Beatitudes of Marriage

This is not only Family Friday, but it is also a Flashback Friday.  Tomorrow, I will be performing a wedding, and it had me thinking about marriage.  In honor of the wedding, I am re-posting one of my blogs from last year: The Beatitudes of Marriage (Part 1).  You can find 2-8 in the archives.

The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:3, HCSB

Over the next several weeks, I want to take the beatitudes that Jesus gave to us as seen in Matthew 5 and apply them to marriage.  I by no means want to indicate that these beatitudes were speaking of marriage.  They were not.  They were given as an indication of what the saved person looks like.  Therefore the desire I have for these next few weeks is to then apply these characteristics of the saved to the relationship within the marriage.

Starting with the first beatitude we see that the one who is poor in spirit is the one who is blessed.  To be blessed is to be happy.  As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “this is the sort of man who is to be congratulated, this is the sort of man to be envied, for he alone is truly happy,” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount: Two Volumes in One; Eerdman’s Publishing, 1971. p. 32).  Many marriages would not be described as happy and definitely not to be envied due to its happy couple.  It would seem that happy marriages are the exception to the rule in modern ho-hum, argument-driven, irreconcilable differences married-life.

But that’s not the plan when people get married.  They want to be happy.  No one enters into a marriage saying, I hope to be miserable my entire life.  They don’t enter in thinking: there’s always divorce court.  People want to be happy in marriage, and they struggle to be happy in marriage, but they simply cannot figure out how to be happy in marriage.

Here is what I am not saying: I am not saying that people cannot be happy at all unless they have Jesus in their marriage.  That would be like saying an atheist can’t be moral.  There are plenty of happy-Jesusless marriages.  But many of these marriages (not all, but many) are happy because they simply avoid the difficulties and problems, washing over them as though they don’t exist.  But again as Lloyd-Jones would say: “Anything which, by evading the difficulties, merely makes people happy for the time being, is ultimately going to add to their misery and problems,” (ibid).

HOWEVER, for those who do have Jesus in their marriage but struggle to have a happy marriage or those who do not have Jesus and have unhappy marriages, these biblical principles will work for your marital bliss.  This is not an add Jesus to your marriage like you’d add catsup to your fries.  This is like taking your marriage and jumping into an ocean of Jesus.  Engulfing your marriage into will make marriage a joyous, happy, blessed lifelong event.

With that in mind, we begin with the first Beatitude.  Jesus stated that the poor in spirit will be happy.  What does it mean to be poor in spirit?  It means to be spiritually bankrupt.  In reality, this describes every human being (except Jesus).  Every person is spiritually bankrupt.  As Paul wrote, quoting the Old Testament multiple times:
There is no one righteous,
not even one.
There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become useless.
There is no one who does
what is good,
not even one.
(Romans 3:10-12, HCSB)

Or as he wrote to the Ephesians: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world,” (2:1-2a, HCSB).

To be poor in spirit, spiritually bankrupt, is to simply say that we are sinners to the core, and have no spiritual good on our own.  Most of us believe that we have something to offer.  It is only when we understand that we are penniless in the spiritual sense that life begins to change.  Until then we keep trying and trying and banging our heads up against the wall.

This means in marriage there is no spiritual good in us.  We need to understand and believe that in our core we are sinners and because we are sinners we will sin against our spouses.  These may be sins of omission or sins of commission.  We may neglect a duty to our spouses or we may commit a sin against our spouses.  It is good to be convicted when we have sinned, but remember that we are not condemned for such a sin.  Let us confess the sin both to spouse and God, received God’s grace (and hopefully the spouse’s as well), and move on.  But beyond that, we also need to understand and believe that because our spouses are sinners, they will sin against us as well.

Accepting this idea of being a sinner does not make sinning against each other right or okay.   “We are all sinners” is not an excuse for committing those sins.  Nor does it soften the blow or the punch to the gut.  If a spouse commits adultery, understanding they are a sinner does not make adultery a moot issue.   What it does is prepare the heart and mind to forgive and heal.

However, being truly poor in spirit brings a humility to the table.  Not a false humility.  A false humility is, by its very definition, prideful.  As Piper wrote, “The nature and dept of human pride are illuminated by comparing boasting with self-pity.  Both are manifestations of pride.  Boasting is the response of pride to success.  Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering.  . . .Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong.  Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak.  Boasting sounds self-sufficient.  Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing,” (John Piper, Desiring GodMultnomah, 2003, p. 302.).  That self-pity that tries to sound like humility is really pride in a mask.  A person who goes around constantly saying, “I’m worthless, I’m useless, there is no good in me,” very well may mean those words, but too often at the heart of it is pride.  We tend to take our faults and hold them out there for the world to see as if it is a time for show and tell.  True humility acknowledges and believes in their own spiritual bankruptcy, but then seeks to gain spiritual riches.  Hence Paul wrote, “God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him,” (Colossians 1:27, 3:3, HCSB).  Thus to recognize one’s spiritual bankruptcy is to recognize the need for Jesus.  To receive Jesus is to receive the hope of glory, and all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Him. To be poor in spirit is to have Jesus and to have Jesus is to have all that comes with Him: treasure of wisdom and knowledge as well as the kingdom of Heaven.

