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She Who Has Been Forgiven Much, Loves Much

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This week we have seen that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) – that women and men are equally sinful and equally in desperate need of the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

We took a look at how I thought I was such a “good person” or “good Christian” for so many years – and then how God revealed to me the depths of my own sin and depravity in December of 2008 when I read the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a]you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  James 8:2-11

I have broken many of God’s commands – too many times to even count.  I am a law-breaker.

Today – we look at Jesus’ incredible mercy, grace and forgiveness that He offers freely to all who put their faith completely in Him as both Savior AND Lord.  And we look at the only proper response to Him.

LUKE 7 – A parable of Jesus:

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty.42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

43 Simon (the pharisee) replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

FROM PEACEFULWIFE :

I used to think that this parable of Jesus meant that I would never be able to love Him as much as, say, a murderer, a thief, an adulterer – you know – a REALLY AWFUL sinner.  I figured that those kinds of people would be able to love Jesus a lot once they repented and turned to Him because they had been horrible sinners.  But I would never be able to love Him that deeply because I was “not a really awful sinner.”

Then God showed me the depths of my sin (yesterday’s post).

Suddenly, I saw that I, April Cassidy, am a wretched sinner.  Not just a bit of a sinner – but a wretched sinner.  I realized that there is no human on earth who has more sin than I do in the sight of my holy God.  I realized for the first time the MASSIVE sin debt I owed to God.  I didn’t just owe Him a few thousand bucks.  I owed Him billions.  Me.  And I had no way to repay Him.

I wanted to run away and live in a cave for the rest of my life.

  • For the first time, I realized just how spiritually impoverished I was.  For the first time I realized that there truly was NO GOOD in me at all.  Jesus calls this being “poor in spirit” – and He blesses this posture of humility in the beatitudes.
  • For the first time, I realized just how much Jesus paid for on my behalf on the cross – how much I deserved that punishment and God’s wrath on my wickedness.
  • For the first time, I saw the depths of the grace, love, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.
  • For the first time, I realized that I had been forgiven MUCH.

Then I began to love Jesus MUCH.

MY RESPONSE

I became willing to:

  • fall on my face in the deepest mourning and weeping over my sin – repent and turn to Christ
  • give up anything for Jesus – anything He calls sin – I want it GONE.
  • surrender my life to Jesus daily, being His servant, His slave – I owe Him EVERYTHING!  How could I do anything less than sacrifice all that I am, all that I have and all that I might ever be?  He is so worthy!
  • throw out everything my culture had taught me that was against the Word of God, even if it meant I looked crazy to the world.  I didn’t care.
  • seek to please Jesus and honor Him no matter the cost.
  • grant Him total access to my heart and my life, holding nothing back.
  • die to myself, nail my sinful nature to the cross (as often as it takes) – then give up my wisdom, my understanding, my culture, my political correctness, my feminist and worldly mindset, my materialism, my selfishness, my pride, my desires, my plans, my hopes, my rights and my dreams
  • live for Christ – pick up my cross and embrace His wisdom, His understanding, His desires, His plans, His Word, His will, His dreams and seek His glory alone.
  • make Jesus truly LORD of my life and keep Him as THE FOCUS and PURPOSE of my life.
  • seek His face, desire to know Him more, have the deepest hunger to read His Word, hear His voice and be in His presence.
  • praise Him in my heart all day long every day.
  • develop a thankful, grateful heart for all He has done for me.
  • give up seeking the approval of other people.
  • give up every idol – my pride, my desire for control, my feelings of being loved – and to see my idols as poison.
  • wait on God – as long as it takes – but I refused to run ahead and try to take control anymore.  I decided I would wait right where I was until I was 80 years old if I had to – but I was not going to run ahead of God or my husband’s leadership any more.
  • become a sincere disciple of Christ with total devotion to Him.
  • face my deepest fears and take a leap of faith, trusting Christ Jesus to be strong enough and wise enough to lead me.
  • trash my understanding of godliness, Christianity, femininity, masculinity, marriage, family, God, Jesus, God’s Word and build completely from scratch on the foundation of Christ and His Word alone.  Even if I was the only one who chose this path.  Nothing mattered anymore but Jesus, knowing and loving Him, serving Him, pleasing Him and bringing Him glory and praise.
  • find my contentment completely in Christ alone – no matter what my circumstances may be.

But, I’m a GOOD Person!

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Yesterday, we looked at the wisdom of our culture, “Are Women Morally and Spiritually Superior to Men?”

