Category Archives: Bible Studies

Bible Studies for women

03. Scarves, pants of Mid East and Asia, Salwar Kameez of Pakinsan, India

Scarves, slacks in Arab, Islamic countries, Mid East, Asia, China; Salwar Kameez pants and top/dress of Pakistan, India. What about heart? Behave appropriately if wear head covering.

Please continue to encourage modesty but just be a bit more informed — Jo.

We should behave appropriately to teaching of our religion if wear scarf.

Regarding head coverings and dress: I live in an arab country – head coverings/scarves existed long before Islam but now to wear one shows externally that you are a good follower of the religion – what about the heart as I personally know women, married or not, who wear the scarf and behave in ways not appropriate to the teachings of their religion.
Secondly, dress for women has been pants or slacks for millenia in the middle East and Asia – peasant women of China, etc, have worn them for centuries, the Salwar Kameez of Pakistan, India and Mid Eastern variations consists of pants that are visible under a top/dress of varying lengths but always covering the backside.

Young modern Christian women seek answers, modesty appreciated

Please continue to encourage modesty but just be a bit more informed about the world that you are speaking to, as young “modern” women like myself who seek for answers to questions such as Christians wearing head coverings, wish to hear good Bible exegesis from those who show good research and understanding.
Thanks, and thanks for the piece about verbal abuse.

— Thanks to a reader named Jo for this informative comment received via email from our website on 7/19/2004.

This 2-part Bible Study was written by Tina and Lois in 2000-2001. Comment by Jo was received 2004.

Back to What should a woman wear?

02. Modesty, feminine traditions, headship; honor God without contention

Women are to dress modestly and femininely, act like women, and embrace the unique role of special protection under headship given by God — as by nature weaker than the man.

Dress in a way that honors God, without contention – Lois

Hair and head covering, slacks, pants, trousers, and dresses – Lois’ viewpoint

This Bible study is based on 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, NIV

Is a woman’s hair to be her head covering?

To me, 1 Corinthians 11:15 is the key to the issue of head coverings for women. I see this verse as indicating that a woman’s hair is to be her head covering, not a separate wrap that she would wear over her head. I believe the Scriptures are teaching some general principles here.

Are pants, slacks, or trousers proper attire for women?

When I was a girl in the 1950’s, girls were not allowed to wear slacks to public school. Dresses were considered the appropriate feminine attire for school, business, and church. Slacks or pants were acceptable feminine attire for casual social occasions in the 1950’s.

But in the early 1900’s, trousers were considered “severe bigotry” for a woman. I have a wonderful hardcover book called, “What Can a Woman Do?” that was published in Albany, New York in 1893. A chapter on personal appearance describes appropriate dresses for a woman, and adds this commentary:

“Custom makes laws as irrevocable as those of legislatures, and the time has not yet come, possibly never will, when a girl can snatch her hat from its nail and get out into the open air as quickly as her brother. There must necessarily be certain restrictions of sex, and no amount of reform will change the laws of nature…. The working dress of American ladies to-day is a happy compromise between the despotic fashions of a court and the severe bigotry of a reform costume of the coat and trousers pattern.”

Modesty, feminine traditions, and headship

I believe the Bible teaches that women are to dress modestly and in accordance with femine traditions of their day. Even today it is the Middle Eastern custom for women to wear a cloth covering over their head. For a woman to have appeared in public without a head-covering in the time Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians would have indicated rebellion to authority.

On the other hand, there are Scriptural principles that cannot be ignored. 1 Corinthians 11:3 begins this commentary on women’s head covering by pointing out that “the head of the woman is the man.”

Later in verse 14-15 the Scripture asks: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?”

Verse 15 concludes with the answer: “For long hair is given to her as a covering.”

Verse 4 indicates that a covering dishonors the head of a man: Verse 4 says, “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.”

Yet the Bible speaks of a special and binding Nazarite vow of commitment that a mother sometimes made for her unborn infant, or a man could make for himself. This vow included letting his hair grow long (Numbers 6:5). Sampson, Samuel, and possibly John the Baptist were among those who were set apart by a Nazarite vow.

A woman should look and dress like a woman

I believe Paul is teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 that a man should look and dress like a man and a woman should look and dress like a woman. For some women long hair is not difficult to manage and they enjoy this especially feminine touch. For others of us, long hair is very cumbersome, unbecoming, and time-consuming to manage. As such, it can become burdensome and a deterrant to the ministry God has for us to do.

If the Apostle Paul, or Jesus, were walking among us today, I believe they would instruct women to chose a feminine hairstyle and advise men to select a masculine hairstyle.

If they were speaking with women in the Middle Eastern countries where a cloth head covering is still worn today to symbolize woman’s submission, I belive they would instruct women to wear a head covering to show their lack of rebellion to authority.

In our American society where women have embraced women’s liberation and have attempted to be like men, I believe they would advise women to dress modestly and feminely, to act like women, and to embrace the unique role of special protection that God has given her since she is by nature weaker than the man (1 Peter 3:7).

Dress in a way that honors God, without contention

Paul concludes his instructions by saying in 1 Corinthians 11:16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (I believe the KJV expresses this verse a bit more clearly and I have quoted it here.)

Commentators differ in their interpretation of this passage. I tend to agree with those who believe that “no such custom” in this verse is not referring to “no such custom” of being contentious, but rather to “no such custom” of head covering in the doctrine of the churches of that day.

I believe this Scripture is teaching that we should not defy social traditions in a way that would bring reproach on the name of Christ, thus in a society where it is a reproach for women to go unveiled, she should be veiled.

