The Principle of Sowing & Reaping

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“Do not be deceived:

God will not be mocked,

a man will reap what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

I love how often God speaks to us in the Bible about the importance of reaping and sowing while we are here on earth.  This is possibly one of the most powerful spiritual principles to understand, because it impacts almost every area of our life and even into eternity!

And side note: I’m currently reading these books pictured.  Two I’ve read before, but commenter Earl suggested a new one, “Ungodly Rage,” and so I picked it up ASAP.  All three have to do with this principle of reaping and sowing – very interesting to see it applied to our modern day.

Here is the rest of the passage in Galatians 6:7-10:

“Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

So we must not get tired or weary of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up.”

It amazes me that we are warned here, “God will not be mocked!”  We have to take this principle seriously, and live as though we firmly believe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in this life.  When we sow things in the flesh, we are going to, for certain, reap the consequences of that later on in another season of our life.  This is something that has the capacity to be a beautiful opportunity to sow into the hearts of others around us, however, we should also have a healthy fear of the potential for negativity and darkness coming back to us, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The Bible actually has many examples we can learn from where people sowed sin in another’s life, and then had to reap that same sin coming back onto their own heads later on.  It’s a mysterious Jewish principle from the Old Testament, that God will bring back someone’s actions onto their own heads if they’ve wronged or even planned in their heart to wrong someone.

“Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster and do not appropriate their possessions in the day of their disaster.

For the Day of the LORD is near, against al the nations.

As you have done, so it will be done to you;

what you deserve will return on your own head.”

Obadiah 13:13b, 15

So we see this in the Old Testament (and in many more places than just Obadiah), as well as in the New Testament in Galatians (the opening verses).  Modern churches, you could even say modern “Christianity,” teaches that this principle of reaping and sowing, especially the negative aspect, is only relegated to Old Testament earning of God’s approval.  In truth, it is more like a timeless Truth, which is why we see it both in the Old and New Testaments, because regardless of whether or not we are saved, we are still bound by earthly (and even spiritual) ramifications for our decisions.

In other words, even if we’re saved, Galatians tells us, “God will not be mocked,” we’re still going to reap what we sow.

***

Think about all the biblical examples of traps that so many people in the Scriptures left for others they were trying to harm.  They ended up falling into their own traps, and what was intended to harm others, actually ended up happening in the exact same manner to them!  This is not to say that God-fearing people cannot be harmed by evildoers, though.  Here are just a few examples off the top of my head:

  • Haman in his hatred and envy of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, ending in being hanged on the very same gallows he had built for Mordecai to hang on!
  • Nabal in his treatment of David, ending in Nabal’s death because of his insults!
  • Daniel’s accusers getting him thrown into the lions’ den, then being thrown in themselves after the truth is finally outed!
  • Hagar treating Sarah (her mistress) with contempt when she thought she had the upper hand, then being subject to Sarah disciplining her extremely harshly (and God commanding Hagar to go back and submit to that mistreatment as part of her reaping what she had sown in Sarah’s heart).
  • Saul’s treatment of David, his envy and trying to kill him, ending up losing everything he was trying to keep – his kingdom and his life – being killed himself, but not at David’s hand.

And many many more.  God has an extremely accurate measure of justice.  He admits this several times to us in His Word, and that He cares very much about seeing that justice is done.  This simple, yet profound principle of reaping and sowing, is a way He carries out His justice here on earth.

There’s also a extremely important point we should be aware of and that is that: we will often reap MORE than what we have sown!  This is both good thing and a bad thing, depending on if you’ve sowed good or bad things in life!

If you’ve sowed good in the way of giving and generosity, the Bible does tell us that you will reap more.  I should note that doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap more financially, more in the way that you will be lifted out of living under a curse, and will reap more blessings in your life because of your faithfulness to sow.

“By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions, you are suffering under a curse, yet you – the whole nation – are still robbing Me.  Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house.

Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts.

See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.

I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the LORD of Hosts.”

Malachi 3:8b-12

And from the Parable of the Sower –

“Consider the sower who went out to sow seed….

other seed fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100 times, some 60 times, and some 30 times what was sown.  Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 13:8

But if you sow bad things (sin), the Bible also says that, when the time is right, you will reap MORE of that sin than what you actually sowed.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love;

break up your untilled ground.

It is time to seek the LORD until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

You who have sowed wickedness and reaped injustice;

you have eaten the fruit of lies.

Because you trusted in your own way, and in your large number of soldiers,

the roar of battle will rise against your people, and all your fortifications will be demolished in a day of war.”

Hosea 10:13-14

In the book Earl suggested, Ungodly Rage, which is about the “hidden face of Catholic feminism,” it is clear that “you have eaten the fruit of lies,” is directly linked with these Catholics in the book sowing wickedness.  The truly unfortunate fact of this spiritual principle is this reaping more of what has been sown, especially in this case.  They sow wickedness and eat the fruit of lies, and reap an entire war.

“Indeed, they sow wind and reap the whirlwind.

There is no standing grain; and what does sprout fails to yield flour.”

Hosea 8:7

Wind may be annoying (and in truth, is sowing literally nothing), but look how much more was reaped!  A whirlwind came back on them, increasing dramatically the force and consequences of what they sowed.

And we also know that when we sow sin, the end result, the final reaping, is death.

“Then after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:15

 

So what should we do?

Sow in righteousness, sow in mercy, sow in good deeds, sow in repentance, sow in Bible reading and prayer.  Sow goodness and gentleness into the hearts of family, friends, and enemies.

And always remember that bad things can be sowed… lusts, sins of all kinds, fear, envy, pride, etc. and when you sow something, you WILL reap it later on, and with a terrible increase of more than the sin that you sowed.

Every person is actually a sower and a reaper!  Whether you want to be or not, your actions are extremely powerful spiritually, and they not only have real life consequences, but spiritual consequences that are deep and mysterious and hard to comprehend.  You do not have control over those consequences and what they’ll be or look like!  So this is a critical warning about how important it is to understand this and avoid sowing sin into the lives of others.

What is often sowed in tears, will be reaped in joy-

Sometimes doing the work of sowing good things faithfully, is hard and tempting to give up.  Raising children could be a good example of just how hard it can be sometimes to see our end result.

Nevertheless, we need to sow in faithfulness, trusting in God’s will and ultimate decision on what to do with what we sow.

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.

Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed,

he will surely come back with shouts of joy,

carrying his sheaves he’s gleaned.”

Psalm 126:5-6

I’ve personally found that this is true.  What is sown in tears, will be reaped in a later season (sometimes years after the fact) in joy, as you’ve been given the gift of seeing it redeemed.  Sometimes this is doing a work God’s given you to do, sometimes it is finally seeing vindication.

