Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

The Lord’s people are called to act with wisdom. It is His desire to teach us the right way to live to protect us from heartbreaking experiences and aimless wandering. Simply put, acting in wisdom is the application of His divine truth to our personal human experience.

Sometimes I think wives may need the Lord’s wisdom more than anyone due to the complexities and pressures of our many roles as helpmeet, mother, sister, friend, and citizen. Our strong need for some guiding insight may be why God depicts Wisdom as a woman in His Word. While I’m comforted that He accepted me in my weaknesses, it thrills me that He also has a blueprint for the woman into whom He intends to make me. I especially love the very apt description of one early Christian writer who says Wisdom is "radiant and unfading, easily discerned by those who love her, and found by those who seek her." 

For this blog entry, I would like to specifically consider, “What is the wisdom behind Lord’s desire for a believing wife to be submissive to her husband?”

Ephesians 5:24,32-33
But as the church is submissive to Christ, so wives must in every respect be submissive to their husbands . . . There is a great hidden meaning in this, but I am speaking about Christ and the church. Let each of you love his wife as much as himself, and let the wife revere her husband.

The Lord reveals that within their own marriages, wives are to enact the mystery of the marital union of Christ to His Bride, the Church. This is the path of wisdom that our God has set according to His holy will. Given the self-centered state of spouses in a modern marriage, the obedient fulfillment of our role as a submissive helpmeet would be a phenomenal testimony to His power.

The laying aside of the self for another can only be accomplished by following Him in complete trust and obedience. Can you imagine the impact the church would have on the world if she were actually living in a holy manner? Certainly, the impact would be even greater than when the Church does not conduct herself in a holy way.

In my local church, we have recently experienced the damage an unholy action such as marital unfaithfulness can cause. With horror, we read about our shame in the local newspapers, and we heard the mocking, despising reaction of the world over our pastor’s stumble. I mention this not to throw any rocks, but to illustrate that failure in our own marriages will have the very same negative impact on Christ’s reputation (His reputation, NOT His reality), among those who know us. The scale of the reverberating circles of destruction may not spread so widely for us, but they will certainly overtake and negatively buffet our children, our family, and our friends. A failure in a Christian marriage is the ultimate case of “the salt of the earth” losing its saltiness.

Because so much is at stake in a Christian's marriage for the Kingdom of God, wives need to ask, “What exactly is this holy submission supposed to look like?”

I Peter 3:1-2
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 - - when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

This I Peter passage opens with the word “likewise” - a sure signal that we have to look to the proceeding verses for further edification of what the Lord has in mind. Check out:

I Peter 2:18-19
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

And -

I Peter 2:21
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, He did not revile in turn. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.

Jesus trusted the Father and submitted to His will without complaint or balking. We see in the verses above that His response is to be the measure of a wife’s behavior, so if, despite the Lord’s example, you still don’t see a submissive role as an honorable one, let’s read on:

Philipians 2:5
Have this mind among yourselves in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped; but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death . . .

I Peter 1:12b:
It was revealed to the Prophets that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things into which angels long to look.

And finally -

I Cor. 11:10:
That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
(Note: It’s submission to authority, not what’s on her head, that is of interest to the angels.)

Women are privileged to model the submission of Christ to the Father. Through this, they display Him before the whole world and to unseen spiritual beings. Before this audience, men are to model His headship; women are to model His submission.

Having seen the pre-incarnate Christ in His glory, the angels were amazed as they observed His submission to the will of the Father through the taking of a human form, suffering, and dying for our sins. They continue to find this yielding of His glory and His humble submission an astounding event. It is a wonder of love they have difficulty grasping.

The whole plan of redemption is unfathomable to them because they were created to be servants to the Lord Most High, and therefore, their own state is fixed. They have no ability to conceive of themselves as other than they are - obedient. They always obey God because this is how He created them, and they find our human rebellion scandalous. Because they were created to be completely reliable, God has also imbued the angels with immense power. Miracles do not impress them. There isn’t a single miracle in the Bible, save one (our redemption through the resurrection), that wouldn’t be mere child’s play for them to accomplish. 

What does get angelic attention - the thing that causes them to shout God’s glory - is the sight of one of the daughters of Eve, brought to life from living-death through the Son’s submission to the Father, in her turn purposefully choosing to take up Christ’s attribute of submission within her own marriage. They know that only the power of God can quicken the dead to life, and only the power of God can quell our immense human pride. This is something the spiritual realm can appreciate as a bona fide miracle! (Remember, they have been watching life on earth from the beginning of creation, so they certainly understand who we are, how utterly dead we are, perhaps far better than we understand these things for ourselves.)

A wife’s submission to her husband is a testimony about the unsurpassable, selfless love of Christ which she displays not only to the world, but also to the entire spiritual universe. Women are highly FAVORED by God when He asks them to model this aspect of Christ's character.

Counter-intuitive as it may be to proud humanity, Christ’s submissiveness may be His most glorious trait. It is the one by which our salvation was accomplished. To despise it is shameful. If women will demand honor, this is their honor. 

If you have difficulty seeing the wisdom behind this truth, reflect on what Jesus had to say about the demonic spirit motivating Peter as he argued with Christ about going to the cross. Also, remember that the Lord has promised He will use a wife's submission redemptively. This may most notably be seen in the case of a wife whose husband is disobedient to the Word, but it will also be influential to many far beyond this.