I think this is teaching us that we are not to be contentious on the issue of head covering. Some women will wear a head covering for the glory of God. Some will dress modestly in accordance with accepted feminine attire of their day for the glory of God. Since either way we serve with a pure motive of honoring Christ, let us not be contentious among ourselves regarding this issue.

–Lois

Next: Reader comment from Jo

This 2-part Bible Study was written by Tina and Lois in 2000-2001. Comment by Jo was received 2004.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Hair or head covering, breeches, robes and dresses?

Hair or head covering, breeches, robes, dresses? Greek ‘katakalupto’ = ‘hanging down, completely covers;’ ‘peribolaion’ = ‘cast on or thrown around like a coat.’

“I choose head covering and dresses” – Tina

Hair or head covering, breeches, robes and dresses – Tina’s viewpoint

This Bible study is based on 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, KJV

Is hair the covering?

During a Bible study I stumbled across these Scriptures. I had never read these Scriptures before and I had to find out what was meant by …“if a woman prays with her head uncovered she dishonors her head.”

I began by asking my friends what their interpretations of this Scripture were. I also wrote letters to several popular ministries. “Hair is the covering,” became the consistent reply.

I prayed about this and the more I prayed the less hair is the covering made sense to me. If hair is the covering then why aren’t men shaved bald? I asked myself and others. After all, hair is hair no matter how long it is or who’s head it is on! How can hair be a covering for a woman but not be a covering for a man?

No one could answer these questions with any kind of logic. The unsupported “Hair is the covering” continued to be the response.

When no one I asked to give me logical answers, I decided it was time to turn to the churches who taught about veiling. Men and women are equal in God s eyes, but God is a God of order. That being said this is what I have learned:

“For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” verse 6.

The word covered in this verse is the word “katakalupto” which means something hanging down which completely covers. The word “also” is a clue that the hair is to be covered.

If hair is the only covering needed, a woman would never be uncovered: Therefore, it would never be necessary for the woman to cut her hair short.

“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering” verse 15.

The word covering here is “peribolaion” which means “something cast on or thrown around like a coat.” This is a completely different word than in verse 6! This would mean that our hair would be removable:-) It seems to mean that the covering in this verse is a covering that can be put on and taken off. Hair can not be taken off and put on (at least not mine:-)).

“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” verse 16.

I am often confronted by it was just a custom in Corinth. My usual response is that Paul was probably addressing the fact that it was not the custom to go uncovered simply because he was just telling woman to be covered. Why would he have addressed the issue of covering in verses 3-15 otherwise?

For me this makes much more sense than the typical “Hair is the covering” response. This is why I choose to cover. Each woman has to decide for herself concerning the issue of covering.

Are breeches or pants proper attire for women?

“And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy [place]; that they bear not iniquity, and die: [it shall be] a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him” Exodus 28:42-43 KJV

I wear dresses 99% of the time because of the Scripture above. Through the ages, dresses are what women have worn.

During the time that men wore robes as well as the women, the men wore the breeches under their robes. Men would often times tie the robe under the girdles exposing the breeches. The women never did this.

Men, over time, discarded the robes but kept the breeches. The women continued to wear robes but over time changed the styles into what we now call dresses.

–Tina

Next: Lois writes…

Tina came to us about two months after we started our email support group, and she became a leader in the group soon afterward. We appreciate her faithful service a a leader during our early years, 2000-2001. This 2-part Bible Study was written by Tina and Lois during those years.

Scripture taken from King James Version unless otherwise noted

A woman’s priorities: Three most important things

3 most important things: Obedience to and spending time with God is our #1 priority. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. There is no higher calling than motherhood.

Time alone with God will change your life like no other.

Three most important priorities in your life

Do you ever get frustrated with all the demands placed upon you? Our world demands more and more all the time. We need to take time to determine what is really important.

I was asked an interesting question in a job interview once: “If you had to nail it down, what would you consider the three most important things in your life?” My perspective employer told me to think about it before answering, because he felt it was one of the most important questions in the interview. How would you respond to that question?

I told him I would not need to think about the first two. I explained that God must be first in everything, and that my family is the most important part of my life after God. I thought a moment about the third response. Several things vied for that position, but I decided that the thing that means most to me after God and family is my church. That was in 1990 and, as I update this in 2009, my priorities remain the same. These three things top the list for me.

However, for this study, I am going to list the priorities in our immediate family in the proper order. The top three things, then, will look like this:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Children

Family (husband and children) and a woman’s priorities

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man

–Genesis 2:20-22

Our primary calling under God is to be a helper to our husbands. That is why we were created. “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you'” (Genesis 3:16).

God placed a natural desire in us to make our husbands our priority. The friction of marriage tends to wear away at that desire. Then we bring that little baby home from the hospital — helpless and demanding — and we forget the first priority God gave us in our homes.

Motherhood is a high calling. But before motherhood we were given to our husbands as a helper. Many husbands are jealous of a wife’s time with the children. This is to our shame. Our husbands deserve better than second rate to the children. When we put them second we are not fulfilling the role God has given us as wives.

There is no higher calling than motherhood. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. They go hand in hand. Unless we get the relationships in our families right we cant be what God intended us to be. Caring for our children is part of meeting our husband’s needs. Our husbands want us to do that. They just don’t want to be sacrificed in the process. We don’t have to neglect our children to put our husbands first.

The Bible has much to say about our role as wives, as well as about parents — both husband and wife together. There are examples of Godly mothers in the Bible. But few verses are directed specifically toward a mother’s role in raising her children. This is because it is natural for us to mother.

“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) Many of us remember the anguish of childbirth. But when that baby was placed in our arms, the anguish was forgotten. We began to mother!

