Catechism Question 13

November 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 5 Comments
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Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Prove it.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20

God’s overwhelming holiness is too great for sinful human beings to look upon His unveiled presence without being supernaturally strengthened. This will be one of the great benefits and blessings for Christians in Heaven. We shall be able to gaze upon our Lord in our glorified state without fear.

Other verses to consider:

God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I Corinthians 13:12

The Right Kind of Rejoicing in Marriage

October 5, 2012 at 9:58 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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Charity…

…[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

I Corinthians 13:6

Charity is agape love. It is “Christian” love. Within the context of marriage it is self-sacrificing love, active love, love-in-motion, Christ-like love. It is a decision to treat your spouse right, even when you do not feel right about your spouse. It is a giving of yourself for your spouse with two main goals in view:

1. That your spouse receives grace and mercy.
2. That your spouse is directed more toward righteousness (toward conformity to Christ).

There is a meeting point where grace and mercy intersect with righteousness, so that loyalty between spouses is “true” loyalty: a looking-out for the greater good. The greater good is, first of all, the good of Christ, Who is illustrated and advertised by Christian marriage. Second, it is the good of the other spouse, who can not be allowed to rejoice in iniquity.

There are two different words for “rejoiceth” in I Corinthians 13:6. Chairo is singular rejoicing. It is focused on the joy that the one who rejoices receives from an event. Sygchairo (pronounced “SOOG – high-ro”) is the second “rejoiceth,” and it is focused on rejoicing together. Sygchairo is the kind of joy that grabs all the people around you – or whoever is available – and is expected to be contagious.

In I Corinthians 13:5 we saw that love in marriage is supposed to be merciful. It doesn’t assume evil. Now we see that when it is disappointed and finds evil anyway, it does not rejoice. It does not even secretly rejoice (rejoice alone) with the satisfaction of being proven “right.”

In marriage we should never be happy about iniquity. Our own iniquity and any iniquity on the part of our spouse ought to be detested and dealt with lovingly but seriously. Therefore, rejoicing alone in marriage is a potentially dangerous thing. A warning sign should pop up when there is something you rejoice over without a desire to share it with your spouse. And a double warning sign should appear if your rejoicing over something is dependent upon your spouse not rejoicing over it together with you. If these things occur, the thing you are rejoicing over is almost certainly iniquity.

This might seem elementary, because we would obviously expect that if Christian love in marriage does not rejoice in iniquity, it must rejoice instead in righteousness or at least goodness of some sort. But that is not what I Corinthians 13:6 says. It says true Christian love rejoices in the truth. It rejoices together in the truth because the truth is not being hidden. It rejoices in authenticity or genuineness. And since “the truth” is just that – actual objective reality – both spouses can experience it and enjoy it.

“Honey, I had a great day today [leaving out the detail that I won $800 at the casino].” That’s not real love because one person is rejoicing in iniquity.

“Honey, I love you and I don’t want to assume the worst, but someone told me they saw you at the casino today.” That’s not rejoicing yet, but if it results in the truth coming out and forgiven sin and a turning to more truth, then it will be rejoicing together.

God loves truth. As married couples we are supposed to be a picture of Christ and His love for the Church. Christ’s love is not a pampering love. It is a perfecting love. It is not interested in iniquity or falsehoods. It is interested in real genuine authentic sanctification (in which, by the way, there is real joy).

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:5

This verse is about the Church, but apply it to marriage. My spouse and I, as a married couple, being one flesh, are members one of another.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

Love is not hypocritical – it’s not hiding and pretending and covering up. That’s what sin did in Eden – it cost the man and his wife their “unashamedness” – their freedom to be uncovered with each other. God tells us to abhor iniquity. Don’t rejoice in it. Rejoice in truth, and rejoice in the Truth. Jesus is Truth personified. Our marriages can’t be about rejoicing in iniquity and rejoicing in Christ at the same time.

