Hi this is pastor Ken thanks for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…Love is kind
Last week I began to define the characteristics of agape love as stated in ‘The Love Chapter’ otherwise known as 1 Corinthians chapter 13. In the past two editions of my podcast I laid much of the groundwork for this journey of understanding about love that we will be on for the first quarter of this year. If you have not listened to those two podcasts; Love Does…Love Does Not and Love Is Patient, I would suggest listening to those prior to this one to gain a fuller understanding. If you tuned in for those then I am glad you have chosen to move forward along with me.
The next attribute of agape love listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is this…Love is kind. As I did last week I will look to the dictionary to define the word kind. I know we all have a pretty good handle on the meaning but this is what Webster’s has to say.
Kind as an adverb; 1: of a sympathetic or helpful nature, 2: of a forbearing nature, 3: arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance, 4: of a kind to give pleasure or relief.
Utilizing this definition, love is sympathetic to someone else’s situation and desires to be helpful if at all possible. Love has a forbearing nature…it is patient with others (we covered that last week). Love according to the dictionary arises from or is characterized by sympathy or forbearance. This is one that the Webster’s actually got more right than I think they know…more about that in a few moments. Love desires to give pleasure or relief, love wants to make whatever is adverse in someone’s life right again.
As I did last week, I also want to look at the original text to define the descriptor ‘kind’. It isn’t because I think we all need to be scholars of the Greek or Hebrew languages, but often the original words or phrase used matters, and as we saw last week it may take more than one English word to accurately translate the original concept. The Greek word used by the Apostle Paul that has been translated to the word ‘kind’ is Chrestos from which we get our word charity. It means to show oneself benevolently useful, or to be helpful by meeting a need. So according to the original term, love attempts to meet a need that exists.
As you full well know, when you look up a word in the dictionary each definition for that particular word offers an example of that meaning. When I looked up the word kind to use for this podcast the first definition: of a sympathetic or helpful nature was followed by the examples; was helped by a kind neighbor and They were very kind to us. So what examples of biblical definition does God’s word offer?
Psalm 119:76 Let, I pray, your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant. Isaiah 54:8 goes on to reinforce this connection between mercy and kindness. But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer. In these scriptures among many others we see that mercy is attached to kindness. If according to the word of God love is kind, and mercy is a result of kindness then love too will result in mercy. Loving actions will be merciful actions, loving words will be merciful words.
Joel 2:13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. In this example we see three more descriptors associated with God’s brand of kindness. Along with mercy we also see graciousness, being slow to anger and relenting from doing harm. Again if love is kind as described in 1 Corinthians 13 then love is; merciful, gracious, slow to anger and does not cause harm.
In Luke 6:35 Jesus said, But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. From this biblical example we see that God shows kindness to those who are ungrateful and evil. We can take from this that kindness (love) should be extended to those that people might look at and say are undeserving of that loving kindness. If we are to let our love be Agape love or godly love, it must be extended to the deserving and the undeserving alike.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; in this example we see that loving kindness will prefer another over self. Preference is not deference. Deference simply means to give in to another. Giving preference to someone over yourself is to desire them to have their way so that you can take joy in their joy. It is what we get to experience when we allow a child to win a game or a race or some other competition that we could have easily won.
There are many other examples from God’s word that describe kindness as it pertains to love but I will conclude with these two. Ephesians 4:32 says: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Additionally, Colossians 3:12-14 reads as follows, Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. The first scripture adds to the list of what kindness looks like. It is tender hearted and causes one to desire to forgive. The second of these two reiterates the above and adds to it several other characteristics of love that are almost verbatim found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is kind, kindness is merciful, slow to anger and chooses to do no harm. Kindness is gracious and affectionate and prefers others above self. Kindness is tenderhearted and forgives freely. Kindness extends to the worthy and the unworthy. Kindness is all of these things and more…and love is kind.
Remember I said we would get back to that third definition of love from Webster’s Dictionary? I said they were actually probably more correct with this definition than they realized. Their definition says: arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance. Love is action, not emotion. Each of the characteristics we look at from 1 Corinthians 13 will be actionable. Culturally however, we tend to think of love as an emotion. We have also been conditioned by novels, poetry, songs and movies to think that the emotion we call love will bring about action we would identify as loving. However, Webster’s actually got it right…kindness (an attribute of love) arisesfromor is characterized by loving action. In truth, and as God’s word validates…the emotion we identify as love is the result of loving action…not the other way around.
Questions to answer:
Is kindness as described above something you find easy or difficult for you in your marriage?
What attributes of loving kindness are easiest for you, what things are more difficult for you to display?
Which characteristics of kindness do you wish were more prevalent in your marriage?
Actions to take:
Identify ways discussed above that you find your spouse to be kind in their interactions with you.
Thank them for the ways that they treat you that you find to be especially kind.
Pray that God would help you to each recognize opportunities to express your love for one another through kindness.
So now, making the most of every opportunity to reflect the loving kindness your Heavenly Father has shown you, in your spouse’s direction…go be awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken, thank you for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…love is Patient
In last week’s podcast I highlighted the attributes of love according to 1 Corinthians 13. This short chapter from the first letter written to the Corinthian church by the Apostle Paul is commonly known as the “love chapter”. It is often looked to as the biblical reference point to define love. As such, I used it last week as the basis for my podcast…Love Does…Love Does Not.
In that podcast I spoke about the fact that there are three different words in the Greek language that are all translated to the English word love. I mentioned that Eros is romantic or passionate love. I told you that Phileo is what we call friendship or brotherly love. In fact, the name of the city Philadelphia (The City of brotherly love) comes from this Greek word for love. And finally I shared with you that Agape is perfect love or godly love. It is the form of love that keeps the other two forms behaving as they should within the marriage.
I pointed out that the first three verses of this chapter make the point that if Agape love is not being displayed everything else we do becomes irrelevant. The things we say will not be received correctly if they are not said in Agape. The ministries we have will be ineffective if they are not carried out in Agape. Our faith will be useless if it is not driven by Agape. Even the gifts we give to others will be viewed as coming from some ulterior motive if they are not given with Agape. Finally, these three short verses conclude that even if we give up our very life for someone or some cause, if we don’t do it in Agape love…even that incredible act will be void of purpose. The point then is that with agape all is done as it should be when it comes to love, but without agape even those things we would describe as loving acts become useless or irrelevant.
