Archive for the ‘Living in Wisdom’ Category

 

God's Pattern for the Family

Turn with me to Ephesians 5:22-24.

The Word of the Lord says,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Mark Twain is still known, even though he has been dead for over 100 years, for his wit. He once related a story that a Mormon acquaintance had once pushed him into an argument on the issue of polygamy. After long and tedious expositions justifying the practice, the Mormon demanded that Twain cite any passage of Scripture expressly forbidding polygamy.

“Nothing easier,” Twain replied. “No man can serve two masters.”

You laugh… but there is more than an unfortunate truth to Twain’s reply.

It is the struggle for control… between a man and his wife.

We see this struggle for control start in the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve, though God had established them in a perfect relationship with Himself and each other, had already chose to go their own way and do their own thing. What happens when two “individuals” chose to go “their own” way and do “their own” thing?  Calling “their own” shots?

Yes!  Absolutely!  There is natural conflict.  It is almost as if the couple is demonstrating Newton’s Third Law… “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”

This is the consequence of “going your own way” in spite of God’s design.  But, it was not this way in the beginning… the way that God designed the relationship between husband and wife. Listen and follow along with me.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Perfect relationship… God gave the man a job to do, to nurture, cultivate, make fruitful the creation God had placed him over, as God’s representative/viceroy.

It was a tall order, he needed help… oh… God knew he needed help.  Someone that would correspond to him, he need a woman to support, aid, help in fulfilling the calling… the job that God had given him to do.  Contrary to conventional wisdom… and, I might add, contrary to the Word of God… a dog is not man’s best friend.  Nor a horse, or cat, or any other animal.  There was none among the animal kingdom that was a suitable help for man… therefore, WOMAN!!!! Someone that corresponds to him, to support, aid, help in fulfilling the calling that God had given him to do. THAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP THAT GOD HAS CALLED MAN AND WIFE TO.  A man with a calling and a beautiful, intelligent, valuable, helper giving aid to him as he is obedient to the call God has placed on him.

But, then they chose, rather than trust God and His perfect, wonderful, fulfilling, powerful, productive design… they chose to do their own thing, go their own way, call their own shots… and there has been conflict ever since.  We know that things changed immediately for Adam and Eve… it was the spiritual death that God has warned them of if they were to choose their own way.  Conflict, struggle for control, desire for preeminence.

We came by it through Adam and Eve, and we continue very well on our own power… unless there is something miraculous that happens to interrupt that pattern of sinfulness.

Well, when confronted about the change in their demeanor by their loving Heavenly Father Adam and Eve began pointing fingers.  And God, in His love, mercy and justice began to speak to the consequences of man and woman’s choices.  I am particularly interested in the words that God spoke to Eve in Genesis 3:16

Genesis 3:16 (ESV)

16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

These words that God spoke to Eve indicate that there will be an ongoing struggle between the woman and the man for leadership in the marriage relationship. The leadership role of the husband and the complementary relationship between husband and wife that were ordained by God before the fall have now been deeply damaged and distorted by sin.

This especially takes the form of inordinate desire (on the part of the wife) and domineering rule (on the part of the husband). The Hebrew term here translated “desire” is rarely found in the OT. But it appears again in Genesis 4:7, in a statement that closely parallels Genesis 3:16—

Genesis 4:7 (ESV)

7 “…is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

…what God is saying to Cain is that sins desires to master Cain but, God says that Cain must “rule over it” (which he immediately fails to do, I might add, by murdering his brother).

So… the ongoing result or consequence of Adam and Eve’s original sin of rebellion against God will have disastrous consequences for their relationship:

(1) Eve will have the sinful “desire” to oppose Adam and to assert leadership over him, reversing God’s plan for Adam’s leadership in marriage. But…

(2) Adam will also abandon his God-given, pre-fall role of leading, guarding, and caring for his wife, replacing this with his own sinful, distorted desire to “rule” over Eve.

As a result, one of the most tragic results of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God is an ongoing, damaging conflict between husband and wife in marriage, driven by the sinful behavior of both in rebellion against their respective God-given roles and responsibilities in marriage.

Understanding that, we return to our passage that we will be spending the next several weeks in… Eph. 5:22–33 and, in contrast to what we see as a result of Genesis 3, we will see the NT pattern for marriage founded on the redemptive work of Christ.

