Enjoy these entries - we hope they make you think.
Picture this: your spouse is not in the room. You're chatting with some friends, and suddenly the conversation turns to spouses. One lady says her husband never considers her feelings anymore—he just does whatever he wants. You commiserate because your husband has lately been getting on your nerves, and several recent episodes tumble from your mouth as you vent your frustration. There! It's been said. You feel better. You can go on with life.
You have just engaged in a bit of character assassination, and it was against the one person who should be closest and dearest to you!
God said in the Ten Commandments: you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
"But what I said wasn't false!" you protest.
Wasn't it, though? Think back on the words used. Did you huff resignedly, "That's just how he is!" Did you insist, "he never..." or "he always..."? Did you allow your frustration to color your language with hyperbole? Did you keep in mind the good he has done for you, or were you only thinking of the recent trouble?
When we use words like never and always, we lie, because it's almost never true! Test it out...
"He never considers my feelings first." That's an animal and not a man you've just described.
"He always throws his dirty socks on the floor." Has he never once hit the laundry basket even by mistake?
"She never wants to do what I want to do." Was that what attracted you to her in the first place?
"She always says just the thing to get on my nerves." And I'm sure you always respond with a gentle answer to turn away her wrath.
Husbands and wives, can we agree that we sometimes do bear false witness against our spouses? We need to quit. It's not healthy, it's lying, and it's sinful.
We ought to remember that our moods change. Murder is committed when people act in the throes of anger. Paul commanded,
"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4.25-27)
All these commandments work together. Anger often prompts us to falsehood as we modify and reshape the truth to serve our own purposes. The best thing to do in our anger is usually BE STILL! Don't act! Wait. Take a breath and count to 10… or 100... or 1,000… whatever it takes to cool off. If we speak in anger and frustration, we are apt to sin.
Next time you feel frustrated with your spouse, try some of these options:
- Pray about it. Laying the problem out to God often exposes our own faults in the matter. It helps to lay our problem at the feet of the one who loves us most.
- Don't talk to your spouse immediately. Take some time before you address the problem.
- Don't complain about your spouse to others.
- Even while you are upset, do something nice for your spouse—just because.
- Ask yourself why you feel so strongly about it. Was she intentionally trying to hurt you? Does he even know how what he did or said affects you? Be honest.
- Pray about it again. Has God revealed anything to you?
I have found most issues tend to vanish given time and breathing room. I'd love to know how this technique works in your relationship.
Anger and lies give the devil a foothold in your life, so always speak the truth with your spouse!
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
These two verses list many ways we can use our tongues to destroy rather than build, and in them Paul warns against corrupting talk, clamor, slander, filthy talk, foolish talk, and course jesting.
The first set of sins (Eph. 4.29–32) flow from bitter and angry hearts. Our actions follow our heart’s attitude. If we harbor bitterness towards someone, we likely will speak hateful words about them or to them at some point. Evil hearts overflow into evil works.
The second set of sins (Eph. 5.3–4) come from lustful and unclean hearts. Minds saturated in sewage will spew disgusting, disruptive, disturbing speech. Why is potty humor so popular? Why is our gaze so often directed downwards and not upwards? The marriage bed is to be held in honor, but many make it a joke, a punchline, speaking of sex in flippant and irreverent ways.
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Titus 1.15).
How do we tackle a profane tongue? How do we raise our speech out of the gutter and onto the highway of holiness? We must direct our hearts to pure and holy things. Instead of angry talk, we should focus on kindness and forgive one another (Eph. 4.32). Instead of filthy talk, we should focus on giving thanks (Eph. 5.4). Imitate God’s character. What would Jesus think, do, and say?
Our speech will always be out of the overflow of our hearts, so we should be directing our hearts to that which is holy, pure, and honorable. May God help us tame our tongues!
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12.1-2)
Paul connects Romans 12 ("therefore") to the mountain of previous teaching from Romans 1-11. Before he presents what we should do, Paul deals with great theological truths about what God has already done and how we stand in relation to Him because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Beyond being merely an intellectual exercise, the renewing of our minds includes actually obeying God--doing that which is good and right--which Paul immediately outlines for us in Romans 12.3-15.7. Here's a quick breakdown of what is covered:
- Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought; evaluate yourself properly (12.3-8)
- Love genuinely (12.9-13)
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep (12.14-21)
- Subject yourself to the government (13.1-7)
- Love your neighbor as yourself (13.8-10)
- Walk properly, as in the daytime (13.11-14)
- Welcome the weak in faith (14.1-15.7)
Just about all of this has to do with submitting ourselves to others. How do we actually present our lives as living sacrifices to God and renew our minds? We follow Christ's footsteps (see 13.14; 15.1-13) by assuming the lowest place, subjecting ourselves to every ordinance of God, submitting to one another in love, yielding to our enemies, and welcoming brethren with whom we don't see eye to eye.
