“Excellent” Wife–Fighting Words?

Ever gotten hung up on the idea of submission? I hope you don’t feel I’m beating a raw topic, because I know we’ve discussed it here before on Going Beyond Belief. But I’m forever surprised by the infinite and multi-layered ways that God reveals Himself to us, and consequently, made in His image, the multi-layered ways He wants us to reveal Him to the world through our lives. 

Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

An excellent wife. 

Who doesn’t desire to be one? What does that mean to you? In what ways do you fall short of this or how are you succeeding?

But what if the original meaning of the word “excellent” got lost in translation? 

The Hebrew word for excellent in this instance is chayil, meaning: “might, efficiency, wealth, army, strength, ability, efficiency, force … “

Probably not what you were expecting, right? Not the quiet submissive type we often imagine the excellent wife to be. In fact, this is the word God used to describe Gideon when He was commissioning him to go into battle against the Midianites with a measly army of 300 men. In Psalm 8:32, it’s translated strength: ” … the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

In Psalm 60:12, we are reminded it’s a God-given power and excellence: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.”

It’s a fighting word. It’s a battle-ready, fully equipped, clearly-thinking, humbled, powerfully-dependent word that, ironically, does not contradict God’s upon a wife to submit to her own husband.

Excellence, in the sense of strength, ability and might, is another way that God desires for women to express His complete nature first in our homes and marriages and second to the world at large.

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The Irrefutable Solution to Irreconcilable Differences

I wasn’t being nosy. I didn’t even ask. In fact, it started with a casual conversation about our dogs, and somehow we got all the way around to his admission, “Well, I used to have a family.”

In the course of seven brief minutes, in the hospital corridor, this complete stranger unveiled pieces of his story. “I was married once…you know, my son…but she kept the dog…don’t see them much…life was better then—when I had a family.”

My heart sunk a little, distracted from the surface of our conversation by the sadness in his eyes. Moments later, we parted and I’ll likely never see him again. But my heart was bruised with sympathy. What a loss! What loneliness; what a painful realization: “I used to have a family.”

The next day, I called my mom during my morning walk. Her precious voice, the assurance that I have a family who deeply loves me, filled me with joy as bright as that early morning sun peeking over the trees.

“You know, your dad and I had the strangest conversation the other day,” she told me. “Now that we have grandkids and all, it’s strange to wonder what life would have been like if we hadn’t hung in there through the first tough years of our marriage. We wouldn’t have you! We wouldn’t have your youngest sister. I can’t even imagine life with out each of our grandchildren! It’s startling to consider that if we had given up on us—we would have given up everything else! The entire course of our life would be so different. We would never had experienced the joy of each of our children and their children! So many fewer friendships, hugs, tears and promises.”

One of the most common reasons given for broken marriages is, “We just weren’t compatible anymore. We had irreconcilable differences.” Incompatibility—there is a Biblical App[lication] for that.

Ephesians 5 is often quoted over Christian marriages. You can almost see a finger wagging in your face, “The Bible says submit to your husband!” or, “The Bible tells you to love your wife!” Both statements are true, but just one verse before those instructions is another command we rush over on our way to our favorite ones.

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21)

The Greek word translated “one to another” is allelon. It means, “reciprocally, mutually”. Those words are eerily similar to the English word, “compatible”, which according to thesauraus.com means, “like-minded, together, sympathetic, on the same wavelength, cooperative, congruent”.

Compatibility isn’t something that just happens. The phrase, “submit yourselves to one another”, can aptly be paraphrased, “subordinate, or arrange yourselves mutually beneath the other”. In essence, “make yourselves like-minded, together, cooperative, congruent, reciprocal”. It is not acceptable to simply be incompatible, anymore than it is okay to simply be cruel. Scripture indicates we are to make ourselves compatible.

The impossibility of this command weighs heavy on spouses that have struggled, with blood, sweat and tears, and still find themselves hopelessly at odds. But light dawns with the next two verses, the ones that usually sound ugly, harsh and demeaning:

“Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:22-25)

In his book, The Power of Right Believing, Pastor Joseph Prince says, “…we need to teach the entire verse…The emphasis is on Jesus’ love for us. Everything we do today under the new covenant of grace springs from our love relationship with Jesus. His love needs to first work in us.”