We examined God’s perspective and His holy judgment of ALL people as being evil.  He says there is no one that is good (Romans 3)  He says that our best attempts to be good look like “filthy, bloody menstrual rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:6)

Jesus says, “God alone is good.” Luke 18:19

That’s pretty harsh, don’t you think?

WAIT A MINUTE!  I’M A GOOD PERSON!!!

I used to think that about myself.  Actually, I would think, “I’m a GREAT CHRISTIAN!”

  • I was always in all honors classes and made all As.
  • I didn’t get in trouble at school or at home in middle/high school – except for the one time I was late to lunch b/c I waited for my friend at her locker and we both got detention hall.  I was HORRIFIED!
  • I accepted Christ when I was 5 years old.
  • I studied the Bible almost every day.
  • I loved God.
  • I prayed intently almost every day.  Some days I would pray for 4 hours per day on my days off as an adult.
  • To date, I have never even had a speeding ticket.
  • I was a perfectionist.
  • I practiced flute and piano each for one hour every day in high school.  I made it into All State Band and won piano competitions.
  • I was extremely active in my youth group at church and later taught Bible Studies and Sunday School classes.
  •  I was a leader in almost every Christian circle I was involved in.  I was one of the “best” Christians there.
  • I always went to church unless I was sick.
  • I was sure that I was the best Christian wife ever.
  • I could see God’s will so clearly – I thought.  I was so in tune with God.  I was so highly spiritual.
  • I knew what was right all the time.  If everyone would just listen to me and do what I said… they would be so much better off!
  • I only tasted alcohol (a few sips less than a handful of times – usually unintentionally – like the waitress gave me the wrong drink!)  I have never been drunk in my life.
  • I never abused drugs.
  • I never tried a cigarette.
  • I never partied in college or high school, or any time.
  • I always tried very hard to follow all the laws perfectly, and all company policies and any school rules – I tried to be perfect at them all the time.
  • I never cussed.  I never even said, “Shut up!”
  • I never said, “I hate you” to anyone.
  •  I never called anyone names.
  • I was never a racist.
  • I almost never yelled at anyone.
  • I gave blood.
  • I was super friendly and kind to others (not to my husband sometimes, but I didn’t see it)
  • I volunteered to help with many ministry projects.
  • I taught Sunday School classes.
  • I knew the Bible VERY well and had memorized many verses.

All of these things were sources of pride for me – thinking I was so great.

Let me show you just a fraction of the sin that God exposed in my soul in December of 2008

  • IDOLATRY – If you read Exodus 20, the 10 commandments, there is no worse sin than putting something else before God.  I suppose that what I was doing may also be called “blasphemy.”  Either way – I was committing CONSTANT, HEINOUS sin in my heart – every waking moment – for decades.  I set myself up as god in my heart without even realizing it.  I had a HUGE picture of myself, living as if I were sovereign and everything was ultimately in my control and up to me.  If I didn’t make things happen the way I knew they should – it would be certain disaster for me and everyone around me, I was very sure.  I had a TINY picture of God in my head.  He was wimpy, impotent, weak and incapable of orchestrating the events in my world and in the universe for ultimate good.  I did NOT understand God’s sovereignty.  I tried to carry God’s responsibilities – and it crushed me.  I set my heart on other things above Christ, too.  Not consciously – but that is how I lived.  I put my feeling loved by my husband and my husband ahead of my intimacy with Christ.  If there is something that I believe I MUST HAVE in order to be content or be ok –  and it is not Jesus Christ – I am probably committing idolatry.  As one of our ministers says, “the human heart is an idol factory.”  Idolatry is to God, what adultery is in marriage – a violation of a sacred covenant I have with Him.
  • I THOUGHT I WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT –   That has to be blasphemy of some type!  It wasn’t a conscious realization that I thought I was the Holy Spirit.  I thought it was my duty to tell others what to do and convict them of their sins and make them do God’s will.  I didn’t understand that God handles all of that – it is not remotely my place to try to do His job.  Only God can change people.  Only God can open people’s spiritually dead eyes.  NOT ME.
  • UNBELIEF – Jesus describes this as the unforgivable sin.  If I trust myself, not Him – that is HUGE.
  • PRIDE – I really believed I knew better than my husband ALL THE TIME.  I also believed I knew better than everyone else around me all the time.  And, actually, I believed I knew better than God what needed to happen in my life and others’ lives.  And I set myself above God’s Word deciding that I was exempt from some things.  I don’t know how God measures pride, but mine was off the charts.  Probably much like Satan’s.  God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6  God Himself opposed me all those years. That is why I didn’t see answers to my prayers, even though I actually was praying for things that were God’s will.  My motives were evil, selfish and prideful.
  • GOSSIP – probably no need to elaborate here.  But this is ugly sin in God’s eyes, too, and it hurts so many people.
  • DISRESPECT OF GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY – I believed I knew better than my parents growing up.  I just knew they needed my wisdom and help to raise my siblings.  I believed I knew better than my teachers.  I believed I knew better than my pastor and Sunday School teachers.  I believed I knew better than my husband.  I did not trust God to lead me through the God-given authority He placed in my life.  I believed I should make my own decisions because no one else was nearly as spiritually mature as I was. I knew it was my place to criticize, condemn and judge those in authority over me if I did not agree with them.  I had a critical spirit.  I put myself in God’s place to judge other people.
  • DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD – I tried to forgive.  I knew I was supposed to.  But I couldn’t.  I held on to resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness.  I believed I was above having to forgive others.  God Himself would forgive – but I didn’t think I should have to.  I disrespected my husband all day every day – unintentionally – but I wounded him deeply, nonetheless.  I had no idea what respect even was – or that it was my husband’s primary need in our marriage – or that there was a whole world of masculine respect I was totally oblivious to.  I didn’t actually honor my husband’s leadership, as God commanded me to.  I tried to force my husband to do what I said.  I tried to control him.
  • SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS – I looked down on my husband as being spiritually inferior to me.  I thought I was so much better than he was.  That is the sin Jesus spent so much time confronting in the Pharisees.  He spent WAY MORE TIME rebuking those prideful, self-righteous religious leaders than He did rebuking lust, adultery, murder or any of those “big sins.”
  • HATRED – I held on to grudges and hatred sometimes for years.  I John 4:19-21 says “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  (brother here means, any fellow human being).  I John 3:15 says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

