Friday, August 5, 2011

Treasure II

Few in our day value their wives too highly. Most treat them as common or worse. The family pet often gets more attention and affection. Few wives experience husbands who show them honor or who dwell with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).  Few wives ever know the blessedness of being loved of their husband as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25) or being loved of their husband as he loves his own body (5:28).

As with most things, the opposite extreme poses perilous problems of a magnitude at least as great.  What do I mean? For some, their bride has become an idol.

Make no mistake, God commands husbands to have the highest concern, the highest love, the highest passion for their woman. But there is one thing higher still, the love he is to have for God.  Consider,
  • It is the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-29) with the loving of one's neighbor running second (v. 30).
  • Jesus warned of the supreme danger in placing anything before our thirst for him to include our wife (Luke 14:25-27).
My love for my woman must flow from my love for God. If it flows independent of my love for God, that affection has taken a higher priority in my life than my affection for God. Because I passionately love and submit myself to Almighty God I am able to love my wife with the love God demands while not allowing it to become idolatrous.

How's that flesh out.  Here are some thoughts.

God will never call me to love her ahead of him. Because I love him and seek to honor him with my life, I must live Ephesians 5:25 and 1 Peter 3:7.  These are the glorious works that flow from my faith (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:17-18). If God has given me a particular task and my concern for my bride derails me from that appointed task, she has become an idol to me in the same fashion that money tripped up the rich young ruler when Jesus asked him to go and sell all he had (Matthew 19:21-22).

Perhaps God has called you to the mission field and for whatever reason, you have a passion for the bleak steppes of Mongolia. Your bride has been a city girl all her life and has made it plain that she could never become a missionary. In the past few days, you have learned of a man who would be willing to support fully a couple who would be willing to go and minister to the people of outer Mongolia. He'll even throw in a yurt. What do you do?

Perhaps God has burdened your heart to become a doctor and due to GI Bills and such, now seems like the perfect time to change careers.  Such a shift would require belt-tightening and cost-counting, something that has always made your bride squeamish. Everytime you've tried to get the family on a budget she's bucked and thrashed like a rodeo Brahma.  What do you do?

Perhaps you feel called to military service and have always felt that is where God would have you be. Near the end of your enlistment you get hand-picked for a two-year unaccompanied remote tour to Sobleakistan, an assignment on the cutting edge of your career field and right up your alley. Not only that, but the assignment upon your return is beyond your wildest dreams. The hitch? You feel like your wife depends upon you, that if you were to leave, she couldn't handle the house, the kids, the bills, etc.  What do you do?

Each of those scenarios has you at a crossroads between God's call and your affections for your wife.  Really, there should be a tension.  If you care nothing for your wife, the decision will not be a hard one. If you are deaf to the call of God in your life, you'll have no decision to make.

Gents, I'm not advocating dismissing your wife when it comes to family decisions or even your career decisions, but if appeasing your wife takes precedence over God's leading, there is a problem.

This, like all things, can be taken to an extreme. A man must never excuse workaholism and familial neglect under the guise of "doing God's work." A very real danger for steadfast laborers in the Church both pastorate and laity.

When it comes to idolatry, though, many husbands do not trust God to do his good work in their family through the absence or hardships that come with a purposed decision, and many wives do not trust God to bring blessing through that obedience despite anticipated challenges. You have probably heard, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." If we live trying to neutralize that threat, then God ain't happy, and truly, that's when nobody will be happy.

Husbands, love Almighty God. Trust him when he leads. When you do, you will be loving your wives.

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