It is natural for us to desire our husbands too. But the part about allowing our husbands to rule is not so natural for most of us. This requires steadfast devotion to and faith in God. So God is careful to emphasize our role as wives more than mothers.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4) Which is listed first in God’s command of who we are to love? Husbands or children? God’s order is husbands first, children second. If we follow God’s order our children will be cared for in the best possible way. God’s way is always right.

I am not advocating a mother subject herself or her children to abuse. I am suggesting we do not excuse ourselves for our rebellion against God’s plan for families because of our own selfishness. Much material on this website discusses our role as wives and mothers. Now we turn to our #1 priority.

God and a woman’s priorities

“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” (Matthew 22:37-38). It is easy to say God is #1. But is he really #1 in your life?

“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

What did Jesus say we will do if we love him? (Obey his teachings). Where do we find his teachings? (In the Bible). Do you love God enough to set aside a time each day to learn about his teachings? Do you have time for God? Do you plan ahead for this time of meeting with him in His word? Do you reserve a few minutes of your 24 hrs for him alone, or is your prayer life always “on the go?”

There is nothing wrong with “on the go” prayers. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). The Bible says, “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

But how can we say he is a priority if we are not willing to set aside a few minutes of each day to devote only to him? You may say, “I tried that. Didn’t work.” Here is what God says:

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway” (Proverbs 8:34)

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:10)

The King James translation of Isaiah 28:10 says it this way: For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little: (Isaiah 28:10 KJV)

God says it WILL work if you are faithful to do it and don’t give up. Some days you will feel God so near you can almost touch him. Other times you will read the Bible for days or even weeks and nothing seems to happen. But you are being fed.

Think of a special meal you enjoyed recently, something out of the ordinary. Yet, most of the time you probably eat the same type of food day after day. Either way, you are being nurtured. If you are faithful during the times you feel you aren’t getting anything out of it, God will be faithful to develop a foundation in your life that will be strong and secure. He will do it in tiny measures sometimes — barely noticeable — precept upon precept. But one day you will read a passage you’ve read many times. In an instant God will reveal a special truth to you, something you missed before — a special meal. The Bible will begin to come alive for you!

God’s word fits together wonderfully but it takes faithfulness to comprehend its wonders. I’ve talked with many defeated Christians. They come back over and over with the same needs. Yet I have watched God dramatically change the lives of those who are willing to make time alone with God the #1 priority in their lives.

This one thing – time alone with God – will change your life like no other!

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 hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Loving our neighbor as ourselves takes care of everything else

  • home
  • friends
  • relationships at church
  • work
  • social life
  • mistreatment from others

But before we can get the part about our neighbor right we must get the part about making God #1 right. There is an old hymn that says:

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord.
I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee my God;
I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou doest know;
But how much I love Thee my actions will show.

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…'” (John 14:23)

Do you love God enough to make time alone with him your #1 priority? Or do you keep putting him off?

  • When I get better organized…
  • When I get the kids in school…
  • When I get a better job with different hours…
  • When I have more time I will spend time with him.

That is Satan’s lie. It will never happen unless you chose to make it happen, unless you choose now — NOW — to make time for God! Do you have to think about whether you will comb your hair each day? Do you ever consider not combing it?

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7)

Is the God who knows the number of your hairs, who cares for the sparrows and says you are much more important… Is he less important than brushing your hair? Our time with God should be just that automatic like brushing our hair. It shouldn’t be up for question as to whether we will do it. He always waits for us. We can come to him any time.

Satan challenges us in this area like no other. Satan knows if he can defeat our time alone with God he can defeat us in every other area. Will you let Satan continue to defeat you?

What time would be best for you to set aside for God? Think of a time right now that would be best to set aside for God. If you don’t plan ahead you will never do it. Commit your heart right now to keeping this appointment with God each day this week. Don’t let Satan steal your time with the most important priority in your life.

What to do during your time alone with god

The concordance in the back of your Bible is wonderful. Use it to find passages relating to Bible people.

  • What made them great?
  • What made them fall short?
  • Notice how God worked in their lives.
  • How did they respond?
  • Learn from their examples.

Are you fearful? Look up “fear and “afraid” in the concordance.

Are you angry? Look up “anger.”

Search for God’s promises that meet your need. Are there conditions to the promises? Ask God to help you meet them.

When you come to the “begets and begots” and other things that seem boring skip them. God has them there for a reason and some day you will go back and uncover the wonderful truths in them. But for now don’t concentrate on the things you don’t understand. Just apply the things you do understand. None of us understands it all. The Bible has some very simple truths in it and some very profound. The Holy Spirit will teach us as we read it. The more we study, the more we will understand.

Spend time talking with God. You can be honest with him. If you don’t feel like praying, tell him. Like this: “God, I don’t feel like praying today. I’d rather be reading a magazine. But you are here, and I want to learn. I am struggling. Help me with this.”

He will hear that prayer…and he will open his word to you. Tell him all your heart things. He already knows. He just wants you to invite him to help. He doesn’t look at our failures to see where he can condemn us. He looks at them to see how he can help.

Your homework for the next week is this:

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is divided into 22 short sections. Read 3 sections each day during the time you have set apart for God. One day you will need to read 4 sections.

Meditate on what you read. Ask God to give you 1 verse each day that speaks to your need. Talk to God during this time just as you would talk to a friend. You may want to write your prayers.

Psalm 119 is a passage on the helpfulness of God’s word. It is written in the form of a prayer. By reading it you will be performing both Bible study and prayer.

God waits for you every day. He will be waiting for you at the time you have selected. Your appointment with Him is the only place you will find what you are missing in your life.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27) If you want that peace you have to spend time with Him.

