Category Archives: sin

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 5b: a heart that devises wicked schemes

As we discussed last week, all of us have some issues with maintaining a clean heart.  So today we’re going to look at our hearts: where they start, the problems they face (and cause), and what God does (and wants) for our hearts.

Our hearts are naturally wicked.  They are naturally drawn to sin (selfishness), and, apart from God, they will remain in this state.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12)

This problem with our hearts has consequences:

King Rehoboam established himself firmly in Jerusalem and continued as king. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.  He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.  (2 Chronicles 12:13-14)                                                                                                                                 

King Rehoboam’s heart was not set on seeking God – because of this, he did evil.  We simply cannot be good on our own.  Our goodness comes from setting our hearts on the One who is good.

Having selfish, unclean hearts causes a variety of problems for us and for those around us.  One way we can detect this problem is by recognizing the fruit our unclean hearts produce. 

One type of fruit we produce is our words.  Our hearts and our words have a very close relationship.  When our hearts are unclean, our words often reflect that.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:44-45)

The verse above reminds us that we can often tell by our words if our hearts are unclean.  I’m not talking here about specific “bad words.”  I’m speaking, instead, about whether or not our speech is full of love and directed towards God’s purposes.  We can use lots of very nice-sounding words and be directly opposed to God’s Will.  Likewise, some people whose speech is “rougher” are directly aligned with God’s Will.  I’m talking about motive, tone, purpose, and being aligned with God’s will – not about specific words –because nearly any word can be used to accomplish or oppose God’s purposes, and can come from a selfish or a God-serving heart.  Language is cultural; love and selfishness are not.  Are your words coming from the overflow of good or the overflow of evil in your heart?

While our words can indicate if our heart is clean or unclean, so can our actions.  The verse below reminds us what types of actions spring from an unclean heart.  (For specifics on some of these “fruits,” click on one of the underlined words in the verse.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and follyAll these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:20-23)

While many times our words and actions indicate the condition of our heart, Scripture also reminds us that not all the fruit of an unclean heart can be seen from the outside.  In fact, some people are able to hide their unclean hearts from the people around them for years.  [“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”  (1 Timothy 5:24)]  Most of us know these people.  They seem like such “good” people, but are later revealed not to be.  We’re surprised because they seemed “good” on the outside.  If you suspect you’re one of these people (that is, if you know you harbor envy, deceit, malice, hatred, etc., in your heart, and you aren’t allowing God to work on you in that area), remember the following: 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  (James 3:13-15)

Continuing to deny the truth about your heart will only lead to destruction.  Do not be proud that you have others fooled.  Turn to God in repentance and allow Him to begin His redemptive work.  Remember, even if you’ve fooled those around you, God is not fooled by people who pretend to love Him, but actually have unclean hearts:

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.   Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  (1 Samuel16:7b)

We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  (1 Thessalonians 2:4b)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

In addition to leading to problematic words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes towards others, an unclean heart separates us from God – especially unclean hearts that we are not repentant about:

The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.  (Isaiah 29:13)

Again: God isn’t fooled by empty rituals or a strict following of church rules.  He sees through our attempts to whitewash our wicked hearts.  And He isn’t impressed by the fact that we say the “right” words in front of the “right” people.  And He certainly isn’t impressed when we try to earn our salvation by following church rules.

The problems of an unclean heart are major – and we cannot solve them ourselves.  That doesn’t mean our situation is hopeless, however.  There is one (and only one) cure for unclean hearts: God’s love.  Only God is able to transform our selfish hearts into selfless hearts, hearts filled with love for Him and for others.

Next week we’ll look more at this transformation.

 

Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 3

Last Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 1

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

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

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

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 4: hands that shed innocent blood

There are six things the LORD hates,
   seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
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

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

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

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3b: a lying tongue (continued)

As we discussed last week, breaking the habit of lying is very important.  However, even for those of us who don’t consistently lie, this occasional sin can still be very damaging.  [To see the list of questions from last week, click here: lying questions.]