A C.A.L.M. and Merciful Marriage

September 24, 2012 at 9:23 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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A “C.A.L.M.” marriage is a marriage where the spouses are:

C.ourteous
A.ccomodating
L.ongsuffering
M.erciful

Christian love in marriage…

…[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

In other words, true Christian love tends to think the best of the other person. It is not “censorious.” It makes charitable judgments. It assumes the best, not the worst, about your spouse. In a word, it’s “merciful.”

Even if you have a spouse as wonderful as mine, there are times – believe it or not – when your spouse will be wrong. There will be other times, though, when your spouse might be wrong.

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 18:13

If I assume the worst about my spouse, I am being foolish (the Bible kind of “foolish,” which is the dangerous and deadly kind) and setting myself up for shame. I must learn not to think evil of my spouse just because something appears evil. Instead, when something looks amiss, I must learn to talk about it with her – courteously, accommodatingly, with a view toward mercy: “calmly.”

However, I also need to address the situation where something evil has actually taken place. Should I not think evil then? No! I must not be quick to judge the motives of my spouse. What did Jesus say when they were crucifying Him? Did He say, “Father, keep track of these who are driving the nails so that later on You can punish them more severely?” No, He said, “Father, forgive them.” Why? Because they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Try your best to make charitable judgments about your spouse’s motives. Consider extenuating circumstances. Consider ameliorating (not necessarily exonerating) factors and exacerbating factors. In marriage we are to be merciful, and look for factors that excuse, not factors that further incriminate.

You will be injured in some way in your marriage. When that happens you need to be prepared to be C.A.L.M. (courteous, accommodating, longsuffering, and eagerly looking forward to extending mercy). If you are truly a Christian, then you realize that, if anybody has been treated mercifully, it is you. Would you greedily receive Christ’s mercy while refusing to extend it your spouse?

A C.A.L.M. and Longsuffering Marriage

September 7, 2012 at 9:34 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Calm marriages are full of:

C.ourtesy
A.ccomodation
and
L.ongsuffering

Christian love in marriage…

…[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

I discussed this before when I wrote about I Corinthians 13:4 (“charity suffereth long…”), but here the Bible is focused on the problem of anger. Christian love in marriage is not short-tempered. Have you blown your cool and yelled at your spouse when you didn’t really mean it? How about when you really did mean it? The common excuse we give ourselves for this behavior is that, “I can’t help it, I’m just temperamental.” The problem is, most of us are “temperamental,” but we’re 90% “temper” and only about 10% “mental.” The other typical excuse for an outburst of anger is that, “When I lose my cool, it’s righteous indignation, but when my spouse loses her cool, she’s full of the devil.” The Bible does not accept these excuses.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Ephesians 4:26

This verse does not mean that, once we get angry, we should never let the “day of our anger” end (“do not let the sun go down…”). The most common application of this verse is that spouses should never “go to bed angry,” but even that is not the primary interpretation. What this verse is really telling us is that we need to do a serious analysis of why our anger is causing us to sin. We all have our little “idiosyncrasies” and “hot button issues.” Our challenge as Christian spouses is to identify these areas in each other and try to avoid unnecessarily pressing them, while at the same time bringing our own weaknesses before the Lord and our spouses, and working together to identify why these triggers are there, so they can be ultimately defused.

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating
L.ongsuffering

M.erciful

A C.A.L.M. and Accommodating Marriage

August 15, 2012 at 9:37 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 5 Comments
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Christian love in marriage…

…[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

Spouses should be be:

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating

We all have a tendency to “seek our own.”

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Ephesians 5:29

What is the longest period of time in your life you have you gone without sleeping? What about without eating? It is built into our nature as human beings to take care of ourselves. Self-preservation is a gift from God, but our sinfulness so often warps this useful gift into something perverted. How often do we meditate on our marriages as vehicles for our own self-interest?

-What would make this marriage better for me?
-What would make my spouse a better spouse – for me?
-I don’t mind doing something for my spouse, as long as it’s not too bad for me, too – or as long as I get something in return.