Going back to the spouse who has committed adultery.  The pain is real and right.  Understanding that you and he/she are both sinners does not take that away.  However, the one who has received Christ in humility due to spiritual bankruptcy, has Christ within and knowledge and wisdom is made available that those without Christ do not have.  Christ is sufficient in such times that we are sinned against.  Christ can bring about an appropriate rather than sinful response if, that is, the idea of spiritual bankruptcy is still acknowledged and believed throughout our life, rather than just at conversion.

Want a happy marriage?  Take a look at yourself first.  So often we blame the spouse for our troubles, when we are the ones that deserve the blame.  Is there a pride in you, whether boasting or self-pitying?  Do you desire for people to see your successes or your sacrifices?  Are you wondering, what’s in it for me?    Then it very well may be that there is no poverty of spirit in you.  Pride leads every other sin.  God opposes the proud.  He will not give the happiness that is congratulated and envied by others to those whose lives are believed to be rich in spirit.  So to start happiness in the marriage, start by becoming humble, knowing you will sin against your spouse, but Jesus brings wisdom, knowledge, and heaven with Him to grow you into the person you were made to be.

Soli Deo Gloria


The Protestant Reformation can be summarized with five Latin phrases known as the Five Solas: Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria (By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to Scripture alone to the glory of God alone). Over the past few months we have studied Sola Scriptura and Solus Christus, and today we are starting Soli Deo Gloria: To the glory of God alone.The most famous of all questions within Protestantism comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man? In other words, why is mankind on earth? What is our purpose? That’s not just a protestant question, but a universal question that nearly every thinking person wants to know: why am I hear? Why do I exist? What’s the point of my life? The answer: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Or as John Piper would say: To glorify God byenjoying Him forever. Piper’s most famous saying and the motto of his life is “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

As we begin this study of glorifying God, I want us to get a grasp of the enormity of what we have been called to. We are going to look at a few texts of Scripture, with Romans 11.36 being our main text. I want us to then see these texts for their truth as doctrine, as theology and see that clearly living with the purpose to glorify God is orthodoxy (right doctrine), but then my hope is to give some orthopraxy (right living) as well. All theology should be practical. To do that, I am wanting to show you the texts around these initial texts because usually in these texts that declare God’s glory, the question of how is generally answered. But before these, I want to explain what it means to glorify God. So, we will start with the explanation of glorify, move on to the expectation to glorify, and finish with the expressions that glorify.

The Explanation of Glorify

When we think about glorifying God, it is easy to think that God is missing something. He is missing glory or He is in need of more glory that we can bestow upon Him. But that is not what we mean or what the Bible means when we talk about glorifying God. God is not deficient in anything. God didn’t create us because He was lonely and needed a relationship. He wasn’t lonely. He had perfect communion with the Son and Spirit. He had the greatest of all relationships with them. God didn’t create us because He needed or desired more glory than He already had. This is what Paul meant when speaking to those at Mars Hill: 

The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things, (Acts. 17.24-25, HCSB).

God is all powerful and so He needs nothing. He doesn’t need us to give Him advice: “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has been His counselor,” (Romans 11.34, HCSB)? God isn’t one to be in need and be in our debt. This is often how health and wealth, prosperity preachers present God (though they would probably never say it this way). If you give just such and such amount, God will heal you or God will give you wealth untold. Or sow a seed of only so much money and watch as God has to give you so much abundance in return. “Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid,” (Romans 11.35, HCSB)?  

So to glorify God doesn’t mean to provide something that He doesn’t have or to provide something that has depleted or to provide Him with that which will need to be repaid as if He is the one indebted to us! This was the opening of Paul’s remarks in Romans 11.36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen,” (HCSB). Everything comes from Him. This entire created order with all the planets and stars and moons and asteroids and comets and plants and animals and bodies of water and people all come from Him! He created it all. In fact, beyond that, James wrote, “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning,” (1.17, HCSB). All that is good and right that happens to us is directly affect by God. All things are from Him!