When I said a moment ago that last week I highlighted the attributes of Agape love, I did just that, I highlighted them. I mentioned then, in the weeks ahead I would define those characteristics in greater detail. That is what I plan to do and this week we will look at the first of those qualities.
Most English Versions of the Bible translate 1 Corinthians 13:4a as, Love is patient, a few others use the descriptor long suffering. So, what do those words mean? Patient is defined by the dictionary as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. I find that at least in our western society we consider ourselves to be patient if we do not display our displeasure with someone if they cause us trouble in some capacity. However, the actual definition of patience according to the dictionary says that true patience does not become angry or upset when displeased…even on the inside. This means that even for those of us who would consider themselves to be patient people…we may still have some work to do in this area. I know that I do. Longsuffering according to the dictionary means: having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people. So if we define the two English words used in the translation of this scripture from its original text we find that Agape love accepts trouble or suffering especially when caused by another person without reacting with anger or becoming upset. That sounds like something difficult to do in the treatment of others, but exactly how I want to be treated, hmmm…
When we look at the original Greek text even more information of this descriptor of Agape becomes apparent. The original word from the Greek (Mack-roth-oo-meh’-o) means much more than one English word alone could convey. In the context of this scripture it means, refusing to retaliate with anger because of human reasoning. In other words, if the expression of anger toward a person would be the natural response, and others looking on would agree that it seemed appropriate…love will withhold that anger. It also means divinely directed patience. This means that love will only display anger as the Lord directs. Remember WWJD? The word we translate to patience here literally means love will only lose its cool if Jesus would lose His cool over the offence. The literal sense of the term is extending a long time or way without response.
Scripturally there are ten other instances of this term used in the New Testament. One of them comes from the parable Jesus told of the king who forgave the great debt.(Matthew 18:23-35) The debtor who deserved to be sold into slavery along with his family to repay what was owed asked the king to have (mack-roth-oo-meh’-o) or patience with him and to allow him to try to repay what he owed. In the parable, the debtor owed more than could be repaid, but was asking the king to forego treating him as he deserved. The inference here is that love does not respond to others in a harsh or angry way even if it is what conventional wisdom would say is deserved. Sometimes anger or its other forms within marriage is deserved. Sometimes the ‘cold shoulder’ or ‘slamming cupboard doors’, or ‘muttering angry words under the breath’ would be the appropriate response to some injustice committed…but love won’t do it.
In 2 Peter 3:9 Peter used this same word. That verse is speaking about God’s patience with humankind. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise (that worldwide judgment is coming), as some count slackness (that He isn’t ever really going to do it), but is longsufferingtoward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. His love causes him to withhold his wrath or anger. I like this instance because it gives a practical example of how we are the recipients of the exact brand of love that we are instructed in 1 Corinthians 13:4 to show to others.
Love is patient. Sometimes I think if this were the only characteristic given to us in this scripture we would have enough to work on for a lifetime, but the fact is there are still 14 more qualities of Agape left to discover. God does not give us instruction that we cannot learn to follow. We may never become perfect at doing it all the time, but we can move in that direction. I find that the first steps in meeting with success are to agree with God that the thing He is seeking from us is, He is right to ask for. Second, we have to admit that if He asks us to do a certain thing toward others…we owe it to them. Not necessarily because they deserve it in our eyes, but because our Lord says they deserve it…and that makes it so. Finally, and maybe most importantly, things like the patience and longsuffering I have been speaking of today, by worldly standards are nonsensical, so we have to decide who we are doing it for. If I am patient with my wife when I feel she has wronged me, and I decide I am doing that for her, at some point it will be too much and I will lose patience. If I am doing it for my Lord, my Savior, my King…no wrong she can do, even if each one were added up, would begin to come close to what I owe Him. In that light, because of His patience toward me, I can choose patience toward her…for Him.
Questions to answer:
What makes patience toward your spouse difficult for you?
How might that change if you chose to show your spouse patience in response to the patience shown toward you by God?
Is this an area you feel you need to improve in?
Actions to take:
If you feel that you have been lacking in patience toward your spouse, tell God you recognize this to be a difficulty for you and seek His forgiveness.
If you feel that your spouse often treats you with a love that is patient…thank them for that now.
Pray together that God would help both of you recognize when your patience with each other is being tested and ask Him to help you to learn to be more reflective of Him in this way as you interact with one another.
So now, learning to implement a love that is patient, allow your marriage to reflect God’s love toward the two of you and…go be awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken, thank you for joining me for this week’s Monday Marriage Message….Don’t Go It Alone
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
As a pastor, I have officiated at many weddings. In many of those ceremonies and countless others around the world, this scripture has been quoted. What does it mean? As with so many scriptures the fullness of its meaning will never be known this side of heaven, and though we may not ever gain a total understanding, neither should we stop at the literal interpretations of the English words on the page. So what truths are here that can at least be gleaned from the lower branches?
First – Two are better than one. If it wasn’t evident from other scriptures we have looked at in the previous podcasts, it should be abundantly clear here…we are created for relationship. We were not made to ‘go it alone.’ We certainly can walk through life alone. It is fully possible, just not fully profitable. Some of us, and I include myself in this category, like being alone from time to time, but that does not mean we are created for that purpose. Months ago I began this podcast illustrating for you that God created men and women, as equals yet different, for the purpose of being joined together, to complete the creation of an entity that is reflective of His image and likeness. Genesis 2:18 says: and the Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” I will dissect this scripture in much greater detail in next week’s episode, but the scripture clearly says that God said it is not good that mankind should be alone. We were created for relationship – relationship with other human beings and relationship with God. Genesis chapter three begins by telling us that in the cool of the day God came and walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Literally thousands of scriptures indicate His desire for continued relationship with his creation, mankind. In fact, the entirety of the New Testament points to the truth…that particular desire of His has not diminished.