The Reaping of Your Righteousness Shining like the Dawn-

For me personally, standing on God’s promises remind me of how powerful He is, and how trustworthy He is.  We can faithfully sow, and never worry that He doesn’t notice.

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

For they wither quickly like grass

and wilt like tender plants.

*

Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in Him, and He will act,

making your righteousness shine like the dawn, 

your vindication like the noonday.”

Psalm 37:1-2,5

Stephanie

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Letters From Mentors: Elizabeth Elliot’s Marriage Advice for Wives

From her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot explains how wives can revive the romantic feelings of esteem for their husband:

Marriage is no house party; it’s not a college campus or a stimulating political row or an athletic contest, and the man’s having been a spellbinding orator or a great halfback somehow does not seem terribly significant anymore.

But you ought now and then to remember what he was, to ask yourself what it was, really, that caught your eye.

Come now, you will say to yourself, you didn’t marry him because he was a great halfback, did you?

No, you married this person.

Whatever the inner qualities were that enabled him to do the things he did then are still a part of this person that you go to bed with and eat breakfast with and wrestle over the monthly budget with.

He is a person with the same potentials he had when you married him.

Your responsibility now is not merely to bat your eyelashes and tell him how wonderful he is (but breathes there a man with soul so dead as not to be cheered by a little of that?) but to appreciate, genuinely and deeply, what he is, to support and encourage and draw out of him those qualities that you originally saw and admired.

***

I love reading pretty much anything that Elizabeth Elliot says on marriage and anti-feminism.  She is kind, clear, and to the point, something I admire in a writer.  I thought that some of her pieces may go well in this continual topic series I’m writing called Letters From Mentors.  I’ll be including these in my daughter’s book so that she has access to these other women’s thoughts in one place 🙂 ❤ .

It’s just so beautiful to have different perspectives from older women who have more wisdom or advice than I do right now.  There’s a reason the Bible counsels believers to gather many advisers, and for the older women to be teaching the younger women how to love their husbands and children, it’s because if they’ve been living rightly with God, they should be blessed with the ability to see things a younger (less experienced) woman may be able to see.  

Elizabeth points out something so crucial to marriage in this short script to us. Something so obvious and yet profound.  That we graciously and carefully handle our husbands as the unique man God created him to be.

That we remember his talents and beauty of his soul, and the romantic things about him that made us fall in love with him when dating.

That we genuinely look again at him, from that perspective we had when we were dating ❤ .

That we encourage him in his dreams right now, and for the future.

That we be his best cheerleader in his life ❤ .

And that we try to show him daily how much we love and adore him, just for the man he is and has become.

Stephanie

How To Survive a Rough Patch in Marriage

This music video and song are extremely romantic (aka cheesy to those who don’t appreciate these things 😀 ).

Chances are if you stumbled upon this blog post through a google search or something, you have ZERO interest in watching a sweet couple sing about how they’ve made it through hard and troubled times.  Romance and love might be making you feel tearful because you think that you’ve lost those feelings, along with the chance to have a marriage like this.

You’re in a rut, or feeling isolated and lonely or wondering if your husband even loves you anymore.

For wives who are feeling like this… the number one thing to do is admit you both are probably going through a “Rough Patch.”  And I say “both,” because if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, there’s a good chance he’s feeling those same feelings, too.

Sometimes even just admitting this is enough to help you see it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  And in most (almost all) marriages, there will be a light!

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Science has shown that couples who were unhappy to the point of considering divorce, if they stayed and just survived during that rough patch, that 5 years later they were happier, and guess what?  I’m sure they were SO GLAD that they didn’t pull the trigger to end their marriage, because it wasn’t the “end” – it was just a rough patch!

Here is a great excerpt from that study:

Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? The marital endurance ethic appears to play a big role.

Many spouses said that their marriages got happier, not because they and their partner resolved problems but because they stubbornly outlasted them.  With time, they told us, many sources of conflict and distress eased. Spouses in this group also generally had a low opinion of the benefits of divorce, as well as friends and family members who supported the importance of staying married.

The key is everyone is going to go through some kind of rough patch in their marriage.  Sometimes even SEVERAL rough patches that they’ll experience just due to circumstances putting way more stress on the husband and wife than they feel like they can handle.

Work schedules conflicting, extremely sick children, parenting issues, weeks of sleep loss due to little children & night-time tantrums, parents passing away and dealing with the grief, etc.  You may be in a period of learning to understand and communicate with each other better, because maybe things have changed some and you both need to learn a different way to connect.  Or you may be learning not to be so sensitive if harm wasn’t meant, and just in general… how to go on when you’re not “feeling” in love sometimes.

We need to come to understand how normal this is, and how successful marriages are made up of partners who learn to manage those rough times where loving feelings and romance is not at the forefront of the marriage.

So #1 – it’s normal and should be put out in the open where you and your husband are able to discuss it or admit that this is a really hard time, but that you are totally committed to the marriage and you’re going to see this through.

Since all marriages seem to go through one or more rough patches, you will probably experience some of these feelings and emotions (or already are), and if no one has prepared you for them, they’ll make you scared that your marriage is over.

It can be over, if you decide to just divorce, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

#2 – Once you’ve been able to come together, maybe over a private dinner or a quiet time where you were able to reflect on how hard it feels and voice these things to your husband, once you’ve at least admitted it to him and yourself that this feels like a “rough patch,” it’s time to decide what you, personally, are going to do about it.

It’s crucial to realize how much power we each have in the way we see things, and in the way we allow ourselves to either dwell on the positives and beauty of our lives, or be overwhelmed in hard times with how much of a struggle it can be.  We all have a choice.  We can either choose to make the best of things and thrive with our husbands going forward (weather out this storm), or we can choose to be overwhelmed by our temporary feelings of struggle and sometimes even despair.

Women’s emotions can feel so insanely real, and yet be so incredibly false.  Whether it’s due to hormones, or sensitivity to certain insecurities, or feeling inadequate, or like we are unappreciated – sometimes a perfect storm can occur to where a wife will start believing these faulty emotions that if listened to, can actually ruin her life!

For me when I’ve experienced this, the best thing is figuring it out with God as to why my emotions are trying to dictate my enjoyment of my kids and my marriage. 

Because that is exactly what it feels like.  Even though I know I can tell my emotions are lying to me, it can still be hard to trust what I know is true.  So part of this deciding what to do, is take a critical look at what is true or false, maybe even writing it down as a reminder if or when those feelings start popping back up again.