All things are through Him. In other words, He is not only the cause of all things, but He is the instrument in how all things word made and sustained. “In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word,” (Hebrews 1.2-3, HCSB). John also wrote something similar: “All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created,” (John 1.3, HCSB). God has the power to create everything we can see and even the things we cannot see. He also has the power to sustain it all.  

Does it really seem like God is missing anything? Where is there even a possibility that He is deficient in glory? There isn’t one. Here is the issue: All things are to Him. In other words, everything that has been made has been made to the glory of God or another way of saying it is as the NIV would say “for him,” for His glory. What does it mean then to glorify God?

The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for glory meant weight or heavy. God is weighty; He’s heavy. The idea is God is important: supremely important. The New Testament word that is often used for glory means brilliant or shining as though beautiful and attractive. So, then the idea of glorifying God is to see Him as supremely important and brilliantly attractive. He already is supremely important. Without Him we all cease to exist, not just because He wouldn’t have created us, but because He also sustains us. He already is brilliantly attractive to the point that words are unable to describe Him. Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, and John all tried to describe the brilliance of God as best they could, but had to settle for similes and metaphors. He is like this; He is like that. Yet no word would do justice to His beauty and brilliance. Thus, to glorify God is to see and acknowledge and live as though He is supremely important and brilliantly beautiful. Even now, some of us might be thinking: I’ve never really thought of God in those terms.

The Expectation to Glorify

Having looked now at what it means to glorify Him: supremely important and brilliantly beautiful, we need to move on to the magnanimity of what it is we have been called to. Every moment of our lives are to be spent showing that God is supremely important and brilliantly beautiful. That was why we were created. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” We were created for the purpose of bringing Him glory and that glory is to be given forever. At the end of what we call this doxology comes the word Amen. Amen means “so let it be” or “so it is.” To Him be the glory forever, and so it is. Glory is forever His. Forever and always and therefore in everything at all moments.

Which is why we find that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory,” (1 Corinthians 10.31, HCSB). Even in moments as small as eating and drinking, we are to reflect that God is supremely important and that He is brilliantly beautiful. We’ll talk about how we can do that in a few minutes.

The idea of glorifying God in everything at all times is daunting. It sounds impossible. And in fact, it is impossible. Yet it is what we were created to do. But none of us do this. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3.23, HCSB). It isn’t that we haven’t been able to attain God’s glory for ourselves, but that we haven’t been able to show that God is supremely important and brilliantly beautiful. Other things get in our way. We begin to desire less important things. We want uglier things. And we put those things on pedestals over and against God. It is not bad to want less important things. It isn’t wrong to want uglier things. It is when we treat those less important and uglier things as if they were supremely important and brilliantly beautiful. It’s when those things take God’s place.  

We have all done this. That doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t even take away the guilt that comes along with it. This is where we go back to C. S. Lewis’ quote: 

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory, p. 26).

This was what Paul meant in Romans 1:

For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles, (vv. 21-23, HCSB).

God requires of us and created us to display the fact that He is supremely important and brilliantly beautiful and yet we don’t, and instead have become darkened in our minds, and rather than seeing God as our top priority in life, we see other creatures, whether human or non-human, animate or inanimate. We see these things as having greater beauty and draw than God Himself. We exchange God’s supreme glory for lesser-glory.

There are those who will live their lives falling deeper and deeper into this darkened state, but there are others who will turn from this depraved thinking and be saved: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3.23-24, HCSB). Christ died to buy us out of darkness and futile thinking that we may once again live as we were meant: to the glory of God. As Piper wrote,

By requiring of His Son such humiliation and suffering for the sake of God’s glory, He openly demonstrated that he does not sweep sin under the rug. All contempt for His glory is duly punished either on the cross where the wrath of God is propitiated [satisfied] for those who believe, or in hell, where the wrath of God is poured out on those who don’t.[1]

So we who believe have been redeemed so that we can now glorify God as we were created to do, not perfectly, but purposefully. We cannot do this ourselves; it is only through Christ alone that this happens.

The Expressions that Glorify

But then the question always is asked, “How do we glorify God? What am I supposed to do now?” I want to provide you with two principles that you can utilize as you live your life seeking to glorify God: to make God supremely important and brilliantly beautiful.

Give yourself completely over to God. Because of arbitrary chapter divisions in our Bibles we often shut off our brains when we finish a chapter as if the next chapter has nothing to do with what we just read. But often times they do!

 Romans 11 ends with “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” But chapter 12 starts with a therefore. And as they hammered in Bible College, “when you see a therefore, find out what the therefore is there for.” “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12.1, HCSB). Since God has created you to bring Him glory, give yourselves fully over to God. Sacrifice yourself.  