Second – They have a good reward for their labor – It has long been noted that two are more efficient than one. A team of two can move more than twice what one can move alone. Two people determined to accomplish a goal are exponentially more likely to succeed, not only because of greater physical strength, but also greater determination. When one who is alone becomes discouraged, he or she is finished, when two take on a task they are able to encourage one another when necessary, and keep the goal in mind until it is reached. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. While this phrase can be looked at in a physical light, it also has great emotional implications. When one is alone, even if it is by choice, he or she is at much greater risk of discouragement, despondency, and dismay. All of these lead to a loss of momentum toward a goal, which often results in further downcast emotions. This cycle is only able to be broken easily if one has a companion to help. Added to this, is the truth that if we have no one to help we are likely to experience the negative side effects of feelings of uselessness and drudgery.
Third – Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? The obvious interpretation here is that where two are together they are physically warmer than one who sleeps alone. No doubt this is true. In his commentary, Matthew Henry takes it a step further and points out that: “If two lie together, they have heat. So virtuous and gracious affections are excited by good society, and Christians warm one another by provoking one another to love and to good works.” It is certainly true that a Christ-following husband or wife motivates their spouse to act in godly ways. One who loves Christ also chooses to meet the needs of their spouse in response to their own relationship with God. Additionally, He motivates us to perform acts of service for our spouse out of the abundance of love He has for us.
Fourth – Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. While the analogy here is also of a physical nature, there is a deeper spiritual truth present. There can be no question that all kinds of temptations come against marriages every day. As individuals we are much more susceptible than when joined with another. You rarely see a nature show featuring predators where the aggressor runs into the middle of a herd to take the stronger, healthier prey. Instead the predator circles the herd looking for the weak, the injured, the young or the one alone, and then after carefully choosing the easiest target, begins the advance against it. Our enemy is no different. The bible tells us he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. If we will not try to ‘go it alone’ when it comes to temptations, but rather share our battle with a spouse or a trusted friend, they can stand with us in the fight. Inviting accountability, though humbling, is incredibly powerful at frustrating the enemy’s plans. James 5:16 (The Message) Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
Fifth – And a three-fold cord is not quickly broken. Here again God makes his desire to be a part of our marriages evident. That is ultimately why we use these verses in so many wedding ceremonies. How do we know God means that He desires to be a part of our marriages? How do we know He is not simply indicating that three friends are even better than the two He has been speaking of to this point? God has just given four reasons two are better than one, but after making this statement of three being very strong He moves on to another subject altogether. Matthew Henry makes the point that Where two dwell in love, God, who is love, dwells with them. Henry makes no distinction between a Christian and a non- Christian couple. I believe he does not do so because God joins a man and a woman with a portion of His Spirit, as we have discovered, (Malachi 2:15) regardless of their allegiance to Him. As a result, marriage, made of a man, a woman, and a portion of the Holy Spirit, is a superior bond found in no other human relationship. Therefore, marriage has the potential to offer the greatest resistance against Satan, more so than any other relationship. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. For those who are married and are willing to be vulnerable with one another about their personal struggles, the way of escape is built right into their marriage…it’s their spouse!Questions to Answer:
1. In what ways do you see God as an integral part of your marriage?
2. What ways do you think He would like to see His role increased in your marriage?
Actions to Take:
1. Discuss the steps the two of you could put into place to help you make sure God has a larger role in your marriage.
2. Talk about the times you have invited Him to be a larger part of your marriage and the results you experienced.
3. Talk about some times you think you could have done a better job of being more hospitable to God in your marriage. Discuss the results of holding God at arm’s length from your marriage.
So now, recognizing that you were designed for oneness with your spouse, use your marriage as an opportunity to give and experience encouragement and help second to none and…Go Be Awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken with my Monday Marriage Message…“You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”
As the parents of five children, my wife and I heard the title of today’s edition proclaimed loudly between siblings more than a few times. If you have children or remember being one, you have undoubtedly heard the same forceful declaration broadcast a time or two yourself. Perhaps it has escaped your own lips. In most marriages this, or some variation, has been uttered from one spouse toward the other, even if only on the inside. There are countless times when we have all resisted being told what to do.
The problem begins when we resist obeying a command because of a case of mistaken identity concerning where the command originated. If we think the command has come from our spouse, we revolt, almost as a default reaction. No one likes being told what to do, how to act, how to respond, especially if we know the one requiring such action from us has failed to do so appropriately in the past themselves. The very natural (though unwise) reaction is to become defensive and dig our heels in…no matter how wrong we may be. One great way to avoid such self-righteous, self-induced failure is to correctly identify the one giving the command so we might respond as we should.
Ephesians 5:22-33 in the New King James Version reads, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
First, let’s identify the commands found in this passage of scripture:
Wives – submit to your own husband as to the Lord.
Wives – be subject to your own husband in everything like the church is subject to Christ.
Husbands – love your wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Husbands – love your wife as you care for your own body. Meet her needs and give her what she needs.
Husbands and Wives – treat your spouse like you would treat Jesus because they are members of His body.
Husbands – Love your wife unconditionally.
Wives – Respect your husband unconditionally.
Many women do not like the verbiage at the beginning of this passage. They find it to be degrading or demeaning and derogatory. I really wish more people had a fuller understanding of the true meaning of this scripture. I think if it were not misunderstood by both wives and their husbands, there would be a much greater acceptance of it. First let me point out that it speaks of a voluntary position the wife chooses to take. It should not be misunderstood as being an optional position, but it is taken voluntarily. In other words, power and authority are not being extracted from her, rather, she is entering into a submissive role of her own volition. Her submissiveness is not something the husband owns it is something the wife loans. It is actually a reflection of great strength that a wife is able to give her submissiveness to her husband. Likewise choosing to be subject to her own husband is a decision on the part of the wife to support her husband in the decisions he makes (hopefully after consulting her as I mentioned he should several weeks ago).
