Friday, 15 November 2013

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Tina Turner
What’s love got to do with it?  Around 1980 Tina Turner popularized a song by that name.  However the answer to the question was given to us 2000 years ago.  The answer to the question of “what’s love got to do with it?” is everything.

John 13:34-35 says:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
In the book of Romans, chapter 13, and the book of Matthew, chapter 22, we are told that we are to love one another as much as we love ourselves.  In fact in the Romans passage it tells us that by doing so we fulfill all the commands of the law.  In addition to the Ten Commandments there were over 600 laws that the Sadducees and Pharisees (the spiritual leaders of the people of Israel) added to the original ten.  In addition there are several more commandments found in the New Testament.  However this one command “love your neighbor as yourself” fulfills them all.

Practically speaking, as a husband, as a wife, you must ask yourself “What does love require of me today?”  Perhaps you need to ask your spouse to forgive you for something you have or have not done.  Perhaps you just need to give your wife a hug and tell her how precious she is to you.  Perhaps you need to tell your husband how much you appreciate his hard work, and his provision for the family.
Love is the central theme of the Bible.  From beginning to end it is the story of God’s redemptive plan for those He loves.  The cross was the epitome of His love.

There is another song, one made popular around the year 2000 entitled “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”.   If we were to video tape the way you and your husband/wife relate to one another day in and day out would the viewing audience come to the conclusion that you were Christians?

P.S.  I have noticed a fair number of readers of this blog are from outside the US.  Are there cultural differences that make some of what I write difficult for you to put into practice?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Truth and Grace

Andy Stanley
This blog was inspired by a message delivered by Andy Stanley entitled “Gracie and Truthie”.  Like most of Andy’s messages it was clear and convicting.  There is a tension that exists in the gospels that is hard to bridge.  On the one hand we are called to love one another as Christ loved us that is how people will know that we are His disciples. (John 13:34-35).  The awesomeness of His incomprehensible mercy and grace define who He was in human flesh.  On the other hand He was quick to call sin, sin. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and the rich young ruler were confronted by their sin and at the same time offered grace.

At the macro level this is the same God who causes or allows some horrific tragedies while at the same time offering even the worst among us mercy and grace.  For the true seeker who is on a genuine spiritual journey this tension between what appears to be just and unjust and loving and convicting is a difficult stream to traverse.  It is the tension that we must live with even though many of us tend to favor one or the other. Some of us are all about truth.  We are quick to notice the sins of others and delight in making their sins known to them.  Others of us err on the side of grace, offering second chance after second chance, not wanting to offend.

I subscribe as husbands and wives we are called to be dispensers of truth and grace and to the extent that we can effectively do so our marriages will be blessed.  Ephesians 4:15 tells us that we are to “speak the truth in love.”  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.” (The Voice Translation)

So to love one another the way that Christ first loved us requires that we speak the truth in love to one another in such a way that it will benefit the hearer.  I suspect that most of us do not have the communication skills necessary to pull this off.  We are either brutal in our delivery of the truth which comes across as disrespectful to husbands, he feels like a home improvement project.  On the other hand if the wife constantly extends grace to her husband and attempts to overlook serious character flaws, she is not being the “helper” that God designed her to be.

Husband how can you demonstrate to your wife that you love her as much as you love yourself while speaking truth that will help her to be more “radiant, and without stain or wrinkle or blemish”?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Surface Problems and Root Causes

I have come to the conclusion that most arguments, conflicts and disagreements are the result of self-inflicted wounds.  Unfortunately there is only one cure which will eliminate the pain caused by such situations but the pill is very bitter.  There is a slightly less distasteful antidote but unpleasant none the less.

“Okay genius, how can you assert that when I argue with my wife it is a self-inflicted wound?”  To which I would use a technique perfected by The Master and respond to a question with a question.  “What did you most recently argue about?”  The odds are in my favor that once you reveal the particulars of the argument it will turn out that the reason you disagreed is that you both focused on what you personally wanted and desired regardless of the validity of your partner’s position on the matter.

How do I know?  Because in the book of James, chapter four, verse one (a) in the Message which says, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.”

Thus my woundedness often happens because I want my own way.  I am so certain I am right or so determined to win the argument or so convinced that I need to control the situation that I am not willing to compromise or listen to reason, let alone calmly explore possible options.

So what is the intermediate antidote?  It is called humility / honesty.  Humble yourself and be honest with your partner.  Admit that you just want to be right.  Admit that you just are so competitive that you want to win the argument.  Admit that even if their position makes more sense you have a need for control.  Ultimately explain how your position in the argument best serves you because after all the outcome you want is what is best for you, what meets your desires, your expectations and your wants.

The really bitter pill, the one that will eliminate most of your self-inflicted wounds; is to become other-centered.  In a way, isn’t that what Ephesians, chapter five, verse 33 tells us to do.  Husbands you are to love your wife as much as you love yourself.  IF you truly loved her as much as you love yourself, her point of view would be every bit as valid as yours.  Wives you are to respect your husband.  If you showed him total respect wouldn’t that indicate that most often you would defer to him?
PS. I noticed a number of readers from the Ukraine have been logging in, is there something in particular that you would like me to address?