Here’s an example:

  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like my husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  • TRUTH – My husband loves us so much that he would die for me and our kids.  He may not know how to respond to hearing we don’t feel loved, so I should let him know (within reason) if it’s something he can do or if I simply want to spend some time alone together just enjoying each other’s presence.
  • TRUTH – When you start feeling like your husband doesn’t love you anymore, you may actually be projecting your own feelings onto him!  You may feel like you’re falling out of love in this rough patch, or because your marriage’s romance has been placed on the back burner for too long.  If that’s the case, initiate some romance.  But realize if it’s actually your feelings that need to be whipped into shape, and decide to stick with him until the romantic feelings come back again.
  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like if there’s no romantic love right now with him showing it to me everyday, then I have no purpose in this marriage (or in life!).
  • TRUTH – Everyone has to find their own purpose in life, and sometimes it may seem small, but is actually very powerful – like being a stay at home mom.  It’s hard to see how much you’re doing right now, but God’s Word promises us that what we sow faithfully, that we later will reap blessings from it!  Your purpose right now may be the quiet, unseen work of sowing seeds into your husband’s and kids’ hearts (and surviving this rough patch in your marriage).  Of course you can’t see what it will look like when it’s reaping time, because it hasn’t happened yet!  Sowing and reaping are never in the same season!  So continue your work in your marriage and raising your kids, resting on God’s promises that you will reap what you sow.  Trust in Him that staying married is better than divorcing in a rough patch.
  • TRUTH – Romance ebbs and flows in a long marriage relationship, and it’s supposed to be that way. If it’s not appearing very much right now, try not to worry.  Just put some effort in (a date night here or there, some long talks or watching a movie together at home cuddled up), and give it time and know it will probably return after this rough patch.
  • FALSE FEELING – If I fight with him enough, he’ll “get it” that I’m not happy and he’ll finally understand how to make me happy.
  • TRUTH – Fighting with him when you’ve realized you are both in a rough patch is not a good idea.  Emotions are or may be out of whack due to the rough patch itself.  And keep in mind, he’s probably experiencing the same set of stressors that you are, albeit maybe in different ways. Fighting and having intense emotions during this time will only prolong the rough patch or make it even more miserable for you both.
  • TRUTH – Fighting and acting highly emotional will never help a man to “just get it,” or understand how to make you happy.  If anything, it shows him you are giving in to emotions not based on truth and allowing your unhappiness to rule your entire life and being (and his by default).  This will make him possibly lose respect for you overtime.
  • TRUTH – Prolonged fighting like this in some strange hope that it will help save your marriage, will do the opposite overtime.  It will kill it, because there’s no “fixing” false feelings through crazy dramatic fights.

 

The Problem with False Feelings… It Puts Your Husband in a No-Win Situation

I’ve actually found that if I react in one of these inappropriate false feelings and allow the negative emotions to just dictate how I experience our life together, my husband is in a no-win situation.  But when women believe their false feelings like this, what else are we doing to our husbands but putting them into no-win situations?

If I overreact to something (be too sensitive), or assign blame to something he did by accident or without thinking (jump to conclusions), then my overreaction negatively affects our relationshipWe then have to deal with my over-reaction in addition to addressing whatever happened in the first place.  Hopefully you can see that allowing false feelings to override truth just compounds your problems!

False Feelings if not stopped lead to –> Arguments or Fights Based on Falsehoods –> Increases emotions and feelings of powerlessness and desperateness –> Your Husband Then Has to deal with your false feelings, along with the arguments or fights, along with rough patch stress and separate (logical) problems that need to be worked out as well

Clearly, if we cut it off at the beginning where we fish out what are false feelings and the Truth, then we can go straight to dealing with any logical problems that may be contributing to the rough patch emotions. 

So how do you get around this?  Remain calm and work on trying not to be overly sensitive, especially once you’ve identified that this may be a “rough patch” where your emotions are out of whack anyway due to surrounding stress from life.  I’ve found that I don’t think as clearly when feeling those feelings and am more apt to take things personally when I shouldn’t.

And… this a big one… Usually the root of the false feelings and emotions is some kind of nasty discontentment, as much as I hate to admit that.  My all time favorite verse is when Paul is talking about how he figured out how to be content in any and every circumstance – and coming from Paul and what he went through, that statement from him is just amazing!  I want so much to be like him in that.  But honestly, if you’re feeling like your husband doesn’t love you, and yet everything logically shows that he does, then there may be something else lurking in your heart that speaks of discontentment with your life that needs to be confronted.

When we learn how to be truly content, it’s because we are accepting of our husbands and of where we are right now – where God has us – and are ok with that.  When we trust that His timing is just right, and that we need to be exactly where we are right now for a purpose, it becomes a lot easier to see those False Feelings for what they are.

And then we need to decide to hold on to those Truths, and make it through that rough patch.

Now go back and listen to that music video at the top, and remember that rough patches are only temporary, whereas a love like that (that survives during those hard times) is timeless.

Stephanie

Letters From Mentors: “The Legacy I Want to Leave” by Linda

This post is part of the series where I feature letters (emails) I’ve received over the years from women I consider to be mentors online and in real life.  I LOVE hearing other women’s perspectives on raising a daughter (or anything I’m wondering about!), and when I see someone I admire or feel inspired by watching their life, I want to know their secret to the success they’ve had 😉  It’s so encouraging to me, to see women who are wiser, already in their 40’s or 50’s, and have worked to build the life that I want to create and am working to create.

Like I said in the last post where Stingray’s first letter was featured, we’re commanded in the Bible to get all the wisdom and understanding that we can.  There’s wisdom in having many advisers, and so forth.  I believe that as a young mom, it’s so vital to have women you look up to and whose lives you admire to be able to ask questions of, and learn from and basically model your life after.

This series is just so exciting to me because of all the wonderful advice and wisdom it will bring here for not only me and my daughter, but also for anyone of you readers who are interested in these letters!  

And if I ask you your thoughts on this subject of raising daughters, be assured that it’s because I really look up to and admire you and see something extremely valuable and beautiful in your life that I want for my own!  I don’t believe women are “island” creatures… maybe men can live like that 😉 (thinking Paul and John the Baptist), but most people seem to really get a lot of value from having deep relationships and sharing ideas that are insightful and life-changing.

Here is Linda’s letter titled “The Legacy I Want to Leave:”

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family pic, oct2017 less pixels

Stephanie from All Things Bright and Beautiful recently asked me about writing a post for my daughters.  What an honor.  🙂  It has really had me thinking.

I’m working on one post in particular, but in the meantime, to be honest, you could consider this whole blog a gift for my children.  My oldest daughter is in a serious dating relationship with a wonderful Christian young man.  My heart is aware that the time she will remain at home with us is limited…. probably one more year of community college, and then she’ll launch out on her own.

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{Oldest and Youngest, 17 years apart}

When she does leave, I know one of her wishes is to take family recipes with her.  She’s asked in the past about that, and about taking a sourdough starter with her–things like that.  Putting recipes on this blog to share with you, and others who have expressed an interest in classes, disciplines me to take pictures and get my home made recipes cataloged in such a way that I will be ready to put her cook book together for her, and all the other children as I know that the next 3 will be following her like dominoes.

