Thursday, May 17, 2012

"A Verse for Families"

The Lord gave me a scripture verse today as I was driving home from my daughter’s school. (We have our morning session in my car, if you haven’t figured that out yet!) Philippians 2:4 was read today by a radio announcer, and I knew immediately that He wanted me to camp out there when I met Him back at home. I didn’t know why He wanted me to go there, but I was obedient and opened my bible.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) After I read that, the Lord spoke, “A verse for families.” As you read this verse, you may wonder why the Lord is telling me this verse is for my family. Follow me this morning, as I follow Christ and we take the journey He took me on this morning.
As wives we can get caught up very easily in the day to day operations of our homes. We get frustrated at our husbands when they fail to “live up” to the standards we have set for them. As mothers, we get overwhelmed and overworked chasing our kids all over the house day in and day out, or as a taxi driver for our teenagers running them to this practice, that event, etc.  As sisters in the church we take on more than we should, and add that on top of our many plates already spinning. We as women sometimes look like a circus act, the one where the clown is balancing 20 plates as he rides a unicycle around in a circle.
Today, Jesus is taking away all these plates I have spinning and crashing them to the ground. He has put the brakes on my unicycle and said to me, “Listen.” My reply, as my plates for the day came crumbling down was, “I do listen. I am a good listener.” But I am not really, in fact, I fall way, way short of the example He has given me. To understand how poor of a listener I am, the Lord took me to 1 Corinthians 13:5. “(Love)…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own; is not provoked..”  (The Love Chapter…which I thought I was doing pretty good at. That is what I get for thinking!)
When Paul wrote Philippians 2:4 he was reminding us that life it is not all about you, it never has been, nor will it ever be. Our lives are not our own. The “love” that I am to have for my husband has to fall in line with the love the Lord Jesus Christ showed me. When I “behave rudely” towards my husband, I have transgressed against God. When I seek my own will above the will of my husband, I have sinned against the Lord. When I am “provoked” or become angry, complaining and defiant towards my husband, you guessed it; I have sinned against my First Husband, my God. I had a lot of sins to confess this morning. I needed His mercy and His forgiveness, as I realized that my “lack of listening” was the root cause of all the issues I have been having with my husband, and my children.
Jon Courson, in his commentary on Philippians 2:3-4 states, “as we begin to develop the mind-set that we’re privileged to be with everyone around us, the result will be joy.” He also states, “I will esteem others as better than myself to the degree that I will LISTEN to their stories and explore who they are- for if we knew the secret hurts and pains and suffering of even our worst enemy, we would find all of our animosity evaporating. If we LOOKED into people instead of DOWN on people, we would be filled with compassion for people.” (Jon Courson, New Testament Commentary- emphasis mine)
How many of us as wives have the mind-set that we are “privileged to be with” our husbands? Most of us, and I speak for myself too, feel that they are the ones that should feel “privileged” to be with us. Look at everything I do for them, look at how I keep the house running, how nice I am, how forgiving I am, I, I, I, I….see a pattern here? How many of us as mothers (and I can say this because I have teenagers!) look at our kids and think of how privileged we are that God counted us worthy to be their mothers? It’ s hard to have this mind when all I seem to do is give and all I get in return for my constant giving is more giving to their needs. But isn’t that what Christ did? Did He not give until He could not give anymore? Did He not pour Himself out constantly and continually for the needs of others? Yes, and the example that He gave me today of Himself, showed me how quickly and how easily I fall short of that mark with my family. I give, because I expect in return their praise and glory and appreciation for what I do for them. When, in all reality, I am the one who is “privileged” to be in this home, with this family.
Imagine what transformation could happen in our homes if today, as wives, we took the mind-set of Christ and began to think of our marriages as a privilege, that we are privileged to be with the men that God has given us. Instead of focusing on how much they fall short of who we think they should be, let us instead focus on how blessed we are to have them, to love them, and to be able to be the wives God has called us to be.
After we have learned this lesson with our husbands, imagine what could happen if we then did the same with our children, our extended families, our church, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ladies, we could change the world- one husband at a time. Perhaps God is calling all of us, all of us women who are still struggling with marriage, submission, and children, the demands of the day, etc. to step outside our own worlds and to really listen to what is happening in our husbands. I know for me, He is asking me to start listening and seek to know who my husband is, from the inside out. We say we know our husbands, but yet when they do something “out of character”(out of the character we think they have) we get upset and say, “I don’t know you anymore.I need to change you.”
Jesus is telling us, He is telling me today- to get to know my husband all over again. We have lived with each other for 17+ years now, and I have never taken the time to listen and to seek out who he is and I have not cared to look out for his interests, because I have been too caught up in my own.  Let us all let go of our expectations we have placed on our husbands, and place our focus on who they are now, it is not up to us to change them- that is God’s job, and you are not God. Besides, Jesus desires to change us first.(Whether we like it or not!)
It is not your life, it is not your husband, they are not your children- they are Christ’s and the price that He paid for them is greater than any sacrifice you can give. We have been given a gift in our homes, in our families, in our church. We are the privileged ones, privileged to have them in our lives.
I pray today that we as wives and mothers would take a step back and LISTEN to the hearts of our husbands and our children. That we would stop trying to “fix” our husbands and begin to seek to know who they are and who God desires us to be, as their wives. I pray that we would “have the mind of Christ.” And that we would lay down our desires for the good and the benefit of those whom we are privileged to have in our lives. May the grace of God forgive us, may the power of the Holy Spirit give us strength and wisdom to be the women God wants us to be. Let us seek to know and to understand and to love as Christ knows, understands and loves us, giving Himself for us. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
(For further study and help in application, read Philippians 2:5-11 and Romans 15:1-2. May the Lord bless your time with Him today. Amen, and Amen)