Husbands often get the meaning of verse 25 all wrong because they interpret ‘Laying down their life’ through the lens of their own bravado. They view this as being willing to ‘take a bullet’ for their wife if it came down to it (which they are certain they will likely never have to do), just so long as she gets the whole submissive and subjective thing right. Wrong. What we are called to do as a husband is lay down our needs, our desires, our comfort, for our wife…just as Christ did for us. Allow me to repeat myself from an earlier episode, Jesus didn’t leave the comfort of heaven because He had need to…He did so because we had need of Him to do so. He gave up everything so we could have what we needed. He lowered himself that we might be exalted. Husbands, we are each instructed to do the same for our wife.
Furthermore, the scripture goes on to point out in verse 30, that as husbands and wives, we must recognize that our spouse is a part of Christ’s body. If we mistreat our spouse, if we do not give them the consideration this scripture prescribes, we are mistreating Christ. If as a husband I am not loving my wife, I am not loving Christ. If my wife does not respect me, she is disrespecting Christ. To take this concept one step further, is your spouse a child of God? If so, who is your father-in-law? Perhaps we all need to take note of that one.
Final thought: Who commands husbands to love? Who commands wives to respect? Who commands husbands to lay down their lives? Who commands wives to submit? God does; it is from His word that we get these commands. Is God the boss of you? I hope so. So ladies, when you are submitting, respecting and bringing yourselves under your husband’s authority, you are doing it for God, not for your husband. Husbands, when you are loving, meeting her needs all while laying down your own needs, your desires and your comfort, you aren’t doing it for her, you are doing it for God, who already did it for you.
Colossians 3:18-19, 23-25 says: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them…And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
Don’t get caught shaking your fist at God screaming “You’re not the boss of me” …not even on the inside!
Questions to Answer:
What misconceptions have the two of you had about this scripture from Ephesians 5 pertaining to the roles of a husband and wife?
How do you view them now and what changes can you envision happening in your marriage as you move into your new understanding?
Actions to take:
Talk about some of the reasons (misunderstanding, ignorance, past personal experiences, families of origin, etc.) that have caused you to look at scriptures like this in a negative light.
Discuss some of the things the two of you can do to help ease those concerns as you both align with what God is asking of each of you.
Discuss how learning to be obedient to what God is requiring of each of you could cause your oneness to increase.
When you are each finding it difficult to comply because of a case of ‘mistaken identity,’ ask God to remind you that He alone is the one who gave you these commands.
So now, choosing to do all the Lord has asked of you especially when it comes to your marriage because He is the boss of you…Go be Awesome!
Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. God Hates Divorce…But He Loves Divorcees
If I heard my mom say it once, I heard her say it a thousand times, “Ken, you can go to hell for lying just like you can for cheating”. What was mom saying? She was telling me what God’s word tells all of us, one sin is no worse than another because any sin means we have missed the mark. Romans 3:23 says it clearly; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Mom was right. All sin, any sin, makes me intolerable to God…except for the atoning blood of Jesus! In this way all sin is equal. Another equalizer of all sin is its opposite. What is the opposite of a lie? Holiness. What is the opposite of cheating? Holiness. What is the opposite of fornication or adultery? Holiness. What is the opposite of divorce? Holiness. The opposite of any sin is holiness. God hates all of it, lies, cheating, adultery, fornication…divorce. The opposite of all sin is the same thing and in that way all sin is equally detrimental to our spiritual condition. Make no mistake, I am in no way trying to minimize or normalize sin. I illustrate this so that no one would misunderstand and believe that their divorce makes the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ inaccessible to them.
All sin is the same, but not all sin has the same natural consequences. The natural consequences of some sins are much more difficult to remedy than others. Malachi 2:16 says “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence”, says the Lord of Hosts. “Therefore, take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” God does indeed say that He hates divorce. Why is this? He says it is because it covers one’s garment with violence. The picture being painted is one of a murder scene. God is saying that His hatred for divorce is because it kills something (a marriage) he has created. Beyond that, it murders something He cared so much for that He invested a portion of His Own Spirit into it. God hates divorce because it kills something He loves…in the same way you would say you hated anything that took the life of someone you love. Because of His great love for our marriages, He warns us against anything that might lead to its downfall. So He tells us to heed our spirit and not treat our spouses treacherously, or in ways that harm them; physically, emotionally and or spiritually.
John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world (everyone, even divorced people) that He sent His Only Son and that any of us who put our faith in Him (Jesus) we will live eternally (in God’s presence). The very next verse goes on to say that Jesus did not come to condemn the world (even divorced people) but instead, offer a way to be saved from our sin. So if you are divorced you might be taking issue with me that divorce doesn’t equate to sin. In certain cases, I would agree. God’s word does make for some very limited specific allowances for situations that are beyond a person’s ability to navigate. However, the entirety of God’s word always points to reconciliation as the best course of action whenever possible. Jerimiah 3 indicates this may include leaving the door open to later reconciliation even if it seems unlikely in the present. In that passage God says He remains married to the backslider, hoping for a future homecoming.
I define sin as anything that goes against God’s best for us. Divorce fits that category. Matthew 19:6-8 reads as follows: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” This scripture records for us a conversation between Jesus and some Pharisees. They were trying to get Jesus to tell them if they could divorce for any reason (like we allow in America today). They were trying to twist the scripture to say that divorce was a viable option when a marriage wasn’t pleasing to them anymore. Jesus pointed out several truths here:
Marriage is a God thing – not simply an agreement between two people enforceable only until one or both of them want to deem it null and void.
God knows that divorce happens, but He never sees it as the best option – ever.
Divorce wasn’t even a thing until marriage had been in existence for nearly 2600 years. Many of those had been incredibly long marriages, Adam lived to be 930 years old (Gen 5:5) and we can assume most if not all of those married to Eve (we don’t know who died first). The average length of marriages in America is eight years – we have some catching up to do!
Divorce is a result of hard hearts. Tough words to wrestle with, but Jesus said them. He is who we must take issue with if we don’t like how they fit.
I am not making these points to condemn; if I were, the words would be self-condemnation for both my wife Lynn and myself. Perhaps that is what gives us the legitimacy to be able to speak to them. My only intent is to point out that divorce is a huge deal that never solves a problem and really only serves to create a new set of its own. Our stories are different. We divorced for different reasons. We are blessed to have been led to one another years later, but we both know and admit freely that our divorces were not acts of selflessness. They were the actions of selfish hearts who wanted to be free to someday marry someone else who would treat us the way we felt we deserved to be treated.