First, I think it’s important to recognize the ramifications of lying.  Many of us start out with small lies — lies designed to avoid some small conflict or to get our way in some petty matter or to present our side of some minor disagreement in a slightly better light.  One problem with this is that once people know we lie, they know we’re liars. 

If I know a person will lie about a minor event just to avoid facing a small consequence, I have no reason to believe that person will be honest with me about important issues.  As Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).  And while I still have a responsibility to love that person, I can’t really trust her, and we can only ever be so close.  This is unfortunate when it happens between casual acquaintances, but it’s heartbreaking when it happens between close friends or family members.  When you can’t trust your husband or wife — the person in the world you should be closest to — it’s often much more difficult to trust anyone.  And when children can’t trust their parents, their ability to trust others is often distorted as well.  The ramifications of lying aren’t small.  Even when a lie seems small, the effects are big. 

And lying doesn’t just erode trust; it can also corrupt the character of those around us.  As Proverbs 29:12 reminds us: “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.”  If parents (or others in positions of authority) listen to, believe, and even reward lies, those under their care will be much more likely to lie.  If my students see a classmate lie to me, and see that lying gets him out of trouble, other students may be tempted to lie to me too.  This is one reason why it’s so important for parents and others in positions of authority to be discerning.  It also stands to reason that if those under our care see us lying, they will also be tempted to lie.

And this corrupting of others’ characters is problematic for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right”  (Proverbs 20:11).  When our lying or acceptance of lies corrupts the character of our children (or others under our authority), their reputations and relationships eventually suffer as well.   This process backs up what we’re told in Proverbs 26:28a: “A lying tongue hates those it hurts.”  When we properly understand “love” as in terms of selfless service, it’s easy to see the hatefulness of our lies – which are almost always told out of selfishness (for self-preservation, self-esteem, etc.).

In the end, lying is sin (selfishness) that puts our (often short-term) desires in front of the best interests of others (often others who have been placed in our care).

The consequences above focus on others.  It’s important, too, to look at what lying does to the liar.  For instance:

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.  (Proverbs 11:3)

Our lies will eventually catch up to us.  Even if no particular lie has catastrophic consequences, the erosion of trust in our relationships often does – consequences such as divorce, a choice that damages everyone involved in the process.  And lying damages the most important relationship in our lives: our relationship with God.  Sin separates us from God.  With each lie we tell, we take a step away from God.  [Consider how far away your lies have taken you from God.]

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only for a moment.  (Proverbs 12:19)

A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.  (Proverbs 17:20) 

It often doesn’t take too long (in the grand scheme of things) for a lie to be found out, even here on earth.  But even lies that are taken to the grave have extreme eternal consequences – because even lies that fool those around us don’t fool God.  Lies will ultimately cause us to “fall into trouble” with the one who has the power of life and death over us, our ultimate Judge.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”  (Matthew 12:36)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)

As we discussed in the previous post, one fear liars often have to live with is the fear of being found out.  God assures us in the verses above, we’ve already been found out.  And one day, we’ll have to own up to each lie.  There is no getting out of this, no moment when you’ve finally outrun your lie.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  (Galatians 6:7-8)

When we fool those around us with our lies (at least temporarily), we often think we’ve gotten away with something.  We haven’t.  God cannot be fooled or mocked.  Our concern for concealing our dishonesty is a mockery to God.  Either we think we’ve gotten one over on God (we haven’t), or we’ve forgotten about His role in this entirely (bad idea).

There is, of course, good news!  The end of the verse above reminds us that when we live in the Spirit (which will produce honesty, among other things), we reap eternal life.  Nothing is better than that!  There are, however, other advantages to telling the truth, even for our lives today.  We’ll look at those next week!

Next Week: a lying tongue, continued again

Last Week: a lying tongue

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 1

There are six things the LORD hates,
   seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
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)

We’re often reminded by others to love what and whom God loves — orphans, widows, the outcast; justice, mercy, and even love itself.  And, I think, as women, this can play to our natural strengths of nurturing and caring and protecting.  We often have a tendency to see the good in everyone and everything — to allow a wide berth for error, for ourselves and others.  And there are times when this is exactly what we should do — especially where others are concerned.  If God, through Jesus, was not gracious toward our errors, all of us would be on an irreversible path to hell.

