Friday, April 29, 2016

Proverbs For Husbands

Pro 21:9  It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

We are reading through Proverbs in Sunday school and we came upon this verse.  There are actually several verses like this one including one in the same chapter, Pro 21:19  It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.  The question was asked why there are so many verses about this and why is it always about the contentious wife and not the husband.  They are questions that are worth considering. 

On the surface the easy answer is that this book is written from a father to his son and so naturally it would be from the man or husband’s point of view.  I think that if we look at it from the man’s point of view but also from a biblical and New Testament perspective we can make a good application. 

I think men typically either read a verse like this as a funny truism and then move on to the next verse or immediately think of a nagging wife and tend to apply it to wives by telling them they shouldn’t be contentious but submissive instead.  We tell them that if you submit to your man the home will be one of peace.  Now there is certainly some truth to that but that application directs these verses to the woman and not to the man.  And so the verses become mostly just truisms about what a home is like if the wife is a nag but they hardly find application in a man who wants to be wise in the Lord.

As I said earlier, this book is written to instruct a son and while there are great applications for men, women and children in this book yet I began to think about what would be the wisest and most profitable way for a young man looking for a wife or a husband who finds himself in this situation to apply it to himself.

There are at least two ways we can approach this.  We can quote it to our wives when we feel they are being quarrelsome or nagging, etc.  We can use it then to try and keep our wives sweet and submissive or we can consider how to apply it to ourselves as husbands.  Perhaps a similar verse will help, Pro 17:1  Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.  Here the point is the same but it doesn’t blame either the man or his wife for the problem.  It is simply saying that a home of peace is a much more enjoyable place to live than one in which there is strife.

I think a better application of these verses then is for a man not to use them to try and get his wife to submit but to look at why there is contention in the home to begin with.  Since the husband is to be the head of the home then we should always look at our leadership with suspicion when there is strife.  Why is my wife contentious, why is she not happy, why is she nagging me, etc.?  In fact, a better way to ask that question might be what is there about living with me that is making her unhappy. 

Yes, it is miserable to live with a contentious wife but it is equally miserable to live with a know-it-all, abusive, “I am king of my domain” husband.  So it might be best for the husband to read these verses and think to himself that since it is miserable to live with such a woman I need to make sure that I am the kind of guy that brings out the best in my wife and not one that is unbearable to live with.  In this way these verses become a directive for husbands to consider how they lead rather than just something to use against our wives.

A young man looking for a wife would do well to keep this verse in mind and look for a woman with a sweet, godly, submissive attitude because if he just looks on the outward he might very well end up with a miserable home.  And this applies both ways.  How many girls have gotten caught up in a guy’s looks, money or “manly” take charge attitude only to find out that he is just mean or so caught up in himself that it is impossible to have much of a relationship. 

There is a lot in the verses to think about but I hope we men use them to consider the atmosphere we encourage in the home and not use them to beat our wives over the head with.  Otherwise they just become almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in which we make her miserable and she returns the favor.  And of course, we could just go to the Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and Eph 5:28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Eph 5:29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.  The application is the same.  If we love her like we want to be loved, she will be happy and the home will be at peace.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Knowing the Word Helps Us Pray

Gen 18:17  The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, Gen 18:20  Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, Gen 18:21  I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know." Gen 18:22  So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
Gen 18:23  Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

Here is a well-known passage where Abraham intercedes on the behalf of the righteous in Sodom before the city is destroyed for their sin.  In going through the passage this time I was impressed with what spurred Abraham to pray.  It was knowledge and specifically the knowledge of what God was going to do.  Instead of knowing that God was sovereign and all his will would be accomplished and figuring that it didn’t really matter what he did because God’s will couldn’t be stopped; the very opposite happened.

We aren’t told if the Lord told Abraham that he was going to destroy Sodom or if Abraham just assumed as much but either way what caused Abraham to intercede was knowing that God is a God who judges sin but also that he was a God who loved his people and showed mercy.  I was struck at the Lord’s words, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do”.  It is as if he was deliberately inviting Abraham to get involved with prayer.  The knowledge of God isn’t just so we can be amazed and then use it as an excuse to not get involved in his work.  Because we know how he works we should know how to pray and that he expects us to pray.

