Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sacrificially Loving Your Spouse: Your Words

Here is the last post on the series of sacrificially loving your husband--your words. 

Do you honor your husband when you speak of him to others? Is he thrown under the bus for the sake of a joke, griping, gossip and complaining or, despite what mistakes he might make, do you protect his reputation and build him up in the minds of others? Remember, you have the power to esteem your husband in people’s minds or to make him look silly and foolish. We mistakenly do the latter, and then we wonder why no one looks at our husband for leadership opportunities or come to him for wisdom. We tear down our husband’s reputations just so we can selfishly let off steam.

Instead, be a promoter and recommend your husband. Not only refuse to complain about him in public, but choose to thank him and build him up in front of others. I have a friend who is constantly praising her husband—not in a bragging way—but in a proud, loving way. By the time I am leaving her, I am ALWAYS thinking highly of her spouse. People’s perceptions of your spouse are based greatly on how you present him.

What other practical steps can you take to prefer your spouse with words? Build him up and encourage him with love and gentleness in your speech. Tell your children how blessed they are to have your spouse as a father. When is the last time you told your parents how wonderful your husband is to you? That’s right! So many of us use our moms as a sounding board to gripe about what our spouse did wrong. Stop! Instead, tell her what a sweet father he is or how well he painted that room or how long he worked today to provide for your family. Write a little brag post about your spouse on Facebook. Buy a card for no reason and tell your husband as many things you love about him as years he is old or years you have been married.  Bible verses encourage me, and I send them to my husband when he is in trials to give him encouragement as well.  Scripture is a powerful tool of encouragement and hope that God has given us to use for life and godliness!

Sometimes our lack of words can be an encouragement as well. Instead of complaining or criticizing him about his parking job, his perceived bad driving, his clothes on the floor, the drawer or door he left open, the errand he forgot to run or the obvious “I told you so” staring you both in the face, just close your mouth ladies, love him, and fix whatever needs to be fixed or do whatever he forgot to do without telling him.  Proverbs 25:24 says, "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife."  In addition, Proverbs 27:15 reminds us that "A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike."  Proverbs 21:19 adds, "It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman."  The Bible is clear that an argumentative and negative wife is not going to create a happy marriage or husband.  Who wants to be compared to a desert or an annoying, dismal dripping? 

Rather, look at what Proverbs has to say about the Proverbs 31 woman, an excellent model of godliness and righteousness in her wifely role.  Proverbs 31:26 explains that "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."  What a difference from the above wife!  This wife is speaking God's truths and filtering what she says through the fruit of kindness!  This is a wife who is helping her husband and strengthening her marriage.  Proverbs 14:1 says "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down."  The Proverbs 31 woman is using her words to build up her family and the contentious wife is tearing it apart with one foolish word after another.

What is the pattern of your speech?  When you are speaking directly TO your husband, are you using gentle and encouraging words?  Ephesians 4:29 tells us, "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."  Is everything you are saying to your husband giving him grace, or are some of your words tearing him down and multiplying sinful attitudes and words in your family?

Using righteous words and taming our tongue is hard, but we are still called to be holy in this particular area.  We must use the help of the Holy Spirit and the truths of scripture to guide us in our speech.  Think of the fruit that will result from righteousness in this area!  Be encouraged and cling to God as we work to honor God through sacrificially loving our spouse!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Humility in Successful Circumstances

I was thinking about Moses today.  I have always admired him, especially in light of Numbers 12:3, which says, "Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth."  Can you imagine God calling you the most humble woman on earth?  Wow!  That would be quite an amazing accolade!

What I haven't before considered, and what makes this even more amazing, is that Moses had every circumstance around him that would create someone who was prideful and egotistic.  You see Moses had grown up in the royal Egyptian household.  Egypt was amazingly powerful at this point in history.  He was part of an important family!  No doubt, he had slaves and people doing whatever he asked.  Think of the type of person that usually comes out of that type of situation--someone very full of himself!