The Matter of Submission (v. 22a)

Let’s look at verse 22.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

We will concentrate on just verse 22.  I want to draw your attention to three things in this verse that we, and by “we” I mean you “ladies”… and I do mean “ladies” not just wives… because there is something here for every female to do!!!! (And guys… don’t check out… and don’t lean back in your seat with your feet crossed and your hands behind your head… ‘cuz I’ve got some stuff to talk with you about this morning as well 😊)

The first thing I want to draw your attention to, in this verse, is the word “submit.”

This is the Greek word hoop-ot-as’-so.  It comes from two Greek words… “hoop-o’”… which means “under” and “tass-o’” which means “orders” or “arrangement.”

It is a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

Now, here’s something you will find if you so a little study of the passage.  The Greek word for “submit” (Gk., hupotasso) is not in the original text of verse 22 but is implied from its usage in verse 21.

I also think it is worth noting that Paul does not use the word obey in reference to the wife. The Greek word “Hupakouo”, which means “to answer,” “to attend,” or “to obey,” like he uses for children and slaves. I think it is worth noting for all of you… ladies you need to understand that God does not place you in the position of slave or servant. That is what sinful man has done to you.

Men, you need to hear this because a wife is not a slave, awaiting commands like: “Do this! Get that! Go over there! Fix me that! Is my so-and-so done?” She is not a slave. The relationship between a husband and wife is much more intimate, more personal, more inward, and more vital than that.

Kids, you need to hear this because you make this assumption often by the way you treat your mothers. She is not your slave… she is the helpmeet of your father… to mistreat her is to be (and men you should respond to it this way) an affront, an insult, an injury to not only your mother but to your father as well.

No, a woman is absolutely equal in essence to a man, BUT given a role by the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, functionally, as someone who displays a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden of “helpmeet” to her husband’s GOD-GIVEN calling as a man.

So, that is the first thing I wanted to draw your attention to.  A wife is to submit… “hoop-o-tasso” …to arrange herself under her own husband for the purpose of cooperating, aiding, helping, bearing the burden of being the “Helper” along with her husband as he pursues the calling that God has placed on him.

The Matter of Possession (vs. 22b)

The second thing I want to draw your attention to is the phrase “your own husband.” There is a possessiveness here that assumes a wife would absolutely and willingly respond in submission to her own husband—one whom SHE possesses. The Greek word used here connotes ownership.  It is more that referring to the man who identifies as your husband.

Paul is very clear about this concept of mutual ownership in the husband/wife relationship in 1 Corinthians 7. Just listen to what Paul says.

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 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.

You see, ladies (and guys you should hear this too), this call to submission to the man whom you possess as husband, is not a reference to inferiority; it’s simply a God-ordained distinction in function so that society can function like God desires.

For the sake of unity and work-ability, the woman is to be subject to the leadership of her husband—not as a slave but as one who is provided for, cared for, and secured by her husband.

And, gentlemen…. I might add that it does not have nearly as much to do with what she does for you as what you are responsible to do for her.

Leadership belongs to the man. God designed him to be stronger physically so that he would be able to work for, protect, provide for, and give security to his wife.

As I was talking with Ron Hainline yesterday about some of the nuances of this passage he made the remark that he thought that IF IT WERE NOT FOR God’s general design that men are typically bigger and stronger than women… women would rule the world 😊!!

So, that’s the second thing that I want you to see in this verse.  First, that wives are to submit …arrange themselves under their own husbands for the purpose of cooperating, aiding, helping, bearing the burden of being the “Helper” to their husband as they pursue the calling that God has placed on them.

And, second… that you understand that this is in reference to the husband whom you possess.  That there is mutual “ownership” within the marriage relationship. Women are not possessions, or just a hunk of meat, regardless of what our society believes and acts upon, and regardless of what the likes of Islam or Mormonism believes and teaches.

Before I move on to the last point I want to ask you wives a question.  How many of you have ever worked outside of the home for someone, a man, other than your husband?

Did you buck and fuss and throw a fit, or just flat out refuse when he told you to do something, or go someplace, or get something (even if it was coffee and donuts)?  Why not?  Oh, because he is in authority over you?  I see.  You know, I can’t think of anywhere in Scripture where a wife, in particular, is commanded to submit to the authority of a man other than her husband… yet many, many, many (perhaps even you) women respond with unfaltering submission to their employers, yet buck their husband’s leadership every step of the way… or at least, if not every step, regularly.

