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Marriages #1

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Have you ever had the thought of wishing your wife had an owners manual?
Your car, TV, stereo, camera, computer all did.
Imagine how easy it would be to live with her if she came with a set of instructions.
Everything you would need to know in order to keep her healthy, happy and humming at optimum capacity!
Here’s a little secret. She does have an owner’s manual but you may have never seen it because it’s tucked deep down in her heart.
There’s just one catch:
You’re the one who’s supposed to get it out of her.
It’s your job!
Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.
This responsibility is also made known in .
Key in on the word “understanding”.
You might think, “hey, I love that chapter, that’s the one that tells the women to keep quiet.”
Indeed it is, but let’s look at
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
God puts the burden of understanding on the husband.
We’re to be the ones taking the initiative to draw out of our wives the necessary info to develop and maintain the one-flesh intimacy God intends you to have with her.
So, here’s the million dollar question: “How do I get this information, this owner’s manual, out of her heart?”
Get this term in your mind: A Covenant of Companionship
A lot of people think that the continuation of the human race is the purpose of marriage.
But marriage was designed by God to deal with the issue of loneliness: And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
God made most of us so that we would be lonely without an intimate companion with whom to live.
God provided Eve not only as Adam’s helper (though help is also one dimension of companionship),
but as his companion.
He too, as all other husbands since, is to provide companionship for her.
In the Bible, marriage is described in terms of companionship.
Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God.
The word translated “companion” in this verse has in it the idea of “one that is tamed” (it’s used in speaking of tame animals), or “one that has a close, intimate relationship with another.”
It’s obviously hard to establish a close relationship with a wild animal, but not nearly so with a domesticated (or “tame”) animal.
The core meaning has to do with a close, intimate relationship, and that is exactly what marriage companionship is—
the close, intimate relationship of a husband and wife to one another.
A companion is one with whom you are intimately united in thoughts, goals, plans, efforts, and in the case of marriage—bodies.
Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.
These two passages taken together make it clear, that for both husband and wife, companionship is the ideal.
In Proverbs, the husband is called the companion (showing that he too, provides companionship for his wife); in Malachi, the wife is designated this way.
For both, then, entrance into marriage should mean the desire to meet each other’s need for companionship.
Love in marriage focuses upon giving one’s spouse the companionship he/she needs to eliminate loneliness.
In order to establish, maintain and mature this companionship, something of great significance is required, which we will now consider.
Revelation Is a Prerequisite to a Relationship
Have you ever seriously considered, that were it not for the Bible, you wouldn’t be able to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
Think about it: If it weren’t for God’s written revelation of Himself to man, you simply wouldn’t be able to know enough to become a Christian.
To the extent that He revealed Himself to you through the Bible
(and you understood that revelation),
you could have an intimate relationship with Him; to the extent that He did not reveal Himself to you through the Bible
(or to the extent that you did not understand that revelation),
you would not be able to have a personal relationship with Him.
Revelation, therefore, is a prerequisite for having a relationship.
This is true not only of your relationship with God, but with people also.
To the extent that two people reveal themselves to each other, to that same degree they’ll be able to have an intimate relationship with one another;
to the extent that two people do not reveal themselves to each other, to that same degree they will not be able to have an intimate relationship with one another.
Now, since marriage is the most intimate of interpersonal relationships,
it stands to reason that a husband and wife, if they’re to experience the “one flesh” intimacy intended by God,
ought to reveal themselves more to each other than to anyone else.
On every level (the physical, intellectual, emotional, etc.) they should be “naked and unashamed” ().
Sadly, too often this is not the case. Indeed, because of sin, husbands and wives are ashamed and afraid to reveal themselves to one another.
This lack of openness and honesty (this lack of revelation) keeps most couples (yes, even most Christian couples) from experiencing the security, refreshment and bliss that God intended for them within the oasis of marriage.
How about you? To what extent do you reveal yourself to your wife?
Are you ashamed and afraid to do so?
Do selfishness, pride, laziness or ignorance keep you from disclosing that information to your wife?
To what extent does your wife reveal herself to you?
Is she ashamed or afraid to do so?
What would you say prevents her from disclosing that information to you?
Hindrances to Revelation
1. Fear
Perhaps the greatest hindrance to revelation is fear. (Read )
Adam and Eve were stricken with fear and hid themselves from God when they realized their own nakedness.
So also, husbands and wives are often stricken with fear and hide their true selves from each other when they realize the sinfulness of their own hearts. Christian couples who are one flesh with each other, and who are committed to each other’s mutual sanctification, ought not fear such embarrassment and rejection.
