Loving Motivation

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  II Timothy 3:14-15

This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me.  It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith.  What was their motivation to do so?

For many people, learning starts at home at a young age.  Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you.  Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.”  Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,”  family love, duty, affection.  This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring.  Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  II Timothy 1:5

Growing in faith can be part of married life also.  “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union.  How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ?  This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do.  Peter says:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…”  1 Peter 3:1

Then there are our friends.  With them we share “philea” or brotherly love.  In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.”  Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them.  Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ.  We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.

Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did.  Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others.  This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.

So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching.  No wonder the Bible says “God is love.  How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it?  Think about the many people from whom you have learned.  Give thanks for their love.

 

 

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Taking Care of Our Spouse

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”

In the beginning, God saw that Adam needed companionship, so He gave him a gift.  He gave him a wife, Eve, who became the mother of his children.  Sometimes we forget that our spouse is a blessing, and we’re meant to take care of that blessing wisely just as we’re called to be stewards of everything God has given us.

My husband and I have been married for almost 46 years.  After all that time, it’s easy to become complacent, to settle into familiar routines, and to take one another for granted.  It’s so much easier to complain than to appreciate. I certainly am guilty of feeling aggrieved about the few things my husband doesn’t do for me while ignoring the many things he does. When I fall into this sinful thinking I need to remember this scripture about how God expects us to relate to one another:

“Submit to one another, out of reverence for the Christ.”  Ephesians 5:21

Submitting means to yield our own rights.  In other words, put the other person first. Think about what is best for them.  I’m sure many quarrels (and even divorces) would be avoided by following this simple advice. The verse also tells us WHY we need to do this — it shows respect for the other person, but also respect and reverence for Christ.  It shows our gratitude for the great gift God has given.  Think about it.  How do you feel when you give your child a new bike, only to find he has it out in the rain to rust?  How do you feel if a week or a month after getting the bike of his dreams, he’s wishing for a different model?  That’s not the way to treat a gift.  No parent would be happy with such behavior.

If you are married, give thanks today for your spouse — a gift and a blessing from God.

 

Obey Your Husband

The other day, my mother-in-law tried to give me a new cat. After consulting with my husband, it was clear that he felt an extra animal was just too much to take on right now. When I broke the news to her, she replied that it didn’t matter if Nick said no. I should just bring it home anyway- lol. My response was that we are instructed in the bible to obey our husbands:

Ephesians 5:22-24

“Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord.The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.”

A lot of people take this quote and say that it is “backwards” or “outdated”. If I read this quote only, I might be inclined to agree. However, further in the text it states:

Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their 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 Christ does the church, …

So while the bible does instruct us to obey our husbands, it also states that a husband should love his wife as equally as his own body, so that any decision he makes would have her best interest at heart. Most decisions in a relationship are joint decisions, but inevitably there will be times when husband and wife cannot agree. In those times, I listen to this text and respect my husband’s decisions as much as I would my own. Interested to hear what everyone else’s thoughts/interpretations of this text are?

 

Martin Luther on Marriage #4

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Day 7 Quote. Martin Luther on Marriage: 7 quotes in 7 days. Martin lovingly called his wife “Kitty, my rib” and declared marriage “a school for character.” #write31days

In Marriage Relationships #2

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely hind, a graceful doe.”  Proverbs 5:18

Beth Ann’s post got me thinking about my own marriage, also one which has also required perseverance.  We’re both strong willed, complicated people.  Over the years we’ve had financial problems, problems with teenagers, conflicts with relatives, disagreements with each other, job stress, depression, anxiety, etc.. It seems like just when one area straightens out, a new problem crops up.  That’s life, I guess. Or at least life in a sinful world.  Yet we’ve managed to stick with it for 46 years.  As older folks, we’ve reached a kind of contented plateau.  The kids are grown and on their own;  careers are over or winding down.  Finances are settled, for better or worse.  Instead of striving for the next big thing, we’re looking back at how we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished …and for the most part, we’re satisfied.

One special thing about a long marriage is knowing so many different aspects of your spouse.  Yes, I could be widowed and marry again, but nobody but Terry would remember me as a teenager, a college student, or a young mom.  No other husband would share the birth of my children, my first “adult” job, all the years of growing in Christ and so much more.  I once read a book where the main character said something like this, “in this house we are not just two old people — we are all the people we have ever been.”

Like Beth Ann, I wish I could convince people, it’s worth the hard work.  If you are married to the love of your youth, rejoice!  Let’s hear from some other lady bloggers, what do you have to tell us about the marriage relationship?

In Marriage Relationships

Marriage is like taking that huge step off a cliff and not knowing how it’s all going to end.  But for most marriage starts with two people, deeply in love, that commit to stay with each other until death do us part.  We have stars in our eyes and we know that life is going to be so wonderful.  Then the problems start.

Most marriages today don’t have the commitment factor that they used to.  Yes, I know that people have stayed in miserable conditions just because they married the person they have come to hate.  It takes two to commit together, two to stay together.  Two hearts need to stay as one.  During the wedding God knits two totally separate people and makes them one.

Now, my marriage wasn’t the greatest.  Both my husband and I had problems.  We actually separated for awhile and then came back together.  We learned to live together and we had a good relationship.  Was it the wonderful lifetime that I imagined when we stood at the altar, no.  It was hard work, but we made it through.  My husband has been gone for over two years now and I can look back and see all the good and bad.  One of the good things is that we were committed to keeping the vows, to stay together through it all.  And we did.

This song by Andrew Peterson totally pulled at me from the first time I heard it.  It is so truthful.  We should take the words to heart.  We shouldn’t just walk (or tiptoe) through the minefields in a marriage, we should go dancing through them.  Sail through the storms.  Knowing that Jesus is the Lord of the relationship should cause us to rejoice.  So, let’s go dancing!!

The Threefold Cord

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Something is drawing me back to Ecclesiastes, the book that Leslie blogged extensively about last month. The verses above have been used to describe the unions of both marriage and friendship. When we go back to the very beginning, God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

According to the author of Ecclesiastes we’re meant to live in relationship, in union with others.  With a friend or a mate, life is easier, safer and more comfortable. We will be happier and accomplish more. But did you notice anything else?  In every relationship there must be a third component — that’s God.  God is the glue that holds every human union together.  Without Him, we’re bound to eventually break apart on the rocks of our own selfishness and sin.  It’s the third strand in the cord that keeps them going.

So, we don’t need to just have a relationship with God, we need to make God a part of every relationship in our life.  Peace, joy, patience, kindness, love, self-control–no union survives without them, and we can’t manufacture them on our own.  They’re gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So as Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let the lion out of the cage.”  Don’t keep God penned up except for Sunday mornings–let Him into your marriage, your friendships, your workplace, your family.  Let Him transform all those relationships.