My children love looking through old pictures and hearing the stories.  One day, they will enjoy looking through the updates on this blog.

And I don’t want my children to someday look back when I’m gone and think that they never really knew my heart.  I remember thinking that when I helped my mother clean out my grandmother’s home, and the fact that my own mother hasn’t spoken to me in over 14 years—well, we missed something, somewhere along the line!  My children will trust my teaching more if I am real.  I want them to recognize my strengths and understand my weaknesses, but when it’s all said and done, I want them to know me as a woman who pursued God and loved them deeply.  I want them to be secure in our family and have no regrets, knowing that while we’re not perfect and we make plenty of mistakes, we’re growing in God’s grace… a little more every day.

Every devotional I have written is something that my heart longs for my children to understand.  I pray, as they leave home, that we will remain close and be able to share the things that God is teaching us.  Perhaps they’ll visit here to see what Mom is up to.  Even now though, as I take time to share with you, I take every opportunity to teach my children what I’m learning.  Different ages understand different things, but I hope that no matter what I say, my life will reflect the changes God makes in my heart as I pray for God’s wisdom and holiness.  I learned first hand when I was growing up, where “do as I say and not as I do” was often the mantra, that it’s easier to follow an examplethan it is a list of do’s and don’ts.

As time marches forward and my children are growing up, I am realizing that though I have different concerns for my boys versus my girls, I really want them all to catch the lessons here.  What I want my girls to learn about seeking God and becoming Godly women is what I want my sons to come to expect and pray for in a future wife.  What my sons need to learn about being strong, Godly leaders is what my girls need to expect and pray for in a future husband.  Learning to help their father in so many ways will prepare all of them to lead, but also to follow, respect and support the many leaders God will place in their lives.

So what have we been learning this last year?  What kind of legacy do I want to leave?  I want to train up children who understand that:

If you want your life to add up to something, Abide in Christ, and never lose awe over what He has done for you.

In order to lead people to Jesus, you need to love them first.

In order to walk into the good works God has planned in advance for you, you do not have to wait.  God has equipped you with a relationship with Him, a unique story, talents, resources and spiritual gifts… you need only trust Him and be faithful with what is in your hands.

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{Our 3 oldest daughters, on worship team at church.  The oldest 5 girls sing for 12-20 churches and special events every year.  God has given them beautiful harmony.}

But no matter what you have in your hands, you are still a sinner, saved by grace, and so He has filled you with His Spiritto make your character like His so your testimony will be believable.

Don’t ever lose faith in God when people fail you.  God isn’t subject to our standards and failures.  He sets the standard, and he redeems our failures.

Remember that God fights for you, and though you may travel through dark and difficult places, and it is He who will bring you out.

And when you do go through trying times, remember that God never makes a mistake.  Trust Him with all your heart.

It is a blessing, a privilege and duty of every Christian to be faithful in prayer.

If you want to have an effective prayer life, run to confess your sin, live life with open hands– forgive others, and always put God’s will above your own wants–pray for His will.  Pray unselfishly.

So many other lessons I have yet to write down.  It takes time. 🙂  But this is a good start.

Linda

Spiritual Post – Are There Really No “Levels” of Evil?

criminal sapd

My husband’s department just caught this man recently.  A fairly notorious criminal.  There are many out there just like him waiting to be caught.  It’s eye-opening to me when I see the photos and look into their eyes.  Which I have done… more than a few times.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my husband on the news, doing the “Perp Walk” as they call it, bringing in a man who just shot a bullet into another man’s head over road rage (they were actually both at fault – the man inciting the rage kept fighting with him… apparently, that’s normal in road rages cases).

When he arrived at the scene there were brains all over the inside of the car, and a giant gaping hole in side of the man’s head.  He can see this kind of stuff and eat a sandwich at the same time – doesn’t even phase him anymore.

But looking into the eyes of the murderer my husband brought in (and seeing my husband there as well, looking like a darn hero – because he is!), really put into perspective the difference between good and evil, and how shallow Christians are when they try to say everyone is the same in their hearts just because everyone sins.

It is true though that just ONE sin will send someone to hell.  But not every person will shoot a bullet into the head of their enemy, let alone a stranger who cut them off in traffic. Not everyone harms children and goes about with no guilt… for decades, like pedophiles typically do.

Not everyone is a reprobate, and we should never judge all people by lumping them in with the truly evil and diabolic.  Everyone is capable of such evil to be sure!  But not everyone decides to act on their most evil fantasies and basest thoughts.  Everyone is a sinner, but there are different levels of sin and evil that is within someone’s heart.

Something I’m grateful for when watching from the sidelines what my husband deals with on the regular, is that it’s taught me things like this.  It’s taught me to be more appreciative of the normal sinners, even though they clearly still need God, they are not the same, and should never be judged the same by us, as evil doers.  His work and the stories he can tell, have even made me be able to judge character better from afar, which is a safety measure against potential harm and evil doers.

This video above is excellent in explaining the principle God has of reaping and sowing.

The man in the video plainly states that if someone continues sowing sin, they will eventually reap a much harder life for themselves, full of all kinds of problems.  The point is not whether or not they can be saved from their sin, and it’s not even asking whether “big” sinners receive the same punishment as “little” sinners.  No, the point is that some sins have greater eternal consequences and judgments!  If you’re a Christian, this is a super important topic to understand fully, lest you get it wrong and lead many other people astray by adding words to the Bible!  The Bible warns that “not very many of you should be teachers,” because teachers (male or female) will be rightfully judged harsher when they get it wrong or lead others astray, because they have a huge responsibility to first, get it right, and second, to be humble enough to admit when someone has pointed out that they were wrong.

Personally, I’ve found that the Christians who do make these mistakes, are typically not able to admit their wrongdoing, but instead keep plunging ahead into more sin themselves by continuing to lead others astray.  It’s a problem of humility, when we’re not open to corrective discipline or criticism.  Even if an enemy is criticizing you, you always have to check if there is truth in it.

In the video, the man also talks about how Jesus reveals there are different levels of sin (or degrees of evil).  Not only do different kinds of sin have different kinds of real world consequences, they also are viewed differently by God in that they seem to have different eternal consequences.

Either way, the point or “takeaway” should not be that evil people can’t be saved – the murderer that my husband brought in may someday repent – and that would be wonderful!  God tells us in Ezekiel that He craves people like that to finally someday repent, and that He allows them into Heaven, even if they repent right before their death! 

We can’t have a superior attitude that denies even the worst of sinners God’s acceptance if they repent – but we should have a good attitude toward them and accept them back in.

So the takeaway should be a warning that yes, there are different levels of sin, and all sin separates us from God.  Jesus speaks on the different levels of sin a few times, warning people who repeatedly sow evil, or do truly treacherous deeds, that their punishment is harsher, both here on earth, and also in eternity.

