There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Hands that Shed Innocent Blood
Given that murder is the ultimate bloodshed, it’s important to remember John’s words: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” –1 John 3:15
This is a powerful statement, especially given the Biblical definitions of “love” and “hate.” The rest of this post will be written with John’s definition of “murder” in mind.
I think the questions about this item can be broken into two categories. First, do I actively participate in this sin:
1. Do I intentionally harm innocent people?
Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you. (Proverbs 23:10-11)
Remember that God is the Defender of the innocent. If you’re not the innocent in a given situation, who is your defender?
2. Do I seek to serve myself despite knowing that my actions will hurt others?
A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice. (Proverbs 17:23)
Are you willing harm others for the right price? And remember, the “price” isn’t necessarily money. It could be attention, preferential treatment, accolades, etc. What is your price?
3. Do I seek to serve myself without considering how this might affect others?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
It’s so easy for us to take action thoughtlessly. We don’t set out to hurt others, we just don’t care if we do – at least not as much as we care about our own interests. In the verse above, God asks us to “consider others” and to look “to the interests of others.” He’s asking us to actively concern ourselves with how our actions affect those around us – and those far away.
The second category of questions deals with passively committing this sin: Even if I’m not actively shedding innocent blood, am I doing anything to stop those who are? And am I applying tourniquets to the wounded? Some questions to consider in this regard:
4. Do I look for ways to help and protect the innocent?
It is not good to punish an innocent man, or to flog officials for their integrity. (Proverbs 17:26)
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the Lord detests them both. (Proverbs 17:15)
Seeking to right injustices can seem like an incredibly daunting task – and no one person can take up every worthy cause. However, we should be asking God what cause(s) He wants us involved in. (For advice about how to help without becoming overwhelmed by the problems in our world, click here: avoiding the superwoman complex.)
5. Do I look for ways to help those who are hurting?
Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. (Proverbs 25:25)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
While some people are certainly more gifted at offering comfort to those who are hurting, we’re all capable of genuinely showing an interest in and a concern for other people. Do you shy away from those opportunities? Most of us wouldn’t let a man bleed to death, but many of us will watch a man grieve to death.
6. Do I stand up for those who need an advocate?
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
As we discussed above, God is the ultimate defender of the innocent — but He wants us to be involved in this work. In many situations, this means actively opposing their oppressors. In such cases, there is a temptation to fool ourselves into thinking that we can remain neutral. We can’t. In such cases, remaining “neutral” is just a cowardly attempt to abandon the weak to their oppressors without making ourselves look bad. God is not fooled:
10 If you falter in times of trouble,
how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:10-12)
God is not neutral in such situations, and when He calls us to advocate for the innocent, He has called us to His side. We can accept His call or reject it, but we can’t stay neutral. God has chosen His side. Which side are you on?
Challenge: This week, go beyond not actively shedding innocent blood, and ask God how you He would have you protect the innocent and bandage the wounded.
Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes
Last Week: a lying tongue, part 3c
Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6
Want to read more?
You know that annoying person you try to avoid? Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people
Can your marriage help the next generation? I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours
Is nagging our husbands really a problem? Why I think it is: How culture is sabotaging our marriages
Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one
Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted
Our culture has accepted that wives nag. We see it on commercials, TV shows (think Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond, Carrie from King of Queens), many of us heard our mothers do it, many of us do it ourselves.
Nagging is one of the most culturally embedded problems in our marriages. And the tragedy of it is that nagging has become expected, accepted as “the way marriage works” – and nagging paves the way for huge problems in marriages.
Think about the cliché for a minute: “paves the way.” Nagging smoothes out the road for other problems, welcomes other problems, makes it easy for other problems to enter our marriages – and the marriages of millions of Americans. Once we get into a habit of nagging, we’re more likely to be unsatisfied in our marriages. And why wouldn’t we be? If our focus is constantly on what our husbands are doing wrong, what they aren’t doing, why they aren’t doing it, etc., how do we expect to feel satisfied in our marriages? And if we aren’t satisfied, that can lead to many, many problems: seeking male attention outside of marriage, griping to our friends, etc.