Why include this incredibly difficult entry in a podcast about love and marriage? I include it because 40% of all marriages in America today are re-marriages for one or both participants. This is clearly outside the design and because of its prevalence must be addressed in any serious podcast on marriage. The good news is, God recognizes subsequent marriages, and wants to bless them fully. In John 4:16-17 while speaking with the woman at the well, Jesus recognized each of her 5 marriages as valid marriages. God wants us to see the current marriage we are in as the only marriage we have, and to work hard to make it a successful one, till death do us part. As I said before, the consequences of seeking something that is not God’s best for us (such as divorce) will have to be dealt with. There are some nuances unique to remarriage that have to be navigated carefully if they are to be successful. The average duration of subsequent marriages today is 4 years – just over half of the success rate of all marriages. Second marriages end in divorce 60% of the time while that rate climbs to 73% for third marriages. Statistically speaking, we NEED God’s blessing on our re-marriages.
So, what to do? If one or both of you are formerly divorced forget that title and live like what you are…married. Work at your marriage with all you have. Learn from this podcast and other resources like it, how to ensure that this marriage is the covenant experience that reaps all of the blessings God desires for marriage. Don’t deal treacherously with one another, which leads to the death of marriage, rather as God’s word says, recognize you get to choose the direction you send your marriage in. Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Ephesians 4:29 states: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Additionally, Proverbs 15:4 says: A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Marriage is important to God. He says He is watching to see how we treat this treasure He has given to us. Proverbs 19:4 says that land is what an earthly father leaves his children, but our marriage is our inheritance from the Lord. I believe all of this to be true whether you are in your first, or a subsequent marriage. Hard hearts have always been the leading cause of divorce throughout history…Jesus said so. Heard hearts are the leading cause of oneness increasing. Speak life into your marriage, look at it as your only marriage that matters, because God sees it that way. Pray like it all depends on God…and work like it all depends on you.
Questions to Answer:
This entry may have been a tough pill to swallow, what are your thoughts about divorce and hard hearts?
If you are among the remarried, what nuances do you see in your marriage that require special navigation?
How do you wish you could navigate the difficulties for greater success going forward?
If this is your first marriage, what things do you feel you should do to ensure success the first time?
Actions to Take:
If need be, pray for forgiveness for a hard heart (present or past) and ask God to soften it so that He can mold it as He desires.
Discuss actions the two of you can take that eliminate divorce as a possibility.
Make a plan to begin speaking words of life into your marriage daily, don’t go to bed tonight until you have both done so for this day.
So now, speaking life into your marriage, giving it all of the care God who loves it so much, desires you to…Go Be Awesome!
Hi this is pastor ken with my Monday Marriage Message…Unanswered Prayers
Malachi 2:13-15 in the New King James Version reads as follows, And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
This same sentiment is again spoken of in 1 Peter 3:7 it reads, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Scriptures like the ones above are difficult to wrestle with. On the one hand, we know that God is love and so it can seem like He is being a bit harsh for a loving God. On the other hand, we have learned that God is a God with a plan for our marriages and therefore must do what is necessary to help us accept the plan and recognize how important it is for us to live our marriages according to that plan.
For those of you who are already parents, you have some understanding of the ability to love your children desperately and yet find the need to withhold something from them to help them recognize the importance of some particular concept. I believe this is what God is trying to do for married couples in regards to the scriptures above.
I have said many times that marriage is the practice field for the relationship God desires to have with us. It is where we learn to make the choices necessary to be in good relationship with God. His own word defines Him as a jealous God, and that He requires our faithfulness. Likewise, marriage is where we learn to be faithful to one only. God requires we be honest before Him. Marriage is where we learn to live together with someone in the ‘stupid honesty.’ I spoke with you about two weeks ago on this podcast. God requires we learn to prefer Him and his ways above what we may desire in a particular moment, and our marriages give us the ability to practice that by preferring one another as scripture admonishes us to do. Like with any sport one might participate in, practice is a necessary component to playing well. We simply cannot continuously have poor practice sessions (marital interactions) and expect that we will be able to play well on game day (relationship with God).
I believe that one of the points God is making in the first scripture above is directly connected to game day. So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. At first glance, it may look as though God is saying that He either can’t or won’t listen to our prayers if our practice sessions don’t go well. I don’t think that is the case, at least not the totality of it. The second part of the scripture gives further clarity. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. What I think God is pointing out is that it is not He who isn’t listening but rather we who are turning a deaf ear to Him.
No one (including God) likes to speak and not be listened to. He has told you in this scripture that He has given you a portion of His own Spirit in your marriage. As I expressed in an earlier entry, this portion of His Spirit is one of the primary ways He gets to have a voice in our marriages. It is a reliable way for us to know what things will be good for our marriages and what things might cause it harm. If we heed that portion of His Spirit, and are sensitive to it, we will do those things that will grow and protect our marriages. If we are not sensitive to His Spirit, we tend to ignore the warnings and prompts from Him and do what we want to, even to the detriment of the relationship. This scripture is quite clear; God is paying attention to the way we treat each other as evidence of our choices. Are we allowing the portion of His Spirit to lead and to guide, or are we taking the helm ourselves? If we are choosing to ignore the portion of His Spirit, His response is clear. Why should He expect we would listen to an answer to our prayers any more than we have listened to the portion of Him that exists right there in our marriage? I don’t think God is saying that if we don’t treat each other right He will respond by not answering our prayers. I believe God is saying that if we don’t listen to His Spirit in our marriages, why would we would be any more likely to listen to an answer to our prayers. He is simply pointing out that the lack of listening isn’t on His part…it’s on ours. I believe the scripture from 1 Peter bears that out as well.
