Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Sermon on the Mount and Your Marriage

I recently read an article found in the July issue of In Touch Magazine titled, "Who is Your Neighbor?". It inspired me to write this post and got me thinking of how I could apply Jesus' teachings to marriage. The complete Sermon on the Mount can be found in Matthew 5-7, but I will focus on the version found in Luke 6:27-38.

1. Love your enemies  (v. 27).  Well, hopefully your first thought was not that your husband is the enemy. If it was, I will have to address that in another post (smile). Enemies of marriage come in all forms. I know for some it may be in-laws, the ex-wife, your husband's single friends or his boss that mistreats him at work. As Christians, we are called to love some of the most difficult people and in spite of how he or she may treat us. How can you love someone who causes tension in your marriage, disrespects you or contributes to an unhappy husband? Pray for them. It is hard to dislike someone you pray for. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. Don't respond in a tit-for-tat way. God will deal with them in His time. Just make sure you are doing what He requires of you.

2. Bless those who mistreat you (v. 28). Does your husband ever snap at you after having a stressful day at work? Maybe he responded sarcastically to something you've said? Either of these can be hurtful and our first reaction might be to give him a piece of our mind in a not so nice Christian wife way. But Jesus said we are to do the exact opposite. Next time this occurs do your best to reply back with kindness. You may have to say a silent prayer and just say nothing. Trust that God sees all and will deal with your husband in His time. Remember "a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare" (Proverbs 15:1).

3. Don't demand your rights (v. 29). The New Living Translation states, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also”. Now of course, Luke is not suggesting you let your husband slap you. What he is saying is keep giving, doing for, loving, and respecting your husband even if he does not respond in kind. Now this has to be done in the Lord’s power, so pray over this if you are facing this situation in your marriage.

4. Give to everyone who asks of you (v. 30). You may have heard that marriage is 50/50. Let me tell you that is not true. Marriage should be 100/100. Each partner giving ALL of him/herself. There will be times though, that your husband may not be in the position to give his all. Maybe he is ill, lost his job, or in a depression. Don’t let that stop you from giving your 100%. God sees all and knows all and He will not let any good deed done for Him go unrewarded. And one more thing, please don’t throw it in hubby’s face that you are doing more than you feel he is. The tables can turn at anytime.

5. Treat everyone the same way you’d want them to treat you (v. 31). This is a fairly easy one. Do you like when people are rude, cut you off when you are talking, roll their eyes or disregard your feelings in any way? No, of course not. So remember, anything you don’t want your husband to do to you or say to you; don’t do or say it to him. Period.

6. Do good to those who’ve done nothing for you and won’t repay you (v. 33). The Bible tells us that if we are kind and good to those that are kind and good to us we have not done anything special. The real test comes if we can respond to our husband with love and respect when he has raised his voice, been sarcastic or hurt our feelings in some way. Let me present this another way. Do you show your husband love and affection only when he is acting the way you want him to? Do you say “yes” to making love only when you think he deserves it? Sorry, but that behavior has selfish written all over it.

7. Freely share what you have without expecting anything in return (v. 34-35). Give to your husband and marriage with no ulterior motive. Don’t play the game of-- well I will let him go play golf this weekend, so that when I want to do something for me he’ll have to say yes. Or maybe perhaps, you make more money than he does? Do your marriage a big favor and don’t think that means you are now head of the household. Don’t tell your friends and family how you pay the mortgage and all the bills and blah blah blah. If you look for your reward from men, you will not receive the one from the Lord.
                “…expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense, and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked.” (Luke 6:34-24 AMP)

8. Be merciful to people who are ungrateful---even those who are evil (v. 36). I know there are some ungrateful husbands out there. You take care of the house, the kids, your husband and never get a thank you. That can be very hurtful and discouraging. And yet, God has called us to be sympathetic, tender, responsive and compassionate towards the ungrateful, even to the evil. Why? Because He is all of these to us. Ask the Father to touch your husband’s heart in this area of ungratefulness.

9. Don’t judge or condemn anyone, even if he deserves it (v. 37).  “I told you so”. Those four words are gasoline to the fire already raging in your husband when he has made a mistake. Don’t point out his failures or criticize his faults. Instead, lovingly encourage him as he picks himself back up. Remember that none of us are perfect and how will you want him to treat you when you make a mistake?

10. Recognize the immeasurable blessing of giving without reservation (v. 38). I can’t give a better explanation of this than the one given in the Message Bible. Please read this and apply it to your role as a wife and your marriage.
                Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." (Luke 6:38 MSG)

In closing, I know these may seem overwhelming and maybe impossible. However, God would not have asked them of us if He didn’t think we could achieve it. A lot of prayer and yielding to the Holy Spirit will be required. Marriage is hard work, but the reward of doing it God’s way is so much sweeter than doing it the easy way.