There are examples of how the knowledge of God directs our lives in the NT.  Rom_2:4  Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  Rom_5:3  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.  1Co_15:58  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  In fact, just looking up the word “knowing” in the Bible shows how often we are told to use the knowledge found in the Bible to direct our thinking and actions.  But the one that I was specifically thinking of was 2Co_5:11  Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

I can imagine Abraham’s first thought was of his nephew Lot and his family who resided in Sodom.  What drove him to pray was knowing what God will do to unrepentant sinners and he didn’t want his loved ones to be caught up in it.  So he prays for their physical safety. 

And so this helps us understand how we are to pray and why.  We are told to pray for our civic leaders in 1 Tim. 2 not so they can have a good life and blessed by God so they can go on serving sin but that under their leadership God’s people can continue to serve the Lord without harassment and so the gospel can go forth unabated.  We pray for our unsaved loved ones because we know that there is a day of reckoning for all people.  The Lord invites us to be part of his work in redeeming souls by praying for things that would aid to that end.

We are never told that there is nothing we can do except sit back and just accept whatever God’s secret counsels are.  I am thankful that nothing can stop his will and that he is more powerful than my enemies but he didn’t make us to be cold fatalists, instead we are to care about others and about the Lord’s work and pray for needs and pray that God’s providence will bring about the salvation of the lost. 

The second great commandment is that we love our neighbors as ourselves.  If we have no burden for them that moves us to pray for them and to put feet to our prayers and speak to them when possible then we must ask ourselves how much we really love them.  The great doctrines of the sovereignty of God are probably the most fundamental and important in all of Scripture but they are there to spur us to depend and trust on the Lord and to pray fervently for him to be who he is a God who will exercise vengeance on our enemies but also a God who can save both our enemies and our friends.  It is because all power rests in him and he is perfectly wise and good and trustworthy that he is the only one we can pray to who can answer our prayers. 

The more we know the Word, the better we know our God and the more accurately we can bring our petitions to him and be used in his Work.  It is an amazing doctrine that God uses his people’s prayers as a way for his will to be done.  He doesn’t depend on them but he uses them.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Expressing Love

Psa 119:162  I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
Psa 119:163  I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
Psa 119:164  Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psa 119:165  Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Psa 119:166  I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.
Psa 119:167  My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.

There is a principle that is found in every human being and it doesn’t stop when someone is converted.  It is that we have a great interest in what we love.  I guess that is a redundancy because to love something is to have a keen interest in it.  It might be more to the point to say that when someone doesn’t have an interest in something then that proves he doesn’t love the object. 

The things we love, we love to read about and study and get better acquainted with.  If you tell me you love flower gardening and I ask you to tell me about it and you say that you don’t really know much about it or I ask you to show me your flower beds and you say that you don’t have any, then I am going to conclude you don’t really love gardening. 

Now a Christian by definition loves his Savior.  I won’t try to expand on that and I shouldn’t have to.  And to love Jesus necessitates loving his Body and his Word.  So it is disheartening when someone who claims to be a saint seems to never spend time with those three entities.  What would we say to a man who had a fiancĂ©e but always seemed to forget to spend time with her and just didn’t seem all that interested in her? 

When Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commandments I don’t think we necessarily need to read that as if he is commanding us to keep his commandments; he is making a similar point.  To love someone is to be consumed with him or her to some extent and since Jesus is the most glorious person, we should be most consumed with him.  If we have a keen interest in the Lord of glory who happens to also be our creator God then keeping his commandments is just a natural thing to do.  You enjoy pleasing the one that you love. 

With all of our remaining sin, we clearly struggle expressing our love for the Lord as he is due.  But a true saint struggles with this expression he doesn’t just ignore Christ, nor his church, nor his Word.  Those three might be the trifecta of Christian pursuits.  Now that is just a thought that came to me and there might be some more to add to the list but they are right up there and in a sense cannot be separated.  You can’t ignore any one or two of the three without doing harm to all.  If fact I am rather sure I have never met anyone who is unfaithful in one who isn’t also unfaithful in the other two. 

Of course, the problem is that we constantly meet people who claim to love Jesus but hate the hypocrites in the church or are too busy to spend time under the preaching of God’s Word.  But it all goes back to the flower gardener.  If we love Jesus we will find the time and energy and money to pursue him as the great love of our life. 