Prince gives the example, “How would you like your husband to say to you, ‘God says that I should love you and that we should talk more, so let’s go out for dinner tonight.’? Then he sets a timer on his phone and says, ‘Alright, lady, your time begins now.’ Hey, no self-respecting woman would accept that, right? You want your husband to take you out for dinner not because he has to, but because he wants to.

“That’s why the Word of God doesn’t simply exhort husbands to love their wives and then stop there. It goes on to teach husbands just how to go about doing so—the power to love comes when husbands first experience how Jesus loved them and gave Himself for them.”

The instruction in Ephesians 5:21, “To submit yourselves one to another”, is a command. It’s a non-negotiable. Rather than a shackle for women, is a lock on the door to an easy escape from one’s marriage vows. However, God never leaves us in a position to “buck up” or “grit our teeth and bear it”. The Bible walks us right into the truth that Christ goes before us. “We love because He first loved us”. (1 John 4:19)

The answer to our irreconcilable differences is the irrefutable truth that Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. A convinced, firm, heart-grip on the knowledge that Jesus loved us enough to die for us even when we were still sinners (and still sin), even when our abject rebellion was decisively incompatible with His holiness—that knowledge, shods our feet in the Gospel of Peace. It enables us to walk mutually, sympathetically, submissively, cooperatively and congruently. His unshakable love for us—husbands and wives, sin-stained all—sheds a new light on our differences, and if we accept it, brings peace to our homes and longevity to our marriages.

This first appeared on Start Marriage Right

Submission: How to Want To Do It

Has your husband ever done something that just dropped you to your knees? You know, that submissive position–but in a good way?

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We often bristle at the word “submission.” It makes us feel beneath someone else, second rate and spineless. But I wonder if God’s command for submission should have a whole different feeling, flavor, context and evoke a different physical reaction …

So I ask again: Has your husband, or anyone, ever done something that just dropped you to your knees?

Maybe he knocked 15 things off the “please, honey do list,” or you came home from a long day and he’d vacuumed the house and done laundry. Maybe, on the way home from work he picked up your favorite coffee. Maybe, he dumped the cat litter pan even though that’s “your” job. Maybe he did something 1000 times better, but often, for me, it’s something relatively small but shows that he knows me, my desires, my heart and my needs.

When Patrick turns off the alarm on a Saturday morning, rolls over and pulls me into him, I’m suddenly awash with a gooey feeling like, “I’ll do anything you want–ever!” Or, if he pours me a beer and suggests we sit on the back porch in the evening and listen to a thunder storm, I’m struck with an almost primal-deep desire to do something for him in return, something he loves and longs for. Suddenly, I want to make his favorite dinner, or offer to not give him grief if he wants to play a video game for five hours.

His kindness toward me evokes a response of submissive love, gratitude and a desire to serve him. For a moment, I’m not huffy at all about doing what he wants, about seeking out his desires or preferring him to myself (Philippians 2)–about submitting to him. 

And, I wonder if that’s really how we are supposed to submit to God?

I was reading Psalm 45 this morning. It’s a riveting love song. Truthfully, it can be applied to Christ and the church, to the relationship between Jesus and me. Listen to verses 10-11:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

I heard the Father say to me: Imagine one day being loved like you’ve always wanted. Imagine that everything you’ve ever hoped your husband would do for you, every word you longed for him to say or expression of affection is granted–liberally. That’s what it will be like when you walk with me face-to-face. Indeed, I love you that much now, but your human eyes and heart don’t have the capacity to experience it. Just wait … 

Imagine indeed. What kind of response would that kind of love evoke in me?

And there I think is the key to submission to the Heavenly Father, trusting His goodness and His (often difficult) will, embracing His purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves. Did you catch it?

The key to embracing God’s purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves is understanding what He has actually done for us … for you … for me. 

Unfortunately, that’s where we fall short. That’s another hurdle that our human minds can barely, if at all, clear: what Christ has done for us. The essence of the Gospel. Admittedly, on a daily basis, I glimpse only shadows of the very truth I have staked all my eternity on–the selfless act of Jesus Christ on the cross and three days later, the powerful act of Almighty God erupting from a tomb.

I don’t know the secret of keeping the Gospel always before my face, but I do know it’s the key to igniting that irrational love response that says, “God, I’ll do anything you want!”

What do you do to keep the truth of the Gospel always before your eyes?

On another note, a wonderful novel based on this passage of Scripture was written by a friend of mine and edited by yours truly! Check it out:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016AYQV9S?keywords=the+king+will+desire+tomko&qid=1444491137&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1