The Be Quietudes

September 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Talking itself is not a sin. Christianity is a verbal religion, and the Gospel is communicated by words. “Faith cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17). However the Bible does emphasize that we should not talk sinfully.

The “Beatitudes” are found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:3-11

The beautides describe the conditions for expeiencing blessedness, and they prescribe what some of the blessings are. Those who are blessed, according to Jesus, experience God’s favor, and are marked by the types of attitudes and actions which are pleasing in God’s sight, and bring contentment, peace, and happiness to one’s life.

For this lesson I have borrowed the name “beatitude” and applied it to the idea that there are times when it is more blessed to be quiet than to speak up: “The Bequietudes.”

1. Blessed are those who don’t gossip, for they will not make things worse.

Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Proverbs 26:20

Gossip ends when nobody is willing to repeat it – the way a fire ends when there is no fuel left to burn.

2. Blessed are those who LISTEN, for they will gain understanding.

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:12

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Matthew 15:10

You can’t listen while you are talking. When people are talking all at once, it causes confusion. You learn more by listening than by talking. God gave you two ears and one mouth – take the hint, and try to listen at least twice as much as you speak.

3. Blessed are those who THINK, for they shall renew their minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The Gospel is intended to engage your intellect as much as your emotions. Christianity is not mysticism. Serious thinking is hindered, not enhanced, by talking.

4. Blessed are those who READ, for they shall gain knowledge.

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Isaiah 29:12

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

II Timothy 2:15-16

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

It’s difficult to talk while you’re reading (unless you’re reading aloud!) Read the Bible. Read books about the Bible. Read other books, too, but be careful what you read. Don’t read things that do not edify.

5. Blessed are they who CONTEMPLATE, for they shall be prepared.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:31-33

Your mind is a temple. A temple is where man meets with God. Serious decisions are made during periods of silent contemplation, not audible conversation.

6. Blessed are they who MEDITATE, for they shall be glad in the Lord.

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Pslam 104:34

Meditation is deep thinking; unlike contemplation, though, it is not always thinking about a pending decision. It is where you seriously and silently consider what you have learned about God in His word. Meditation is an acquired taste that tastes better the more seriously you take it.

7. Blessed are they who DON’T BUTT IN, for they shall not look foolish.

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Proverbs 18:2

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

Proverbs 18:13

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.

Proverbs 17:28

It is important to analyze a situation before getting involved. A person with a reputation for wisdom is more trustworthy than a person with a reputation for being a know-it-all or a busybody. People have less of a tendency to trust someone that is shooting his mouth off all the time.

7. Blessed are they whose words are few, for they shall give a better account.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:34-36

One of the best evidences of what is in your heart is what comes out of your mouth, but, just because you are thinking something, you don’t have to say it. There needs to be a probationary holding pen (filter) before the words formed in your mind are deemed fit to come out of your mouth.

The Path of Sacrifice

November 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Biblical Walking | 4 Comments
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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Old Testament sacrifices weren’t living sacrifices – at least not for long. When a lamb or a goat or a dove or a bull was sacrificed, it was put to death – then it had no trouble staying on the altar. As New Testament Christians, we are called to present our bodies before the Lord, but I’m thankful we are not called to be dead sacrifices. We are called to be living sacrifices.

This means, among other things, that our bodies need to be God-oriented. They need to be focused on God, moving toward God, and moving with God. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to accomplish this yielding of our bodies by the renewing of our minds. Proverbs 4 tells us that it starts with our hearts, but it is the same idea.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

“Keep with diligence” is redundant, because that’s what diligence is: it is taking care of something by watching it closely. The “heart” has control over the more literal body parts.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Guard your mouth from being froward – from saying something that will cause problems. “Perverse lips” means saying anything wrong – from telling lies, to being hurtful, to cursing.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Christians know their destination: He is Jesus. We have to keep our eyes on Him to move toward Him, and we have to keep our eyes on the Bible to move with Him.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Proverbs 4:26

Watch your step. Stay on the right path. It’s a narrow path. If you’re wandering all over the place, you’re not on it.

Let your ways be “established” – let them be made stable by leaning on the Rock – by “amening” – leaning your whole weight upon the Lord.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:27

A little step in either direction takes you out of the path of being a living sacrifice. It makes you a living, but wandering, rebel. Continuing on in a direction, either right or left, will eventually bring you to the point of having made a 180 degree turn – the exact opposite direction.

Remove your foot from evil. People who wander in the minefield are going to get blown up – along with the children and wives and others who were following them.