The Bible is very up-front about our selfishness: We are not naturally accommodating to others.

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21

The remedy for this is accommodating your spouse – but not, as we may suppose, by making the accommodation for your spouse’s sake. The remedy is making an accommodation based on what’s best from Christ’s point of view. It is the Gospel that truly teaches us to be accommodating, and the by-product is having a calm, peaceful marriage. When neither spouse is seeking his/her own and when both spouses are seeking what’s best for the other, then the Spirit of Christ rules and brings freedom. We don’t fully realize just how freeing selflessness is until we give up our own “rights.” After all, do most of the things we call “rights” really qualify for that designation? Does the Bible give you the “right” to a hot meal? To a “clean house?” To a husband who makes as much money as your friend’s husband? To a wife who is as thin or as voluptuous or whatever as your friend’s wife? Oh the joy – the freedom – we experience when begin to give up our “rights” and tell our spouses, “You go first;” “I’ll let you decide;” “We’ll do what you want to do.”

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating
L.ongsuffering
M.erciful

A C.A.L.M. and Courteous Marriage

July 25, 2012 at 6:47 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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Ideally, married couples should have a relationship that is both passionate and peaceful. No one wants to live in war zone – and that includes a “cold war” zone. So it is important that our marriages be C.A.L.M.

Christian love in marriage…

[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

“Doth not behave itself unseemly” means that it is not rude. The opposite of being unseemly or rude is being polite or…

C.ourteous

Being courteous does not have to do with how you “feel.” Note that the verse says that Christian love does not “behave” itself unseemly. In public, most of us are conditioned to thinking one thing and doing another, at least much of the time. At home we tend to let our guard down. This results in the tragic consequence that we are often more polite to strangers than to our own spouses. You may have heard the joke about the wife who came back from her honeymoon and called her mother on the phone in a state of great distress. “Mom!” she wailed, “You won’t believe the way Bill has been talking to me ever since we came back home. He was as sweet as could be while we were traveling and relaxing, but now he has started using all these four-letter words!”

Her mother was shocked. “Honey,” she said, “that doesn’t sound like Bill at all! I don’t want to embarrass you, but can you give me some idea of the types of four-letter words he is using?”

“Okay, Mom,” said the new wife, “here goes, but brace yourself … He’s saying things like ‘cook’ and ‘dust’ and ‘iron’ and ‘wash.'”

That’s a silly joke, but the truth is there are serious and potentially controversial things that have to be discussed and worked out in a marriage. They are more serious than asking your waiter for the check “please.” But there is nothing so serious that it can’t be discussed with courtesy.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:33-34

“Good manners” might sound like the kind of thing that is not super-spiritual, but apparently “good manners” are extremely important to God since they are directly contrasted with the type of communication that God calls “evil.” The Bible tells us to “awake” to righteousness, so we really have to shake ourselves if we are going to remember to be courteous to the people with whom we are the most familiar (the most obvious of whom is your spouse.) They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and familiarity breeds contempt, and there is an element of truth to these proverbs, but, as Christians, we are to be yielded to the Holy Spirit, not to the “common sense wisdom” of the world around us. Courtesy is the first step in having a “calm” marriage, and, if you ask anyone who has had a tension-filled, drama-filled, or contention-filled marriage, they will tell you that you are definitely better off with a calm, peaceful marriage. We want passion in marriage, but we want it to be a loving mutual passion. If I could be a little blunt for moment, what we want is passion in the heart and passion in the loins – not passion upside the head.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating
L.ongsuffering
M.erciful

More Testing for Puffiness in Your Marriage

July 11, 2012 at 9:57 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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Last time we looked at some tests to see if you are vaunting yourself or puffing yourself up in your marriage.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

Here is the second half of the ten tests:

Test Six: Do you insist on your spouse taking your side in every outside conflict?