I was living under the control of the sinful nature. That is why I didn’t have God’s Spirit filling me with His peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That is why I was full of anxiety, worry, fear and stress. Being a controlling person, thinking you HAVE to make everything work out right and that the world depends on every word and action you say and that you are in charge, not God – is STRESSFUL!!!!!!!!!  It is too much weight for a person to bear!  Also, trying to control my marriage and husband was exhausting.  I buckled under the strain.  And I resented my husband because I was carrying all that weight.  It was a very lonely way to live.

I owed Jesus BILLIONS of “sin dollars.”  It turns out that I am a wretched sinner.  I  TOTALLY deserve hell – just as much as any criminal.  I had SO much nasty sin in my heart in the sight of God. That is what I had earned for myself in the sight of the One, true, holy, righteous, just, loving, sovereign God.

I THANK AND PRAISE GOD that He opened my eyes to this truth, so that I could get on my face and humble myself and repent and ask Him to give me a new heart and a new mind.

I cannot appreciate the heinousness of sin until I see the holiness and character of God.

He LOVES us.  We are so utterly evil, yet His love is so unfathomable, that He wouldn’t leave us in our doomed position.  He made a way for us to return to Him.  He made a way for His justice to be satisfied by allowing all of His holy wrath that we deserved to fall on His perfect Son.

He can rescue us from our sinful, wretched state.  He can cause us to be  “born again” into His kingdom.  He is willing to raise us to new life by the power of the blood of Jesus, shed for us.  I can’t earn God’s favor.  I can’t earn heaven.  I can only earn hell.

But, THANK YOU, GOD!!!!!  Jesus paid my debt in full for me.  If I will turn to Him in faith, admitting my sin and guilt, asking for His forgiveness, accepting His death for the payment for my sins – He will forgive me and wipe away all of my sin.

Then I surrender myself to Him as my LORD for the rest of my life.  He is in charge of my life now, not me.  I die to myself-  I give up my wisdom, my ways, my desires, my will, my dreams.  I pick up His wisdom, His ways, His desires, His will and His dreams. He gives me a new heart that longs to obey Him and that loves what He loves and hates what He hates.  All I have is now His.  And all He has is now mine.  HE IS MY LIFE NOW.  HE IS MY GOD.  HE IS ALL I NEED.  If I have Him, I can be full of joy, peace and contentment.  He alone can satisfy.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

You can also check out sermons about having a relationship with Christ, salvation, and many other topics 

www.desiringgod.org by John Piper

www.radical.net by David Platt

RELATED POST:

DYING TO SELF

If you want to talk about finding a real relationship with Christ, finding peace with God, knowing Christ, finding out about how to accept His gift for you – leave me a comment. 🙂

 

Honoring Christ, Our Husbands and Our Marriages in Conflict

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My beautiful and precious sisters in Christ,

You have every right to ask him for what you would like, what you want and what you desire politely, pleasantly and respectfully (probably just once is plenty –  in most cases) of your husband.

