Friday, February 25, 2011

A Home Like Philippians 2

Our couples' Bible study last evening was so excellent!  We're in between studies at the moment, so Sweet T helped us apply the first several verses of Philippians 2 to our relationships with our husbands.  I'd like to share my notes with you, because I found our time to be rather insightful & came away knowing some things I'd like to do differently.  As she pointed out, so must I:  that homes where the following qualities are exhibited are joyful homes that glorify God & draw in others.  That's the kind of home I want!  My prayer is that you'll find this as beneficial as I.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

~Philippians 2:1-8

     -Be encouraging & comfort each other in love:  Our husbands have very heavy loads that sometimes weigh them down significantly.  I can only speak to Michael's burdens, but I'm sure your experiences are the same in that sometimes he just needs encouragement.  He needs to hear that he's providing well, or that he's doing the best job possible, or that you are there for him in whatever he needs.  Whether it be work- or family-related or even just an emotionally down day, I am to be an encourager & comforter to my dearly beloved.

     -Fellowship in the Spirit:  Fellowship is defined as companionship or communion; an appropriate synonym in this instance is intimacy.  But because that word is followed by the phrase in the Spirit, we're obviously not talking about just sitting around the TV or taking in a sports event sort of companionship.  Sweet T always talks about how the Spirit in me bears witness with the Spirit in you that we belong to God.  It is a sweet thing when 2 people are able to fellowship in this way, particularly when they are husband & wife.  Some of Michael's & my most cherished times together are when we're coming before the Lord together, united as one.  We don't do this enough, though, & that's something we both want to change so that we fellowship in the Spirit more & more.

     -Affection & Sympathy:  Love that finds no expression isn't love.  Inward feelings of affection are good, but they must also be displayed outwardly.  Sympathy is the word chosen for the ESV; mercy in the NKJV; compassion in the NIV.  I think this ties in with our first admonition to be encouraging & comforting.  For me, the use of the word mercy here makes me think of the times when I've gotten angry with Michael & wanted to make him wait for forgiveness, or even those times when I've just been impatient with him.  Show mercy, Chrissy!  Let the loving feelings that you have for this beautiful man display themselves in sympathy, mercy, & compassion towards him, even when you don't feel like it!

     -Be of the same mind:  This takes communication, something that does not come naturally between the sexes & must be developed over time.  Although I think Michael & I do pretty well in this department, there are apparently times when I've expected him to know things that I haven't actually told him.  Our female friends tend to be intuitive, knowing what we're thinking or feeling by our body language.  We can even do this with our husbands; because this is our experience, we expect the same from him.  But men are straight-forward, usually no-nonsense & need to be told.  This is especially important this time of year when taxes are being done & people are deciding what to do with their refunds.  Michael wants a saw; I want to save.  To become of the same mind, we're going to have to communicate.  And since impatience & raised voices sort of defeat the purpose (being of the same mind), they're not allowed!  ;-)

    -Maintain the same love:  The first thing that came to my mind here was the importance of forgiveness.  Anytime we've been angry with each other, a silence falls over our household.  For a while, there's a stalemate as neither of us are willing to take that first step towards reconciliation.  We're not maintaining our love.  We're building a wall between us that we then have to deconstruct in order to be united again.  So, forgiveness - immediate, whole-hearted forgiveness - is key.  Also, the longer you're married, the more the temptation is to take your love for granted because of its familiarity.  It's important to really look at our husbands & remember all of the reasons why we married him & why we love him this very day.  It's even better if we write those reasons down for him to read for himself.  Then, we're maintaining our love, as well as being an encouragement & outwardly expressing our affection.  Win, win, win!

     -Be united in spirit:  This is the "if you go down, we all go down" mentality.  Solidarity, in a word.  Which would most display this attitude when our husbands make what turns out to be a wrong choice?

          A) Whining about how miserable our lives have been made as a result;
          B) Saying, "I told you so" or "You should have done it my way";
          C) Reminding him that God is sovereign & you support & love him

He doesn't need to hear how badly he's messed up; chances are, he's beating himself up enough without our help.  We need to let him know that we're still with him, no matter what.  And here's something to keep in mind:  do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I know, we're so perfect & never make mistakes, but on the off-chance that we have a goof-up, we'd definitely prefer this response; why wouldn't he?

