Sunday, July 27, 2014

God Trumps Husbands

While it's true that one's husband takes priority over ministry, the question in many minds (and one I wrestled with for a l...o...n...g time) is, "Doesn't God take priority over my husband?" Yes, of course. But not in the way(s) I once thought.

I thought making God a priority over my husband and family meant my personal calling/gifting/ministry was more important than our marriage and family*. After all, if we are in fact "one flesh," serving my husband is the same as serving my self, right? In my mind, putting my husband ahead of others was a self-centered way to live--and it certainly didn't spell out the greatest commandment, "... to love the LORD my God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength." I went to church and Sunday school. I knew the drill, and wanted to love God more than anything! So how does that work when a husband enters one's life? It felt as if there was someone between me and God--or was there? As I prayed, learned, grew and applied Scripture, I found that there is a hierarchy to obedience and God's will. A wife is bound to serve her husband in a way that pleases the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:4, Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:17-18). Her loving care for her husband demonstrates devotion and trust in her Lord.

When I considered what it meant to keep God the priority, I found these truths pivotal whether one is  single or married:
- God deserves the first fruits of my time, labor and energy (Matthew 6:33, Exodus 22:29)
- Obedience is a sign of devotion and love (John 15:5, 14)
- Ministry is not the same as relationship (Luke 18:9-14)
- My heart motive is more important than the outcome (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Corinthians 9:7)

Add a husband and mix well. Now what?
- God deserves my best, my priority, time. When our children were small, it was naptime. Now that they're older, it happens closer to 5:30 a.m. with my first cup of coffee. This is my private time for listening and talking to God, laying out my day and examining my heart.

- Loving my husband and family ahead of myself and others is simple obedience. As a married woman and mother, my example of Christlike love and service for David (my head) and our children either exalts or maligns God's reputation (1 Timothy 5:8, Titus 2:5).
- Doing things for God is not the same as knowing and loving God. Spending time at church, being busy, and helping others is not a substitute for sitting at His feet (remember Mary and Martha? Matthew 10:38-42).
- Heart motive is more slippery than a Vaseline-coated watermelon. Serving God does not mean doing something only when I feel like it or when it gives me warm fuzzies. Serving with the right heart motive is about doing what God says because I believe (a choice of the will) God will do what He says--He will enable, empower, and reward my faith.

So what does it mean for God to trump my husband? It means:
- I will set aside time each day to be alone with God, to listen to His voice (read my Bible) and pray. I will give Him my best, most alert time.
- I will not fight my husband or go behind his back when I disagree. I will make a rational appeal and trust God with the outcome of the decision, following my husband's leadership without reservation and with much prayer (usually for my own attitude!).
- I will place our marriage relationship before other relationships and demands--for the purpose of glorifying God in service and by example.
- I will, by God's grace, try to meet my husband's needs and desires, seeking his best (Proverbs 31:12).
- I will gently and lovingly challenge my husband to love and serve God over and above myself.

And now to put it into practice. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and that is exactly what is required--a holy fear and desire to please God above all others; by His grace, for His glory, in His might.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

*see July 19, 2014's entry, "Husbands Trump Ministry"

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