Ladies this should not be.  But, let’s be very clear… if you do work outside the home I am not calling you to rebel against your employer… I am calling you to be obedient to the role that the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE has placed you in.

The Matter of “as to the Lord” (Vs. 22c)

That brings me to the last thing I want to point out in this passage.  Let’s look at the verse again.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, AS TO THE LORD.

Wives you are called, in your God-given role, to submit… voluntarily align yourselves, under the leadership, calling, and headship of your own husbands, JUST AS YOU DO IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD!!!

Perhaps it is here that we really uncover the problem ladies (guys… you’ll get yours in verses 25-30)?  You can’t or won’t submit yourselves voluntarily under the leadership, calling, and headship of your husband because you can’t or won’t submit yourself, voluntarily to the Lord.

You’re still playing the role of Eve in the garden… calling your own shots, following your own “plan” or “calling” or “gifting” or “hobby” whatever you or the world we live in calls it, instead of fulfilling the role that GOD ALMIGHTY the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE has CREATED you for.

This is why I am able to say that this passage has something for every female to do. For those of you that are currently married… you’ve got two things to do that this passage requires of you… submit (align yourself voluntarily) to God and to the man that you possess as your husband, to his headship, to his leadership, to be a helper to him as he obediently (or even disobediently) pursues the calling that God has placed on him as a man.

If you are not currently married, meaning you are widowed, divorced, or have never been married… you are to submit yourself (align yourself voluntarily) to the Lord.  That ought to keep you exceedingly occupied 😊.  That means placing yourself under His authority and following His lead… doing WHAT he commands, WHERE he commands it, and WHEN he commands it, TO OR WITH WHOM He commands.

Now, I will close with a word to the guys…

In defense of the ladies who have worked outside the home for men other than their husbands and done exactly as they have been told let me make this observation relevant to you and your calling as a man.

How many business owners operate without a business plan?  How well do they do if they do not have one or do not stick to it?  Do you think it is easier to follow someone who is going somewhere or to follow someone who is just milling around like a herd of goats?

I think you can sense where I’m going with this.

Do you have a plan?  Do you know what your “calling” is?  Well, to begin with God has given every man a general calling or mandate.  It is found in Genesis 1:28…

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

That is the general calling or mandate of every man.  Now, what this looks like, or how this plays out in a man’s life specifically can be different for every man.  But, my point is…

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE HEADED?

Do you know what God has called you to do as a man, as a husband, as a father, as an employer or an employee? You need to give your wife someone to follow.  Husbands, I want you to go home and before this day is finished I want you to sit down with your wife and develop a plan.  Where are you headed as a family?  How are you going to get there?  What do you want to be about?  What are your talents and spiritual gifts?  How do you want to serve the LORD? Then develop a plan.  Start simple.

Here are just a few ideas: family worship, state of the home (cleanliness, organization, function, essence), kids’ education, property shape and use, vehicles, etc. etc. etc.  Just begin to develop direction, a plan.

It doesn’t have to be earth shattering!  She needs to know where you’re headed… someplace other than to the Lazy Boy with your slippers, a Coke, and the remote.  Give her a leader that she can be a helper to.

And ladies… one last thing.  Does your home revolve around your “calling”, your desires, your hobbies, or that of your husbands?  Is that because you are in charge or because he won’t cast vision and direction?  Just some things to think about.

Anyhow, I implore you to go home, and before the day is through, sit down over a cup of coffee, tea and talk about these things.

Let’s pray!

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I read quite a bit.  Not as much as I should but more than most. Often I highlight and save things I read to my organizational wonder-brain, Evernote (click on the link to discover this wonderful tool.  Every once in a while I read something that really strikes home and deeply communicates with my soul. This article by Tim Challies, titled “The Greatest Burden of Leadership”  had that effect on me. It reflects what’s going on in my heart and the burden I feel in almost every area of my life: son, husband, father, friend, pastor, business owner, chaplain, bus driver. I feel the gravity of my responsibilities in every area of my life.  The burden feels great… I think, it is great and often I feel overwhelmed by the weight of it, and especially when I am not doing it well. I was encouraged by Tim Challies remedy to the realization of frequent failure in these areas… grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ… the essence of the Gospel!