Once, a friend asked (in light of the "bearing with the weak in faith" from Romans 14), "How can you know who is the weak brother?"
"Whoever the other guy is, that's the weak one," I jokingly replied.
But silliness aside, I'm pretty sure that is not the question God would have us ask, because if we use Romans 14 to start a big row over who is weak and who is strong, does that not divide rather than unify, as Paul insisted upon?
As I read Romans 12-15, God speaks to me, personally. I know He didn't write Romans directly to me, but I should read it as a message from God to me. In other words, I don't read it to figure out how you ought to change in your actions towards me; rather I read to discover how I might repent and change in my actions towards you. I can only worry about and change myself, and God has given me control over only one person on this planet.
If every Christian read the Bible this way, wouldn't God produce unity through our obedience? If every husband obeyed God’s commands about being the right kind of husband and didn't try to force his wife to be the right kind of wife...if every wife obeyed God by respecting her husband properly...if every brother treated his fellow siblings with love and did not worry about what they did or didn't do for him...what power and change might we see?!
Do you take God's word personally?
"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. 12.18)
Our country experienced a “sexual revolution” in the 60s and 70s. Young hedonists rebelled against parental and societal guidance, pushing norms of morality several steps down the line. “Make love, not war,” they said, blending sex and love, which are not the same thing.
Obviously, this butted right up against the church and the teachings of the Lord, so the free-love movement was an anti-religion movement. Religion was the reason why parents were so stiff and unyielding and wanted to keep the pleasures of sex away from their children.
Over a fairly short period of time, the societal shame of unmarried couples “shacking up” diminished. Used to be, people would blush if they talked about an unmarried girl living with a guy, but no one bats an eye now.
Television shows and movies glamorized the sex act. Big-screen heroes did it with whoever they happened to be with on their current adventure: James Bond, Indiana Jones, etc.
Today the envelope has been pushed so far that same-sex coupling has become normal, and some of the most crass and perverted acts are discussed openly as if anything and everything is acceptable.
The contraceptive industry rakes in billions of dollars. We have statistics on teenager contraceptive usage in the United States…because teen sex is generally accepted. The abortion industry continues to kill millions of pre-born children. They want the sex but not the natural result.
Our cultural leaders inform us our sexual orientation is a majorly important characteristic, and we are constantly encouraged to go public with it. The number of those who identify as LGBT has greatly increased over the past few years. Think about that—our identities are being boiled down to who we like to have sex with.
Are Folks Content?
How is this hyper-sexualization working for the country? Do people seem happier because of it? Are they more content? Are they feeling fulfilled in their relationships?
This article reports that 1 in 4 women in the United States reports “completed or attempted rape victimization at some point in her lifetime.”
Seventeen percent of adolescents in 2020 experienced a major depression episode, a period of at least 2 weeks of serious depression.
Suicide rates are extremely high, and have increased 30% from 2000 to 2018, declining slightly in 2019 and 2020, according to the CDC. A CDC website header states, “Suicide is a leading cause of death.”
Inarguably, society has become a mess of misery and disfunction. People are not happy, not fulfilled, not content. Talk of euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide is heating up. Canada has plowed well down that path already.
Of course, sex is not the only issue, but it sure is staring everyone right in the face.
Faithful, Married Couples Have the Best Sex
Most who are in faithful, married relationships will agree: the sexual life of the married is far superior to those not committed to a spouse or who sleep around.
Christians know this is because God created man and woman, marriage, and sex. God designed marriage to be much deeper than the sexual act itself. It’s about intimacy with a life-long, trusted, loving partner. It’s about total commitment to faithfulness. It’s about not being alone. The Christian husband sees his wife as his only source of sexual pleasure, and she knows she’s his one and only. She feels secure in the relationship. Both enjoy fulfillment because of their mutual commitment.