Sometimes even the most prideful people will self-deprecatingly point out that they are not always right. But this is aiming too low. Being the “least sinful” person among a race of sinful people is like being the valedictorian of summer school.

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When I admit that I am “not always right,” but I still insist that my wife side with me unquestioningly in every conflict, I am guilty of using God’s daughter to help “puff myself up.”

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

II Samuel 7:18

When I believe that I have reached some exalted state because I somehow deserve it or because I have somehow earned it or because I have somehow been rewarded for being good, I am probably thinking like a vaunting puffer.

Tests Seven and Eight show some of the underlying thought patterns which cause problems in this area of marriage.

Test Seven: Do you need your spouse to acknowledge what you do – or else?

Test Eight: Do you think you shouldn’t have to wait your turn?

Few spouses want to admit to these types of attitudes, but some deeper probing may be in order:

a. Some spouses solve the abhorrence-of-waiting-their-turn problem by implementing a turn-taking system, but then they “over-enforce” the turn-taking.
b. Actions often speak louder than words. Some spouses say they don’t expect to be praised or acknowledged for every little thing they do for their spouses, or for every little sacrifice they make, but one spouse’s actions can show that he or she subconsciously thinks that he/she is the more important one.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

Psalm 115:1

Marriage is not about getting recognition for ourselves or gratifying our desire for receiving the appreciation of another person. It’s more about glorifying God’s name, and reflecting the truth of Christ’s relationship to and with His Church.

Test Nine: Do you always have to win?

Most of us, if honest, would have to own up to a desire to be the winner in any type of contentious encounter. Some of us would possibly, at times, even acknowledge a temptation to act unfairly (to “cheat”) if it means the difference between being perceived as the “winner” instead of the “loser,” or being the one who is “right” instead of “wrong” in an argument.

It’s easier, in the cold analytical light of this test, to say, “Cheating or playing unfairly is wrong.” But in the heat of a disagreement, we need to be constantly reminding ourselves of Whose glory is at stake in this marriage. Who deserves the credit when I have a chance to succeed? Cheating may give me a victory, but (because it dishonors the name of God) cheating puts me in the horrifying position of appearing to get the “victory” over God.

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

Jeremiah 45:5

Test Ten: Are you ever dishonest with your spouse?

Real Christian love is always concerned with the Truth. Lack of truthfulness reveals pride when telling my spouse the truth would mean revealing something unfavorable about me. Dishonesty is a key symptom of vaunting ourselves and puffing ourselves up.

How did you do on the ten tests? Were you able to identify any “puffiness” in your marriage? God does not help the puffed up. You do not have to be a Bible scholar or read very far in the pages of Scripture at all to learn this very basic and fundamental fact: The loud and the boastful excite God’s wrath. The “deflated” (no longer vaunting or puffed up) are more empty of self and ready to be filled by God.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Luke 1:53

If your marriage is empty of pride and vanity, God will fill it with good things. If your marriage is puffy, He might have to deflate it.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

If you will “unvaunt” yourself in your marriage, God will lift it up. Then He will vaunt Himself through it, which is right and good.

Getting the Puffiness Out of Your Marriage

June 22, 2012 at 9:58 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 11 Comments
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Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

Vaunting myself is high-handed pride. The word “vaunting” is from the same origin as the word “vanity:” something which looks substantial, but is really lacking in substance. Vanity is emptiness masquerading as fullness. Vaunting is attempting to disguise this emptiness with loud boasting.

Being “puffed up” is filling myself with vanity, but it differs from “vaunting.” Vaunting involves trying to fool other people. When I am “puffed up” I am making no special attempt to fool anyone but myself. In other words, vaunting makes me feel good because it makes you think I’m something I’m not. Puffing up makes me feel good because it makes me think I’m something I’m not.

Here are some tests to see if you are vaunting yourself or puffing yourself up in your marriage:

Test One tests to see if you are vaunting yourself: Do you long for a lot of attention from your spouse?