When I was in high school, I used to dig promises out of God’s word and write them in the flyleaves of my Bible. The flyleaves of my Bible and a New Testament I had then are both covered with penciled promises. I have been a Christian since 1956. God has been faithful to every promise.

Here is my testimony about God’s promises:
“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them” (Psalm 119:140).

But there was a time in my young adult years when I didn’t have time for God. I was a defeated Christian. My world was collapsing around me.

He was waiting for me. I found answers with God. You can too.

For more help in establishing a daily time with God, click here. This will take you to our old website until I get things moved. We are in the process of moving the website to the site you are on now.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Wait in expectation, God’s answer is “Yes!”

God always says, “Yes,” but his “Yes” is more than we can comprehend. We see the moment, but God bids us wait in exptectation of his “Yes” that covers the whole of us.

“in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

God’s Answer is “Yes”

But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
–2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Jesus is “Yes.” He is not “No.” The confusion comes when we ask with wrong motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

There can be wrong motive even in something so noble as wanting to put a marriage back together. Motives of personal fulfillment, companionship, or security can overshadow the motive of living for Christ in whatever circumstance we are in. Living by God’s principles is not a foolproof insurance policy for marriage. The ultimate goal is not even a wholesome marriage, but rather to be obedient to Christ. When we are obedient to Christ we can find peace no matter what happens.

Your home may be hurting. You may feel God has let you down. Set your heart to being the wife God has called you to be and leave the results with him. Jesus says, “Yes,” but his “Yes” encompasses a lot more than our minds can take in. We see only the moment, but his is an all encompassing, everlasting “Yes.”

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). God has promised to give us what we ask of him in prayer. But God’s “Yes” is always in accordance with what is best for us. You may say, how can this be? In that case it may seem “No” to you.

An illustration I heard as a child has always stuck with me. A little boy had to climb a mountain to get to church each Sunday. It was a very difficult and somewhat dangerous trip. Yet he longed for the fellowship and teaching he found with God’s people and he faithfully made the trip each Sunday.

He learned that God says if you have enough faith you can ask him to remove a mountain and he will do it. In childlike faith he began to pray that the mountain be removed so he could easily attend the church.

A couple weeks later he came across some folks working on a building project at the foot of the mountain just before he would have to climb it to get to his church. He asked what they were building, and they said they were building a mission of the church across the mountain, so folks on this side could easily attend.

God did not remove the mountain. So I ask you, did he say “Yes” to the little boy’s prayer? Of course he did!

God’s “Yes” is not always in accordance with the exact thing we are asking. If we are not careful, we may not see his “Yes” when it comes. Begin to look for God’s “Yes!”

Wait in Expectation

Does God ever say, “Wait.”? How do we know when God says, “Wait.”? God always says “Wait.”

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

Wait in expectation! Wait a few minutes or wait a few years. Wait on God to work it out in the best way possible. “Wait in expectation.” Two seemingly contradictory words. Yet God says it is the answer for us. Wait.

Wait is a peaceful word. It is not worrisome. It is not fretful. It is simply resting in God’s “Yes.” Expectation is not jumping at every flicker of light. It is calm assurance in God’s “Yes.” Yes, he will come through. His “Yes” will be what is good for you in every way. No where in the Bible will you find where his “Yes” promises to restore broken marriages. But you will find where he says, “My peace I leave with you.”

Are you at peace? His “Yes” is peace and hope and the two wonderful words, “wait” and “expectation,” two words that seem to contradict yet meet together in the calm assurance of resting in God’s promise of “Yes.”

Yes, God cares about your marriage! But he cares more about you. His “Yes” takes in all of you, not just your marriage. Jesus says to you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).

Wait in expectation for his “Yes.” God has given you rest.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

In times like these agape love never fails

A commitment to charity and God’s agape love to reach our mate and marriage. Tearing down walls of protection and becoming vulnerable in service, flexibility, courage, forgiveness.

from 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” The Greek word “agape” is translated “love.”

In times like these

I’ve heard that after the wedding bells stop ringing, marriage partners begin to reduce each other to fit their own molds. Ah, but that could never happen to us! Or so I said before we got married.

But now I’m beginning to feel uncomfortably reduced! I thought we knew each other well, but sometimes now I feel I hardly know you at all.

It seems you’re trying to squeeze me into your mold, yet at the same time you’ve smashed all the boundaries which held my cast of an ideal mate.

In times like these, my love can no longer afford to be merely an emotion. In times like these, my love must mature into a ministry, because…

Love is selfish when it swoons, “I love you because of who I am when I am with you.” Love is agape when it declares, “I will serve you regardless of who I am when I am with you.”

There will be times when you will sin against me. During these times I promise to follow the example of our Lord in his relationship with Judas Iscariot. Jesus demonstrated the same love toward Judas that he lavished upon the other apostles. During their three years of companionship, Jesus’ treatment of Judas never gave away the fact that Jesus knew Judas was an impostor (John 13:1-34.)

Forgiveness is not passive.
Forgiveness aggressively makes itself vulnerable.
Forgiveness is turning the other cheek. 70 x 70.

There will be times when we are angry with each other. When I am angry, I promise to abide by this counsel:

Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.”—(Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance.

Those who have been stealing must never steal again. Instead, they must work. They must do something useful with their own hands. Then they will have something to give to people in need.

Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.

Do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad. He marked you with a seal for the day when God will set you completely free.

Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.

–Ephesians 4:26-32, New International Readers’ Version (NIRV)

There will be times when I will sin against you. During these times, I promise to say the three hardest words in the English language:

“I am wrong.”