There is a danger in our mercy, though.  God, of course, displays mercy perfectly.  We imperfectly mimic.  For all the mercy God shows, He doesn’t let go of justice.  His mercy, in its perfection, doesn’t become a condoning of sin.  But, too often, our rough imitation of God’s mercy turns into just that — a quiet, yet powerful approval of the very things God hates.

So, without letting go of the mercy that is so close to God’s heart (see Micah 6:8 – one of my all-time favorite verses), we have to call sin sin and allow God to strip it from our lives.  This, then, is the second way we get closer to God — not only by loving the things He loves, but also by getting rid of the things in us that He hates.

If our ultimate goal is to know God more intimately, to be always closer to Him, then both are important.  Harboring habits and attributes He hates will affect our closeness with Him.  And this isn’t about the debatables.  As far as I can tell from reading the Bible, our closeness with God doesn’t hinge on whether we’ve been dunked or sprinkled, whether we sing contemporary songs with pounding drums or hymns with an organ.

Similarly, my father-in-law and I don’t actually dislike each other over the fact that we rarely root for the same teams.  (I love the Titans and he’s under the mistaken impression that the Colts are somehow a better team.)  Instead, those differences help make our family, and our interactions, interesting.  At times this type of difference in preferences can even bring us closer.  Good-natured ribbing, the lively conversation during the games, and the fellowship at diners where he has to buy me breakfast when my March Madness pick wins (yet again) all bring us closer.

On the other hand, unreconciled differences on more important matters (like personal values, for instance) are a threat to relationships.  If my father-in-law and I differed in belief about the equality of all people, regardless of race — that would cause a gulf.  If he harbored racism in his heart, we could only ever be so close.  Something that distasteful to me, about something that important, could not help but negatively affect my relationship with Him.

In a similar way, God isn’t likely to fight with us over football teams — but there will be a gulf between us as long as we harbor in our hearts the very things God tells us He detests.

So, using Proverbs 6:16-19 as our starting point, we’re going to look at seven things God detests.  And along the way, we’ll look at other passages to help us see why God hates these things, where they might hide in our own lives, and how we can carve them out of our hearts — which will allow us to fill our hearts and lives more fully each day with God and His love.

This Week’s Challenge: Just glancing at the list, which of these seven things do you think you naturally have the most trouble with?  Spend some time in the next week asking God to help you begin working on that.

Read part two of the series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 2 (haughty eyes)

Want to read more?

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

 

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

 

Start of the Christmas series: (becoming) peaceful

Are you a worrier?  Try this post: (becoming) less of a worrier

 

(becoming) a godly wife, part 1: “why won’t he . . . . ?”

Ephesians 5:22 reads: Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

And I’ve been wondering:

Do we struggle to submit to our husbands as unto the Lord because we aren’t submitted to the Lord in the way we should be?

If our relationships with God are out-of-whack, it shouldn’t surprise us that our relationships with our husbands have problems.  If we’re having trouble putting God (who is all-wise, all-good, has our best interests at heart all the time) first, of course we’ll have trouble putting our husbands (who are, as humans, flawed) before ourselves.

And, while those of us who are “good wives” often pay lip service to submitting, to putting our husbands’ needs in front of our own, when it comes down to it, we often want to hold our husbands to a standard that we don’t want to hold ourselves to — we expect his selfless service to us, and we feel like anything less than that lets us off the hook.  We find ourselves thinking things like: “He didn’t seem interested in my day, so I’m not going to have sex with him tonight.” OR “He doesn’t seem to be handling this problem correctly/fast enough, so I’m going to take over.

HOWEVER…..

This is not an option we’re given in Scripture — it doesn’t say “wives submit to your husbands when you feel they’re living for you.”  Nope.  It just says to submit.  Well, submit as to the LORD.    Which brings us back to our original question: Are we having trouble submitting to our husbands because we’re not fully submitted to God?

