We had a song that we used to sing in the Children’s Ministry over the years called “J.O.Y.” The chorus went something like:
♫ “Put Jesus first
And others in-between” ♫
This song was always a favorite among the kids especially at special events such as VBS, the Harvest Festival and the Family Fun Night’s we put on as well as the various outreaches we did at different Christian Schools in the area. My wife always choreographed hand and body movements to accent the words in the songs and this one was extra fun as the kids got to jump, spin and hop a lot throughout the song and especially during the chorus!
I always enjoyed watching Piper on one side of me and one of our daughters on the other, leading the action steps while I directed the song. I am not sure which brought me more joy… whether it was the smiles and laughter coming from the children in the crowd or watching my wife act like a kid again! That is one of the hard parts of our current situation as she was always quite flexible and coordinated… and it is rough to see her temporarily confined to a wheelchair.
The truth behind putting Jesus first, others second and yourself last came out today as I continued my study in Colossians chapter three. That is what caused me to think about the J.O.Y. song. (I have a rock version sound track for that song that has a driving beat and lots of electric guitar riffs that I loved to play really loud in order to give the kids an extra edge of enthusiasm to sing the song without reservation! The only ones who didn’t appreciate it were the teachers at the Christian Schools!)
In verses 17-23 Paul talks about the Christian characteristics that come into play in a successful marriage and a strong family. As I was reading the verses I started shaking my head when I thought about all the confusing chatter that I have been seeing in the online news I follow concerning the Christian practice if wives “submitting” to their husbands. What kind of annoyed me wasn’t the world’s discussion of how in-sensitive and old fashioned (as well as brutish) they see it, but when many Christian leaders also spoke against the practice. To me it is quite easy to understand Paul’s teaching and makes a lot of sense! But wait a minute… before you smirk at me… listen to my thoughts!
The simple key and explanation (at least to me) is found in Paul’s similar discussion found in Ephesians 5:25-27. In verse 25 he states: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” (God’s Word ©) That one statement quickly squashes any of the arguments against Paul’s teaching! When a husband demonstrates that level of love toward his wife, we are not talking about a submission that is based on subjugation, fear or the idea that one is better than the other! I have a difficult time thinking of any wife that would not yield to her husband’s efforts to care for her and their family when she knows the deep and sacrificing extent of his love for her!
And yes, through the years I have seen Christian husbands who lord their position over their wives and wives that are almost like doormats to their spouses. But that is the exception rather than the rule. In Piper’s and my relationship we have always been a team. We freely talk about our points of views and potential disagreements and normally come to an agreed upon course of action. In the case of the occasional tie, she would usually allow me to make the final decision. But to be perfectly honest, many times my decision would be to go with her plan!
The other verse that kind of got me going this morning was triggered by a personal area within me that I have always been sensitive to. It is where Paul tells husbands to “love your wives and be not bitter against them.” (Colossians 3:19 KJV) I have always been bothered when I hear men bad mouthing their spouses in public… and the same can be said for women who I hear criticizing their husbands. I don’t like it when non-Christians do it, and I especially get annoyed when I hear Christians falling into that trap. Sometimes it is said in the form of a joke, but you know… whether it is said with a laugh or in anger, the resulting harm is still the same!
I have been repeatedly blessed over the last few years as my kids have come and talked to me about the negative comments that have been made that insinuated that I have not properly cared for and loved my wife throughout the years of our marriage and in particular, during this difficult period. Most times my kid’s remarks to me have centered around the thought of “what are they talking about?” If I remember my older son’s words a few years back he declared something like: “You may have made a few bone-head decisions in the past (with finances) but you have always loved and cared for Mom with the utmost of respect and love.”
What I did clearly see this morning, was that in both discussions in Ephesians and Colossians, Paul did not add finances to the list of characteristics he said would make for a loving and successful husband and wife relationship and for a strong family. We may have gone through a few seasons of financial want, but it NEVER affected our love, care and support for each other and our family. I understand that that is not always the case in some families, but the difference with us was and continues to be our increasing intimate experiential knowledge of God’s love for us and with that, the fact that He is the one that supplies all of our needs and not us alone! If anything… those thin times only served to bring us closer together to each other and definitely to Papa God!
So what do you think husbands? Paul’s teaching of a man that sacrificially loves his wife and puts her needs before his own is not an easy teaching to follow… but it is the key to a successful, rewarding, fulfilling and as I would simply say: “A FANTASTIC marriage!” Any thoughts on this idea????
Have a great mid-week, and I’ll leave my male readers with this thought (and you gals can think about the same thing toward your significant others…) “How am I expecting to love my wife (fiancé, girlfriend) today?”