Some of our friends are getting divorced. Others are living together in “emotional divorce.” But our marriage will be different, because…

1. I will honor our wedding vows before God. I promise to abide with you in love until death do us part.

2. I will let nothing you do destroy me, for I will trust in the Lord at all times.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
–Psalm 62:8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
–Romans 8:28-29

3. No matter what you do, I will not protect myself by building a wall between us; for how can I love you through a wall?

4. No, I will not do those things. You see, my love for you is aggressive enough to serve, if need be. It is flexible enough to adjust, if need be. It is brave enough to hurt, if need be. Whatever you do, my love will forgive, because God’s love has been born in me.

Many marriages have failed, but ours will not fail; because I will saturate our marriage with God’s love — agape love — and…

“Agape never fails.”

Definition of “agape”

The Greek word translated “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and many other passages of Scripture is “agape.” Theologians tell us the Bible speaks of three types of love. “Eros” is sexual, “phileo” is based on friendship, and “agape is the love God has for us and wants to develop in us toward others. Many have tried to define “agape,” but I believe the greatest definition of “agape” is 1 Corinthians 13.

It’s not a failure till it’s finished.

Update April 16, 2009: I wrote this item several years before my husband and I were separated in 1999. Some would say my marriage failed, but I say it is not a failure till it is finished. It is not finished until we kneel before God’s throne. If I never see the answer here, I fully expect that God will show me that agape didn’t fail when he brings me to his throne room. Don’t ask me how that can be — I do not know. Just meet me at the throne, for the answer is in God’s hand.

The truth is that both of us failed our marriage and each other in many ways. There are no perfect marriages. I was not always as consistent with agape as I longed to be. Had I been, would it have made a difference? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I can tell you that God’s Word says “Agape never fails.” My experience does not change God’s promise.

We all fall short of what God calls us to be at times. My goal is to be what he calls me to be today. My part is to be faithful to the wedding vows that I made to my husband in the presence of my God. It is to be kind to my husband and seek his best interest, whatever the state of our marriage, and to pray for him.

God has never promised me he would restore my marriage. It would take a tremendous miracle to restore our union, but I have no doubt that God is capable of doing that if he so chooses. So I cannot give up on the restoration of my marriage as long as my husband is not married to another.

What God has told me is that the agape we put into our marriage will not fail. It will accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. How do I know? “Agape never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

In God’s agape,
Lois

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Forgiveness II: Bringing it home

Forgiveness is vulnerable. It doesn’t just say, “I forgive,” it turns the other cheek. When I parked my mind on the shortcomings of another, I needed forgiveness as much as my offender.

We are on equal footing with those who have wronged us at the foot of the cross.

I parked my mind on the offense of another

There is a sick pleasure in mentally rehearsing the indignities of another toward us. We enjoy it because it paints us as being altogether good in contrast to the offender who becomes increasingly evil in our judgment as we elaborate on the offense. However, Jesus said there is only One who is altogether good. Even Jesus himself refused to attribute goodness to his own humanity. He pointed toward God as the source of all goodness.

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments'” (Matthew 19:16-17 NIV).

When I realized how unforgiving I had been simply because I had parked my mind on the shortcomings of another, I realized how short I had fallen from God’s ideal for me. I was just as much in need of forgiveness as the one who had offended me. I choose to free the offender from my mind and by doing so I am freeing myself.

But sometimes the offense hurts so badly that we can’t get our mind off the pain. All of our emotions join the chorus of hatred toward that which has caused such heartache. It is then that we have to work through forgiveness with God’s help.

Jesus forgives at home with his “family” of apostles

The story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples has been especially helpful to me as I’ve struggled with forgiveness in home and family. You can read that story in John 13:1-38.

Jesus had earthly parents, siblings, and relatives, but he left home and developed his ministry. The twelve apostles became like an immediate family to him. For three years, they lived and traveled together and shared fellowship.

Jesus knew during this time that Judas would betray him. Yet Jesus always guarded Judas’ dignity and treated him with the same loving kindness that he lavished upon all the disciples. Even in the face of imminent betrayal, Jesus was careful not to publicly disgrace Judas. He very discretely shared with John alone who his betrayer would be. Jesus did this only to provide further proof that Jesus was the Messiah:

“‘I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He'” (John 13:19 NIV)

Jesus also provided for us an example of how to respond to close family members who we know have done or plan to do us wrongly. Jesus knew that his beloved twelve would soon desert him in his hour of need. Peter would deny him three times: “He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’ Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept” (Mark 14:71-72 NIV)

The other disciples would watch from a distance: “The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things” (Luke 23:47-49 NIV)

Judas Iscariot would sell him for thirty silver coins: “Then one of the Twelve — the one called Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Matthew 26:14-16 NIV)

Only the Apostle John stood by him at the cross according to John 19:25-27. Yet at this last supper just prior to his arrest in the garden, his betrayal by Judas whom he knew was an imposter from the beginning, and his desertion by his closest loved ones, the King of Glory did an amazing thing. He took off his outer garment, girded himself with a towel as a servant, knelt down, and lovingly washed the feet of each man whom he knew would shortly reject him.

Jesus said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15 NIV). We won’t get into a discussion of whether or not he was also setting an example of foot-washing. Suffice it to say he was setting an example of forgiveness and servant hood to close family members who do us wrong, in addition to whatever else he may or may not have been indicating here.

Jesus taught the pattern of forgiveness

Jesus gave us the pattern of forgiveness in Matthew 5:38-41: “You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:38-41 NIV)

He is teaching us that forgiveness is willing to make itself vulnerable. You can’t forgive someone without making yourself vulnerable to be hurt again.

