Friday, 11 October 2013

Forgiveness – not Again

If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

Dennis Rainey reminded me of a C. S. Lewis quote "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive." Dennis went on to say, “How true. It's not until forgiveness becomes personal and costly that it takes on its actual size and weight.”

He then went on to say “But perhaps some of what troubles us about forgiveness is that we don't understand what it is ... and what it isn't.

Forgiveness doesn't mean:

  • Excusing what someone did to you
  • Forgetting what happened
  • Denying, or stuffing, your feelings
  • Reconciling instantly every time
It does mean:

  • Embracing the offender--Christ modeled forgiveness at its best when He forgave and welcomed back those who hurt Him the most.
  • Being proactive--When Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34), He was forgiving people before they even asked for it.
  • Surrendering the right to get even--The essence of forgiveness, especially in marriage, is letting go of our rights to punish and see justice done. Forgiveness is evident when one spouse ceases to demand restitution for hurt feelings and wounded pride.

Why is it so hard for some of us to say the words “Please forgive me”?   Occasionally we mutter “sorry” or “if I (fill in the blank), I’m sorry” or “I apologize”.  None of these three common attempts at dealing with a hurt that we have inflicted is adequate.

“Sorry” for what?  Sorry that you got called out or made the other person upset at you?  An “If I” statement is like saying first of all I’m not acknowledging that I did anything wrong and secondly if you are so thin skinned that you need me to apologize here it is.  Lastly is the ever popular I apologize.  We apologize when we accidently bump into someone.  We apologize when we accidently spill coffee on your friend's pants.  The operative word is “accidently”.

When I hurt someone with my words or actions it may not have been intentional but it isn’t an accident.  It is at this point that I must ask the person to forgive me for… and then we must be specific and name exactly what the other person has identified as our transgression.

Scripture tells us to keep “short accounts”.  This means do it as soon as possible once the transgression has been made known.  Don’t let it fester.  Your relationships will benefit from your willingness to humbly admit that you were wrong.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Revelations of a Gene

It seems as though the amount of new information that that is being disseminated daily is increasing exponentially and that is certainly true for the field of science.  The August 2013 issue of the New York Times Magazine reported that researchers at the University of North Carolina and the University of California have discovered the following:

Our genes may have a more elevated moral sense than our minds do, according to a new study of the genetic effects of happiness. They can, it seems, reward us with healthy gene activity when we’re unselfish — and chastise us, at a microscopic level, when we put our own needs and desires first.
The article goes on to say that different forms of happiness are associated with quite different gene-expression profiles.  For example those in the study group who derived their happiness from consuming things had unhealthy gene profiles.  A smaller number of the test group derived their happiness from a sense of higher purpose and/or service to others.  Their gene profiles displayed an augmented level of anti-body-producing genes expression.

Professor Steven W. Cole
Steven W. Cole, Professor of Medicine at U.C.L.A., summed up the findings as follows:
“our genes can tell the difference” between a purpose-driven life and a shallower one even when our conscious minds cannot.

So here is the irony of it all.  The more other-centered you become, the more you become the kind of husband/wife God has called you to be, the better will be your health.  So if for self-centered reasons you want better health become other-centered.  Put your spouse’s needs ahead of your needs.  Put their desires and expectations first.  Make them feel appreciated, cherished and respected.  Most likely by doing so you will have a sense of higher purpose and service to others.


Monday, 7 October 2013

More Than a Fig Leaf

The Masculine Mandate
“God’s curse on the man draws him unwholesomely away from the woman, even as God’s curse on the woman draws her unwholesomely toward the man. This is why most marital counseling sessions are some variation on this theme. Wife: ‘You don’t pay any attention to me.’ Husband: ‘You are too demanding and nag too much.’ God has cursed the marriage relationship with a poisonous desire for control by the woman and a self-absorbed focus outside the relationship by the man” (Richard D. Phillips, The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men).

In her blog entitled “Fitting Together the Puzzle Pieces of Marriage” Karen Gaul took a look at the ramifications of the Fall on marriage.  
First Karen looks at the curse given to women.  Struggle was born after sin and the curse that follows where women were told that we would desire to control their husbands (Genesis 3:16). Women were created to be helpers and after the curse we demand to be in control instead”.

Then Karen lays out how the curse affected men.  The curse God put on man was even greater. The work they would do will be wearisome, life sapping, tiring, and consuming. And because of that curse he has little energy to give to his wife and family. Women often feel neglected because of either his work or his after-hour enjoyments.”
For those of you who tend to cope with bad news by turning to food this would be a good time to get a pound of your favorite chocolates.  After all we are living under the curse, we are struggling in our marriages because of the consequences of one man’s sin. 

Before we are too quick to blame shift let me point out a few things.  The sin that Adam and Eve committed was disobedience, the root cause was their self-centeredness, their desire to be like God.  We too are self-centered.  We too disobey God’s word.  We too have desires that trump our allegiance to God, i.e. money, power, “stuff”, happiness, chocolate, etc.
So being omniscient (knowing all things) what was God’s plan, is it possible to break this cycle?  Yes.  The answer is for us to turn back to God.  As a man I can pray to God to help me get my priorities straight.  Work is important but not more important that my relationship with my Creator or my wife.  As a woman (which I’m not) you can pray to God to help you become the “helper” that you were created to be.  Nagging is not helpful.  Making your husband a home improvement project is not helpful.  Admiring him, respecting him, deferring to him and loving him will contribute to breaking the curse.