Hopefully, we’ve begun working on fully submitting to God.  That, in and of itself, will do wonders for our marriage, because it is God’s Will that we honor and respect our husbands.  If we’re in God’s Will at all times, respect for our husbands will naturally flow from that.  This post, though, is about what respecting our husbands looks like a little more specifically.

TWO NOTES BEFORE I BEGIN:

ONE: While this post is specifically about marriage, I think it’s important for unmarried women as well.  First, many of you will eventually marry, and being aware of some of these common problems beforehand might help you and your husband avoid some of them.  Second, those whom God never calls to marry will, very likely, have married friends who face struggles in the husband-wife relationship.  Perhaps something here could help you as you minister to them.  Plus, much of what we’re going to talk about affects all of our relationships, not just the husband/wife relationship. (Mark 9:35: Sitting down Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”)

TWO: I’d like to note here that it might seem like these next couple of posts are unfairly hard on wives.  That I don’t say enough about what our husbands should be doing.  Here’s why: We can’t control what our husbands do.  We can only control what we do.  What we’d like to do is change our husbands so they’ll do what we’d like them to.  Or we’d like to use their shortcomings as an excuse to not improve ourselves as wives.  All of this is selfishness (sin) and all of this is very natural.  We like easy fixes.  We like comfortable things.  We like getting what we want.  But, as Christians, we’re called to something better.

In addition, these posts are about the Biblical role of the wife, not the husband.  I’m not going to handle the husband part because I feel like that will tempt us to focus on his shortcomings, instead of our own.  What follows is meant to help us become better wives — no matter what kinds of husbands we have.  I can almost guarantee you, though, that allowing God to make you a better wife will help make your husband a better husband.  But that can’t be our goal.  Our goal is to honor God and our husbands.  Period.

 

Without further ado…….

This post is going to pose several questions.  These are NOT rhetorical.  I think it’s helpful if you stop and answer them.  They also don’t always have a right or wrong answer.  Sometimes, it just a matter of taking stock of where you are so you know how to move forward.

First, what three things do you feel like you’ve told your husband over and over or asked him to do over and over?

Second, why can’t you let go of these things?  This isn’t meant to imply that you should have to, but I think trying to articulate why something is so important to you can help you plan how to handle the issue in the future.

For example, if you’re constantly telling your husband to drink less because he’s had a DUI, is spending too much money on the habit, and frightens the kids when he’s drunk, I’m not telling you that you have to stop being so selfish and leave him alone.  Quite the opposite in this case: your concern is stemming from actual safety and relational concerns.  I would recommend, though, getting help other than just yourself.  (A great resource is Focus on the Family’s website.  They offer solid advice on a wide variety of issues: www.family.org.  You can also call to talk to family care specialist or look up Christian counselors in your area: http://family.custhelp.com/app/home.)

However, for many of us, what we nag our husbands about is not nearly so important.  So, once you have your list, consider why you can’t let go of those issues.  WHY is this so important to you?  What need of yours would he be meeting if he did these three things?

For instance, let’s say you always tell him to get projects, etc., done faster.  Just totally pulling this example out of the sky.  Have no real experience with it or anything…. J

And this speed is important to you because, well, you want these projects done.  The house would look better.  Or he could then move on to a new project.  Etc.  He should want to do this for you because you want it done.  In this case, though, if it doesn’t get done, there’s no real harm.

Consider, too, why he might be taking so long.  Does he even know how to do the project?  Does he have other things that are more pressing priorities?  Is he just a slow person?  Is the project not important to him?

1. If he doesn’t know how to do the project, there’s a good chance this is causing him quite a bit of anxiety.  As we’ll talk about in a later post, there’s a lot of pressure on men to know how to do stuff.  More than there is on women.  Maybe easing up on him would relieve some of that pressure.  And really, is the project so important that it’s worth causing him anxiety over?

2. If he has other, more pressing concerns, then he probably needs to be cut some slack.  If he actually has more to do than he can get done in a day/week/month, then asking him how you can help with the load might be a good idea.