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“Growth in personal holiness is largely determined by our progress in self-discipline. Without this foundational discipline, there can be no advancement in grace. Before other disciplines can be administered, whether in the home, business, or church, there first must be self-discipline.”

In the never ending battle of mortifying the flesh, this article by Pastor Steve Lawson puts in perspective where this “self-discipline” comes from.

I encourage you to check it out!

Self-Discipline by Steve Lawson

My wife and I have been homeschooling for about 15 years.  It has been an amazing journey.  The way is fraught with ups and downs, success and failures, good choices and bad choices, good curriculum and bad curriculum.  At the beginning we were confused by the hundreds of theories on how to effectively educate your children at home.  There is the approach that you should just duplicate at home what goes on at the government schools (BTW, that’s a bad idea!).  There’s the approach of buying a turnkey “do-it-at-home” package that cookie cutters your children into a single approach and plans everyday out for you.  Then there is the approach that we quite quickly adopted, and that is a very eclectic approach that molds and adapts to the needs and learning styles of each child.

The very essence of why we homeschool is about relationship and discipleship.  We want to spend as much time around our children breathing into their lives as we can and that just isn’t possible if they are gone 9-12 hours each day.  But it wasn’t until two years ago that we stumbled, really, upon the notion of making God’s Word our core curriculum and then adding a few good things in around that.  And here’s why… And I quote right out of Kevin Swanson’s Introduction to his Family Bible Study Series

“Our first assumption, of course, is that God is very smart.  Assuming that it is HE Who is behind the marvelous design we call the “human being,”—and anyone that can create things like human beings has to be, we, smart – we turned to His Word. Thankfully He did not leave us without operating instructions.  But, like most fathers who try to assemble a toy on a child’s birthday and usually turn to the manufacturer’s instructions as a last resort, most people do the same thing when trying to figure out how to operate a human being. So finally, I picked up the Word if God and liked up the word “education” in the concordance.  Naturally, the Bible doesn’t have much to say about things like schools and education.  But I broadened my search to “knowledge,” “understanding,” and “wisdom,” and found that God has actually dedicated an entire book of the /bible to the subject of transmitting knowledge, wisdom,  and understanding to a child.  This [book] is Education/Knowledge/Wisdom 101, authored by God and conveyed by Solomon, who was endowed with supernatural wisdom by God Himself.”

What is important for us to learn?

As you study Proverbs you will quickly learn that there is not much to be said in it about geography, geometry, geology, grammar or algebra.  So, why would God neglect something as important to our existence as the “Pythagorean Theorem” in His textbook?  In the words of Radio show host, author, and father Kevin Swanson, “I submit that it is because geometry is, in the grand scheme of things, not all that important.  When it comes to the education of a child, it is faith and character that are primary in God’s estimation. They constitute the foundation, the studs, and the drywall in the “construction of a child.”  And geometry, geography, and geology are only the wall papering.  To attempt to teach geometry apart from character is akin to trying to place wallpaper on walls that do not exist, and that would be a prime example of “an exercise in futility.”

The truth of the matter is that most of us, you and me, where given a lot of stuff to hang on the walls without the foundational structures of faith and good character first.  We were shuffled off by well-meaning parents to a government school to be “educated.”  And what we got (along with exposure to lots of bad character from our contemporaries) was the cart before the horse.

Unfortunately, we are much more familiar with spelling and grammar, addition and subtraction, what Glen Beck said this week, who the presidential hopefuls are, the latest sport scores, and what’s on TV at 7pm, than we are about living a life of wisdom and knowledge.  We generally do not understand God’s design for economics.  Our culture applauds the early sexualization of our daughters and raising young men that are idiots and buffoons.  We laugh at the sitcoms that characterize men as belching, crotch scratching, couch dwelling clowns.  We don’t do well at friendships, we often don’t make good neighbors, and nationwide work-ethic is at an all-time low.

We need the transforming wisdom of the Proverbs.  God’s wisdom for everyday living.  We have found some wonderful resources that we use with our family in teaching the truths that God has given us in the Proverbs. I encourage you to invest in this study, and let God’s Word transform you and your family.