It is not necessarily a bad thing to want attention from your spouse, but if these are some of your techniques for this attention-seeking, then you are guilty of vaunting yourself: You get attention from your spouse by being: (a) dramatic; (b) desperate; (c) demanding.

Test Two tests to see if you are puffed up: Are you envious or critical?

In the previous lessons I discussed envy. Envy secretly feels smug when your spouse is sad and it secretly sulks when your spouse is happy. A telling sign as to whether you are subconsciously falling into this pattern is that you are quick to put a damp cloth on your spouse’s success. I doubt that the children’s story of “The Three Little Pigs” was intended to have anything to do with Christian marriage, but I like to use the Big Bad Wolf to illustrate this point.

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Remember, he both huffed and puffed. He huffed (vaunted himself) in order to scare the three little pigs. Then he puffed in order to reassure himself that he really was big and bad.

Test Three: Is it hard for you to admit you are wrong?

This question will tell you if you are thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Romans 12:3

Most people in my generation remember the television program “Happy Days.” One of the main characters, Fonzie, had a real problem with this. Occasionally (very occasionally) he would be forced to admit that he had made a mistake, and he would try to say, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.” Only, he would nearly turn apoplectic straining to get past the “s” in “sorry” or the “wr” in “wrong,” because it just isn’t cool to be wrong, and Fonzie was nothing if not cool (at least in the weltanschauung of “Happy Days”).

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Here are some indicators that you may be suffering from “Fonzieitis,” and that would cause you to have to answer “yes” to Test Three:

a. When you realize you might be wrong and your spouse might be right, you “blame-shift” onto your spouse, asserting or implying that if you are wrong, it is his or her fault that you are wrong.
b. When confronted with the possibility of being wrong you try to change the subject.
c. You “rationalize” (make an excuse about how you were really “mistaken” and not really “wrong”).

There is an antidote to this manifestation of self-vaunting and puffiness: humility. Humility is not a feeling of worthlessness, but it is a real recognition of our true status in comparison: (1) to God; and (2) to God’s other creatures, including your spouse.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Genesis 18:27

I am not worthy on my own merit even to be able to communicate with God, and, just like everyone else He has made, I am nothing but animated dust. I should be quick to admit that I am wrong often and badly. This type of humility will help me to be able to pass Tests Four and Five.

Test Four: Do you feel entitled more than you feel grateful?

Test Five: Do you believe deep down that you are better than your spouse?

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 6:5

Humility is a right view of myself in relation to God and a right of myself in relation to others. It causes me to admit that I am a sinner – even that I come from a sinful race. I am a recipient of God’s grace just like my spouse. I am not “entitled” to anything from God, and I am not better than anyone else, including my spouse.

Next time we will take the next five tests to determine if your marriage is too “puffy.”

Performing a Biopsy on Your Marriage

May 23, 2012 at 9:29 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Proverbs 14:30

Husbands and wives are one flesh. The opposite of a sound heart is a divided heart. Can a one-flesh body thrive with a divided heart? No, the Bible says that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. We have a word for when something inside our body starts attacking the very body that gives it life: cancer. That’s what “rottenness of the bones” means. It is describing an eating-away from the inside.

This is how it works: First you think there is at least some basic minimum to which you are entitled. “I don’t ask for much, but…” Second, you see something that you don’t have that would fulfill that longing (covetousness). “All I’m asking for is…” Third, you see that your spouse does have the thing you long for or something that satisfies him or her in the way that you are not being satisfied (bitterness). “Well, I don’t see you having to put up with that…” Fourth, it occurs to you that if you don’t get to have it, he or she shouldn’t either (the wrong kind of jealousy). “Fine! If you’re going to be that way about it…” Fifth, out of spite, you don’t want your spouse to have it, or you want to have it for yourself instead (envy).