Submission is the Lord’s wisdom for wives. The ultimate wisdom is obey His holy will.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


(Excerpted from “Role of Wife” Bible study; my home; Sept. 2011)

Before going any further in our study of marriage, it is crucial to remember that the basis for all our actions must be upon what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We are not attempting to bring about improvement for our own sake, although that’s a nice side effect, but because we love the Lord, we trust Him, and we want to obey Him. This is what it means to have the Lord “build the house.” When a wife (or a husband) obeys the Lord’s commands for their conduct within the marriage, those very commands become the bricks He uses to build your marriage. It will be Rock solid. (Pun intended.)

Sometimes, instead of a house, I like to compare marriage to a garden. A garden, with all of its associated aspects of soil, plants, fruits, flowers, weeds, needs for water, etc., functions well metaphorically in so many ways. If you have ever maintained a garden, you may have noticed that when you put too much emphasis on the weeds and associated chores, you almost always end-up missing the point of the garden -  - all the good plants, flowers, and shrubs that are growing there for your enjoyment. 

This principle is also true of marriage. When partners focus too intently on problems, they lose sight of the value in the union. This is partially why we having been working hard over the past few weeks to focus on enjoying the good things in our marriage. Yet, there is one problem weed in life, and particularly in marriage, that is so destructive, it cannot be ignored. Thus, if you will bear with me, I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about the particularly invasive weed of bitterness. Bitterness is the opposite of the sweet “fruit” of joy, and it is the main “weed” God wants out of the garden of our marriage. He truly wants us to go after removing it with all of our vigor.

Eph. 4:31-5:2
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

In these verses, the Lord God instructs us to get rid of all bitterness. Furthermore, He commands us to work at maintaining a "tender heart" because He knows that bitterness and tenderness are mutually exclusive. As an unknown wit once said, " Being bitter is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die." If you are a bitter woman, you will not be able to be a tender wife.

So, how could bitterness best be described? What does it look like? It certainly seems to be one of those things that is easier to spot in someone else, than in ourselves.


When you sin, you feel guilt. When someone sins against you, you feel bitter. Bitterness is the residue of an initial emotion such as anger, hatred, hurt, or loss. You might argue, “I’m not bitter, I just get hurt (or angry) easily,” but the connection between the resentment a hurt causes and bitterness is very close. Bitterness is quite simply resentment put on hold.

Symptoms of Bitterness:

1. Bitterness remembers every word and detail of an offense. This is because the offended person has ruminated about the issue over and over again.

2. Bitterness can be rather enjoyable because there is a self-promoting pleasure in accusing someone else. A husband can certainly be a convenient and tempting target for a wife; and, of course, vise-versa is also true.

3. Hebrews 12:15
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defiles many.”
This verse describes bitterness as existing like a root -- unseen, underground, and undesirable. Like any other plant, it will produce fruit like itself, i.e., bitter fruit. In so many words, God compares bitterness to a weed, and He insists that we get rid of it.

4. Again in Hebrews 12, notice that bitterness is described as something that defiles many. Bitterness is a highly contagious emotion that will infect your husband, your friends, and your children, defiling them, too, as they begin to share and mirror your attitude. If you are a bitter mother, I guarantee you that your children are learning it from you right now, and that you are preparing them for future lives of certain bitterness. It rubs off onto others as easily as a quick brush against soot. 

5. Bitterness is insatiable. Expressing it will not get rid of it (i.e., “I’m so angry that you did/said XYZ!”). An apology from the offender will not get rid of it because mere words are never enough. There are known to have been occasions where even the death of the offender would not appease the bitterness of the offended. 

So, the question is, how can we get rid of the bitterness that is choking our joy and poisoning our married life? 

Amy Carmichael, an early missionary to India, said, “For a cup of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” The “jolts” of our life are the disappointments, stresses, frustrations, and the failures of others. What spills out of us in response, is what is already inside.

Thus, since it's what's inside us that must be dealt with to eradicate bitterness, an effective remedy can be found through confessing to God that you are harboring a great and evil sin. Because if its infectious and defiling nature, bitterness is a great and evil sin. Ask the Lord to cleanse you of your bitterness through His ready forgiveness. This is the only lasting solution.

The hardest part in this process may be getting your eyes off of your husband’s sin against you. It is vital to recognize that bitterness is your sin, not the sin of the man who has wronged you (e.g., by not picking up his dirty socks 5,000 times in a row; or by making a hurtful crack; or by failing to understand your mood; etc).

When you focus on your own bitter response with the recognition that it is a very gross sin, and confess it to the Lord for cleansing forgiveness, your bitterness will begin to recede. In its place, sweetness will come to fill you, and you can respond with concern and understanding for your husband, as in, “He must be tired from working so hard, or getting sick, or feeling so disappointed," and so forth.

I will freely admit that it's hard, time-consuming work to keep off-loading bitterness onto God. Getting rid of it will take determined persistence because it’s a weed with a very penetrating root that feeds deeply upon the soil of our self-love. 

Take all the time necessary to address any bitterness with the Lord. You may even need to keep repeating your prayer of confession over and over until the bitterness is gone from your heart. Please understand:
1) You cannot be a bitter person and still feel or express joy. 
2) You cannot be a bitter wife and be a fit companion, a suitable helper, to your husband. 
3) You cannot be a bitter person and be able to apprehend God's blessings in your life.
Doing the work with the Lord to confess and be cleansed of bitterness is not a luxury; it is a life essential. 

God will meet your needs as you honor your commitment to root out bitterness. He may not change your husband (at least not until you learn to rely on God for those expectations you have of your mate), but He will change you. With bitter attitudes gone, the Lord will also remove the callous on your heart that prevents you from feeling joy. 

If bitterness is poison to joy (and really to all the good things in our marriage garden), gratitude turns out to be the greatest “fertilizer” for growing marital joy. But that’s a discussion for another day.