So, here’s my advice: Don’t let a TV show or even the dominant cultural norms define who you are in your marriage. Yes, nagging is normal in this world. Yes, short term, it feels kinda good to “get it off our chests.” But, no, it’s not God’s Will for our marriages. It is not God’s best for our lives.
Like any bad habit this one will take time (and God’s help) to break. It’s a process of being intentional about trying, leaning on God’s power, and apologizing when we mess up (to our husbands and to God).
The fact is, nagging is not just seen as something women do, but it’s often seen as actually part of a woman’s nature. And while it certainly wasn’t part of our nature in the paradise God created, it does seem to be part of the corruption of femininity – a temptation common to fallen daughters of Eve. And God, in His infinite wisdom, knew this was an issue we’d struggle with. He knew this aspect of our sin nature would conflict with His Spirit Who lives in us.
Galatians 5:16-18: 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
And consider this: 5 times in Proverbs a “quarrelsome wife” is referred to. While this can certainly be seen as a warning for men (Don’t marry this type of woman!), I think this can also be seen as a reminder for women (Don’t be this type of woman!).
Proverbs 19:13b — a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. [Think about that: Drip, drip, drip, drip……same sound over and over and over……gets annoying after awhile.]
Proverbs 21:9 — Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 21:19 — Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.
Proverbs 25:24 — Better to live on the corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. [Identical to Proverbs 21:9]
Proverbs 27:15 — A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. [This calls to mind “adding insult to injury.” It’s already raining, and a quarrelsome wife makes things worse for her husband, instead of making them better.]
Consider what these verses are telling us: Terrible living conditions are better than living with a quarrelsome wife. We make our homes less welcoming than a desert, when they should be sanctuaries for our husbands. We make even embarrassment and exposure to the elements preferable to being in a house with us, when our homes should welcome our husbands with open arms.
I think the “living on a corner of the roof” imagery is interesting. The typical Israelite house at this time would likely have a flat roof made of mud and twigs (which required a lot of upkeep). Even living on that would be better than living with a quarrelsome wife.
I wonder – and I can’t prove this, but I wonder – if there was also an element of embarrassment to this image. Bear with me here: Patriarchs were incredibly important in this society, and housing arrangements were often designed around this familial structure. For instance, a father (and his wife), his sons (and their wives and children) would often all live in a closely networked series of structures. If you were living on your roof, it seems like everyone in the family would know. And if the head of the household was living on the roof, it would seem pretty obvious that something was wrong in the husband-wife relationship. That, I imagine, would be embarrassing for a man. BUT, from these verses, it sounds like that embarrassment of living on your roof would be better than having to live in the house with your quarrelsome wife. Again, this interpretation in not explicitly stated in Scripture. I think it follows, though, from what we know about the time period and the family structure.
And make no mistake, quarrelsome wives are still embarrassing today; even if their husbands don’t end up on the roof, often their husbands end up trying to avoid them in other ways. They may not retreat to the roof or the desert, but usually they’ll try to retreat to somewhere else. I’m not saying this is the correct response from the man; on the contrary, I think men retreating instead of leading the household is one of the biggest problems in modern marriages. But I’m also saying that as women, this retreating is partly our fault. We often make it harder for our men to lead, and we make it easier (and more tempting) to retreat.
We nag. We degrade. We embarrass. They feel disrespected. So they retreat. They close us out.
They retreat. They close us out. We feel unloved. So we nag. We degrade. We embarrass.
You get the picture.
The cycle has to stop somewhere. Why not with us? Why not today? I know a lot of you have heard this song, but give this video a listen. Anytime he says “city,” substitute “marriage.” There’s no reason to wait — start here. Start now.
So, what’s the challenge today? Stop nagging. Why wait? Start here. Start now. (And if you’re a younger woman reading this — maybe just married or not married yet — please remember, it’s hard to break these habits. It’s much easier not to form them in the first place.)
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Strategies? Failures? Successes? Leave a comment below!
Next Monday: Want to make your husband resent you? Want to make his friends pity him? Want to swing the door to your marriage wide open for Satan? Find out how next Monday!