Does that not make sense? If we were created for God’s glory, then ought we not forego our plans and give ourselves to Him to do as He wills with us? Growing up, my dad would always instruct me to use the right tool for the job. I’m sure it was aggravating to him when I used a rubber mallet to hammer a nail or when I used channel locks to hammer a nail or used needle nose pliers to. . .well, hammer a nail. I would get frustrated using the wrong tool for the job, but be too lazy to find and use the correct one. He would be frustrated because I’m using his tools for something they were never meant to be used for, and end up breaking them or damaging them.

If we were made for God’s glory, and we seek to live outside what we were made for, we end up frustrated with ourselves and we end up frustrating God because we will inevitably break ourselves. And sometimes we become so broken that we cannot be fully fixed this side of heaven. We are using our bodies, the tool God has given to us to bring Him glory wrongly if we do not live for His glory. We use His tool for something it wasn’t meant to be used for.

That’s one of the reasons we were redeemed: to use God’s tool God’s way. That’s why Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God,” (Romans 12.2, HCSB). I was trying to conform my dad’s mallet, channel locks, needle-nose pliers, and a bunch of other tools into a hammer. It took many years of me being told, “use the right tool for the job” before my mind wrapped itself around the idea that different tools do different jobs differently. My mind had to be renewed. It had gotten into the idea that I can hammer anything with anything and it will all work out in the end. My mind had to be transformed and when that happened hammering a nail became a lot easier, and when there was something beyond hammering that needed to be done, I didn’t have a broken tool with which to fix it.

There are many Christians seeking to live for themselves and for their desires rather than offering themselves to God as a living sacrifice. Every morning, and throughout the day, we ought to be saying, “Don’t you know that your body is the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body,” (1 Corinthians 6.19-20, HCSB). I’m Yours, Lord. Mold me and make me after Your will. The first thing is to give yourself completely over to God.

Having given yourself to God, give yourself to others. If you are serious about glorifying God, then you must do it by giving yourself to others. You are God’s tool. Tools don’t work for themselves. They work on behalf of those in need. Hence we see right after Paul wrote that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know God’s will, he immediately starts telling the Roman church to live for each other. “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one, (Romans 12.3, HCSB). So he explains that we are members of a body working together and for each other.

If we go back to 1 Corinthians 10.31 we see something similar: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory,” (HCSB). But look at the context. The context is about eating meat from the market. If you don’t know anything has been sacrificed, eat without asking questions. Be thankful to have food. However, if there is a brother in Christ with you and he tells you it has been sacrificed to idols, don’t eat it. Why? Not for any other reason than it could cause our brother to stumble. Your action, or in this case inaction, is not for self, but for your brother in Christ. We don’t glorify God by dismissing the feelings of our brothers or sisters. We don’t glorify God by saying, “I am free in Christ to do such and such, and I don’t care what you think or how you feel about it.” Hence, if we eat we take care that eat to God’s glory by being sure that we are not doing so in defiance or without the consideration of those around us. The same when we drink. If our brother is a “teetotaler” and we are not, and we go out to dinner only to find out that he would be highly offended by our ordering a glass of wine, then we are to refrain from the wine or order good ol’ fashion Welch’s Grape Juice. The same when we do anything. That’s the second principle: give yourself to others.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest command, He responded: 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands,” (Matt 22.38-40, HCSB).

What does it meant to glorify God? It means to give yourself fully to Him and to others. Another way to say it is to love Him and love others.


Since it is Mother’s Day, I want to end by giving moms some practical ways to be moms that glorify God. I am going to take these two principles: giving self to God and giving self to others and apply them to motherhood.

Love God more than you love your children (or husband) and so first give yourself to Him. Let me give you two ideas on how to do this:

Give your bodies to God every morning before getting out of bed (for mothers of young children whose feet have hit the floor before actually waking up, do it the night before). Let your prayer be something like: God my mind is yours. Let me think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. My eyes are yours. Let me see your workmanship in my children and in my husband and in my own life. Let me see You as supremely important and brilliantly beautiful. My ears are yours. Let me hear your voice in the midst of my chaotic day. My tongue is yours. Let me give life with the power of my tongue, and may I not bring death. My hands are yours. Work through them to touch with grace and discipline in love. My feet are yours. May I always be ready to share your Word, your gospel, your peace. May I always be ready to go, wherever you may send me.

Renew your mind. Be careful what you put into your mind. Garbage in, garbage out. Fill your mind first with God’s Word. Meditate on it and pray it. Again, for moms with young kids, you may not have a lot of time to read a lot of God’s Word. Let quality be your goal, not quantity. If you only get one or two verses read in the morning, let those verses sink in. Think about them and pray them. Read your verses, having prayed for God to show you the wonderful things from His Word. When a verse hits you, take a picture of it. Set a reminder in your phone for three or four times throughout your day to look at the picture of those verses and think about them. Pray over them quickly if need be. Quality, not quantity.