Final thought. I recognize that these scriptures look a little one sided toward men, and some husbands might feel they are being singled out. If we look at the historical context of Malachi’s time, we can see that men were making all the decisions for their marriages, and their wives had little to no voice. Certainly there were difficult wives then too, but they could not choose to divorce their husbands, only husbands could do that. Therefore, that scripture is written toward men. In our society where a woman can end a marriage as easily as a man, I think it important that women heed this scripture just as men should. I thoroughly believe that God is watching the behavior of wives just as He is of husbands to see if His Spirit is being heeded in our marriages. Again this truth becomes evident when you look at it in light of 1 Peter 3. There verses 1 through 6 speak of the choices God desires to see wives making that will illustrate their willingness to be obedient to Him as they take on the supporting role in the marriage. Then verse 7 admonishes men to treat their wives with gentleness and all of those choices, both the husband’s and the wife’s are to be carefully considered and in line with what God desires so that their prayers may not be hindered.
Questions to Answer:
Have you ever considered the fact that God measures how important He is to you by how you treat your spouse?
If you were observing your behavior toward your spouse on any given day would you see someone you would describe as a lover of God who follows His leading?
What areas of your responses to your spouse need to be considered and improved for God to be comfortable that you are listening to the portion of His Spirit He has placed in your marriage?
Actions to Take:
Pray and Thank God for the portion of His Spirit He has chosen to endow your marriage with.
Ask Him to make you aware of any ways you may have been dealing with your spouse that don’t match up with His Spirit. Ask God’s forgiveness and empowerment as you make the necessary changes in how you interact with your spouse.
Seek your spouse’s forgiveness for how you may have been dealing with them “treacherously” and let them know you intend to make changes in that behavior going forward.
So now, recognizing that if you are going to have a great day on game day, you have to make sure that the practice sessions go well and be willing to identify any areas that need improvement. Don’t shy away from those interactions that haven’t necessarily gone well in the past. Choose the correct action, the one that matches the portion of the spirit living right there in your marriage and then practice, practice and practice some more so you can go be awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Planting Hedges Around Your Marriage
When I was a young boy I lived in a small village in Eastern Pennsylvania just south of the city of Scranton. In that town I don’t ever recall seeing a privacy fence. I am certain they are now a regular fixture of the landscape, but back in the 70’s when I lived there, all people had delineating their yard from the next were hedges. Thick rows of tightly planted boxwood shrubs that were maintained in straight rows on the North, South, East and West sides of every lawn. They were every bit as effective as any good fence. If they were pruned properly you couldn’t really see through them very well. One couldn’t easily get through them, though I tried a time or two to the peril of the skin on my face and arms. They did everything a fence could do…but in a more aesthetically pleasing fashion.
Jerry B Jenkins wrote a book in 2013 entitled, Hedges: Loving your marriage enough to protect it. On the cover there was a picture of those hedges I remember from my childhood. In his book, Jenkins referenced the story of Hosea from the Old Testament. Hosea was asked by God to marry a prostitute to illustrate to the Israelite people their unfaithfulness to Him. Gomer, (Hosea’s prostitute wife), bore him several children and then regained a lust for her old life and ran away and returned to it. God then asked Hosea to go find her, buy her back and bring her back home. Hosea complied, but when he got back home with her he stated; “Behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and wall her in so that she cannot find her paths.” (Hosea 2:6) Essentially Hosea was suggesting that he would plant a hedge around the property so that Gomer would be walled in where she belonged…in the marriage, and so that others would be walled outside the marriage, where they belonged.
Jenkins goes on to suggest that every marriage should have hedges of protection around it. I think there are some necessary guidelines when ‘planting’ hedges. First, I and my wife agree that every marriage should have hedges of protection. I often tell couples in premarital counseling that I understand that they trust each other, and that is as it should be. No one should marry someone they can’t trust. However, if we place that same confidence in the world outside our marriage, that’s not stupid honesty…that’s just stupid!
As I noted in a previous podcast entitled Losing the Right, Satan is looking for ways to steal your marital joy and peace. He will absolutely use the world around you to achieve that goal. Hedges of protection make that much more difficult for your enemy to accomplish. If you don’t have hedges because you didn’t know you should, ok, but if you don’t have hedges because you think your marriage doesn’t need protection, think again!
Second, every marriage only needs 4 hedges. A hedge on the North, South, East and West will have every direction covered and will be easy to maintain. Too many hedges are too hard to remember at all times and will not be maintained. An unmaintained hedge is a useless hedge. I believe that your hedges should protect you but you should understand that they need to be present in order to protect as designed. If there are too many, or they are too lengthy or complex, they will not be consulted. They need to be easily remembered for quick use.
Third, you should plant them where you want them to grow, knowing you can dig them up and replant them later if need be. Your hedges are your hedges. The two of you get to decide what they look like and how close or far from the house (your marriage) you want to plant them.
My wife has permitted me to offer some examples from our hedges of protection that encircle our marriage. we do not offer them for exact reproduction but only as examples of what I am suggesting you develop for your marriage.
We never allow ourselves to be put into a situation that if the other unexpectedly showed up, we would feel the need to explain. This is a filter we use all the time to decide if any given activity is safe for our marriage or not. Though many things would not pass through this filter that are completely benign, we choose the safer alternative that doesn’t allow our enemy to plant seeds of doubt. 1Thes 5:22 admonishes us to Abstain from all appearances of evil. This scripture makes its point that the appearance alone is problematic and should be avoided, even if the specific activity is harmless.
We will not share a meal with one other person of the opposite sex that is not a member of our immediate family. We decided to plant this hedge because we came upon a friend of ours having lunch with someone we knew was not their spouse. Because we were troubled by the circumstance, not knowing whether to address the friend or not, not knowing if their spouse knew or didn’t know, all of it too sticky a situation for us to be comfortable with. We decided then and there to plant a hedge. We believe that sharing a meal with someone is somewhat an intimate thing to do, and we want intimacy to be reserved for us. Both of us have at different times had to remain behind this hedge even when those asking didn’t understand why we had such a rule for ourselves. Hedges are not designed to be comfortable when you brush up against them…they are designed to be effective.
Again, these are examples and are only for your consideration as you develop the hedges of protection you want to plant around your marriage.
2 Peter 1:5-7 states: Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. The world will tell you that if you love someone you shouldn’t put any restraints on them, this scripture points out that the restraints are actually a result of love.Diligence is the key that opens the doors to moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. All of these are necessary for a strong marriage, and they all begin with diligence. Hedges keep us diligent. There is truth in the adage, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Without diligence, we can blame no one but ourselves if these necessary components are not found in our marriages.