Click here to start reading the wife series from the beginning.
Click here to read the fully submitted series.
Last time we talked about some things we might need to let go of as wives. Today, I’d like to spend a little time on some things we might need to start doing — or at least ways we might need to refocus our efforts.
So let’s start here: In what three areas do you least like serving your husband? Or, put another way, what three specific things do you know he likes/wants/appreciates/needs, but you just don’t like to do?
By doing the things we like to do to serve our husbands, we’re really serving ourselves, not our husbands. These things might still be helpful to our husbands, but as long as they’re things we also want, they are service to ourselves primarily. That doesn’t mean they’re all bad things. If my husband and I both want the laundry done, and I do the laundry, that’s good — it’s just not selfless service.
By intentionally ignoring the aspects of serving our husbands that we don’t like, we’re ultimately saying “I’ll ‘serve’ you as long as I like it, as long as I want to, as long as I’m getting something out of it, too.” Consider what terrible marriage vows that would make: “I promise to love and serve you as long as I like what that entails. When I don’t like what it entails, however, I will choose to not serve you. You’re not that important.” Yikes!
But essentially that’s what we’re telling our husbands when we don’t seek to meet the needs they want met. We put ourselves first by only meeting his needs if we’re not being too inconvenienced, as long as it’s not too much extra effort for us. This is incredibly hurtful. Imagine if your husband only loved you when it was convenient for him — if, when you were difficult to love (and for some of us, this is much of the time!), he stopped bothering. And I know some of you don’t have to imagine this at all; you live it. But you know how hurtful this is, and how harmful it is to a marriage. And this is exactly what we do to our husbands oftentimes. We “love” them (read: put their needs first) when their wants and needs don’t interfere with our own – so we’re not really putting their wants needs ahead of ours at all.
Okay, so consider again those three ways that your husband would like to be served that you don’t like. These might be mundane. For instance, while my husband isn’t a fan of piles lying about the house, I don’t really like putting laundry away:
(This photo is from about 5 years ago. Generally my piles aren’t quite as bad now…..)
One (or more) of the three might be of a more adult nature. (I will not be inserting a picture here.)
Some of the three might be things he’s been asking you to do for a long time. This summer I made an extensive chart of things I wanted to get done and things my husband wanted me to do. Some of these things had been on my to-do list for years. Let me tell you – it felt REALLY good to get them all done!
Now, once you’ve thought of your three things, ask yourself: why do you dislike them?
First, are they illegal? Are they physically dangerous or otherwise harmful to you or others? If so, obviously I’m not advocating that you do them. I am suggesting that you seek help outside yourself, however. Here’s a resource that may help: http://referrals-loc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/referrals_loc.cfg/php/loc/enduser/loc.php.
If none of this is true, consider: Is it because these three things are boring to you? Or time-consuming for you? Or uninteresting for you? See the pattern? All of these have to do with our preferences — not his needs.
God has so much more in store for our marriages than we ever allow Him to do! The sorts of blessings He can give us in our relationship with our husbands are unmatched in any other human relationship. But He will not flood our marriages with these blessings if we are serving ourselves instead of one another.
Do we always feel like serving (again, read: loving) our husbands in selfless ways? No! (Well, if you do, then you’re a much better woman than I am!)
Why don’t we always feel like serving our husbands? Plenty of reasons, I believe. Sometimes the fault is theirs: they act in hard-to-love ways sometimes; they don’t always love us like they should. Sometimes the fault is ours: we’re too busy with our own needs or the needs of others (unless you are clearly led to do this by God, don’t replace service to your husband with service to someone (anyone!) else); we’re tired; whatever he’s asking for doesn’t seem important to us.
But the main reason we don’t meet our husbands’ needs is that we aren’t loving God the way we should. Once we are continually (daily, minute-by-minute) being filled with God’s love, loving our husbands becomes possible. It becomes fulfilling. Even enjoyable. . . . usually.
And what does it mean to continually be filled with God’s love? (See the previous post about abiding in Him.) Ultimately, the main thing in our lives has to be our relationship with God — He is our Source of strength, our best friend, our Father, the Lover of our souls.