A personal story

She was a sweet Christian friend who ran a home-based business. Her service and skill was exceptional, and I was thankful to be one of her customers. But one day I said something that offended her. I didn’t mean to offend, but I should have been more careful. I realized how my words could have been interpreted to mean something much more harsh than their intent.

Though I apologized quickly, my friend refused to provide service for me via her business after that. I begged her forgiveness, and I will never forget her response: “I forgive you, but I just don’t think I can do this for you anymore. I was just so upset by what you said.”

She verbalized the words, “I forgive you.” She deceived herself into believing them. But I knew I wasn’t forgiven. A year or two later, God intervened in our relationship. My friend truly forgave me, and I was once again able to be one of her customers. Today we rarely have opportunity to see each other, but when we do there is a wonderful bond of Christian love between us.

Forgiveness doesn’t just say the words, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness makes itself vulnerable to be hurt again. Forgiveness turns the other cheek. This is not to say you should live with physical abuse or continued promiscuity on the part of your mate. But even in these situations, you must come to a place where you are willing to trade your bitterness and hurt for the peace of God that allows you to offer them kindness rather than retaliation.

Forgiveness draws the biggest circle

Jesus is teaching us in this passage to share freely with our enemies and to give more than they ask. How is this done? Edwin Markham’s poem Outwitted has long been a favorite of mine:

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

What do we do with the pain?

David Augsburger, in The Freedom of Forgiveness says “The man who forgives pays a tremendous price – the price of the evil he forgives!”

Did it hurt God to forgive? You bet it did! God felt the awful cost of forgiveness as he watched his own beloved son hang from the cross that day.

Jesus was willing to go to the cross to forgive our husbands for the wrong they have done. The God of creation was willing to suffer their punishment. Who am I to refuse forgiveness to those for whom Christ died? Our husbands’ shortcomings are no blacker in God’s eyes than our own. All sin put Jesus on the cross. It is all despicable to God. Yet our God willingly took off his royal robes and left heaven to become one of us. He allowed us to strip his human body naked and he hung in shame and disgrace before the world, not only to provide forgiveness to our husbands, but to us as well.

I’ve tried to share forgiveness in our homes here, but each time I keep finding myself back at the cross. Forgiveness starts at the cross, and forgiveness ends at the cross. We are on equal footing with those who have wronged us at the foot of the cross.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for what you have done for us. Thank you for the forgiveness we have found in your cross. Keep us ever near it.

Forgive us for being so unforgiving. Bless our husbands and our families and all those who have hurt us as you have blessed us who have hurt you.

In your precious name we pray, Amen.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How and why is the cross so relevant to forgiveness?
  2. What does our thought life have to do with forgiveness?
  3. What is the relevance of our attitudes toward others in regard to forgiveness?
  4. James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (NIV) Are there degrees of evil? Are our intolerances and unforgiveness toward another’s mistreatment of us any less evil than what they have done to us? Why or why not?
  5. Since we are not divine, is it possible for us to forgive others with the same completeness with which Jesus forgave his persecutors? Why or why not?
  6. Is vulnerability required to truly forgive someone? Why or why not?
  7. What about physical abuse, or continued fornication from a mate? Should we ever “draw the line”?
  8. How do you think the poet “drew a circle that took him in?”

See also:
Forgiveness I: A look at the cross

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Forgiveness I: A look at the cross

Until we have received divine forgiveness, made available through the cross, we can’t really offer human forgiveness. Forgiveness is offered to all, but until it is received, it can’t be applied.

“‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (Luke 23:34)

Finding forgiveness

Imagine with me that you are in the midst of a large group of people. You observe a victim being beaten until his face is marred beyond recognition. The crowd jeers and shouts insults at him. You want to tell the crowd to stop, but you are afraid to. You are afraid to get involved, for fear that they will turn on you too. You callous yourself in an effort to justify your refusal to intervene. He must have done something terribly wrong to be treated this way, you decide.

You watch in horror as the victim is nailed to a wooden cross. The thud of the cross being dropped into a hole in the ground initiates a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. You can barely stand to look at this mass of bleeding flesh with a face so marred he doesn’t even look human. “Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14).

Yet there is something about the compassion in his eyes that hold you spellbound. The sick feeling intensifies, but now it is not due to the awfulness of the sight before you. It is due to the awfulness of the site within you. For the first time, you realize that you are part of the crowd who caused this man to be dying here. Because you refused to take a stand with him, you automatically took a stand against him.

You look steadfast into his eyes full of tenderness and love. You want to turn away. You are ashamed, and you begin to sob with regret that you did not stand with him. But you can’t turn away from his gaze. Neither can you escape the guilt and shame of the way you failed him.

Just as you think you can bear it no longer, you hear a heart felt cry emerge from this mass of torn and hurting flesh. His words you will never forget: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (Luke 23:34).

You fall on your knees and wrap your arms around the cross. For the first time in your life, you know real peace. You feel a wonderful sense of freedom and release flood over you, though you can’t comprehend what it all means. All you know is that you want to stay here forever.

Offering forgiveness

Then you hear a loud voice from behind you. “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar” (Luke 23:35-36 NIV).

You can’t believe what you are hearing. This man has just offered forgiveness, and you have gratefully received it. Then you remember his words: “…they do not know what they are doing.” You will never be the same. Now your main mission in life is to help the rest of the crowd know the forgiveness you have just discovered.

You boldly stand to your feet and cry, “Stop it!” The guards quickly seize you and shove you to the ground as the crowd laughs and calls you a rebel. Your head spins as you lie on your back and look toward the sky.

You are startled by the words you hear coming from your mouth: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” You know that those words are really how you feel, and they are coming from a new source deep within your heart.