Pass It On and Pour It On

December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time we examined two principles that exhort Christian men to work hard:

I. Put It On
II. Pack It On

Now we will think about the exhortation to:

III. Pass It On

If you are a Christian, then God is always teaching you a lesson – but the lessons have two purposes. The first purpose is that whatever you are supposed to learn is going to be for His glory and your sanctification. The second is so that you can pass it on to somebody else.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The application of true Biblical doctrine that is passed on to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ is not to be kept to ourselves, pridefully “shown off,” or simply meditated upon. No, it is to be passed on to other faithful believers, who, in turn, will likewise share it again. Specifically, the Bible says we are to pass it on to other men. The Bible uses the word “teach” rather than “share” (which coincidentally sounds a little more “manly”). If you are a Christian man, when God teaches you a lesson, teach it to your son or another young man in your church family. Find a single mom who has a son that is being ignored by his selfish dad, and take the kid fishing and teach him what it means to be a man of God. Real men are not sophisticated monkeys, nor overgrown boys who can shave, nor girls with some different body parts. We are imago Dei – the image of God Himself – and we were not created to take up space, to play with toys, to be attractive to women, or to prove how tough we can be. We were made to serve the living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Great King – and we had better start acting like it and we had better be passing it on to the next generation, or the next generation will be emasculated and routed by the enemies of God.

IV. Pour It On

One of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid was a quitter. God has not called you to be a quitter.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 10:4

The Bible condemns “slackers,” and contrasts them with hard workers.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs 12:24

The non-quitter is going to have authority. He’s going to lead. The quitter is going to have to pay an unpleasant price, and he will not be the one making the important decisions.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

The non-quitter is going to have a good, respectable employer. The quitter is going to wind up working for a petty jerk.

If you are a man, pour it on: Work hard and don’t quit.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Work hard at your secular job, then work hard for Jesus; don’t be a secular quitter, and don’t be a spiritual quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Did Jesus ever give up? Of course not!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

If you are a man, here is what you are called to do: Be like Jesus and bear your burdens, yes, but do not be a “Stoic.” Stay involved with difficult people. Christian men bear their own burdens and they bear other people’s burdens. Your wife doesn’t respect you like she should? Tough – you’re a man – pick up that burden and carry it. Be respectable whether you earn her respect or not. Trouble with your finances? Pick it up and carry that burden, working hard and trusting God! Health problems (physical or mental)? Pick it up! No help with the kids? Pick it up! Difficulties with your nieces, nephews, single moms you know, neighborhood kids? Pick up those burdens and carry them the way Jesus did! You are a man. That’s what Christian men do – they carry other people’s burdens, and they do it in love, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:9 (emphasis added)

Trying to win Christ’s approval (while still knowing the security of our justification and sonship) will often require us to forsake the approval of the world. We are not to care what they think if we are pleasing Him. Let them jeer, taunt, boo, scoff – we are seeking to please our Master! When we are light in this world, burning with candles lit from Christ’s torch, the darkness will push back. We might lose friends, the love of family members, or jobs. We might get passed over for promotions, and the cool people won’t invite us to their tailgate parties or Christmas parties. But we worship Someone who let Himself be tortured, abused, and ridiculed by vile sinners! He took it all for us; the least we can do is take a little for Him!

Going Beyond Fairy Tale Marriage

October 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Hosea | 5 Comments
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We prefer our love stories to be fairy tales, but the reality of marriage is not always sentimental. Few marriages are a perfect story-book from beginning to end. The Book of Hosea shows the stark reality of what it means to love in difficult circumstances. It shows marital love from the perspective of God’s love for us.

We can not be sure of exactly what happened, but Hosea married a woman named Gomer who either: (1) was already a harlot (prostitute); or (2) became a prostitute after the wedding. Then he ultimately redeemed his wayward wife in obedience to his prophetic call, as one of the greatest demonstrations of sacrificial love in the Bible.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.

Hosea 2:19-20

God used Hosea to demonstrate His betrothal covenant to His people, and in our marriages we need to exhibit the characteristics and attributes of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Righteousness

God the righteous imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who are truly born again.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:20-21

We have no authority, standing, or ability, as sinful human beings, to impute any sort of true meritorious righteousness to our spouses (or to anyone else for that matter, regardless of the erroneous and heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its fictitious “treasury of merit”), but we must stand for righteousness on behalf of our spouses. We must be good husbands and wives and try to avoid sin to protect the sanctity of our unions.

Judgment

God’s judgment against sin was satisfied in the Cross for all who believe. We deserved God’s judgment, but Christ intercepted it in love.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 5:18

Jesus willingly bore the judgment He never deserved. We must bear unrighteous judgment at times on behalf of our spouses.