And He has an amazing design for our marriages! Not all good marriages will look the same – and that’s good – our walks with God don’t all look the same either. My prayer is that we’ll all find God’s best for our marriages – and this takes time. Time with God. Time serving our husbands. All of this, though, is time well spent.
Here’s my challenge to you today: Look at your list of three ways your husband would like to be served that you don’t like. (Again, as long as they’re not harmful, etc.,) prayerfully consider doing all three of these sometime this week. I know that might seem ambitious, but we put a lot of effort into lots of far-less-important things.
Think about this: If someone from church called and needed you to do three things that would take some rearranging of your schedule and some extra time from your week, would you do them? What if your child’s teacher needed you to do something for the classroom? What if your boss needed you to pick up some work, maybe for a co-worker who got sick? What if a friend needed some extra attention? We rearrange and reallocate our time for lots of different reasons. Reasons that, ultimately, should come AFTER our service to our husbands.
So, rearrange and reallocate what you have to. Show your husband that next to God, he’s the most important thing in your life. And, remember, he’s not going to believe he’s important if these things are done grudgingly. This has to be done with a cheerful, servant’s heart.
I’d love hear about successes or roadblocks, either in the comments here or in an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Trust me, ladies. Our husbands will notice this!
Next week: part 3 of the wife series: the biggest and most culturally-encouraged saboteur of marriages….
Click here to read part 1 of the wife series: “why won’t he________?”
Click here to read the “(becoming) fully submitted” series.
To find out more about this blog, check out the About page.
Thanks to all of you who are praying for the anonymous girls in this week’s (prayer) warrior wednesday post!
Looking for the list of recommended books from (unsolicited) suggestion friday #3 and #2? Here you go: Recommended Christian books: Contemporary and Classics.
Today I thought I’d share with you some of the awesome stuff I’ve run across as I’ve gotten acclimated to the blogging world.
I was super excited to see how many women are sharing their faith online – many of them very articulately and very lovingly. And these are some fantastically creative women! So, below you’ll find some links to blogs that I’ve been checking out lately. (Please note that I haven’t read everything on all of these blogs. Therefore, this is not a blanket endorsement of the content.) Also: for more blogs I like, check out my “blogroll” on the sidebar!
One thing I’m looking forward to is a challenge (Frumps to Pumps) that starts Monday at www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com. See, I usually work at home 1 or 2 days a week. Long hours to be sure, but in the comfort of our home – which is nice. On days when I teach or do observations of future teachers, I dress up. On days when I stay home to grade, work on lesson plans, write……not so much. Now, I’m very fortunate because the husband works exclusively from home — this means we often get to have lunch together, bounce ideas off each other – it’s a huge blessing, and I’m very grateful for it. I’ve realized, however, that I tend to “dress down” on these work-at-home days. Like way down. Like not just to the ground, but through the ground into some deep cave.
When it’s summer and dressing down means little shorts and tank tops (we don’t have kids, so the dress code is pretty loose around here), I don’t think he minds one bit. In the winter, though, I tend towards pajama pants and long-sleeved t-shirts or sweatshirts. (I have told him that if he’d turn up the heat, I’d gladly wear shorts all year. I don’t think the thermostat is going to change, though….)
So, this challenge to actually get dressed “up,” even if you’re staying home, is perfect for me. Actually, I started today. (And by started I mean I put on jeans and a shirt, a little make-up, and let my hair down.) After the husband saw I got dressed, here’s how the conversation went:
“Are you going somewhere?” the husband asked.
“No,” I answered.
“You just decided to put on your big girl clothes?” he questioned, looking a little confused. (I call them my big girl clothes; he’s not being condescending here.)
So, yeah, I could probably stand to make this dressing “up” thing more of a habit! If you’re interested in joining me (and lots of other women), check it out:
Also, if you’re looking for other Christian blogs, Faithful Bloggers (www.faithfulbloggers.com) is a great place to start:
And, finally, Time-Warp Wife (http://time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/) is in the middle of a 31 Days of Love challenge where guest writers challenge us with different ways to show love to our husbands. Awesome!