And along with this we can say that we have no problem sacrificing for what we truly love.   I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t spend time and money on things they don’t need but that they love enough to spend hard earned cash for or to give up time with other things they like so they can be with what they love as much or more.  That is one reason why I have never had any problem having three services a week; because I love the Lord, I love his Word and I love his people; 2Sa 24:24  But the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  Jesus is too wonderful to be casual with.

I am fully aware that my love for the Lord is weak compared to so many Christians but it never occurs to me not to be at church when the doors are opened.  That is where Jesus speaks and that is where those that love him are found.  It reminds me of Peter’s wonderful words when Jesus asked his disciples if they would abandon him as the crowds had just done, Joh 6:68  Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are We Husbands Good Conductors?

Gal_3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  
Eph 5:22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  
Eph 5:24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 
Eph 5:28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  

I came across what I thought was a good illustration of how a husband and wife should relate to each other when it comes to headship and submission.  As is always the case when studying the Bible, we must be familiar with every place a subject is mentioned and not use one passage to develop our entire understanding of any subject.  Too often men have keyed in on verse 24 where wives are told to submit in everything and used that to excuse their unloving behavior and to push the idea that their wives are never to argue or disobey them but that they are there for the man and that is the end of the matter.   

The Bible says that wives have other authorities that they are also to submit to as well such as Christ himself, the church, civil government, etc.  These are not in competition, of course, but are to work together for the good of all.  This is also true of men who must submit to the same entities.  As soon as we husbands see our wives  as our property or at least here for our needs and pleasures, we can be sure we are going to have not only marital problems but spiritual ones.  The illustration I read I think helps show how this relationship is supposed to work. 

In an orchestra the conductor is the leader and the musicians follow his lead.  They are equal in value as human beings but there is an order of authority that produces music rather than noise.  Submission to authority doesn't make the musician less of a person or of less value but it does make him a better musician. God has ordained the marriage in such a way as to make both the husband and wife all that they can be as human beings and especially as useful servants of the Lord.  Order is essential in any type of organization for effectiveness.  This is true in the church where God tell us that all things are to be done decently and in order because God is not the author of confusion.  A man is made to lead and a woman is made to follow that lead and their relationship will be best when we obey the Bible in this.  This doesn't mean that all men lead as well as others and that many women aren't capable of being good leaders but we are speaking about a marriage relationship. 

My main point in this illustration is for us husbands.  God has given you a wife, not a slave.  Yes, she is a suitable helper to us in life but that doesn't mean that we don't have responsibilities towards her as well. If we are to care for her as we do our own bodies then it is our responsibility and privilege to make her everything she can be as a wife, mother and woman.   It is interesting and telling that many men think their wives are there to help them become great at what he does but he could care less that she becomes everything she can be. 

Her value isn't just in how well she takes care of you but also in how well she serves the Lord, his people and society in general.  The "music" she plays isn't just all about the husband but for the Lord and others to benefit from as well.  If we husbands are properly loving our wives then it is our duty to help her develop her talents and to grow spiritually and to be a blessing to all.  While her primary duties center on the home that doesn't mean that there aren't many avenues for her to serve the Lord, any more than husbands are to only be concerned for work and ignore everything else.   

It is not unusual for a man to be consumed with his job or some hobby as if nothing else is as important. He will spend any amount of time and energy on his career at the expense of his marriage and family and the church and his spiritual life.  What is even sadder is that because his job is his god, he expects his wife to love it just as much as he does and doesn't understand that she might put Christ ahead of work, hobbies and if need be even ahead of him when push comes to shove.  He doesn't have time for the Lord and doesn't see why it is a priority for her above all else. 

wife is given to us to help us serve the Lord, not to help us serve ourselves.  Our leadership is to help her thrive as a human being in service to God, not to be consumed with us and nothing else.  She is not less than us in value and capabilities; she is different than us in position of authority.  But our authority is not her final authority.  We have been given authority in order to make her and our family people who honor the Lord above all else.  It is a tall order while we both are still sinners. May God give us the grace to love as we have been loved. 

For us husbands to do this in a godly way we must love the Lord above all else.  Otherwise we are like a conductor with the wrong music.  We are trying to get the musicians to play an entirely different work and so there is confusion and frustration because we are not on the same page.  If we are living for ourselves and our wives are living for the Lord there will be conflict.