Questions to Answer:
Do you feel the need for hedges of protection around your marriage?
Can you think of a marriage that you know of that might have been protected if hedges had been in place?
Actions to Take:
If you have never done so, develop your four hedges of protection for your marriage. These will only be maintained if the two of you agree they are prudent and design them together. If one spouse tries to develop them alone they will be resisted by the other. Do it together!
If you have previously developed hedges of protection, review them together and decide if they need maintaining or possibly dug up and replanted in a new proximity to your marriage in order to be properly maintained.
So now, understanding the need to lovingly protect your marriage from the outside world that would seek to destroy it, plant some hedges…and go be Awesome!
Hi this is pastor ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Are The Doors Locked?
A few weeks ago in this podcast I talked about the husband’s primary need for respect and the wife’s primary need for love. This can be illustrated in the following ways – as a result of their primary need for love, women need to feel secure in their relationships. Nowhere is this truer than inside the marriage. Though men often feel they can provide this security through their wives’ personal safety, this alone will not suffice. There are any number of ways that a man can help build security for his wife in their marriage. Among them are the following:
Spending their money wisely
Protecting their time with one another
Supporting them in parenting
Allowing her to know you only have eyes for her
Investing in your personal relationship with the Lord
Taking the time to listen when she needs to talk
Choosing actions that endorse her position of highest importance in your life
Consider this illustration: A couple lived in a house with 9 doors, each door representative of one of the ways listed above to build security. One night the husband crawled into bed and the wife asked if all the doors were closed and locked. He replied that they were, except the one in the back, but not to worry, no one hardly ever went back there. Would his wife be able to go to sleep? Absolutely not! All of her security would escape through the open door. Security is an absolute, either you have it or you don’t – you can’t be ‘kind of’ secure. Though it is propagated in many ways, if some of it escapes, there is a sense that all of it has escaped. It is important to understand as husbands, that you are either building your wife’s security or you are building her insecurity.
Just as the wife needs to feel secure, the husband seeks his need for sufficiency from his wife. He looks to her to define the kind of man he is. While women may think that using words of affirmation from time to time cause her husband to feel sufficient, this is also done best in a multitude of ways. Consider the following:
Let him know you are proud of him
Let him be the spiritual leader
Ask him for his input
Let him know you appreciate him
Recognize the work that he does
Tell him what a good job he does even if you think someone else might have done it better
Let him know he’s the only man in your eyes
Back him up as the authority in parenting
Put him first in the family
As in the story used to illustrate a wife’s need for security, you can affirm your husband all you want, but if you use your words to also tear him down, all of your affirmation was useless. It is important to understand as wives, that you are either building your husband’s sufficiency or you are building his sense of insufficiency.
Romans 14:19 says, Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
In this passage Paul writes that though we may not have the same strengths and weaknesses, for the sake of living in peace and encouraging one another, we must see each other’s needs as important and choose actions that meet other’s needs even if they are not our own. Obviously his comments were about some other areas of disagreement in the church, but this scripture applies equally to marriage and the different needs experienced there as well. The parallel should not be overlooked. So why should we choose to feed the need our spouse has that we do not see such great necessity in? As I said just a few weeks ago, when we elevate our spouse we elevate our marriage, when we elevate our marriages, we elevate ourselves.
Questions to Answer:
Wives: What are some things your husband does that build your security?
Husbands: What are some things your wife does that build your sense of sufficiency?
Actions to Take:
In your own words, tell each other how important your sense of security (or sufficiency) is to your satisfaction in the marriage.
Pray that the Lord would show you ways and opportunities to do this for your spouse.
So now, making every effort to meet the needs unique to your spouse, and no longer dismissing them as unimportant just because you may not have the same need…go be awesome!
Hi this is Pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Heads I Lose, Tails You Win
The title of this entry probably sounded backward to you, because as children we often said it in reverse, trying to set up a situation in which we always found ourselves the winner. Stated this way, one is destined to lose. In my pre-marital counseling, I call this “learning to lose, lose well and lose often.” The idea comes from Romans 12:10 which says, “In love, prefer one another.” Preferring is not the same as deferring – we can defer for any number of reasons. But we prefer that our joy may be found in another person’s joy.
A quick example of this in my marriage happened early on as my bride indicated she was not a fan of NASCAR and hoped that I wasn’t either. Upon learning I was, in fact, a huge fan at that time, she chose to purchase tickets to a local race and happily accompanied me to the event. Her joy wasn’t in what we were doing, but in knowing how much pleasure it was for me to receive this particular gift.
The world’s wisdom would tell us to look out for number one but Godly wisdom says we look out for number one when we prefer one another. Marriage is a spiritual experience, and therefore spiritual principles apply. If we spend our energy caring for the needs of our spouse, it frees them up to concern themselves with our needs. I understand, this principle flies in the face of worldly wisdom which would say this attitude will get you run over. I promise, this principle will not get you run over, it will insure you are not run over.
Think about your last disagreement. When your spouse was trying to help you see their way of thinking was right and yours was wrong, were you listening to what they had to say or were you thinking only of your response? When we are trying to win an argument or disagreement with our spouse, communication is actually hindered because of our perceived need to formulate a response. In contrast, if we do as the scripture suggests and we prefer our spouse, we can offer to lose. When we choose losing, communication opens up. In our marriage, we have key phrases that we have used so often the other recognizes when we are choosing to lose. I say, I don’t need to win; my wife says, I’m married to you, not my idea. When we hear these phrases we know the other has offered to prefer us and are choosing to lose. Invariably the next question that escapes the winner’s mouth is, “But what were you thinking?” and ultimately communication opens up. When we ask for someone’s thoughts we listen; when they are being forced upon us, we think of our retort. Trying to win closes communication down, choosing to lose opens it up. Proverbs tells us that the fool continues to say what he already knows, but the wise seeks to understand the other.