In addition, once Moses has run away from Egypt and started his new life shepherding, God visits Moses and asks HIM to lead the nation of Israel.  Truly stop and think about this now.  Imagine you are royalty or part of the presidential household all the way to adulthood.  Then, imagine that the God of everything chooses YOU to do a tremendously important task.  We get puffed up when church leadership knows our name or when our kids get an academic or sports award.  That is NOTHING compared to what Moses had.  I think there is truth in saying Moses's circumstances might tempt us to be prideful.

Despite these circumstances, not only was Moses humble, but the Bible tell us he was the MOST humble person on earth.  WOW!  That is convicting to me.

This doesn't mean he had a poor view of himself or bad self esteem.  It means he thought of others more and thought of himself less.  He put God first and others before himself.  How often in Exodus we see Moses interceding and praying for the Israelites and family members, even after they have mocked him or slandered him!  He had a Philippians 2 attitude.

Now we know Moses wasn't perfect.  He had a temper issue, and he was human.  However, I would venture to say that we women could learn a lot from Moses about staying humble despite circumstances God allows to flourish or bloom in our lives.

For example, what about our physique?  This week on Facebook, a girl was proud she had lost her baby weight.  This is a good thing!  I was very happy for her!  However, some people commented that she "earned" it by all her hard work to lose weight.  She had worked hard, but here was no mention of God's part in that.  I once had another really mature Christian lady get offended when someone told her God had genetically blessed her with her frame.  She said it was only because she worked out so much that she was the size she was able to be.  It is hard work to keep fit and healthy, but we can never ever take God out of that equation.  Without health, a body that is able to exercise and genetics that allow us to be slim, we wouldn't be that size that we want to be.  Some people, no matter how much they work, will not be that size.  We cannot become prideful in our looks, even if we do sacrifice and work for a smaller size.  In a second, God can cause a circumstance where you gain weight and cannot "work" to keep it off.  Instead of only patting ourselves on the back, we need to point to recognize God and thank Him for the time, energy, health and ability to work out and eat healthy food.  There is a place for a "Good job" to a friend who has been losing weight, but we cannot give ourselves full or even the majority of the credit.  Plus, of course, we need to make sure our motivation is right.  It shouldn't be full of vanity.  It only takes a few years before wrinkles, cellulite and decaying/sick bodies remind us we have NO control over our physical bodies in the end.

This can apply to our kids too.  Moms, it is SO easy to be prideful when our kids do well at something.  We want to tell everyone about it and we beam at that award ceremony or announcement.  However, did we do something great?  Did our kid do this by his own ability?  As Christians, we have to point to Christ and realize, with HUMILITY, that all gains we have been given are His doing and are for HIS glory.  Use the opportunity to recognize God and teach your child that God has given him this talent/ability/or soft heart. 

God gives us the very breath we breathe, the bodies we have were formed by Him, the brains we use are taught and made by our Creator, the opportunities we are given are preordained by God himself, the money we earn is provided by God, and the talents and gifts we have are chosen by God for us to give Him glory. 

What did we do on our own?  Nothing.  We like to boast--it feeds our flesh.  Paul reminds us to only boast for God's glory.  Galatians 6:14  "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."  He also constantly boasts of others' conduct when they are giving God glory and being obedient to the Word.   

Hmmmm.  Think about this.  Do we boast of others doing great things for God?  Definitely not as much as we should.  We should recognize and encourage those who are excelling in their conduct as a Christian or making great strides at sharing the gospel or doing good works constantly for those in the church. 

Sadly, ladies, we are too busy worried about ourselves and making sure people perceive us well.  We want people to give US pats on the back and give us compliments.  God's plan is the opposite.  We are to POUR ourselves out for His glory and for the benefit of the body of believers. 

Ask Yourself:
In what areas do you find yourself pridefully sinning?  Is it body image, gifts/talents, money, intelligence, job, status, or kid's behavior or talents?  What can you do to take the focus off yourself and onto boasting in God and others' efforts for His kingdom?  Take some time in prayer today to repent of prideful areas and to give thanks to God for any benefitial circumstances He has allowed in your life.  Then, choose 2 or 3 people to whom you can encourage and recognize for their great obedience for the furthering of God's Kingdom.
Finally, meditate on Numbers 12:3 in light of Moses's life circumstances and benefits.  Seek to be a woman who is that humble--emptying herself for God's glory!