What sites or challenges would you recommend? Tell us (and please leave links!) in the comment section below!
Have a prayer request? Check out the latest (prayer) warrior wednesday.
And coming up on Monday: (becoming) a godly wife, part one. Ever wonder why he won’t <insert thing you’ve asked him to do 1000 times here>? Check back Monday for a discussion of potential answers – and for advice on how to respond to the situation.
To learn more about this blog, check out the About page.
A question I’ve wrestled with for a long time: What does it look like to be fully submitted to God?
This post is one of my attempts at sorting that out. My prayer is that some of what I’m thinking about might be helpful to some of you as well — and/or that some of you might have something wonderful to add that I’ve missed! (I welcome your questions and insights. Please comment below!)
I think one place we can look to start understanding what full submission to God looks like is the two greatest commandments — found in Matthew 22 and Mark 12. Matthew 22:37-40 reads:
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.”
Love God with all you are.
Love others as you love yourself.
And what does that look like? Perhaps a better question: What is love?
Biblically, love is unselfishness. It is putting God before everything and putting others before ourselves. It is not, as my husband puts it, having the warm fuzzies for something. The English language uses a single word for love, but the Greeks had several words for love. They would use different words based on the type of love they were talking about.
Now, however, our language lumps everything into the same “love” pile: I love pizza. I love football. I love to teach. I love The Office. I love God.
Because we have only one word for love, we run the risk of minimizing what it means to love God.
What I mean when I say “I love The Office” is that I think the show is hilarious, the characters well-developed and well acted. I mean I enjoy watching the show. I mean I generally get a good feeling when watching the show. Notice the “I” in all of those statements. The way I love The Office is entirely tied up in how I feel about it, what I get out of it. My love for The Office is an entirely selfish one. If I stopped thinking it was funny or if I just didn’t enjoy it as much anymore, I’d stop watching it. I’d stop loving The Office if it stopped providing me with what I wanted.
Is this the same love we offer God? Does “I love God” mean that I think God has good characteristics? Does it mean that I enjoy being with God? Does it mean that I generally get a good feeling when I’m with God? Can my love for God be defined in almost entirely “I-centric” ways? If so, then the rest is true too: If I stop feeling like God has good characteristics or if I stop enjoying God, then I’d stop spending time with him. I’d stop loving Him if He stopped providing me with what I wanted.
That’s not the kind of love we’re called to in the Bible. In the verses about the greatest commandments, love means putting the needs of someone else ahead of our own. Love in this sense is, essentially, unselfishness.
So, if I mean that I love The Office in the Biblical sense of the word, then I would put watching it above anything else in my life; I would do whatever was in the best interests of the characters/actors; I would spend as much time with it as possible. I think we’d all agree, that’d be pretty weird. But, Biblically loving God and others does involve putting them above anything else in my life, doing whatever is in their best interests, and spending as much time with them as possible.
So, you can see why the fact that we only have one English word for “love” can cause confusion. It can also dull our senses to what it means to really LOVE God. When we’re so used to saying how much we love reading or shopping or the color blue, saying we “love” God isn’t something we necessarily give a lot of critical thought to.
My challenge for all of us this weekend is to start giving some critical thought to it.
Ask yourself: Can I honestly say that I love God (that is, that I put God in front of everything and everyone else in my life)? Can I honestly say that the first fruits of my time, energy, money, etc. are directed at Him? Which of these areas is the most difficult for me to give to God? Why? In what areas might God be asking me to become more fully submitted? (Please comment below.)
I would encourage you to answer these questions honestly. God already knows the answers — and it will be beneficial for your walk with Him, if you know the answers too. Knowing the answers will help you restructure any parts of your life that aren’t in line with loving God.
So this weekend hopefully some of you will join me in looking honestly and critically at what we mean when we say “I love God.”
In the next few posts (next one coming up on Monday!), we’ll break these areas of submission down further. (And I’ll share one of the ways God asked me to more fully submit to Him.)
To read the next post, click here: (becoming) fully submitted, part 2