Your husband has every right to decide to answer “no” if he thinks it is best – as long as his decision isn’t sinful. He also has the right to decide what his priorities will be, and to hold off on what you have asked him to do if there are more urgent things that he believes he needs to do for his work or the family. You cannot force him to do what you want him to do. Well… you could try. But that would be extremely disrespectful.

I took over a situation myself  – many years ago:

I cleaned up my husband’s tools in the very messy garage one Thanksgiving evening when a heating and air guy couldn’t walk to the furnace in the garage the day before.  The service guy was very unhappy about how messy the garage was and told me to ask my husband to clear a path so he could walk through that Friday when he came back.  I asked my husband – in a very contentious way – to please CLEAN UP THE NASTY, FILTHY GARAGE!  I was SO EMBARRASSED!   I HATE clutter and mess and I could hardly stand to look at his side of the garage.  I wanted to hyperventilate every time I walked past it.  I wanted a garage that looked completely well-swept, spotless, clean, organized – and, well, like a picture from a Lowe’s magazine, of course!

He wouldn’t clean the garage.  He was probably watching a football game that was important to him – which I also didn’t care about whatsoever at the time.  THE MAN WAS COMING THE NEXT MORNING!!!!!!!!!!  THERE WAS NO TIME TO WASTE!  How could my husband just sit there when there was a CRISIS on our hands? (That makes me smile now – to see how upset I was about this – as if it were a life or death situation.)

I was INFURIATED.

So I stormed down to the garage and began throwing away all the trash and tool packages that never got thrown away and had been sitting there for months.  I seethed with resentment against my husband with every move I made. I organized and sorted things and put them in plastic totes and labelled them “paint stuff,” “caulk,” “tools,” “electrical” etc.  And it looked a whole lot better when I was done, too.  I was very proud of myself.  Task accomplished.  Yep!  I had my priorities straight.

Now, the AC/heating man would be happy with me the next day, and I wouldn’t get  criticized or condemned by that man.  (I was a people pleaser back then – particularly with strangers – which is what people pleasers often do.)

My husband eventually realized what I had done and got REALLY upset.  I had intruded on his private territory and messed with all his stuff.  I had put things where he couldn’t find them.  I had thrown away things that he didn’t want to be thrown away.  I had deliberately gone against him and done something he specifically told me NOT to do. (I was unknowingly quite disrespectful and controlling back then, but I normally didn’t blatantly go directly against him like that.)  And I hadn’t even cared one lick that it would upset him.

That is probably one of the most disrespectful things I ever did – because I did it out of spite, KNOWING he told me not to touch anything, but I didn’t care what he wanted. I didn’t want to be embarrassed with the heating and air guy again the next day.  I thought I was SO “right.”  Make the AC dude happy!  That is VERY important, right? Unfortunately, that decision was NOT WISE on my part. I cared more about respecting and pleasing that total stranger than I did about respecting and pleasing my husband or God:( I’m now very ashamed to say.

We as women are often so tuned in to the details in life – that we can get so focused on a little issue and how “right” we are – that we can miss the things that are truly most important in life and in our relationship with God and people if we are not careful.

MY STRATEGY NOW FOR THOSE ISSUES WHERE WE DON’T AGREE:

If the above example happened today, I would smile, casually approach my husband and say, “Oh, Honey, the heating and air guy asked if you would please clear a path in the garage so he can walk to the furnace tomorrow.  Thanks!”

Then I would drop it.  If he didn’t do it – I would wait until my husband  left, and then cleared a small path.  No big deal.  I’m sure that our garage isn’t the only one that is messy.

These days, I have a feeling that my husband would probably gladly clear a path in the garage if I asked him like I have just described.  I get what I want MUCH MORE OFTEN now that my husband knows I respect him and I am not trying to control him.

Here is what I ask myself now.