Our God is a just and wonderful God, who sees everything and judges accordingly.  For that, I am so so grateful!

Stephanie

Godliness Requires Choice & Action

I know this probably sounds like common sense – but go there with me for a moment.  I’ve only recently really thought about how weird it sounds when Christians make bold statements that whatever good things have come about in there lives, that it was ONLY due to God and had zero effort from them.

I know that I could not have done anything good enough or helped create a beautiful marriage with my own actions – there’s just not enough goodness in me to be able to do that.  So to God be the glory, for all things HE has done!

I know on the surface this looks pretty good and spiritual.  Let’s be honest, the way it’s worded, it’s supposed to look spiritual… but is it actually true?  Can we really be or do nothing good to “help” create a beautiful marriage?   I wondered why it sounded so spiritually fake, until it became clear a few months ago that it is a form of false humility.  False humility is when a Christian tries to look really humble, but in reality they have ulterior motives of pride buried beneath the surface of their spiritual statements.  Let me break it down piece by piece.

Normally, giving all credit to God is a good attitude to have toward our lives and the gifts we’ve been given.  To realize that yes, ,everything good given to us IS from God… but when it comes to being realistic with other people on actually achieving godliness, which realistically, is becoming more like Christ in our marriage, or with our kids, or toward our enemieswe should be honest that the transformation happens through our own choices in responding to God and in allowing Him to do the work in us that changes us.  That’s a huge piece of the puzzle that’s missing from statements like the one previously mentioned – the admission that we have allowed God to have His way with us, and to affect the way we behave toward others.  It is always a choice to follow Him, and a choice to develop godliness by clinging to Him overtime.  So yes, we can have the power to do good in our marriages, with our children, and toward our enemies – that power is given to us from God, but only when we submit to Him and allow Him to.

When thinking about this topic of false humility, these beloved verses came up below.

12 So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. 13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] [c]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13 Amplified Bible

These verses have fascinated me since about 2009 when I really started to study them and ask Bible teachers and leaders what they meant.

It’s a two-fold process – we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (actively be pursuing God daily and growing in spiritual maturity… repenting when we’ve fallen or become discouraged).  AND God does His part by working IN us, making us want to please Him even more, and giving us real grace (power) to be able to do more than we could without the Holy Spirit in us, extending our abilities beyond what they would be.  

The latter verse would not be able to happen without the first.  That means God would not be working in us like that if we were not inviting Him in, pursuing Him and His ways, putting His will over our own as a daily thing, and constantly seeking to grow in spiritual maturity.

I think when it really hit me that the previous mentioned statement is a form of false humility meant to look super spiritual, was when I realized that if it solely depended on Jesus alone – if we had nothing to do with following Him and reaping those rewards – then everyone who was a Christian would look and act exactly like Jesus did by default. ALL Christians would have ALL the fruits of the Spirit down pat, and with perfection.  Obviously, spiritual growth doesn’t work that way LOL!

No… it’s just not true that we have no goodness in us or power to affect our spiritual growth, although it sounds true to give God all the credit for our good marriages, or relationships with our kids, or how we deal with enemies.  It looks good – very spiritual and “right.”  But unfortunately it’s deceiving to leave out the fact that a Christian who has developed godliness in their marriage… or with their children… they did so because they sought after Him.

Remember, the second verse (Phil 2:13) of God working in us, can’t happen without that first verse (Phil 2:12) where we decide to keep working out our salvation in fear and trembling.  We have to invite Him in so that He can have His way.

What a beautiful reminder that the grace God gives us – which is the power to go beyond what we’d normally be able to accomplish – is available to all of us if we only seek Him and live out Philippians 2:12.

Stephanie

Always Have Great Sex!!

Hi Dr. Laura!

My husband is easy. He’s pretty much in the mood all the time. Whenever, wherever… we have sex at least once a day, sometimes two or three (and we’re in our 40’s). But because women are different, I found that it’s good to always stay “prepared”…

One way is, I NEVER go to bed with clothes on. The second is that I have a few things I rotate inside of my head about my husband throughout the day. Things I love about him, things that attracted me to him in the first place. I focus fully on one or two things and before I know it, I’m ready to go. And yes, even with a headache.

My mother taught me to never say no to my husband, but I realize that there is a difference between just being a willing participant and being right there in the moment with him. It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.

Julie

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I’ve talked on the blog before a few times, about how I listened to Dr. Laura on the radio fairly often when I was a little girl.  My mom always had her on (when she was on air), and wow was it insightful LOL!  The female callers complaining about their husbands were always the worst and most annoying people to behold.  They’d complain about their husband’S normal male-habits, or negative things like having a porn addiction, or that he didn’t clean the house the way she wished he would, or that he had no motivation to move up in his career or make more money, and on and on the complaints were.

She’d speak very harshly to them, although I enjoyed hearing her tell them those things, I always thought to myself that being that harsh with the women was not something I’d want to do.  But perhaps I was wrong… ?  Maybe those types of women truly do need a smack to the head or to be treated as harshly as they’re more than likely treating their husbands.  A lot of the stuff I heard that the men were going through (when the men would call in) sounded like emotional and psychological torture or abuse!  So maybe I was wrong to think they didn’t need some very harsh “slamming” of their own behaviors, perhaps that’s the only way to help them gain humility – by giving them a mirror to see themselves the way other people see them.

And how many women that were like that, were Christian women going to church?  You would think Christian women would set the bar high for being kind and gentle and extremely respectful of their husband and his “flaws,” guarding him and protecting him from strangers’ misjudgment.  I could always tell, even as a young girl, that these women were very sure they were “right” and “good” even though it was pretty obvious they were gossiping and slandering their husbands to strangers on the radio.

The good callers were the ones who were humble, and who listened to Dr. Laura’s advice and allowed her to call them out if what they were doing was wrong.  Like the woman who penned this letter above ❤  She’s taken Dr. Laura’s advice to have LOTS of sex with her husband, and to not only do it because of duty, but to do it enthusiastically and with a good heart towards him!

It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.”

Yes!  I’ve told my man this many times 😀

Let’s look at her tips for having a better sex life:

  • NEVER go to bed with clothes on (lol… yea that does work!)
  • Focus on good things about your husband throughout the day – things you like about him as a man, and things that made you attracted to him in the first place
  • Don’t just have sex  more, have MORE FUN SEX.  Don’t just give him “duty sex” (bleh) but actually enjoy giving him sex

I actually think there are different “kinds” of sex (no I’m not talking about sex positions – Eek!).  I mean there can be different motivations for having sex.  One of my favorite motivations to give my husband sex is being thankful for him and for everything he does for us as a family.

I call it “Gratitude Sex!”

It’s when you’re so thankful that your husband provides for you, is such a good father to your kids, and is so good in a myriad of little ways, that you just want to knock his socks off with really good (grateful) sex!