Other things you can do, if you have the time: read Christian books. For every secular book you may read, read 2 good books by good biblical authors. They don’t have to be parenting books or books on being a good wife. If that’s what you want to read, great, but they don’t have to be. Just grab a book and read. If you don’t have time to read, put on an audio book and listen while your work.

Listen to Christian radio or podcasts. I love talk radio. I listen to podcasts constantly. I listen to Bott radio if I’m not listening to my podcasts. It is good to get Christian music into your mind, but don’t forget to get good sermons in your head.

Give yourself to your family. Only after you have given yourself to God through giving of your body and putting some quality verses in your head, can you be prepared to give yourself to the never-ending needs of your family. But let me show you ways in which you can give yourself to your family so that God is glorified in you as a mom.[2]

Love your husband first. God created woman from the man because it was not good for man to be alone. He created her to be a help fit for the man. Thus He created woman first to be what man is not and cannot be. Jerry Maguirewas not lying when he said, “You complete me.” That is what a wife ought to do: complete her husband.

Model godliness. That means living intentionally. Let your children (and husband) see you reading God’s Word. Let them see you praying. Pray with them. Let them see you wrestle over decisions and ask them to pray for you and with you over them.

Teach them. Not every parent was made to homeschool. But every parent was made to teach. It can be done passively by children watching more of what you do than what you say, or it can be done actively (thus giving to your children) with words and actions that reinforce those words. “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” (Deuteronomy 6.6-7, HCSB).

Discipline your children. God disciplines us as His children because He loves us. Discipline is different than punishment. Discipline comes from the same word as disciple, one who learns. When you discipline you are seeking to teach your child hard truths. You are not seeking simply to punish them in anger, but to teach them even if it means pain that they were wrong and that there is a right way that they must choose next time.

Encourage your family. Moms, you know your children better than anyone, second only to God. Encourage your children and also encourage your husband. Encourage them to do what is godly for sure. But also encourage them in a way that builds them up in life. Pick words carefully so that you can encourage and not discourage. “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand,” (Proverbs 27.15-16, HSCB). Remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I’m not telling you to lie or stretch the truth, only to find ways that you can encourage rather than exacerbate.

Let your family go. Remember that they are God’s. You are only a steward. You have given yourself to God, you’ve given yourself to them, now let them go. Give them to God daily. Remind yourself that they are God’s. You cannot change their heart, but you can speak to it. You cannot determine their future, but you can prepare them for it. In the end, it is God who changes the heart and determines their steps. Trust God and let them go.

The Beatitudes for Marriage: Part 8

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:10, HCSB

No one in their right mind seeks persecution.  While Jesus warned that His followers would be persecuted, He never told us to go and look for it either.  Persecution is simply inevitable when two opposing forces are wanting to occupy the same space.  If the kingdom of heaven is seeking to occupy space that belongs or belonged to the kingdom of darkness, you better believe God’s people will be persecuted (sadly, God’s people have also done their share of persecuting).

If, in a marriage, there is a believer and an unbeliever, the believer had better be ready to face persecution (I use persecution very broadly, and in fact, am not referring to abuse at all.  More on this later).  A spouse may not believe that going to church is necessary.  They may speak against your church, the people you love, and even your faith.  They may mock you–and what’s worse–do it in front of your children!  They may seek to bring your children to their side.  There is much more to say than I can put in a blog, but let me give you some biblical encouragement:

  1. Read 1 Peter! The entire book is about persecution and suffering for the faith.  This is something that you should regularly read, whether experiencing persecution in marriage or not.  Chapter 3 deals with persecution within marriage.  It mainly deals with wives since wives tend to be the physically weaker of the couple.  In Peter’s day, women were not much more than property.  Jesus and His followers changed all that, elevating women to the equality of men (that is not to say that women can or should do everything that men can and should do).  I will write about chapter 3:1-7 below.
  2. Know that God is using you.  Paul wrote that Christians were not to divorce their spouse, but stay with them (unless the unbelieving spouse chooses to leave).  Why?  “For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband?  Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife,” (1 Cor 7:16, HCSB)?  That isn’t a promise of salvation, but it is an encouragement to the Christian that God can and does use a believing spouse to bring the other to salvation, no matter how hopeless.
  3. Pray and have people pray.  Peter wrote,
    Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.  Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.  Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world, (1 Peter 5:6-9, HCSB).

Satan is looking to destroy marriages.  He doesn’t play around and neither should we.  If you are serious about having a godly marriage, then be sure to take it seriously and pray seriously about it.  There are others out there struggling in their marriages.  Pray for them, and ask them to pray for you.