To further aggravate the situation, there are usually two sides to envy. You are not happy because you don’t have something, and you are resentful that your spouse does have it. Even if you are able to suppress the kinds of statements used for illustrative purposes in the paragraph above because you realize that these types of feelings are too ugly to express out loud, you can still succumb to love-negating envy. It’s just that you do it secretly. You rejoice when your spouse weeps. You weep when your spouse rejoices. When that happens you have lost your “soundness of heart.” You have “rottenness” eating away at “the bones” (the infrastructure) of your marriage.

Let’s see how the Bible says to handle this by looking at the example of John the Baptist:

After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

John 3:22-27

John recognized that envy is not only potentially disastrous to a relationship or a common cause, but it is an attack on the wisdom and the providence and the sovereignty of God.

Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:28-30

Most married couples had a “best man” and a “maid or matron of honor” in their wedding. The attitude of these people is supposed to be happiness for the bride and bridegroom’s joy. How awful if your best man or maid of honor had been standing there at your wedding, secretly seething with anger and envy because you were getting to experience joy that they weren’t – or if you were marrying the person that they secretly wanted for themselves! In my marriage I don’t normally think of me decreasing and my wife increasing, but I should think of the Lord of my marriage increasing. In marriage we are supposed to actually want our spouse to have every good and perfect gift that God has for her or him. There’s no room for envy of each other. (Likewise, there’s no room for envy of what another couple has in their marriage.)

In the last lesson on marriage I asked, “Is there some quality or virtue about your spouse that you wished he or she did not possess?” With recognition of the destructiveness of envy in view, a better question now would be, “Is there some virtue or quality about your spouse that you are glad he or she has even though you don’t have it?

Jump-Starting Your Marriage

May 7, 2012 at 10:47 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

Spouses should not be envious. Is there some quality or virtue about your spouse that you wish he or she did not possess? In the Bible’s description of agape love, there are both positive and negative sides. Christian love suffers long, which means that spouses should put up with mistreatment from the other spouse. Spouses should also be kind, which means to take the positive initiative of “doing good” to your spouse at every opportunity. If you are familiar with your car battery, you know that there must be a “negative” and a “positive” charge, or else your car won’t go anywhere.

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Without these “negative” and “positive” applications of Christian love our marriages likewise won’t “go” where God wants them to go. The Bible gives “thou shalt nots” and “thou shalts,” often hand in hand.

In I Corinthians 13:4, the Bible adds that agape love is not envious. Envy occurs when you don’t like the situation someone else is in because you perceive that their situation is better than yours. Envy is not exactly the same thing as jealousy. Jealousy in a marriage is not necessarily a bad thing. We need to be jealous over our spouses instead of jealous of our spouses. There is a righteous jealousy which does not want our spouses’ affections to be given to someone else, and this jealousy is righteous instead of selfish because it is motivated by an honest belief that those affections – if given to you instead of someone else – would actually be the best thing for your spouse. In other words, you should desire the affection, attention, and devotion of your spouse, knowing that you will be a trustworthy recipient of those feelings. Probably the best way to illustrate this is to recognize that God is a jealous God because the giving of our devotion or love to anyone or anything else over Him is simply not right, and it’s disastrous for us.

Envy, on the other hand, is a bad thing in general. Think of some instances in the Bible where envy caused problems: Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 37; Haman against Mordecai in Esther 5; Jonah at Nineveh after the Ninevites repented; Lucifer, because his envy was tied to his pride.

In fact, it is primarily because of the relationship of pride to envy that envy is such a danger in marriage. There can be a tendency in marriage to seek what we think we deserve, rather than seeking to serve. Envy defeats service because envy says to your spouse, “You shouldn’t have that.” Or, “You shouldn’t have it your way.” And the hidden agenda is, “You shouldn’t have that because I’m the one who should have it.” Or, “You shouldn’t have it your way because I should be having it my way.” Such thinking leads to a failure to express the love of Christ.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 12:15

The love of Christ is an expression of genuine empathy: You genuinely desire the other person’s summum bonum – their highest good.

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