You have just been forgiven, and you have just learned to forgive. Forgiveness starts with being forgiven. Until we have received divine forgiveness, we can’t really offer human forgiveness. Anything short of divine forgiveness is a counterfeit. Forgiveness is offered to all, but until it is received, it can’t be applied.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

Receiving God’s forgiveness

We can’t offer real forgiveness unless we have accepted forgiveness from God. Yet if we are unwilling to humble ourselves before God and turn from our own unforgiving spirit, we cannot receive divine forgiveness.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

At first glance, this passage from Matthew would seem to contradict the Ephesians and Colossians passages. But upon further examination, we see that they compliment one another. God is saying that we can’t know how to truly forgive until we have received forgiveness, and that we cannot be forgiven unless we are willing to turn from our sinfulness and unforgiveness and allow him to create true forgiveness within us.

Have you received God’s forgiveness? This is the first step in knowing how to forgive. We are able to truly love and forgive others only because God first loved and forgave us:

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21).

If you are not sure if you have experienced this love and forgiveness, check out the resources at The Life. There you will have opportunity to read more, chat, talk to a mentor, or request prayer. [This link will open a new browser, and take you to a different website that is not affiliated with Hope in a House Divided.]

See also:
Forgiveness 2: Bringing it home

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Don’t take your home to Tarshish

Our choice: run to Tarshish, taking our homes into the storm, by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Running in the wrong direction

Do you ever turn and run the opposite direction from which God tells you to go? Years ago the prophet Jonah ran from God’s direction too:

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
–Jonah 1:1-3

Selfish motives

God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh. Why did he not want to go there? Jonah answers this question in chapter 4:

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:1-2)

Jonah didn’t want to go because he knew that the people of Nineveh didn’t deserve God to forgive them. He knew if he preached to them they would repent and be forgiven.

This seems to be the ultimate of selfish excuses. Yet every time we run from God, we are doing it with selfish motives. Like Jonah, many times we are standing in the way of others coming to know Christ, and we may not even realize it.

Right circumstances

When Jonah chose to go to Tarshish, he chose to go the exact opposite direction from the way God told him to go. Tarshish was south. If you look on a map, south is always down. When we run away from God, our life always heads into a downward spiral. Sometimes we kid ourselves into thinking God approves our misbehavior. After all circumstances are right for it.

What circumstances were right in Jonah’s life to make it seem okay to go to Tarshish?

  1. Jonah was able to find a boat to Tarshish.
  2. The boat had room for him.
  3. He had money for the fare.
  4. There was a wind going toward Tarshish so the boat would sail.

Bringing it home

What about in your home? It is easy to decide our husbands dont deserve our kindness and helpfulness, just as Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh. We often find circumstances that seem to invite us to go the opposite direction. We want to run from that which God has called us to be in our homes. We want to follow our own plans. God permits it, and the circumstances seem equitable to it.

Running in their own power

The sailors ran from God

When Jonah ran from God, he set the stage for others to run too. The sailors had no doubt heard about the powerful God of the Hebrew people. They began to question Jonah during the storm:

[Jonah] answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so) Jonah 1:9-10.

The sailors feared the God of Jonah. Yet, rather than call on Jonah’s God themselves, they looked to other things for help. According to the first chapter of Jonah, what are some things the sailors looked to for help before finally turning to God and following his directions?

  1. They looked to other gods, gods who could never help, gods with a little “g,” not the only true God who could help them.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god…
      –Jonah 1:5a
  2. They tried to fix the problem themselves by throwing cargo overboard.
    • And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
      –Jonah 1:5b
  3. They asked someone else to pray for them before they prayed for themselves.
    • The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish”
      –Jonah 1:6
  4. They tried consulting mysticism by casting lots.
    • Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
      –Jonah 1:7
  5. They blamed someone else. So often we are tempted to blame our husbands for the shape of our homes.
    • So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  6. They asked advice from someone else before they consulted God.
    • The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  7. God showed them his solution through the other person. They refused to follow.
    • “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
      –Jonah 1:12-13
  8. They tried to run away from the problem: Instead, the men did their best to row back to land… (Jonah 1:13).

How would you feel if God said, “Throw this man overboard, that is my solution!” They must have been appalled. How many times has God shown us something we are to do in relation to our husbands and we have said, “Oh, no God, anything but that!” We want to be independent. God says we are to be dependent on him.

The sailors turned to God

“Then they cried to the LORD, ‘O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:14-16)

When they got right with God the storm ended. They did this by:

  1. Calling out to God.
  2. Recognizing Gods sovereignty.
  3. Obeying Gods instructions.
  4. Fearing God.
  5. Offering a sacrifice to God.
  6. Making vows to God.

Bringing it home

Some of their own solutions, for example throwing the cargo overboard, were sensible. But God’s only acceptable solution was repentance and trust in him. We have our own ideas of how things are to be done in our homes. As wives God tells us to be submissive to our husbands.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 3:1).

Anything short of that is running away, running to Tarshish, and God will certainly deal with it. This is not to say we should allow physical abuse and God’s Word does have some things to say about desertion and fornication. But most of the time we break Gods rule for us as wives in the home because we just flat don’t like it.

Running or revealing?

“He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land'” (Jonah 1:9).

Jonah was a Hebrew. By saying “I am a Hebrew,” he was saying “I am one of those through whom God reveals himself to the world.” Yet, by his rebellion against God’s direction, Jonah ran from his responsibility to allow God to reveal himself to the world through him.

Bringing it home

According to 1 Peter 3:1, if our husband is an unbeliever, we, as a Christian wife, are one of those through whom God reveals himself to our husbands.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 3:1).