  • Is it possible that God is nudging him to keep some of these things/ do what he is doing for a reason that I don’t know anything about?  (Check out this post to see an example in real life!)
  • Is it possible that I am hormonal/stressed/exhausted and this issue isn’t actually as important as it feels like it is right now?
  • Am I am putting someone else’s feelings above my husbands?  Is that person a God-given authority in my life? (ie: the government, a pastor, my boss)  Is that person’s authority in my life higher than my husband’s in God’s sight? (like – is my husband asking me to join a cult or do something illegal?  If so, I can resist him.)
  • Is this issue more important than the unity and peace of our marriage?
  • Is this issue more important to me than making sure my husband feels respected and loved?
  • Is this issue big enough and critical enough that I need to jeopardize the unity and intimacy in my marriage about it?
  • Is this issue important enough that it is acceptable for me to wound my husband about it?
  • Is it possible that my husband has a valid perspective that I could consider?
  • Is my husband asking me to sin or condone sin?  Is having a messy garage a sin according to God’s Word?  Ummmm….. I can’t find that verse!!!!
  • Am I holding bitterness and resentment in my heart about this issue?
  • Am I being unforgiving?
  • Am I being selfish to try to force my way?
  • Am I being prideful, thinking I know so much better than my husband or that my way is the only way that is “right”?
  • Am I trying to control him instead of honor his God-given leadership?
  • Is there sin in my heart that God wants me to repent of?  Pride, resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness, selfish ambition, usurping control from my husband are all huge sins in God’s sight.  What if I am actually the one sinning here, NOT my husband????? GASP!
  • Is this issue more important than my intimacy with Christ and my love for Him?  Jesus commands me to respect my husband and to honor His leadership.  Jesus says that if I love Him, I WILL obey His commands.
  • Is this issue more important to me than Jesus  – is it an idol in my heart?  Do I refuse to be content unless I have my way about this issue?

If the issue I am concerned about truly is more important than the unity of my marriage, our marriage covenant, my intimacy with my husband, my husband’s God-given leadership, my obedience to God’s Word or my intimacy with Christ – then it’s time to go for it and fight for what I believe is right no matter what the cost.

But if the issue is not important than those goals and priorities I just listed – then, the issue is not a big deal.  Obeying God, being free of sin, honoring my husband, having oneness in my marriage and oneness of Christ are my priorities now.  That is what I want now that I am totally submitted to Christ!  The little issues just don’t matter that much any more.  I want God’s will, not mine.

If we are not being godly stewards about this issue, MY HUSBAND is the one God will hold accountable, not me. So,  I am off the hook! 

I CANNOT CONTROL MY HUSBAND. BUT I CAN INSPIRE HIM.

My husband is a grown man.  It is his within his rights to decide how organized/messy he wants to keep his tools in the garage. I may not like it. That’s ok. I can share with him my desire for the garage to be organized – in a pleasant tone of voice with a smile and no pressure. Then, it is up to me to graciously accept his decision and learn to be content with the circumstances.

I now realize that by allowing him the freedom to make the choice about how to organize his tools, I am showing him that:

  • I trust him
  • I have faith in him
  • I allow him to make his own choices about his life
  • I honor his leadership and decisions in the family.

By graciously accepting his decision instead of fighting him, I choose:

  • intimacy with Christ
  • unity with Him
  • intimacy with my husband
  • unity with him.
  • I just might be able to witness miracles as God works in my husband’s heart about something as simple as his tools. I got to witness something like that, probably because of a man who didn’t listen to his wife about this kind of thing! Check it out! A Real Life Example of Biblical Respect and Submission

Husbands assume that when we trust them about little things like this issue – that we will trust them about much bigger issues. They also assume that if we don’t trust them about little issues, that we don’t trust them on bigger issues. Our trust, faith, cooperative spirit and joy in Christ even as he makes a decision we don’t like, and willingness to give him room to make his own choices and even to make ‘wrong’ choices in our minds – will help spur him on to become a better leader and more godly man.  AND, God will use it to make us more like Christ and to bring about glory for Himself!  I CANNOT LOSE!!!!!!!!

I pray that we will find our contentment 100% in Christ, not in our circumstances. And I pray that God might work powerfully, even in these little issues, to show how beautiful His design for marriage is and that His Name might be highly exalted.

 

RELATED

The Dirty Garage Epiphany

Love, Honor,Respect and Submission Are Gifts

939233_84038141 The passages about marriage in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, I Corinthians 11:3, I Peter 3 and Titus 2 all give God’s commands for husbands and wives in marriage.

Before we dive in, let’s begin with the understanding that God made men and women with equal value – both are “image bearers of God” in Genesis 2.  We have equal worth and dignity as human beings, made in God’s image.  And in Christ we are all equal (Galatians 3:28).

I think it is interesting to note that each spouse is given direct commands by God that are without condition.

  There are no exceptions to the commands for either husbands or wives (with the one caveat for wives that they submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord” – so I understand this to mean that if a husband asks his wife to directly violate God’s Word, God’s authority and the authority of His Word trumps the husband’s authority.  For example, if a husband tells his wife to steal,  have an abortion, lie on the taxes, get drunk, do drugs, put something/someone above God in her heart, go to a strip club with him, have a threesome, etc…. it is a wife’s duty and responsibility before God to respectfully and firmly refuse to cooperate with such sin.)