Now let me get to 1 Peter 3:1-7.  In this passage Peter tells the wives to remain silent in order and in hopes of leading the husband to the word without a word.  This fits well in with the idea of preaching the gospel and if necessary use words.  I am not a fan of that doctrine, but it is true at times. Peter says that when it comes to the gospel it may be best to keep silent.  “In the same way, wives, submit to your own  husbands, so that, even if som disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live,” (1 Peter 3.1, HCSB).

He has set up people’s positions in society, masters and slaves (today: employers and employees).  He has set up people’s positions in the homes.  God created Adam and then Eve. From them came children.  So there is a sense of authority within the family.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ,” (1 Cor 11.3, HCSB).  I’m not a fan of the way this verse was translated by the HCSB team, for the idea that Paul is conveying is that of husband and wife, not just any man and any woman.  But what we see is that even in the Trinity there is a sense of authority.  Christ did everything that the Father told him to do.  He spoke as His Father said.  He acted as His Father said.  The husband answers to Christ.  Christ is the head of the husband and if he does not submit himself to Christ he will answer for it.  At the same time, the wife is to submit to her husband.

The subjection in once sense is through silence.  Your husband may not love Jesus.  He may despise Him.  Remember that this is being written while the first generation of Christians is still alive.  That means that men and women were already married when they became believers.  It wasn’t that Christian men married pagan women and vice versa, but rather two pagans or two Jews would already be married and one would follow Christ while the other didn’t.  We know that Paul would go on to write not to get married to an unbeliever, but at this point the couples were already together.  And that still happens today where one person within marriage follows Jesus and the other doesn’t.

Men and women tend to act differently when they have life changes.  Men tend to give a quick synopsis to people who will listen and then continue on.  Women tend to talk about it.  They want to share what has happened with them in detail.  Men are all about big picture; women: about the details.  This can be grating to a guy.  What happens then is that rather than being more interested they become less interested.  The husband begins to get pushed away from the topic of discussion.  They want to shut the conversation down.  They will either argue about it or they will walk away or they will just simply tell you to stay quiet.  And so Peter tells the wife just to stay silent.  Pique his interest by not saying a word.

This goes against the desires of a woman to speak.  There is a war now within that the woman has to now fight in order to not say anything.  So there is suffering from within.  The husband may have already been a jerk about her faith by telling her to keep it to herself, and so there was suffering from without, and now that she is staying silent she is suffering within.  But if the wife is wanting to suffer well she will go to war with herself.  She will give the respect that God requires of her to her husband.  She is to realize that God has, in His great unknown design and plan, set that man to have authority in her life.  So by respecting him, she is respecting God’s prerogative.

How then is she supposed to win him over?  By having a changed spirit.

They my be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.  Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.  Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes, (1 Peter 3.1b-4, HCSB).

Peter of course isn’t saying that you can’t look nice or wear jewelry or do your hair.  What he is saying is that your husband’s adoring eyes ought to first look to the soul of his wife and not her hair or clothing or jewelry.  A husband should wake up in the morning and think he is the luckiest man in the world, not because he has a pretty wife, but because she has a beautiful spirit about her.  What once concerned her: her looks, her clothes, her accessories no longer concern her.  Her spirit is now in tune with God’s Spirit and it shows in how she responds to her husband.

If your attitude change, your body language changes, and your voice changes, then your husband will notice.  It may take a while, but it will soon get the best of him, and he will want to know why.  Now is the time to speak up.  When he asks you what is different about you, or why you’re different, then is the opportunity.  He asked the question.  He wants to know.  He’s ready to listen.  He may not want to hear everything, but that’s okay.  Give him the gospel until he walks away.  Then start the process over again.  Be silent, be of gentle spirit.

A husband should wake up in the morning and think he is the luckiest man in the world, not because he has a pretty wife, but because she has a beautiful spirit about her.

And find solace in the Lord.  “For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, but as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.  You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming,” (1 Peter 3.5-6, HCSB).  Peter wrote that these women found their hope in God.  It was not in their husbands.  It was not in their own dignity even.  It was in God.  They found rest and solace–hope in God.  That hope resulted in subjection.  Just as the citizen is subjecting himself for God’s sake (1 Peter 2:15), and just as the slave is subjecting himself being mindful of God (1 Peter 2:19), so the wife is to subject with the hope of God.  This was why Peter wrote earlier that you are to prepare, “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1.13, HCSB).