Are you running, or revealing?

Running from accountability

Because Jonah refused to follow Gods will for him, those he was to be an example to suffered:

  1. They experienced great fear (Jonah 1:5,10 below).
  2. They had to throw some of their possessions overboard.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep… This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done? (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so)” (Jonah 1:5,10).
  3. They had to live with throwing a man overboard.
    • Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm (verses 14-15).

    How would you like to have to live with that?

  4. The worst thing of all that people had to suffer because of Jonah’s rebellion was this: The people of Nineveh had to continue in darkness until Jonah repented.

Bringing it home

If we refuse to follow God’s plan for us in our homes, our husbands, our children, all in our household will suffer. We are accountable to God.

Running to God

The storm and the fish

God sent the storm, and God sent the fish.

  • God sent a great wind. “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 1:4)
  • God also sent a great fish. “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

God will chastise his children greatly, and God in his grace will also provide great protection for them even in the midst of the chastisement. The fish is a perfect example. It was chastisement. It also protected Jonah from being drowned in the ocean.

The forfeiture of rebellion

You can read the story of Jonah’s repentance from the belly of the whale in Jonah 2:1-10. Jonah summed his experience up with these words: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). That is an awesome statement.

How much we forfeit when we cling to our idols, our “rights” in our home. When we rebel against God’s plan for us in 1 Peter 3:1, we forfeit the grace that could be ours.

We sometimes do this just by refusing to study the word that we might know God’s will for us. We refuse to study and find out what his will is, then when we know his will we run from it, because we think it is too much to ask. We think our way is so much better. This is fleeing to Tarshish.

Those to whom Jonah should have been setting an example, the very ones who God had called him to minister to (for us as wives/mothers that is our husbands/children) — those very ones are the ones who saw Jonah’s disobedience and had to deal with it. They are the ones who were hurt by Jonah’s disobedience. When Jonah repented and got right, people repented and placed their faith in God.

Tarshish or Nineveh?”

Jonah repented from the whale’s belly and God again called him to go to Nineveh. Jonah obeyed God and “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned’ (Jonah 3:4).”

The people of Nineveh believed God, and the king issued a proclamation:

“Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
–Jonah 3:8-10

Nineveh repented and turned to God, all because Jonah said, “I was wrong. I have rebelled against God.” Jonah repented, and this opened the door for the lost to repent.

Bringing it home

The choice is ours: Either we run to Tarshish, and take our homes into the storm with us by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or we go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God:

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

Prayer

Lord, we ask that you give us hearts to follow you. Whatever choices you are calling us to make, help us keep our eyes from Tarshish. Help us say “Yes,” and go to Nineveh, even if it seems so hard. For we know your promise, and we thank you for this: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Thank you for that wonderful grace Lord. We love you and trust you, and to be in your plan for us is far more desirable than any Tarshish that may seem so convenient. Help us not choose convenience but rather obedience Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness when we do. Amen.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Diary of a selfish Christian

Dealing with marriage and social problems, measuring our lives by verses of the great love chapter of the Bible, changing selfishness to God’s love, challenge to serve freely.

Studies from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Lord, recreate me in your love.

It’s just not fair: one brown sock peeking out from under the recliner (and who knows where the other one is?); a brown and beige striped sport shirt crumpled under the stereo; and, slumped over the corner of the dresser, a pair of brown slacks spilling out a ring of keys and thirty-two cents.

“Love is patient…”

Here comes Diane again. Since she and her family moved next door last month, she has appeared at my door at least three times a week to “borrow a cup of sugar,” or “see if you have a recipe for banana pudding.” Once inside she’ll follow me into the kitchen and ramble for two hours about her sister’s wedding, or her gall-bladder surgery (I’ve heard that four times already), or what a great pitcher little Joey is. Maybe I’ll tell her I don’t have any — no sugar, no recipes, no time.

“Love is kind…”

I wish she’d move again. Better still, I wish we could move to Lakeview Estates, like Sidney and Marie. What a house they’ve got. Split level with a sunken bathtub and private boat dock! And here I sit in this grey brick cracker box across from the convenience store.

“Love does not envy…”

Actually, I just don’t have time to visit with Diane. I need to prepare for tonight’s session of the ladies’ Bible class I’m leading. Let’s see…what is the topic? Oh, yes, the Golden Rule, I think. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also unto them likewise” (Luke 6:31). That will be easy. I’ve done that since childhood. I’ll tell them how just last week I gave ten dollars to the collection for underprivileged children. Some people never stop and think about others’ needs.

“Love…does not boast, it is not proud…”

Like Tom for instance. You’d think a twenty-eight-year old man could pick up after himself. I got even last night though. Tom’s new friend commented that he likes his home to look lived in. “That’s one thing you can say for Tom,” I quipped. “When he comes home, he immediately begins to add that lived-in touch. He doesn’t even know we own a hamper!” Tom looked embarrassed, but it served him right.

“Love…does not dishonor others…”

He never thinks about me. When he decides to go somewhere, he just goes. And I’m stuck here to referee three kids. But he is always here at time to eat. Why doesn’t he ever consider my happiness?

“Love…is not self-seeking…”

Maybe I’ll just tell him what I think of his behavior.

“Love…is not easily angered…”

I think he is selfish, inconsiderate, and immature!

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs….”

I am a better person than he is. At least I’m not selfish!

Love…does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…”

He will never change. And I’m tired of putting up with his selfishness!

“Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…”

I think I’ll just give up.

“Love never fails…”

Never?

God, my love fails. My love demands a return on its investment. My love is conditional.

O Lord, recreate me in your love.

All circumstances and names in this diary are fictional.
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted