Every man desires to be considered a “good man”. If God has given a man 75 years of life and he looks back at it, nothing would give him more joy than to know that it wasn’t in vain. Further, the church is in desperate need of good men. The reason of course is that good men honor God and multiply themselves. Good men make more good men.
But, what do they look like?
Over the last 15 or so years of being a Christian I’ve observed a recurring trend. When I ask someone how I can be praying for them I often hear about a need to be more faithful with spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, prayer, etc). In most of these conversations the believer talks like he/she is a soloist. While they know that spiritual laziness is wrong it seems to be mitigated by the appearance of it being contained and ok. While it is not ideal it is not a big deal. Who are we hurting, after all, when we don’t read our pray? Who suffers when my eyes are glued to Netflix and my Bible gathers dust? What’s the big deal about me not coming to Sunday worship? There is a pervasive downplaying of the overall impact of our obedience and our disobedience.
The bottom-line is that your obedience as a Christian is not just for you. And therefore, you disobedience does not simply impact you.
It’s About God
With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.
There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.
I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.
I was a fairly new Christian in my mid-twenties. I was running very hard fueled by zeal and far less knowledge. To my credit I was talking to a lot of people about the gospel. To my shame I was developing a bit of a self-righteousness toward those who did not. I remember judging people and whole churches’ faithfulness based upon the appearance of outward zeal or emotion. Until one day I got rebuked without a word.
We had been going to a new church for a few months. This church had good teaching but I felt the music left something to be desired. Also, there seemed to be a real lack of passion for a people who supposedly so loved the Bible. What gives?
We would sing as a congregation and I remember offering my weekly critique of the music. In my mind then it was incremental so I did not see the ugliness of it. But, it was truly ugly. One Sunday we happened to be standing behind a gentleman that was a bit quirky in his approach to conversation. He smiled and seemed sincere but, man, he always seemed to say something that was obtuse and somewhat unsettling. I don’t mean that it was inappropriate but that it unsettled my ease. It made me uncomfortable. He had a way of getting under my skin. And now he was standing in front of me singing while I was in full critique mode. I remember looking at him and wondering …
How do you know if you have a good relationship with someone? Your initial reaction may be to evaluate based on the presence or absence of conflict. “We never argue.” But, how healthy is a relationship that does not have any disagreement, misunderstanding, arguments or forgiveness?
What if a healthy relationship was not the absence of conflict but rather the way in which it arises and is handled?
Let’s face it, if you are in a relationship with someone then you can be assured that there is a selfish sinner in it. This means that you will be saying, doing, and assuming things that are not loving. There will be a need for forgiveness to be extended. The conflict in the relationship is merely an occasion for relational intimacy. Through honesty and compassion the relationship goes to deeper levels. It is a bit counterintuitive though, but conflict–when handled properly–can help serve the relationship.
What about your relationship with God? Would you say that it is healthy? Is it mature? Is it deepening?
The dynamics change a bit here, but you are still in it so there is still a sinner in the relationship. Therefore, if you are being honest, there are going to be things that you do not understand, assume, and misread. You will reflex toward yourself rather than service. You will bring questions, complaints, burdens, and confusion to God. Is your relationship with God mature? Can it handle your deepest questions? Can you bring your fears? Do you trust him with insecurity? Do …
There always seems to be some sort of news of a scandal or shameful practices concerning professing Christians. Somewhere a pastor or professing Christian’s secret life of rampant sin gets revealed. As a result, we all (rightly) lose our collective breaths and our stomaches turn.
Then questions come. Why? How did this happen?
I remember hearing John MacArthur say,
“Nobody just falls out of a tree. They climb up in it, move around a bit, and then fall out.”
His point is obvious: this doesn’t happen overnight.
Conflict seems to be as common to human life as breathing. Whether in marriages, families, friendships, the church, or social settings—we have conflict. My concern is not so much how to prevent it, but how to mitigate its storm and lessen its wounding.
The Bible asks and answers a very appropriate question:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:1-2)
What’s Who’s the Problem?
The primary source of our conflict is within us. We crave something often times from someone. When we do not get it then we get very upset. Our passions or desires are at war within us. We are not getting what we want (usually under the headings of honor, comfort, or control) so we lash out. We then try to manipulate the other person actively by doing things like yelling or even physical aggression or we do it passively by ignoring them with the silent treatment. Whatever extreme we are on we can be sure that it is our unmet cravings of our heart that are fueling this conflict.
We are accustomed to reading of politicians and diplomats laboring earnestly to resolve international conflict through peace treaties. But, what tends to happen after an agreement is signed? It seems as though before the ink is even dry, there needs to be another summit to make another treaty because the former one has already been violated. Peace seems to be as elusive as it is desired.
This is why it is particularly striking to read that God is called the God of peace (Heb. 13:20).
Fact, Feeling, or Both?
When you first read those words how do you think of the word peace? Do you think in subjective terms—I feel a peace from God, or objective terms—I have peace with God? Most people tend toward the first while assuming the second. I want to convince you that the author is referring to the second and that the subjective peace comes as a (blessed) result of it.
How is God the God of Peace?
What does this mean that God is the God of peace? God is the source of peace, maker of peace, and the one who gives peace. There is no true and lasting peace outside of him.
As a Dad there are many times that I see our children provide direct insight into the heart of humanity in a refreshing way. An example that most of us have seen is a child that does not want to be left alone. They may be sitting in their room playing with a toy and then all of a sudden start crying and yelling, “Dad! Dad! Where did you go?” Our daughter was in a store with my wife and, in plain sight of her mom, but mom was not in her plain sight. Suddenly she cried with desperation, “Moooom?! Moooooom!!” My wife answered, “Right here honey.” To which she grabbed her Mom by the leg, pressed her face against her and said, “I thought you had left me here. I thought I was alone.” My wife answered, “No, sweetie, Mommy would never do that. I was right here the whole time.”
Our Self-Sufficiency has a Leak