God commands wives to submit to their husbands – which means, to honor their husband’s God-given authority. (Just like God commands all believers to submit to the government, bosses and church leaders – unless the authority is asking us to sin.   The apostles told the Pharisees “We must obey God rather than men” when the leaders told them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus in Acts. In God’s command for wives to honor their husband’s leadership, there is no “IF.”  As in, “If your husband:

  •  is a good leader”
  • has prayer with you every day”
  • leads family devotions”
  • goes to the church you prefer”
  • does things your way”
  • makes more money than you”
  • has a job”
  • deserves to lead the family in your estimation”

God commands wives to respect their husbands. Again, there is no “IF your husband is:

  • honoring God”
  • loving you the way you want to be loved”
  • making a certain amount of money
  • has a job”
  • is a Christian”
  • is the kind of father you want him to be”
  • deserves to be respected in your opinion”

God does not command us to respect sin.  And He does not command us to cooperate with sin, addictions, infidelity, physical abuse, etc.  If there are MAJOR problems like this in your marriage, that goes way beyond the scope of this blog, please find godly, mature, wise, experienced counsel. If you or your children are not safe, please get help ASAP!

God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her.  He also commands husbands not to be harsh with their wives, but to be tender with them.  He commands husbands to honor their wives as the weaker vessel and co-heirs with them in Christ.  There is no qualifier that the wife must do something in order for her husband to obey God or that the wife must earn her husband’s love.

The way a husband treats his wife is an indicator of the depth of his love, respect and reverence for God. A husband’s love for his wife is gift to her that springs from his love, obedience and reverence for Christ. A wife cannot force her husband to obey God and to love her as Christ loves her.  It is a gift he gives willingly because He loves and honors Jesus, so he loves and honors his wife.

A wife’s respect and biblical submission towards her husband are gifts that a wife gives freely to her husband out of her love, obedience and reverence for Christ, as well.   There is no qualifier that a husband must do something first before the wife obeys God or that the husband must earn his wife’s respect.  A husband cannot force his wife to respect him and submit to him.  

Jesus gives us free will.  He does not force us to obey Him.  He loves us and demonstrates His great love for us.  He invites us to come to Him.  He wants us to love, reverence and obey Him freely – not because we are forced to.

The way a wife treats her husband is an indicator of the depth of her love, respect and reverence for  God.

GOD’S COMMANDS TO HUSBANDS AND WIVES IN MARRIAGE ARE DIRECTED AT THEM INDIVIDUALLY

  • God does not say, “Husbands, make sure your wives submit to you and respect you.”
  • And He does not say, “Wives, force your husbands to love you and have a humble, servant’s heart towards you.”
  • Wives are responsible for their own obedience to God’s commands for them to respect and submit to their husbands.
  • Husbands are responsible for their own obedience to God’s commands for them to love, be gentle, not be harsh, be humble and give selflessly to their wives.

TRYING TO CONTROL OTHERS IS SELFISH, PRIDEFUL AND SINFUL – IT DOES NOT HONOR GOD OR OTHERS.  BEING CONTROLLING IS NOT LOVING.

When I as a wife tried to control my husband and make him do what I wanted to – I was attempting to violate the free will that God gave my husband.  I also repelled him and made him not want to be with me!  If a husband tries to control his wife and force her to do what he wants her to do – that violates a wife’s free will.  It will repel her, too.

What I am doing when I am being controlling is I am idolizing MYSELF.  I am putting myself in the place of God in my life and I expect my spouse and other people to obey me and submit to me as if I were God.  This mindset is built on HUGE pride, selfishness and a lack of trust in God.  I am saying I trust myself, not God.  I am attempting to take some or all of God’s sovereignty on myself.  It is sin for me to set myself up as god in my own heart.  It is sin for me to try to demand that others put me above God in their hearts, too.  It would be sin for others to cooperate with my demands.

It is ok for me to say, “I feel unloved.”  “What you said/did hurt me.” “I feel disrespected.” “Please don’t treat me like this.”  “Please don’t talk to me that way.”  But I cannot try to make someone do what I want them to do.

JESUS KIND OF LOVE

The love Jesus has for us is unconditional.  When we love as Jesus does, we have healthy boundaries.

  • We don’t try to force or coerce anyone to obey/submit to us or love us.
  • We don’t try to manipulate others with guilt, martyrdom, bribery, sabotage.
  • We don’t try to control people by being people pleasers thinking “If I am nice enough, he/she will HAVE to do what I want.”
  • We don’t try to change people ourselves thinking, “If I obey God, then God has to give me what I want, or then my husband has to change to be what I want him to be.”
  • We realize we are responsible for our thoughts, our behavior, our attitudes, our sin, our actions, our emotions, our spiritual development and our relationship with Christ.  And other people are responsible for their own lives.
  • We trust the sovereignty of God to work for our good and His glory instead of trusting self.
  • We love others because Jesus loves us.
  • We forgive others and have grace for them because Jesus forgave us and lavished us with grace
  • We repay evil with good

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS NOT

  • slavery
  • destroying a woman’s personhood
  • forced upon a woman
  • a woman having no opinions, no voice, no influence in the marriage and family

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS

  • given freely by a wife
  • part of the path to God’s peace and freedom
  • much less stressful for wives than trying to have control themselves
  • the beginning of finding God’s joy
  • totally counterintuitive to women and completely counter-cultural
  • one of the greatest tests of a woman’s faith in Christ – to believe that HE is sovereign “enough” to be able to lead her through her sinful husband
  • part of becoming a godly woman – a big part of having a gentle and peaceful spirit that does not give way to hysterical fear.
  • when a wife is free to share her perspective, her feelings, her desires, her concerns and ideas respectfully and her husband takes her opinions and desires into very careful consideration, seeking God’s will far above his own.
  • how a wife can rest in the sovereignty of God, knowing that even if her husband does make mistakes, God can and will use that for his good and her good ultimately – to make them more like Christ – and that God will use it for His glory in ways she can’t begin to understand at the time.

The KEY!

The key to all of this – is that when I am in an intimate relationship with Christ – when I have fully surrendered myself to Him and desire Him and find my life in Him alone – then obedience to God’s commands is a joy and delight.  When I am empowered by God’s Spirit to obey Him, His Words and commands bring LIFE, joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment, freedom for me – and then my life also brings great glory to God.  That is what this is all about ultimately!

My purpose in life is to exalt the Name of Christ and to shine for Him, sharing Him with the world, loving others simply out of the overflow of my supreme love and abandonment to Jesus.

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

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Idolatry is not something we think much about in our modern day, Western culture.  I grew up in church, reading the Bible, knowing how offensive idolatry was to God – feeling super smug and secure because I didn’t commit sins like THAT!  What could possibly be tempting about bowing down to a statue and serving it and praying to it as if it could hear or help me one iota?

Yep.

I was SO thankful I wasn’t a big sinner like THOSE people.

Then, 4 years ago or so, God opened my eyes to the idolatry, pride, rebellion, unforgiveness and sin in my life.

WOW.

Turns out, I was committing idolatry every waking moment of every single day since I was little.  I just didn’t know it.

WHAT IS AN IDOL?

  • anything that we cherish more than Christ in our hearts.
  • anything that we believe we MUST HAVE to be happy – that isn’t Christ.
  • something other than God that I use to get my identity from – or the thing/person/concept from which I try to find my fulfillment.
  • something I spend a great deal of time investing in, focusing on, relying on and putting all my trust in – that is not Christ.
  • something I am willing to give up my family or relationships for, maybe I am willing to spend almost any amount of money to serve that person/thing/idea.  I will serve my idol no matter what it costs me.
  • I will try to find my contentment in my idol.  But it will never satisfy – I am always left empty, broken and wanting more.
  • it is often the opposite of what I fear most.

IDOLATRY IS HUGE SIN!

God will never allow me to find contentment in an idol.

He will only allow me to find contentment in Christ Jesus.

Idolatry is breaking the first commandment in Exodus 20 “You shall have no other gods before me” as well as the greatest command Jesus talks about “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

To Him, it is me breaking my covenant with Him – like I am committing adultery against Him by serving/worshipping/putting my faith in these other things.  God alone deserves my worship, praise, adoration, giving, devotion and sacrifice.  He will not share His glory with another.

As Wes Church, one of our ministers, says, “The human heart is an idol factory.”  We have to CONSTANTLY guard our hearts against putting things above God.  I must always check my true motives throughout every day!   And I will have to continue to do that for the rest of my life! We can make almost anything – even good things, even things that are gifts from God  – into idols.

HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MAKE MY HUSBAND INTO AN IDOL?  THAT SOUNDS LUDICROUS, RIGHT?!

There are so many ways!  And sadly, we almost NEVER realize what we are doing.  If I miss a way, please let me know!  Some of these things are difficult to separate out.  It is very possible to have more than one idol at a time.  I would say I had myself, being in control, feeling loved and my husband as idols – among many other things at various times.