3. Is he just a slow person?  Honestly, this was probably something you knew about him before you married him.  But maybe he’s gotten worse.  Or maybe you thought you could “fix” him.  But, if this is a trait you knew he had when you married him, you’re probably going to have to let your timetable go in a lot of cases.

If you’re pretty sure he’s just a slow mover, I’d ask him about this.  My husband is notoriously slow at almost everything — and I knew this going in.  The positive side of this is that almost everything he does is done to an incredibly high standard and he makes very few mistakes.  The negative side of this is that he’s SLOW!  And I’m NOT!

We’ve found lots of ways to cope with our different styles (and I’m happy to talk about them, if anyone finds themselves in a similar situation) — and for the most part, we work very well together.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the slowness never gets on my nerves.  However, this is usually a personal preference thing, not an actual issue.  (Even if I sometimes feel like my preference is the correct one!)  If this is the case for you and your husband, I would recommend talking about it.  Our discussions have taken us some time (time I don’t always feel like we have to spare), but they’ve allowed us to utilize our strengths really well — and spending the time talking about it when we’re both level-headed has led to far fewer disagreements.

4. Is the project not important to him?  Sure, he should want to do it because it’s important to you, but the fact is, he’s not perfect at this putting-others-first thing either.  Again, you might find out why it’s not important to him.  Was he not consulted about the decisions regarding the project?  Is it a project he doesn’t see the need for?  It is outside his area of interest?  Talking about this might help you handle projects better in the future.

Overall, though, I’d recommend prayerfully considering letting go of the top three things that you feel you tell your husband over and over or ask your husband to do over and over.  Unless, as discussed above, this is an actual issue (drinking problem, violence, etc.), it’s probably a matter of preference.  And, as we’ve discussed, his needs should be put ahead of your own.

I’ll grant here that this is much easier if you’re both trying to do this the right way.  If both of you are trying to put the other first, you won’t bother him so much with projects, etc., and he’ll get done what is important to you.  Both of you will make some sacrifices and both of you will have needs met.  And if, like me, you’re blessed enough to have a husband who leads and puts you first, take some time to thank him today.  I think sometimes those of us with husbands who do this well underestimate how much easier that makes our roles as Biblical wives.  If, however, this is a one way street, it becomes much harder.  The truth is, though, that it’s still what we’re called to as Christian wives.  If your husband isn’t a Christian (or claims to be one, but doesn’t show much evidence of it), remember that you are not alone!  God is with you through this journey – and other women who have been in the same situation can offer solid advice.  Here are some resources that can help you:

Focus on the Family Advice: http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25920.

Book Recommended by Focus on the Family: http://family.christianbook.com/spiritually-single-raising-godly-doesnt-believe/nancy-meyer/9781576838747/pd/38747?event=CF

Another Book Recommended by Focus on the Family: http://family.christianbook.com/doesnt-believe-encouragement-alone-their-faith/nancy-kennedy/9781578564347/pd/64344?event=CF

And another:

http://family.christianbook.com/how-to-save-your-marriage-alone/ed-wheat/9780310425229/pd/0425220?item_code=WW&netp_id=119593&event=EBRN&view=details

And another:

http://family.christianbook.com/beloved-unbeliever-loving-husband-into-faith/jo-berry/9780310426219/pd/42621?event=CF

 

So, Challenge One on the road to becoming a more godly wife: Prayerfully consider letting go of some things that you most nag your husband about.  Realize that “why won’t he . . . . ?” isn’t the only question to ask.  The right question to ask might be “why won’t I . . . .?”  Remember that this is a sacrifice you’re making for the good of your marriage.  Remember also that it doesn’t even begin to compare to the sacrifice God made for the good of your relationship with him.

I’d love to hear about successes, questions, concerns, etc., as you work on loving your husband more and more.  Please comment below!

Next Monday: (becoming) a godly wife, part 2: a little less talk and a lot more action!

Want to read more?  Check out the start of the (becoming) fully submitted series.

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