have eternal consequences how important can it be.

The other question I ask myself, as a reality check, is “What might God be trying to teach me about my heart?”  Have I made something more important than my relationship with my wife?  Is it more important that I get my way, win the argument, or have my desires met than that I treat my wife well?

As an example let’s assume that my wife is running late (which she never does) and I am getting all worked up about being late for our reservation.  A week from now how important would being 15 minutes late be in the scheme of things.  Probably not very important.  Why does it bother me so?  Perhaps my parents were punctuality freaks and being on time was a highly treasured value.  Or perhaps I am worried about what someone else will think of me when we arrive late.  In either case it is all about me, and God may be working on my impatience. What would be an alternative solution – call the restaurant and tell them we are running a bit late.  Keep the blood pressure down and our relationship up!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Near Beliefs

Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.
2 Timothy 3:14

I’m afraid too many of us Christians don’t know what we really believe. Like a cork in the ocean, driven and tossed by the waves, we bounce from opinion to opinion, influenced more by the last book we read than by a lifetime of biblical study. We’ve become activity junkies, seldom stopping long enough to decide what really matters to us, too busy to determine what’s really worth living for, let alone worth dying for.

As a result we live our lives based upon “near beliefs.” Near beliefs have just enough truth in them to sound strangely familiar to convictions, yet they’re too weak to inspire us or our actions. Too anemic to influence us to make a decision that demands a sacrifice.

Near beliefs won’t keep a marriage together when romance fades.

Near beliefs are to blame for a new brand of Christianity that is epidemic in our homes and churches—a faith that has little flavor, little light and little influence. When near beliefs are our only source of motivation, tough stands are never taken, feathers are never ruffled, and absolutes are held very loosely. Without core convictions to help us navigate, we stand uneasily on shifting sand, and we lack the solid footing with which to stage a life of principle and character.

Source: Family Life Today

A reading of Scripture would reveal very clearly that

(1)  God is the designer of marriage.

(2)  God wants marriage to be a reflection of the relationship between His Son and the bride of Christ, i.e. the church. 

(3)  God hates divorce.

(4)  Sex is a gift from God.

(5)  Husbands are to love their wives as much as they love themselves.

(6)  Wives are to respect their husbands.

(7)  We are only to say to one another that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I have been troubled by the number of couples who come into my office (and those that don’t) who profess to be Christians yet their marriage is in a shambles.  In part is it because they truly don’t know what Scripture says about what a marriage is to look like and how we are to treat one another?  There are numerous Biblical references that say that we are to glorify God in all that we do, and that includes marriage.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Soft and the Hard of It

“Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love” John Stott

John Stott
So my first thought after reading this quote was how does love grows soft, what does that mean?  In one sense when something becomes soft it is weaker, in another sense it can be easily swayed or affected emotionally.  Another take on the word soft is not wanting to deliver hard or bad news to someone and in those cases we are accused of being soft.

So it seems to me that what Stott is saying is that if my wife fails to speak the truth in love to me my ability to love will not be a strong as it could be.  On the other hand if someone delivers what they consider unvarnished truth and I do not sense that their love for me is the motivating factor, then most likely I will not receive well what they have to say.

Ephesians 4:29 gets to this point:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It seems to me there are several components to such an exchange as the one described by Stott.

(1)  I consider that the person addressing me truly loves me.

(2)  That what they share with me is something that will build me up according to my needs, that there is no hidden agenda on the part of the person sharing the information.

(3)  That what is shared with me will be said in such a way that I will listen and not be turned off to the truth, even if initially I become somewhat defensive.

(4)  That what is said will help me to behave in a way that is more becoming to one who professes to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior.

I get very impatient particularly when it comes to electronic things not working as I think they should work. My impatience is a form of sin.  It is very helpful to me when my wife gently reminds me that God is in control and that if He wanted my computer to work it would.  I need to be reminded that life will be filled with challenges, that God wants me to rely on Him and to take in stride those petty occurrences that I allow to get the best of me.  After all patience is a Fruit of the Spirit.