Everything within you says that it is not worth it.  Everything in you says that you are not appreciated.  Everything within you says to strike back, to quit, to walk away.  Why?  Because everything within you is hoping for something better, or maybe someone better.  Peter told us to hope in God—to hope fully on the grace that is to come.  Some wives put their hopes in their arguments, their jabs, their nags, their pleas.  Peter says to hope in God.  Be silent.  Be of good spirit.  Find solace in God.  If you do so, there is no need to fear: no need to fear that you will be taken advantage of, no need to fear what submitting may do.  The lack of fear is evidence of a life that fully hopes in God and the grace that He brings.

Husbands don’t get off scott-free.  Peter has some admonishing words to them as well.  “Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered,” (1 Peter 3.7, HCSB).

In the same way.  With the same thought and practice as the wives have toward the husband.  Just as the wife should love and respect her husband, and her way is to show it through following well, husbands should love and respect their wives, and their way is to lead well.  How do they do this?  They do this by treasuring their wives.

Physically speaking women are generally weaker than men.  There are exceptions, but generally speaking this is so.  At the time when Peter wrote this, women were little more than property.  They were rarely consulted, rarely thought of as having importance.  Peter wrote that the Christian man will never see his wife this way.  This is why the Christian man ought never to demand submission from his wife.  This is God’s work in her spirit, not the husband’s work in breaking her spirit.

Husbands are to honor their wives.  They are to treasure them.  They are not property. They are not objects.  They are more than just the mother of your children and your servant that gets you a drink and makes you dinner.  They are first and foremost the daughter of God, and if you are a believer then they are secondly your sister-in-Christ.  You and she will receive an inheritance.  Again, in that day and age women would not receive an inheritance.  There had to be a court case to get a woman an inheritance.  Peter told the husbands that with God this is not so.  She is equal in all respects to the man, and how the husband treats his wife will be judged on how he treated Jesus.

Remember all believers are a part of the body of Christ.  He identifies with them so much that He not only said that how you treat the least of these you have treated me, but upon stopping Saul on the way to Damascus to throw Christians in jail, Jesus appeared to him and asked why Saul was persecuting Him.

They are first and foremost the daughter of God, and if you are a believer then they are secondly your sister-in-Christ.

Peter warned that if you are not treating your wife with the respect that a daughter of the King deserves, then your prayers will be hindered. Husbands, if you ever hope to have answered prayer, treat your wife with the greatest of dignity and respect and love. This goes to the husband of an unbelieving wife as well.  You still show her respect.  You still give her honor.  Do not force her against her will to do that which God has not yet called her to.  Otherwise you’re just messing things up. You’re praying for her salvation, but you’re treating her in a way that repels her from the gospel.

I know this has been a longer than normal blog, but let me close with this: abuse in a relationship is unacceptable.  If one can remove themselves from the situation they must do so.  The Bible allows for divorce in certain situations, and abuse for whatever reason is not one of them.  But Paul would allow for separation.  While Paul would encourage a wife of an unbeliever to stay in the marriage, he allows for separation, but wrote, “But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband,” (1 Cor 7:11, HCSB).  The hope in it all is to reconcile, to get help for both the abused and the abuser, and then bring them back together when they are well and ready.

Once again, I would love to hear from your whether your agree or disagree.  I only ask you to be respectful in whatever you say.  If so, your comments will be posted asap.  If not, they will be deleted.  If you know of anyone who would benefit from reading this, feel free to share.

The Beatitudes for Marriage: Part 7

The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9, HCSB

One of the most important sayings in Hebrew was and is shalom.  It is a part of their every day language.  It is said in their hellos and good-byes.  The capital of ancient Israel was named Jerusalem (yay ru shalom), which means “foundation of peace.”  For a people who never seemed to live in peace and yet were promised everlasting peace, the desire has always been a part of their make-up.  The desire is in their DNA.  By the time Jesus said these words, He was being followed by a man whose name was Simon.  Simon belonged to a sect of people known as the Zealots.  Zealots, as their name indicates, were fanatics.  They hated the Roman occupation.  When I say hated, I mean hated.  No one likes an occupying force in their country.  Yet, most people shrug their shoulders and try to make the most of it.  Not Zealots.  Zealots would lead raids, ambushes, and battles.  They didn’t care if they died.  They’d die as martyrs as long as they could take some Romans with them.  So when Simon the Zealot is sitting on the side of the mountain, everything is probably sounding a bit odd, but bearable, until Jesus got to this part of His sermon.  “The peacemakers are blessed…”  This went against everything he believed in.  If we are honest, it goes against everything we believe in too.  We may not be of the Zealot sect, but we don’t like backing down from a good fight or argument, especially if we’re right.  And we are always right!  And it feels good to be right.  If feels good to win the fight/argument.  It gives us satisfaction; it gives us happiness.