1.  I EXPECT HIM TO BE CHRIST TO ME – 

In this case, I don’t just expect my husband to represent Christ and portray a picture of Christ in our marriage to me (as described in Ephesians 5:22-33) but to actually BE Christ.  I put all my trust and hope in my husband instead of Jesus Christ.  I am continually disappointed, depressed and upset with my husband because “he is not meeting all my needs properly” – meaning – he is not being who and what I want him to be so that I have what I want in my life.   I am insatiable.  I am a pit of neediness.  No matter what my husband does, it is not enough.  I want more. I am angry at him all the time.  He can never measure up to my standards.  He never feels like he can be “good enough” for me.  And he truly can’t.  I want perfection at a minimum, and my sinful husband definitely can’t deliver.

2. I EXPECT TO FEEL LOVED BY HIM ALL THE TIME –  This idolatry involves my husband because I expect him to be the one making me feel loved.  But I could argue that it is my feeling of being loved that might be the actual idol here.  I don’t take responsibility for my own emotions and my own spiritual development and growth.  I make my husband 100% responsible for my feelings.  This is dysfunctional.  Healthy boundaries say I am responsible for my feelings, my husband is responsible for his feelings.  Mature love says, “I will obey God about how to treat my husband even though I don’t ‘feel loved’ right now.”  Obedience to God’s Word comes first, feelings may come later.  But whether I feel loved or not at the moment, I am still responsible to obey God’s Word for me as a wife in how I treat my husband, God and others.

3. I EXPECT HIM TO NEVER SIN AGAINST ME –  If  my husband ever stumbles or hurts me or falls into temptation – that is unacceptable when I idolize my husband in this way.  I have zero grace or mercy for him.  He must be perfect.  Many wives actually expect husbands to be completely perfect and sinless even in their thoughts 24/7.

It’s ok for me to sin and he better forgive me.  I think my sins aren’t as bad as his are.  If he sins, I look down on him because  I believe I am morally superior to him. I think, “I would NEVER sin the way he does.” Then I indulge in self-righteousness – thinking I am so much better than my husband.  I don’t see my own sin clearly.  I am too busy pointing at my husband’s sins or trying to control him to prevent him from sinning to notice that I have a mountain of my own sin God wants me to look at and repent of.

The truth is – we are ALL wretched sinners.  Marriage exposes our sin – and gives us the chance to see how much we need the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.  It also gives us plenty of opportunities to learn to forgive and show mercy and grace to our spouse!

4. I EXPECT HIM TO BE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS –  If I am not happy, it is his fault.  He better fix it.  This is similar to #2.  Spiritually and emotionally whole people recognize that we are each responsible for our own happiness, our own relationship with Christ, our own feelings, our own needs, our own desires, our own sin and our own obedience to Christ.  If I stick my husband with “making me happy” – we are both doomed to misery!  He can’t make me happy.  I am the only one who can find joy for myself – and it is only found in Christ!  I must put Christ first, then I will have joy no matter what my husband does or does not do.

5. I DECIDE I MUST HAVE HIM TO BE HAPPY – If my husband leaves me – I think my life will be over.  I am not content in Christ alone.  I HAVE to have my husband with me.  If he sins against me, or wants a divorce, I will do anything to keep him, even if I have to sin to try to make him stay.  

I tell God that my husband cannot die before me.  I freak out if he is late a few minutes, worrying to death that he is dead.  I decide that if my husband dies, I will not trust God anymore.   My love for God is conditional upon my husband loving me, being with me and being alive.

6. HE MAY TRY TO MAKE ME PUT HIM AS AN IDOL IN MY HEART  

Sometimes, it is not the wife who is controlling, but the husband.  It is entirely possible that some husbands may expect their wives to go way beyond respect and biblical submission to literally idolize them.

God DOES give our husbands to us as God-given authorities to provide for us, protect us, lead us, guide us, love us with humility and grace, to demonstrate the selfless and sacrificial love of Christ to us and to represent Christ to us.

There is a VERY big difference between a husband seeking to represent Christ to his wife and a husband trying to replace Christ or BE Christ in his wife’s life.

Godly leadership is described in detail in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 – this is how men are to lead in a Christlike way in the church and also in their families.  The way Christ loves us is described in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-26.

Christ is the only mediator between us and God.   We as women have total access to Jesus and to God through the blood of Jesus, just as men do.  Galatians 3:28  We are all of equal value as image bearers of God at the foot of the cross.

 

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