     -Be intent on one purpose: The purpose of every Christian family should be to glorify God in all we say, do, or think. It's important to establish a purpose - & there's none more worthy than this - because that purpose is what you'll filter all of your decisions & actions through. For an example (that doesn't have to be copied), Michael & I got rid of his 50-some-odd inch TV soon after moving into this house. I've been an avid TV watcher all of my life, & he went through a period where he watched a whole lot of movies. Even so, we became concerned about the content that we were allowing into our home through this medium. Our consciences were pricked with the immorality & ungodly behavior we were observing. For us, we felt that watching such things was not glorifying to God, so we axed it. Our purpose of glorifying God was the standard by which we made this decision.-Be humble:  Humility can be a very uncomfortable position, but it's probably one of the most important attitudes we can ever take.  In our marriage, it takes many forms.  The most obvious is when we have to repent - both to God & to our spouse.  For some reason, it really hurts sometimes to say that we were wrong & to ask for forgiveness.  It also takes humility to relinquish a legitimate claim to retribution & extend forgiveness for a wrong.  We also need to be humble in our speech - not speaking too much or too brashly - & our dress - wearing modest clothes that protect our husband's exclusive right to view our bodies intimately.

     -Do nothing from rivalry or conceit:  I was particularly struck by the word rivalry.  How often, when we differ with our husbands do we view them as an adversary, as competition?  That's so wrong.  As Adam said of Eve, we are bone of his bone & flesh of his flesh.  When we marry, we become one.  Michael is not my opponent, he's my partner.  We're to work together.  I loved Sweet T's illustration of a yoke.  Michael & I are in the yoke together, striving to plow the same field as a team.  If we both pull together, the work is made easier & goes by more quickly.  But if he's pulling one way & I'm fighting against him going in the other direction, that field won't get plowed.  So, how do we make the decision about which direction to go when we're diametrically opposed?  This goes back to submission; I'm called to submit to him.  He sets the direction, & I'm to work with him - not against him - to accomplish our goal.  It's not always fun or easy, but it is the command of Scripture which I ignore at my own peril.  And what about the conceit part of this?  Well, to my mind, running our marriage under these precepts takes an enormous amount of "dying to self", leaving no room for conceit.

     -Count him as more important than myself:  How many times have I gotten frustrated because I haven't done this?  Here I am, trying to read a book or cook a meal or corral a dog & Michael asks me to help him in some way.  I can respond one of two ways:  with irritation at this interruption or with joy at an opportunity to serve my beloved.  It's more natural to become irritated, because it's sometimes an inconvenience to me.  But let me tell you, the times when Christ has been working through me & I've joyfully served Michael have been some of the most rewarding times of my life!  It really is more blessed to give than to receive!  Over-used or not, it's still biblical.

     -Look to the model of Christ:  Our lives as Christians, day in & day out, always return to the Gospel.  In this text, we see Jesus' humility as an example for us to follow.  Our daily dialogue should sound something like this:  "As Jesus was humble & served others, so should I"; "As Jesus forgave others, so should I"; "As Jesus relied on Scripture, so should I"; "As Jesus was devoted to His Father, so should I be"; "As Jesus loved His enemies, so should I" . . . & so on & so forth.

Just a couple more things.  I know this is long, but you've hung on for this long, so please stay with me!  1) None of this is possible under our own strength.  If we try to comfort our husbands or maintain our love or be of the same mind by our own power, we may be able to hang on for a little while, but it won't last.  We aren't strong enough.  So, rely on Christ's strength.  He's strong enough & powerful enough; all we have to do is ask.  And as Sweet T has said, we have the awesome privilege of praying for what He's commanded & the awesome promise that when we do so, He'll grant it!  2) Whether or not our husbands behave in these ways matters not even a little.  We will not answer to God for them.  He has commanded these things of us, & they are not contingent on our husbands' obedience.  It's hard, I know, but we're to obey God & have all of the aforementioned qualities even if we don't get them in return from our husbands.

Oh!  And PRAISE, DON'T NAG!  ;-)

I thoroughly enjoyed our study time in Philippians 2, & I hope you enjoyed my notes & thoughts on the topic.  I hope y'all have a good night.  Blessings.


Abby said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm Sooo glad you guys are enjoying your new church! I love to see answered prayer! :-). Love you girl!

The Boyds said...

Love you, too, Abs! And miss you terribly!