Indeed, they should have realized long ago, that in the marriage of two sinners, both parties sin.
Rather than being surprised when sin occurs, they ought to presuppose that it’s inevitable ().
Rather than concealing sin from one another, they ought to feel free to reveal to each other their struggles with indwelling sin in the hope of finding assistance to overcome it.
The husband, as the one who is to wash (sanctify) his wife with the water of God’s Word (), and the wife, as her husband’s helper, are to participate actively in the sanctification process of one another.
2. Selfishness
There’s a very real corollary in the Bible between sinful fear and selfishness.
People who are selfish tend to be fearful.
People who are fearful are necessarily selfish.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is by studying the antitheses of both sins.
According to the Scriptures, the opposite of (and antidote for) sinful fear is love: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” ().
But, love is also the opposite of (and antidote for) the sin of selfishness.
According to love “does not seek its own.”
You may try looking at this as an equation:
FEAR is the opposite of LOVE
LOVE is the opposite of SELFISHNESS
Now what what happens when you factor out love from both sides of the equation.
FEAR is the opposite of LOVE (draw line through “love” = FEAR
LOVE (line through “love”) is the opposite of SELFISHNESS = SELFISHNESS.
Yet another way to demonstrate the same relationship between fear and selfishness is by definition. Consider these definitions:
Love is being more concerned with what I can give than with what I can get.
is being more concerned with what I can give than with what I can get.
is being more concerned with what I can give than with what I can get.
Selfishness is being more concerned with what I can get than with what I can give.
is being more concerned with what I can get than with what I can give.
is being more concerned with what I can get than with what I can give.
Fear is being more concerned with what I might lose than with what I can give.
is being more concerned with what I might lose than with what I can give.
When you allow the fear of your wife’s rejection to keep you from loving her by not revealing to her what is biblically necessary for her to know about you, you’re being selfish.
You are, at that moment, more concerned about how such a revelation may hurt you than you are concerned about how it may help your wife.
When you fail to love your wife (your closest neighbor) in this way, you simultaneously fail to love God, and you thus break the first and second greatest commandments (to love God and your neighbor—cf. ).
3. Laziness
If you’re going to take God’s commands to you as a husband seriously, you’ll need to invest a considerable amount of time, effort and thought in studying and implementing the specific Scripture passages.
It’s likely that you’ll have to change the way you think, act, and speak and also prioritize your other responsibilities.
You may have to change from being a feelings-oriented person (i.e., one who does what he feels like doing and not what he doesn’t feel like doing),
to an obedience-oriented person (i.e., one who does what’s biblically required whether he feels like doing it or not).
These changes will be difficult at first, but remember, there’s something harder than changing—not changing: says, “The way of the unfaithful is hard”.
So, you have a choice: hard work now with the hope of God’s blessing in the future, or an “easy” way now with the assurance of a hard road to travel under God’s discipline in the future.
4. Ignorance
Have you ever stopped to consider that man was dependent upon God for counsel even before he fell into sin?
Adam needed God’s wisdom even in the Garden of Eden when he was still in his unfallen state.
How much more do you need His wisdom as you attempt to love your wife and live with her in an understanding way!
Now, if you still believe that understanding your wife is an impossibility, it may be because you are ignorant not only of the Scriptures, but the power of God also.
Jesus once addressed this kind of ignorance in another context:
Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?
First, you may not realize that the Scriptures direct you to understand your wife.
is not a hint, a recommendation or a suggestion. It’s a command. In other words, you must learn how to understand your wife!
Second, you may not understand the power of God.
Whenever you see a biblical command which seems almost impossible to obey, you should remember that God never asks a Christian to obey Him without providing three powerful resources.
• God promises to give you the wisdom to obey Him:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
If you don’t know how to obey, ask God to teach you.
This promise is first because it’s usually necessary to know how to obey God before you are able to do so.
• God promises to give you the ability to change:
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
As you step out in faith to obey what God has directed you to do in His Word, He provides the enabling power necessary to do even that which once may have seemed impossible.
James said that the doer of the Word would be “blessed in the process of doing” ().
• God promises to give you the desire to change:
It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure ().
It’s after you’ve obeyed that directive (which you’ve learned how to do) that you will likely experience the desire to walk in obedience to Scripture.
All three of these promises are made only to Christians, who, in dependence upon God’s Spirit and in conjunction with His Word, receive and implement them.
As we continue meeting together, we’ll learn how you can better understand our wives and how we can better fulfill our biblical responsibilities to them.
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