Nov 12, 2013
My father says that to communicate clearly you need to explain what you ARE saying and what you are NOT saying. You need to contrast what you believe with what others believe.
So here’s an example of a different approach to obeying God — an approach which I do not think is as biblical, or as helpful, as it needs to be.
A Popular Book On Marriage
This illustration comes from a popular book on marriage by a well-known Christian author.
He describes a woman who had grown cold toward her husband. She had depended on him to meet her emotional needs, but he had hurt her, and in her pain she had grown bitter and withdrawn.
And to this point she has not experienced any help from God. As she put it: “I know God is supposed to meet my need for love, but what am I supposed to do with all this hurt? I believe God loves me, but I can’t get it to really work inside me.”
The author of the book does deal with other issues, like how she can constructively help her husband see what he is doing wrong.
But I want to focus on what he says will help the wife start loving her husband. He suggests that she take three steps. I willl put my comments in italics after each one —
“Step 1: Fully acknowledge all your feelings to God.”
I love that he starts here. It’s crucial that we come to God as we are, admitting our true heart condition, and not pretending that everything is fine.
“Step 2: Reaffirm the truth of your security and significance in Christ.
I am grateful for his emphasis on affirming truth. And I agree that we must see our security and significance in Christ.
But as important as that it, it will not satisfy our hearts. That will not fill our hearts so fully that we are able to love a hurtful spouse.
God’s Word says that what fills our hearts is seeing and feeling the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:27).
When the Holy Spirit enables us to see and feel Christ’s glory, and assures us that we will enjoy him forever, we will have joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8), and will be able to love others no matter what they have done to us (Luke 6:35; Colossians 1:4-5).
“Step 3: Commit yourself to ministering to your spouse’s needs, knowing that however he may respond he can never rob you of your worth as a person.
I am glad he calls this woman to commit to loving her husband. But I do not believe he has addressed the deepest longings of her heart.
Does the power to love come from knowing that someone can never rob me of my worth? I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture. And like I said above, my heart is not satisfied by knowing my worth.
What satisfies my heart is knowing and feeling the infinitely superior worth of Jesus Christ (John 6:35; Philippians 1:21).
- I wrote a blog post on how important it is to understand who we are in Christ. But as important as this is, it will not satisfy our hearts. Our hearts are only satisfied when we see and feel the worth, the glory, the radiance of God as he is revealed in Jesus Christ (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 73:25-26; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Philippians 3:8; I Peter 1:8).
- I do not think it is biblical, or helpful, to urge people to see their worth. This seems to go against the truth that because of my sin, all I am worthy of is God’s punishment. At the same time, it is true that in Christ God loves me, treasures me, and delights in me. But this is not earned by my worth. It’s earned by Christ’s worth on the Cross, and given to unworthy people by God’s merciful, undeserved love. My greatest joy comes from seeing the glory of God’s grace in Christ towards unworthy sinners — like me (Luke 7:47; Luke 18:13-14).
- Think about your own experience. Has your greatest joy come from seeing what you thought was your worth? Or from seeing the worth, the glory, the radiance of Jesus Christ? Some might think our highest joy comes from self-esteem and feeling good about ourselves. But that is not taught in God’s Word.
- I believe this author’s understanding of obedience neglects several crucial Scriptures. Like 2 Corinthians 3:18, which teaches that we are transformed by beholding Christ’s glory. And Luke 6:35, which shows that love for enemies is empowered by the reward of more joy in Christ forever. And John 6:35 where Jesus says our heart-hungers and thirsts are all satisfied by coming to him and believing in him.
The battle for obedience is not a battle to see my worth; it’s a battle to see Christ’s glory.
Be sure you are fighting the right battle.
If you know someone this would help, email it to them using the “share” button below. Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.
If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)