Images and Idols

DIFFERENCES

God made man and woman equally in his image. Jim Boice said "Men are superior...at being a man. Women are superior at being a woman." Men and women are equal in dignity; different in purpose.

We are not interchangeable. John Stott says "this is not chauvinism, it is creationism." Understanding and appreciating the differences is crucial for marriage.

God made man from the dirt, for the dirt. God first introduced man to work. God made woman from the man, for the man. God first introduced woman to man in marriage. If sin never entered the world all people would've been married and lived happily ever after.

Sin entered. The differences in man and woman continue even in God curses. Man is cursed in the dirt, in his work. Woman is cursed in her marriage, in relationships even more broadly as well.

Men tend to thrive more in independent working roles. Women often thrive more in interdependent relationships. Both are needed to make the world work well.

Both are needed to glorify God well. Men glorify God in work uniquely, telling the world God is strong in His work for us. Women glorify God in relationships uniquely, saying God is safe as He relates to us.

PRIORITIES

In a Christian marriage, other than one's relationship with Christ, nothing should be a higher priority than your marriage. What typically comes in the way? For men, it's often work. Many women feel their husband's job is his mistress.

For women it's often other relationships, specifically, the kids. Many a husband has felt and said "You love our kids more than me!" Many fights will ensue.

More than once I've been working on something for my job that's very important to me. Something will happen with one of our kids that in my mind is very small. In my wife's mind it is huge.

She will want to instantly drop everything and at once have an intervention. I'll respond "I'm busy with something important at work!" She'll say "That's nothing compared to your child's future!" It can quickly go downhill.

Once in "venting" to a friend about such a fight my friend asked "So you wish your wife would think more like you?" "Yes" I replied. "So you wish you would communicate more like a man?" "Exactly!" I said. "So you wish you were married to a man" he said with a grin. I got the point.

God in His infinite wisdom knows marriage needs a man's unique wiring and a woman's unique gifting to thrive. We often want to smother the differences in frustration. Better to enjoy the mysterious different displays of glory!

ROOTS OF THE PROBLEMS

What's the underlying root problem? Men and women were both meant to find their deepest sense of significance, security and satisfaction in God. When we sinned our desires went haywire and sought other sources of fulfillment.

Now, we all take God's good gifts and seek feelings or purpose, permanence, and pleasure in them. We pursue the gifts more than the giver. This is a broken strategy destined to fail.

This search has been doomed to fail since God cursed men and women in the garden. But even in the garden we see a glimpse of the glory of God's goodness. His curses weren't direct. They were a glancing blow. He didn't curse us directly like the snake. He cursed our domains.

BLESSING IN THE CURSE

In this curse was a blessing. The blessing works like a boomerang. God knew men would seek their significance in work but it wouldn't be satisfying. God knows women pursue purpose in parenting often times. In grace God guaranteed that these false pursuits would always ultimately fail. They leave us empty, longing for more.

When we come to the end of ourselves and the end of our sinful searching God finds us. True fulfillment can begin. In the best marriages both spouses get their deepest sense of joy, love and acceptance from God. This empowers them to go into marriage to give and serve, more than to get and demand.

WAY FORWARD

When the fight in marriage becomes one of seeking to understand more than demanding to be understood, you are on the right path. Persevere and you'll arrive at the destination of truly wanting to serve before you are served. You will have a happy, healthy marriage.

The best marriage advice I ever got from my dad was "Every godly woman wants to know that she's the greatest priority in her husband's life, second only to Christ. And usually work will be the thing that she thinks is competing for her spot." It's true. Each woman is unique. It's the husband's job to figure out how to convince his wife she is number 2, behind Christ in His life. Husbands, have you done this?

A man wants to know that he is more prioritized by his wife than anyone save Christ. Wives would your husband say that's true? What can you do to convince him?

GOD'S GLORY, OUR JOY

The main joy in life comes from Christ, not marriage. Finding deep fulfillment in Christ takes the unrealistic pressure off of one another to be a short term savior for one another in this life. When Christ meets the deepest needs of your heart and soul, you are free to serve your spouse well.

The main point of marriage isn't your personal happiness, although that often comes. It is the glory of Christ. When men willing choose to sacrificially serve their wives like Christ served the church, Christ is glorified.

When women humbly and graciously submit to their husbands like Christ did to the Father when He called Him to go to the cross in our place, God is pleased! When husbands and wives both do this in marriage, the Trinity is greatly honored. Outdo one another in showing love to one another. Just like God the Father and God the Son and God the Spirit do eternally to one another!
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