Yet here Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed, not the arguers or the fighters.  People who make peace are the happy ones.  How could they be happy?  Won’t people run all over them?  Won’t they lose fights?  Won’t people miss out on the wonderful wisdom that they have to offer?  Perhaps all that might be true.  Let me deal with why these peacemakers are happy, and then I will deal with those questions with some caveats on peacemaking.

The reason behind the happiness is because they will be called the sons of God.   God’s children.  Remember in this culture children (sons) were representative of their father.  Therefore, they would seek to imitate their father, and many times it would come natural.  Even today we have sayings like, “He is his father’s son” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  Children are imitators of their father.  Jesus was indicating this same fact.  God is in the business of bringing peace.  Remember Romans 5:1?  “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (HCSB).  God brought peace to us by sending His own Son to die and rise again.  God is the ultimate Peacemaker.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Those who imitate God are obviously His children.  Is there anything greater than to be God’s child!

Listen to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God, (4:31-5:2, HCSB).

While the word peace is not used in these verses, surely we can see that this is how one can make peace: Don’t get bitter.  Don’t be angry.  Don’t show wrath.  Don’t shout.  Don’t speak slanderous words. Be  kind.  Be compassionate.  Forgive.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, wrote well on this beatitude.  He wrote (and preached),

The peacemaker is one who is not always looking at everything in terms of the effect it has upon himself.  Now is not that the whole trouble with us by nature?  We look at everything as it affects us. ‘What is the reaction upon me? What is this going to mean to me?’ And the moment we think like that there is of necessity war, because everybody else is doing the same thing.  That is the explanation of all quarrelling and discord.  Everybody looks at it from the self-centred point of view. ‘Is this fair to me? Am I having my rights and dues?’ They are not interested in the causes they should be serving, or the gret thing that brings them all together, this Church, Society, or Organization [we could include marriage at this point].  It is, ‘How is this affecting me? What is this doing to me?’ Now that is the spirit that always leads to quarrels, misunderstandings and disputes, and it is a negation of being a peacemaker. (Sermon on the Mount: Two Volumes in One; Eerdmans Publishing, 1971. p. 122)

God brought peace to us by sending His own Son to die and rise again.  God is the ultimate Peacemaker.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Those who imitate God are obviously His children.

Now the caveats:

  1. This is not peace at all costs.  Peace will cost you a lot.  It is expensive.  But one cannot have peace at all costs.  If a person breaks into my house and tries to kidnap my children, my obligation to protect my kids will supersede my peacemaking abilities. When the Israelites tried to walk around the land of the Amorites, they were attacked by that nation.  They had to fight back and the lesser army (Israel) won (cf. Num 21:21-25).
  2. Peacemaking is different from peace-keeping.  As Leon Morris has said: “He refers not to peace-keepers but to peace-makers, people who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together,” (The Gospel According to Matthew; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992. p. 101).  Peace-keepers are primarily concerned with keeping disputes from occurring.  Peacemakers are concerned about making peace when disputes occur.  We live in a world of sin, conflict is inevitable.  Our job is not to make it so, but to deal rightly with it when it comes.  We do not escalate the situation.  We strive to bring two conflicting people into reconciliation.
  3. There is a righteous indignation, but not all indignation is righteous.  In fact, most is not.  Righteous indignation comes when it deals with the glory of God.  This is seen by Jesus twice when he cleansed the temple at the beginning and end of His ministry (cf. John 2:13-17; Matt 21:12-13).  It may come also when injustice is done.  To deny justice is an affront to God.  We are called then to see justice and be angry when injustice is done (cf. Prov 31:8-9).

“He refers not to peace-keepers but to peace-makers, people who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together.” ~Leon Morris

Now, what does all this have to do with marriage?  Everything!  Where else do we have so many arguments and fights?  Is it not in our homes?  Is it not so often with our spouses? Rarely is there a marriage that goes without arguments.  Anytime you have two people in close quarters there will be conflict.  Yet, we are called to be peacemakers.  We are called to imitate God even in our homes.  Especially in our homes!  When the hubby is revving up for a good fight, wives be the peacemaker.  Don’t go for the fight.  Step back emotionally and check your pride and bitterness and anger.  Are you angry because of a lack of glory to God or because they are in disagreement with you personally?   Husbands, the same thing applies to you.  Being the leader of the household you should also be leading in peacemaking.

This does not mean that you take abuse.  If you are being abused, get out and get safety.  Be a peacemaker from a distance.  God is not calling you to be a punching bag.

Anytime you have two people in close quarters there will be conflict.  Yet, we are called to be peacemakers.

Again I would love to hear your comments.  As long as they are respectful (even if you disagree with me), they will be posted, however all comments will be reviewed.  I try to review them