I think husbands are often taken for granted.  They’re expected to work hard and expected to do the dirty jobs around the house… but do we as wives really thank them enough?

Is it so bad to thank them with our bodies?

In my experience, it’s more than good 😀

Stephanie

Parenting – Teaching Your Children to Use Their Gifts

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Our oldest is just amazing.  I know I’m his mom and so of course I’m biased… but oh my gosh, God has blessed him with many talents and gifts!  He’s kind… he’s gentle… he’s a strong leader and he’s only 7 years old!!!!!  Watching him is so inspiring to me to be a better mom – to be the mom he truly deserves in life (and yes, I feel like I fail constantly)!  We all deal with some amount of “Mom Guilt.”

Anyway… his school was having a city-wide art competition, and right away I was like, “You have to do this.”  He doesn’t believe in himself, just like I was growing up and still have issues with at times.  But his raw talent and gifts can’t just be shut up inside him and never used or developed!

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This is something I wish I had learned earlier in life myself – that my gifts, whatever they were, were supposed to be used and practiced and developed and strengthened!  It’s nice to have people loyally on your side, watching you with a gracious intent, gently encouraging you to use your gifts, but usually none of us really have people like that around, so we develop self-consciousnesses or neurotic beliefs that we’re always wrong or not very good.

And I see them reflected in my son.  His self-doubt, his belief that he’s actually NOT a good artist, or that he’s not funny, and not that smart (when he makes All A’s and B’s and excels in things like math!!).  It’s weird to me how we can have such a distorted view of ourselves when in reality, we are given so much more than we see.  This is what I imagine Paul was referring to when he was encouraging Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example for other believers and to USE his gifts, and practice them and develop them.

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Practice.

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Develop

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It took him 3 days doing it a few hours at a time, and I had to keep reminding him that he probably wanted to work on it or it wouldn’t be finished in time for the contest, and he did want to finish it.  The more he painted, the more he enjoyed it, too!  As he and our other children grow older, I’m not going to be harping on them as much so that they can learn that if they don’t hustle and do their work on time – or be consistent in it – they will miss MANY opportunities in life and some that they won’t get a second chance at.

 

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But for now, I’m like the woman Jesus talked about who kept pestering a man to do what she wanted 😀  I will encourage him, remind him, love him, prod him, and “train him up in the way he should go,” according to his gifts I’ve seen God has given to him.

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His art teacher came up to me with excitement yesterday when I picked him up from school, and told me with wide eyes that he had placed in the competition… out of THOUSANDS of other kids who entered all over our city!  He won his school somewhere between $1,000-3,000 in art supplies!!!  Of course we were so proud of him!!!

And I asked him in the car when we were driving back home, if he was glad that I pushed him to enter… because he never would have known if he could win if he hadn’t even tried.

I explained to him again that when God gives us special gifts like that, He expects us to USE them for Him, and that others are BLESSED through our gifts – but only if we have enough confidence in ourselves to decide to step out in faith act.  We are also blessed when we bless others!  As he found out when he won that much money for his art teacher!  It’s a blessing to be able to bless other people!

He’s heard about the parable of the talents, but it will probably be a deeper lesson saved for when he is a little older – that if we don’t use our gifts, that God may decide to take them away.  I know it sounds harsh, but we are stewards of the things God has given us, and that includes our giftings and talents.

May we all learn to be more confident in the gifts God has given us, and to use them, practice them, develop and strengthen them for His glory.

Stephanie

Sarah – She Did What Was Good & Did Not Give Way to Fear

I’m starting a new blog page where I will file posts on biblical women.  It should be fun and fascinating to delve into their different lives and really dig deep for what we can learn from them as women who love God.

They will be a little controversial though.  My short Abigail series took some readers by surprise, and revealed her story through a perspective that isn’t usually taken in our modern day.  Here’s a hint: Everyone likes to say she was the perfect example of the UN-submissive wife to a foolish husband, but I found God leading me to the exact opposite conclusion!  I encourage you to read it if you haven’t had a good look at why the way she treated her foolish husband Nabal made her stand out with respect and honor.  It may not be what you expect.

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I’ve been thinking though, recently, about Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  God seems to have put her on my heart for a few months now, and I’ve been quietly studying her words, reactions, as well as what other people had to say about her across the Bible.

I didn’t know it, but she is actually the most mentioned woman character in the Bible – even more so than Mary, the mother of Jesus!

I had no idea she was so important.  And it’s been odd how often she has come to my mind in these past few months, along with parts of her story, and always her actions or reactions.  It’s been weird I’ll say that much.

What makes her so interesting to me?

It’s the way she obeyed her husband without fear,

and is honored repeatedly for it in God’s Word.

***

It’s taken me a long time to see her through this lens.  When I was a child growing up in a Christian school, we learned about the biblical men and women all the time.  I mostly viewed Sarah as the woman who dared to laugh at God and was shocked by her nerve.  I didn’t like, or relate, in any way to her attitude.  I understand her circumstances more now, and can see how human she was when hearing the response of her pregnancy in such old age.  To me she finds redemption in being mentioned in the New Testament as the model of the kind of woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes.  But again, it took me a long time to understand what all that meant.

Let’s look at the passage of Scripture I’m referring to specifically:

“Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.” 1 PETER 3:3-6

I’m going to take this apart in the same way I did for the Proverbs 31 woman piece by piece (but for length’s sake – not delving into the Greek meaning of each word this time).  Here we go!

What kind of beauty is “precious in God’s sight?”

  • The beauty found in a woman’s heart – her character and inner beauty
  • The lasting beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit
  • Beautifying (adorning) yourself by being submissive to your husband, like the holy women of old, like Sarah who obeyed her husband and called him lord
  • When you submit (subject) yourself to your husband, and have no fear in trusting him (doing so), you achieve the beauty this passage is talking about

How amazing that this passage is directing us to be like Sarah, not only in the way of disregarding showy outward beauty, but also focusing on the character and actions we are to develop if we want to have a lasting beauty that is “precious in God’s sight.”

And the key to achieving this kind of lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet (peaceful) spirit, is to fully submit to obeying our husbands, and to respect and revere them.  Like Sarah did when she called her husband “lord,” we are directed to imitate her behavior, and “become her children” when we live these things out in our day to day lives.

This is all well and good, right?  But have you looked at Sarah’s life with Abraham?  Have you studied enough to understand what this passage in 1 Peter is implying?  When it says that she obeyed him, doing what was good (submitting to him), and without fear, that is no light and ordinary statement.

This woman obeyed her husband during some of the toughest circumstances imaginable. 

And with a good attitude.

And without fear.

Her love, faith, and trust in her husband and in God are so beautiful when we closely study her story.  She has inspired me by her faith SO MUCH in the past months, constantly popping into my head at the strangest times, that I had to write this down here, hoping that it would bring joy and inspiration to someone else. ❤ 🙂

In our modern age where Christian wives seem to be constantly looking for flaws in their husbands’ leadership style so that they don’t have to submit to him (and obey him), Sarah’s story is a huge wake-up call as to how we’re really supposed to be responding.