Consider this, it is what Jesus did for us. Christ was in heaven, where I understand things are, well…heavenly. He had no need to come to earth; we had need of him to come to earth, So, He lowered himself and came, and lived in the form of His own creation so that he could be crucified to solve our sin problem. Jesus lowered himself to elevate us. He chose to lose, so we could win. His Word refers to us as his bride, and to Him as the groom. From this, we gain a clear example, so that we can apply this same principle to our marriages. Lower yourself to elevate your spouse, thus, elevating your marriage. You choose to lose, so you both can win.
Some of you will undoubtedly be wondering what you should do if your spouse isn’t willing to participate, to which I say even if only one spouse follows this example from scripture the marriage will be improved by 50 percent. In fact, experience tells me that if just one spouse begins to put this into practice with the right mindset, the Holy Spirit is able to use it very effectively to convict the heart of the unwilling spouse to begin to do the same. No one likes to sit idly by and watch someone else do what is right for very long. To do so simply makes their wrongdoing glaringly obvious, especially to them.
If we elevate our spouse, we elevate our marriage; if we elevate our marriage, we elevate ourselves. Learning to lose will always help you truly win.
Questions to answer:
What are some steps you could take to elevate your marriage?
As discussed here, is choosing to lose something you find valuable? How do you suppress your natural inclination to win in order to accomplish this?
Actions to take:
Develop your own key phrases to signify your willingness to choose to lose.
So now, learning to lose, lose well, and lose often…so your marriage can always win…go be awesome!
Hi, this is pastor Ken with my Monday Marriage Message…We need different things
“I get no respect!” Rodney Dangerfield made a good living joking about getting no respect. Many men spend their entire marriages considering if the same thing is true for them. As men, every time we interact with someone, we are evaluating whether or not we have their respect. Do they respect our words? Do they respect our decisions? Do they respect our work? Do they respect us for who we are? For a man, everything is about respect. If we feel as though we are respected, we are able to have a relationship in good standing with that person. If we feel we are being disrespected, a relationship cannot ensue, without first remedying that problem.
When it comes to our marriages this concept is not only true, it becomes magnified. We know we didn’t hang the moon, but not only do we want our wives to say we did, we want them to tell us no one could have done it better. From the time he is a boy, every man understands intuitively that he should be respected but especially by his wife. No matter how many times this doesn’t happen, it does not dissuade him from that core belief. It turns out God agrees with him. Ephesians 5:33 ends with this statement, “…and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
So where does this need originate? In Deuteronomy 5, we read the first of the ten commandments: “You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7) This is absolutely a statement requiring respect. Interestingly, when we look at the Hebrew, the words that are translated ‘before me’ in today’s vernacular, if inserted would read: You shall have no other Gods in my face. God is clearly making a statement that he must be respected above anything or anyone else. This is a requirement and in fact, the first stated requirement, for our relationship with God to be in good standing. It is God’s primary need if we are to have a healthy relationship with Him.
By God giving man the need for respect as his primary consideration for a relationship to be in good standing, God has reproduced in him a need reflecting of His own. In this way, we are partially created in His likeness.
The Beatles said it best, “All you need is love…love is all you need”. Love is the wife’s primary need. Every woman is constantly evaluating all of the relationships she has to see that she is cared for. Whether or not she is loved will determine her ability to comfortably remain in any relationship. Again, the marital relationship does not alter this fact, but magnifies it, and shows it to be even more important to her. She is especially evaluating her marriage, to determine if she is loved for what she does, what she thinks, what she says and who she is. She knows her marriage is a lifetime commitment, she also needs to know that her husband specifically chooses to be committed to her each and every day. We have all heard of the old joke, where the husband says, “I told you once I loved you and if anything changes I’ll let you know.” A truly loving husband however, constantly lets his wife know nothing has changed. He learns to make all of his interactions with her reinforcing of his love and adoration toward her and her alone. Since she was a child, every woman has understood she deserves to be unconditionally loved, and it turns out God agrees with her. The beginning of Ephesians 5:33 says, “In particular, let each one of you love his own wife as himself…”
The way this verse is written is not only interesting, it is informative. Men are instructed to “in particular” so love their own wives as themselves. The point made is that we love ourselves by meeting our own needs as illustrated a few verses prior to this one. However, this does not mean that we love our wives by meeting the needs we think she should have. The use of the words “in particular” point out that to love her, we need to find out what her needs are. If we want our wives to feel loved unconditionally, we do that best by meeting each and every one of her particular needs.
Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” which is another way of asking what is God’s primary need for us to be in good relationship with him. Jesus’ answer, found in Mark 12:30 was: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Ultimately, it turns out, that God has two primary needs for our relationship with him to be in good standing: the need for respect, and the need for love. As finite beings, we can only put one thing in first place, so God gave to the man the primary need of respect, and to the woman, he gave primary need for love. I am not saying men don’t need love and women don’t need respect, certainly they do, but those are not their primary needs, especially during times of conflict. As a married couple, the oneness shared encompasses both of those primary needs and more comprehensively reflects the likeness of God. Just to reinforce the concept that God is capable of placing two differing things in first place, take the example of the scripture above and the verses following it. Jesus was asked which of all of the commandments was most important to God. His reply; Love the Lord your God with all you have, and He said, the other that is equal to it…love others as yourself. Jesus ultimately made the point that all of the commandments were in first place because He said that if these two were accomplished all of the law would be kept. God can and does place differing things in first place at the same time.
Finally, I find it interesting that the disbursement of God’s primary needs of love and respect match up with his relational and compartmentalized thought processes gifted to both men and women. The scripture verses used in this entry illustrate that – the scripture used to convey God’s need for respect is a compartmentalized statement, while the scripture used to show his other primary need, love, is a relational statement.
Questions to Answer:
Men: What does your wife do that makes you feel most respected? What is one thing you wish she did that would make you feel more respected?
Women: What does your husband do that makes you feel most loved? What is one thing you wish he did that would make you feel more loved?
Actions to Take:
Pray that God will help you recognize that when expressing your needs to your spouse, you are able to do that in His power, in both a respectful and loving way.
So now, understanding that your differing primary needs are actually gifted to you so that the oneness you share can in yet another way reflect the image and likeness of God…Go be Awesome!