Think of marriage as a garden God prepared for you. There is so much beauty, pleasure, and joy to be found in this garden. Other gardens exist out there, but this is the one God prepared for you. God said to stay inside the fence—but you can enjoy everything inside the fence, which is quite a lot if you would just focus on your own garden and put down the binoculars you’ve been using to search around for other gardens. Satan whispers about the greener grass on the other side of God’s fence. Indeed, there are pleasures to be found out there, for sure, but they will kill you in the end, draining your life and losing forever the true joys God had prepared for you in your own garden.
What Does God Say about Sex?
Positively, one of the first statements about sex in the Bible is with Adam and Eve: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2.24). Becoming “one flesh” includes the concept of coming together sexually because Paul tells the Christians in Corinth, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord…Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh’” (1 Corinthians 6.13-16).
Two of the Ten Commandments talk about sex: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
Speaking on the purity and sanctity of marriage, the Hebrew author writes, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13.4).
“Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7.2. Sexual immorality is any sexual activity with someone to whom you are not married. If you are single, God forbids you from having sex with anyone, because you must be married to your sexual partner. If you are married, God has blessed you with the one to whom you must be faithful. Paul continues:
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7.3-5).
Love and Respect and the Gospel
God did not create marriage solely for the sexual aspect—no, the world has limited our vision and gotten us to think so much about the sexual aspect that we can easily lose sight of the deeper and greater gifts inside of this most intimate of relationships.
Husband, you are to love your wife as Christ loves His bride, the Church.
Wife, you are to respect your husband as your head.
Husband, you are to learn your wife and honor her as a weaker vessel and as a fellow heir of the grace of life.
Wife, you are to submit to your husband’s leadership and love your husband and children.
If husband and wife both serve one another in these ways, we become a real reflection of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5.22-33). The Christian marriage becomes a way of showing the gospel of Christ to the world. Why be faithful to an imperfect wife? Because Christ is faithful to His imperfect bride. Why submit to a husband even when it’s hard? Because Christ submitted himself to His Father even when it took Him to the cross (1 Peter 2.21–3.1).
Tend your own garden and reap the fruit God has prepared for you.
“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Do we really abhor evil? We know lusting is evil, but do we abhor it? First John 2:1 says, “if anyone sins, we
have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” so is okay to sin because we can be forgiven?
Paul said, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to
sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2) Sin is never okay! God’s children should abhor everything that is sin. If we
say we love God yet still practice sin, we are lying and the truth is not in us. We are guilty of hypocrisy.
Christians grab hold of the good.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor”
We can give preference grudgingly. Haman gave preference to Mordecai, but only because he was forced. We
can also give preference with ulterior motives. Have you ever thought about trying to be humble? Can a man’s
goal for the year be to become the most humble person among the brethren at church? That kind of defeats the
purpose! Sometimes we fake humility so people will think we are something…when we are still full of pride.
God is calling us to be truly devoted to one another and to truly give one another honor. Let it be without
“not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”
Hypocrisy in this realm looks like laziness. An associate of mine once showed me he had a video camera
positioned so he could view his employees in a different room. Apparently, they did not know the camera was
there. One day he said, “Watch this.” I looked at the video, and the four ladies on the screen were sitting around
and chatting. He told me to keep watching as he walked over to their room. In a second I could tell he had
walked in because they all-of-a-sudden began a flurry of activity! Are we like this with God’s work sometimes?
Are we only busy with His work when we think people are watching? Perhaps should remind ourselves He is
always watching. Let our work for the Lord be without hypocrisy—let’s always be busy with His work, because
it’s what He has given us to do.
“rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer”
We could be hypocritical in our daily walks. Have we ever gone through a check-out line at the grocery store,
Wal-Mart, or a fast-food joint and been rude to the cashier? Have we complained or murmured in front of our
kids, spouse, neighbors, coworkers, or brethren? These attitudes are hypocritical for a child of the eternal God!
What joy we should exude! What hope! What perseverance! We should carry a constant prayerful attitude—an
attitude of thanksgiving to God for our abundant blessings. Christians should be the most joyful of all.
“contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”
Can we find hypocrisy in our hospitality? Do we invite people in our homes because we feel obligated? Do we
complain before they come (“I shouldn’t have invited anyone tonight because I am just stretched too thin right
now…”)? Do we complain after they leave (“Great, now the house is a mess again, and I have all these dishes
to do…”)? To love without hypocrisy is to put others above ourselves. If we could view each other as more
important than ourselves, we won’t have a problem helping each other or having each other in our homes. In
fact, we will jump at the opportunity to serve someone so great!
Let love be without hypocrisy.