Lovingkindness

God redeemed His people because He loved us and wanted to show us kindness.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:1-3

As redeemed creatures we were “meant” for God. In marriage we must think of ourselves as “meant” for each other – ordained by God to show His glory in our union and relationship, and practically, to help work out our sanctification.

Mercies

God withheld from us what we deserved.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

In marriage must never punish each other for things for which God has already punished Jesus. Be merciful to each other.

Faithfulness

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:13

God is perfectly faithful. We are not. However, we need to do our utmost, with God’s help and by His grace, to be faithful spouses.

The Trap of Lapsing into Laziness

March 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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The Biblical hero Samson was consecrated from his birth, and was blessed by God as he grew to adulthood.

And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.

Judges 13:24

God’s calling upon his life was that he deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). However, as Samson reached adulthood, we might wonder how much self-motivation he had when it came to performing this honorable task.

And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Judges 13:25 (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated “to move” in this verse has a connotation of violent persistence. It is almost as if the Holy Spirit had to beat Samson into action, so that he could begin to accomplish his purpose in life.

We tend to think of Samson as a “man of action,” with all his exploits – single-handedly slaying large numbers of Philistines, rounding up animals and setting them on fire, carrying off the doors of a city’s gate, fighting a lion, carousing with loose women, making up riddles, and generally causing mischief. However, the fact is, Samson was something of a sluggard when it came to getting down to the Lord’s business. For in addition to his battles, he is also seen wandering off the path into a vineyard, lounging about at a feast, dwelling idly atop a mountain, and dozing on Delilah’s lap while God’s enemies plotted his capture just outside. In fact, once, after avenging himself of a personal insult, he decided to simply call it quits.

And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

Judges 15:7 (emphasis added)

You may have head the old expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” God made man to work and be productive. Even the plain revelation of His Law highlighted this fact:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Exodus 20:9

The Bible contains numerous warnings against idleness and laziness.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 13:4

The principle of hard work is highlighted as a Christian ethic in the New Testament as well.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

As Christians we have divine callings upon our lives, every bit as much as Samson did, although certainly not the same one. Staying busy accomplishes a multifaceted purpose: It keeps us from lapsing into sin through inactivity; it brings blessings into our lives; and it glorifies the Lord.

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.

Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans

July 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 11 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

Someone comes to you for advice. “Should I do this or should I do that?” What you have to determine – and what this person has to determine – is this: Is the reason you are contemplating doing this thing because you are not content with what God has given you? Or not content with where He has placed you? Or not content with what He is doing with you? Or not content because of what He is not doing with you? Or not content with what He is allowing to be done to you?

If you believe that God is perfect, then you must also believe His will is perfect (Romans 12:2). Some of us need to stop trusting what everyone else is doing or what “common sense” says to do, and trust in the Lord. If you don’t have a Bible reason for doing what you are thinking about doing – then don’t do it. It might feel right or it might feel wrong, but:

“Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving.
Our warrant should be the Word of God.
Nothing else is worth believing.”

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.ontent yourself with God and His plans
E.

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.”

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.

Objections to Being Kind to Your Spouse

April 20, 2012 at 9:40 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 1 Comment
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And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

In marriage, we must show kindness to our spouses if we expect the Lord to show kindness to us.

With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

Psalm 18:25-26

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 7:2

I need to be longsuffering toward my spouse if I am going to have any reasonable expectation of God being longsuffering toward me. I need to be kind toward my spouse if I am to have any reasonable expectation of the Lord being kind toward me.

Here are some common objections to being kind:

Objection 1: My spouse’s behavior toward me is intolerable.

Why that is not a valid objection:

a. You’ve done worse to God than your spouse has done to you.
b. God has promised to love you – not just when you “act right,” but in the eternal future.
c. By being unkind, we imply that God was unworthy when He suffered wrong-doing for love’s sake.
d. God is worthy of being imitated.
e. The revenge or the resentment you are contemplating would not be okay if God applied it to you.
f. When you show unkindness in response to cruel treatment, you are implying that God is schizophrenic: that He commanded you to bear some things that you are unable to bear.

Objection 2: My spouse never repents.

Why that is not a valid objection:

a. Your own repentance is never quick enough or complete enough before God.
b. If your own sins are forgiven and under the blood of Christ, you ought not to demand a higher repentance of others than God demands of you.
c. If your spouse is obligated to bear your faults, you ought to make those faults as bearable as possible.

Objection 3: Putting up with mistreatment encourages more mistreatment.

Why that is not a valid objection:

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:19-21

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