How God expects us to respond.

I can hear the screeching of the wheels on the pavement now…

But Sarah obeyed when it was not convenient!

Yes, she definitely did.  Many times!  This woman had so much trust in her husband and in God, that yes, she willingly obeyed even when it was not just annoying, but even when it was extremely difficult.

Just the other day I was spending time with God early in the morning before anyone else in the house was awake, and suddenly a map from the back of my Bible fell out and onto the floor in front of my foot.  I expected it to just be another journey showing the different routes Paul took on his mission trips, since those are pretty much the only maps I’ve seriously studied.  But when I looked closely at it in the dim morning light, I saw it was actually Abraham’s travels when God called him and Sarai to leave Ur!  I had never really appreciated how far they had to travel, and keep in mind they had no idea where God was wanting them to end up.  It hit me again (like it has for months now) just how amazing her trust and faith in her husband and in God were – to follow her husband like that.  Away from everything she had ever known, and over such a difficult journey, through dangerous foreign lands, and not even knowing where she would end up with him in the end.  Talk about trust and faith producing a beautiful obedience in the heart of a wife toward her husband!

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This is a picture of the page of my Bible that fell out when I was doing my morning talking to God and reading His Word.  When I look at this journey, I immediately think about how ridiculously hard that would have been for a woman to travel back then, in that kind of desert and arid weather, with their shoes, and just the plain, overall discomfort she’d have and the temptation to complain or whine or ask “Are we there yet?!”  Honestly, it makes our long family trips to New Mexico from south Texas seem like a breeze in our air-conditioned and roomy van!

As Christian wives, have we behaved as well as Sarah did when she followed Abraham on a truly difficult journey, not even knowing where they were going?  How many times have we whined about little inconveniences, wanting the easy way out?

Maybe our husbands need us to get up early and help with making lunches and getting breakfast on the table before the kids leave to school or before he has to go to work.  I know in our family, it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for my husband to spend critical time with our older son in the morning, since he works most evenings.  Even if the baby wakes up several times in the night, I still want to make sure it doesn’t affect their time together – it’s the only time during the day (most days at least) when my husband does a devotion with our son and leads him into understanding the deep meanings of Scripture.  He gives him advice, listens to his problems or concerns, and it’s a truly beautiful time that would not be possible if he was having to do all the work I usually handle for them in the morning as far as getting everything ready for them to leave.   The way I see it is that I can either have a bad attitude or demand I get my own sleep (a convenience for sure, but not necessary since I can nap later on in the day), or I can serve them with a happy heart and be grateful that he’s spending this time investing godly principles into our son’s heart.   I choose to be grateful!

You can apply this to anything your husband may want you to do, but doesn’t line up with your idea of easy or convenient for yourself.  Maybe he wants you to make good, healthy meals for the family, but you’re stuck on fast food on the go, or cafeteria food so you don’t have to wash the dishes?  Maybe he’d like you to make and pack him lunches everyday, but you don’t want to spend the time serving him like that because it cuts into your time in the morning for yourself to eat?

If our husbands need us to do something that is hard or difficult, do we carry an attitude of resentment toward our task or him for asking more of us?  Maybe your husband wants you to stay home to raise your young children, even though it means living on a lesser budget that makes life more difficult.  Are you doing it with the attitude described in 1 Peter 3?  Or perhaps he wants you to work and put your young children in a daycare – something that’s heartbreaking and hard for a mother to do?  Are you trusting him and God that He will provide safety and protection over them and ultimately redeem the situation in the end?  I know this sounds a lot easier than it actually is when carrying these things out, but it was never promised that living this Christian life would be easy or convenient by any means.  Our true test of our faith in God is when we do these things, and do them not out of just a sense of duty, but with a glad and happy heart!

Obviously the best response is to do what is needed, and practice more gratitude if we’re tempted to resentment over having to endure inconveniences that come with following.

I know this sounds hard, it’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever read before when it comes to marriage and how we’re supposed to act in regard to our husbands leading us.  But the Bible talks constantly about the value of doing the difficult tasks needed to be done.  And whatever we do, we are to do it as though we are doing it for God.  When we act like Sarah and “do what is good,” and “without fear,” we are honoring God with our choice to obey our husbands, even when it is inconvenient to do so.

*

But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham was making poor choices!

This is a hard one for Christian wives in this day and age.  If her husband is doing ANYTHING even the tiniest bit “wrong” in her eyes, his wife is usually quick to point it out to him and try to get him to be better in his leadership.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of this.  It’s common now to know or see Christian wives who refuse to fully submit to their husbands until his porn addiction is gone.  Or maybe it’s his bad eating habits that bother her that she tries to change.  Or his love of watching sports on Sundays, when she thinks he should be helping her fold the laundry.  Or his decision not to do family devotions or spend time reading God’s Word in the way she’d like to see.  There are so many things that wives want their husbands to be doing or not doing before they’ll even think of obeying and submitting to his leadership.

But that’s not the way God intended marriage to work.

A wife can’t demand her husband be perfect in her eyes and do everything the way she desires it to be before she’s supposed to actually submit to his leadership for their family!

If she’s demanding that he change, nagging him to go to counseling to fix his issues, or trying to get him to change in any way, she’s the one who is doing the leading in the marriage – and expecting him to submit to her wants, desires, and needs.

Even if a husband is leading in an imperfect way, we as wives are still called to obey.  His leadership is not contingent only on leading perfectly, and never making mistakes or bad choices.  Like Sarah, we become “her daughters” when we submit to our husbands’ leadership.

*

But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham led her (and other people) into sin and deception!

Yes, she did.  Again, it speaks to her faith and trust in her husband and in God that she was able to follow Abraham even when it was not the right thing for either of them to do.  The Bible is still clear that she did what was good by obeying him and subjecting herself to his leadership.

Let’s take a look at the scriptures where these incidents occurred:

10Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.18So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

And then it happened a couple of decades later, almost exactly the same as the first time.  Abraham’s faith was still not complete in this area, but did Sarah nag him?  Did she resent him for not having more faith to not place her in another ruler’s harem (again)?

20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 5 Did Abraham not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!” 6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her. 7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live. But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all who belong to you.”

8 Early in the morning Abimelech summoned all his servants. When he told them about all these things, they were terrified. 9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done!” 10 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?” 11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, ‘Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 What’s more, she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. 13 When God made me wander from my father’s house, I told her, ‘This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’” 14 So Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your ‘brother.’ This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you.” 17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. 18 For the Lord had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife. ©NET
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It’s hard to believe her amazing attitude in all of this!  Her husband expected her to show her loyalty to him by misleading (lying by omission that she really was his wife and not just his half-sister) other people!  Again, how does this compare to how we respond to our husbands’ failings or moments when he may have a lack of faith?  Do we keep our faith in him even when we see his doubts and fears, or do we demand he be better for us and lead us more to our liking?