So, I would like to hear from you. Which of these can you start working on today? Which of these do you already see yourself doing?

Be blessed my sisters!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sighs, Rolling Eyes, & Slamming Gates

Before I was married I read countless number of books on marriage, what it means to be a wife, and how to treat my husband. Love & Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is one of my favorites and was a real eye-opener into the needs of men and women. I was so gung-ho about respecting my future husband! Woohoo! I got this, I can do this!

I had asked God to show me how to be a wife and there it was in black and white in the book, Love & Respect and in His Word. Ephesians 5:33 says,”…and the wife must respect her husband.” Instructions directly from the Creator of marriage.

Well, remember this was all before I was a married woman. And now, that I have been married for all of 3 months I can already see this is not as easy as I thought it would be. Can, I get an amen? I mean I have the BEST intentions, I have the knowledge and I have the desire to be respectful to my husband, but for some reason I struggle with this from time to time.

For example, when I am in the kitchen and I am making my husband’s plate or I am cooking something he has requested; this sound comes from deep inside me. It’s a sigh! Yes, an innocent sigh. But, it can be seen as more than that from my husband because the truth is that sigh is an expression of my displeasure in what I am doing.

And then, sometimes when he is not looking; I roll my eyes at what he says. Yep, sure do. Is that respectful? No way!

We have a gate outside that if you are not careful and hold it the gate will make a loud noise as it slams back into place. Normally, we hold the gate and let it go back slowly as to not let it slam. But, if I’m not in the best of moods or again unhappy with hubby--- I’ll let that gate go and BAM, take that!

Ohhhhh, but THANK GOD for His conviction! The Holy Spirit, speaks to me and says “now, that’s not right, daughter.” I must remember what He taught me. Yes, being respectful is the big stuff like not speaking rudely to him in front of the children, not going behind his back and making your own decisions, but it is also the little things like maintaining a good attitude even when he asks us to do things for him that we don’t “feel” like doing.

Showing our husbands respect is what we are called to do by God. And since He has called us to do it, that means it can be done. In His strength and His power. We must not be fooled and think we are going to be respectful apart from God. So press into Him more and more and rise above your feelings. Something that works for me is the thought of him treating me that way. The old Golden Rule. Yep, the one wayyyy back in elementary still keeps me in check.

So, ladies, please share what those little dare I say “disrespectful” attitudes and actions that you may have and how you overcame them or what God is doing to help you overcome?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dare To Be Different

This morning while listening to the Anointed Wives Ministry (AWM) prayer call I was reminded how I don't have many friends who have made up in their mind & heart to be a Godly wife. This prayer call is a lifeline to women around the country dedicated to being a Godly wife. At times, I long for a female friend my age willing to walk with God in her marriage.

The types of conversations I normally hear regarding marriage are not positive ones. Complaints about not helping around the house, not helping with the kids, not being loving, not listening etc., etc. are common. Very rarely do I get to partake in conversations about what a blessing having a husband is, how great it is to have a lifelong companion and so on.

In contrast, the two times I have listened to the AWM prayer call I have been amazed at what I heard. One woman said "Lord, help me to be an obedient wife" and she even asked her husband if he thought she was obedient and in what area could she improve. WHAT?! I was shocked! Just this morning, wife after wife shared their husband's strengths, while asking for prayer regarding their own weaknesses. This truly blessed me and let me know I am not alone in my quest to be the wife God has called me to be. Not the one I FEEL like being at the moment.

Many wives have decided to do marriage their own way or really not do anything with it at all. This saddens me because I know by not choosing God's way they are setting themselves up to fail. It is a hard truth, but it is true. This goes back to my testimony of how God prepared me to be a wife even before I met my husband. All I had to do was ask Him with a sincere heart and He answered swiftly. God has given me the information and I am determined to use it. The bible says:

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

Wives, I want to encourage you to dare to be different. Dare to be the wife who happily submits to her husband, who takes pride in her gentle & quiet spirit and looks to Proverbs 31 as her guide.

If a "friend" laughs at you because you say, "I have to check with my husband and get back to you"...SO WHAT.

If a "friend" rolls her eyes because you say, "I don't mind picking up after my husband because he works so hard for the family"...SO WHAT.

If a "friend" pressures you to stay out late and hang with the girls and calls you whooped and you say, "I'm leaving. My husband is waiting on me to get home"....SO WHAT.

Have you ever felt alone in your walk as a wife? Please know that you are not. Whether you have to get on facebook, twitter, this blog or the AWM prayer line to fellowship with likeminded women; know that we are out there and we love and support you.

Lastly, please comment and share your experience of striving to be a Godly wife and if you have found that less and less women are walking the same path. What pushes you to keep going and to get better?

Be blessed!