The biblical response is to have faith in him and in our all-powerful God.  That even if our husbands make a mistake, or have their doubts, that ultimately God is still in control, and that we are safe in the palm of His hand.

Sometimes it is important to stop a man from sinning, like Abigail did, by using her gracious character and inner beauty to calm a King’s rage and murderous intent.  You can read my thoughts on Abigail’s beautiful actions here (PART 1), and here (PART 2).

But Sarah’s silence in these situations was wise and showed her heroic faith!  It wasn’t silence out of timidity or sinful “giving way to fear.”  The Bible is clear that she did not give way to fear, in fact the attitude she displayed “that of a peaceful and tranquil spirit,” is translated to controlled strength and tranquility that arises from deep within.  That kind of control, feminine strength of character, and peace in times of trouble, can only come from God and having a rock solid trust in Him.

When studying the context around these passages, I found that historically when a ruler saw a stranger’s wife that was beautiful and desirable, he was free to kill the stranger in order to take the woman for himself.  However, if she was traveling with a family member (kin) like a brother or a father, then the ruler would simply negotiate a price for taking her as his bride (or concubine), and the male family member would be spared (maybe even given a prestigious place in their society).

So Sarah and Abraham found themselves in life and death situations when they were traveling as a couple in these foreign lands.

Now stop and think about this for a minute.  Can you IMAGINE how a modern day Christian wife would handle something like that?!?!  Let’s go through some mental contrasting how wives in our age would respond to that scenario, compared with how Sarah responded and then is praised afterward for doing the right thing:

  • Modern day wives would give way to fear.  They’d panic when seeing their husband was making decisions that looked questionable, or if he was lying to ruler’s about who she really was.
  • Modern day wives would be upset that he “demand” or expect her loyalty to him to be shown in this way.
  • Modern day wives would be mad at their husbands for not “protecting” them from the ruler’s lust and desire to have sex with her because of her beauty.
  • They’d be upset that their husband didn’t stand up to the ruler and engage in a (likely deadly) fight, sacrificing his life for her honor!
  • They’d be livid that he allowed her to be placed in another man’s harem.
  • Or they’d take advantage of having the opportunity to have sex with a powerful ruler!  How many times have we heard wives admit on the radio that they’d cheat with a famous man if they had the chance?
  • Or they’d make it through like Sarah did, in one piece, but still hold on to the anger and resentment of being degraded like that.  When they got back to their Christian groups, they’d throw their husbands under a bus by complaining to other wives just what their husbands tried to do to them when they were on a trip!
  • Or MUCH WORSE in my opinion, they’d drag him to the leaders in their church to get them to “counsel” him (effectively AMOGing him or criticizing his leadership as “poor” and “ill-effective”) until he felt he had to follow her ideas and designs for their marriage.

We may be Christian wives trying to do the right thing, but we still have a sinful nature that leads us astray and into not honoring or submitting to our husbands if we aren’t careful to study these ancient texts and learn how to act in the ways God desires for us.  We want to display that kind of beauty that is so precious in God’s sight, right?  Then that means we have to take Sarah’s examples here, when she submitted to her husband’s leadership, seriously.

Go back over the bullet point list of ways modern wives would react to the situation Sarah found herself in.  Have you reacted in one of those ways in the past?  It’s never too late to repent and humble yourself, and to start honoring your husband.  Sarah doesn’t do ANY of those things!  She doesn’t even seem to hold on to any resentment, and the Bible is usually quick to point out when a man or woman has misgivings or ill-feelings.  If she was holding on to resentment or using his mistakes to hold over him later on, she wouldn’t be held up as the example we’re supposed to model in Peter 3.

No, it seems her actions are in line with how 1 Peter 3 describes her character as having inner beauty of the heart.  She loved him, she didn’t want him to die.  So she submitted to his plan to lie to the rulers of the land, and even be taken into their harems, so that she could keep her husband alive and trusted that God would make everything right.

Let’s look again at her qualities that made her character precious in God’s sight:

  • She had a peaceful and quite spirit – not a panicky, or nagging, or complaining, or bitter, or resentful spirit
  • She is called precious in God’s sight for obeying Abraham and for subjecting herself to him and his leadership.
  • She is honored for calling him “lord,” even though he subjected her to doing something that was wrong and deceptive and leading others into sin.

It cannot be understated that Sarah was honored for obeying Abraham – and not giving way to fear when she did – even though his leadership was less than perfect (1 Peter 3:5-6).

She not only was honored in the passage we have unpacked here, she is the first woman mentioned in the wonderful chapter that outlines all the “Heroes of Faith,” Hebrews chapter 11.  When I was 11 years old, our school had us memorize this entire chapter.  It was so beautiful to recite and memorize each person mentioned and honored for their courageous faith displayed in critical times of their life.  Their examples were glorified forever in God’s Holy Word because they decided to make the right choiceTo have faith even when it was extremely hard or inconvenient.  

Again, this is not something we as Christian wives can just gloss over and forget about.  Sarah, with all the mistakes or poor choices Abraham may have made in leading her, is named among the Heroes of Faith for choosing to obey him, follow him when it was hard, not complain or hold resentment against him, and even follow him into circumstances that caused others to sin!

Her heroic faith coupled with her beautiful character in choosing to obey Abraham, is an amazing testimony to her trust in God, that His will would prevail in those circumstances, and that she would be taken care of.

May we have faith like this, and seek to honor and respect our husbands with the kind of fierce commitment and obedience that Sarah had toward Abraham.

Stephanie

 

RELATED READING –

Sarah: A Woman Like Us

Sigma Frame’s Pygmalion Project vs Shared Enterprises

That Stepford Gal’s post Women Should Be Seen & Not Heard (using your beauty to influence and save people or entire countries!)

How to Stand Strong in Stressful Times

This is a great video.  I urge all you readers to watch it.  It’s SO. GOOD.

I found it about two or three months ago, and it’s just repeated wisdom of what I’ve heard all my life growing up in a strong, Christian school from age 4-15, having strong Christian parents, and then mentors who have poured into my life.

I feel so lucky (not sure “blessed” would be the right word here) – but seriously lucky to have had all those people in my life, to the point where this message is not new to me, but wonderful to have so much wisdom piled into such a short video.  We’re all at the mercy of where God places us – what kind of parents we will have is probably the biggest deciding factor on how our lives will turn out.  And yes, I have some “survivors guilt” I think from having such wise, wonderful people for parents.

Anyway… no matter what you’re going through, and this message seems to speak to many things, I hope you find comfort in this video.

Stephanie