29 May 2006

The Mystery of Marriage

The meditation of a pastor and a man on the apostle’s reminder

Daughters of Sarah

“And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quite spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear”(1 Peter 3:3-6)

The words of Apostle Paul taken from the epistle to Galatians are fairly close and appeal to the majority of women-believers; these words mean that we all are sons (and daughters) of Abraham by faith. Who would dare protest against these blessed words?! Apostle Paul offers many Christian women a challenge of belonging to the spiritual branch of Sarah.

As a pastor, during Marriage Seminars, I frequently ask married Christian women this question (which is not an easy one). The most amazing and dramatic fact is that I cannot see much of a positive response. It really amazes one and puts one on guard. Something seems to go in a wrong direction in their minds. Is it just

a question of misunderstanding?

It is clear that our modern culture treats the word “lord”, used in connection to husbands, ambiguously. But I suppose that the form itself is not as essential if a question of real biblical obedience is based on the trust in God is solved. I’d like to repeat that it is biblical obedience and not something that some men demand, without being enlightened with the Gospel of Jesus Christ or simply being against Him.

For many Christian women, the issue concerning “gentle and quiet (not impertinent to answer) spirit” is a big question and an embarrassment of fear. This is what apostle Peter tried to convey to us in the above-mentioned passage. However the devil managed to bring its tiny strategy of lies to many Christians’ minds. By saying that we cannot do anything without Christ, he cunningly removed the emphases in understanding of dependence on God as if we had not had this dependence.

It is always important to remember what Christ says about the accomplishment of a commandment, “it means that we are already given the power to fulfill it!“ If it were not so, we would have always been guilty before Him, without any hope for a better situation.

In order to prove that, I’d like to mention a wonderful event from King David’s life, described in the First book of Samuel, chapter 25. The story is about furious David, who was deeply insulted, and Abigail, the wife of a man called Nabal, which means mindless.

The fact that this good woman was married to a madman for some time gives us a clue that she deserves the best of memories. However, there was something more - she took the blame of this person, which simply plunges modern thinking into shock. It is especially remarkable that for just several minutes of her conversation with David (who was outraged and swearing in his thirst for revenge in the name of the Lord) this woman completely changed the condition of his spirit.

Dear women, don’t you notice that this story is a kind of challenge for our generation, which needs such spirit so much. Who educated this heroine and where? What did she know? (which is unknown for the modern representatives of a beautiful sex) I am absolutely sure that she was definitely given less than any of the New Testament women.

She did not have a church as we do. She did not know the life, death and resurrection of Christ that is so very important for our modern life. Accordingly, she did not know the power of Christ’s resurrection, which is known to us. At last she knew nothing about the power and the might of the Holy Spirit as it is known to the believers of the New Testament era. She did not have a caring and loving pastor, which is granted to many women. But she had something which is neglected by many of the contemporary Christian women – agreement and resolution to live in accordance with the truth.

That is the choice that is the challenge of Abigail given to our contemporaries through the thickness of ages. May be you should accept it and become lawful daughters of Sarah? May be it won’t be fashionable, but who cares, if this is where the true beauty is hidden? And that’s what man’s heart missed so much, for he was ready to pay with reciprocity. There is certainly some fear in the desire to live such a life. But to those who decide to live this way, God’s Spirit straightforwardly declares that this is “precious for Him”! What else can be better than this statement?! Will God leave without giving His help to those who are precious before Him? Of course not!

The story that we touched here ends with David’s words, quite unusual and unpopular at that time, addressed to the woman: “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him, and said: Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request (highlighted by me).”

David’s reaction to such remarkable words of Abigail, also not that much popular at that time, I think, is almost prophetic. The Bible gives us reason to suppose that every person coming to God in humbleness finds not only total investigation, but also respect and even honor reward from Him.

When Nabal died, being defeated by the Lord, David sent his servants, without any delay, to bring Abigail to him in order for the marriage to be performed.. I understand his haste; - such women do not appear that often on earth and to hesitate with a marriage proposal might cause him to lose Abigail. I think she was in favor of fortune further.

As a pastor and a man I would like to express the desire and secret dream of many men – we would very much like our wives, mothers and daughters to decide to accept such a brave challenge of eternity, so that many marriages would start shining with heavenly beauty and dignity.

So, who are you, dear women, only the daughters of Abraham, or also Sarah’s daughters? I leave the question with you and let it be as bare and sincere, as the proposed question itself. Let the Lord help us all!

Men’s prudence

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1Peter 3:7).

What always made me excited and brought me joyful quiver was the light balance and completion of the Bible. Truly, if the Holy Scriptures talked only about men or women, it would definitely plunge one’s soul into a sad whirl of self-regret and self-mourning. It would be very difficult and uncomfortable to live this way.

Glory to the Eternal God that He offers us is the issues of marriage balance in such a trustful and decent manner. Therefore, it would be very unjust for my part to offer the meditation only in relation to women. I suppose that men also will not bear a grudge against me as I am going to talk about things that are so clearly defined by the apostle’s command, and not by my sympathies or ambitions.

I think that many men now and then have not very clear anxiety and situations, which are hard to explain. I mean the situations when our prayers, wishes and dreams remain not answered. With all this, anxiety and even depression come instead. What is it? Are these the intrigues of the human soul’s enemy or something else are behind it?

We can only answer this question in context of a man’s attitude to his wife. Oh, you seem to be surprised? That’s the exact reaction I often meet during marriage seminars when it comes to the question of men’s attitude to wives. God’s Spirit demands of men prudent attitude to wives connected with especial honor to a woman. Otherwise, men get hindrances in prayer.

This is the point where we as men meet unpleasant surprise. The majority of us were penetrated by some spirit of modern culture and progress, so that we are not likely to pay attention to hindrances. We have been learning to create these hindrances for ages, so that later on we could overcome them successfully. This text, though, suggests us something that can simply plunge a soul into fear and quivering.

The Greek word, translated for us as “hindrance”, originally had a more severe meaning. It presupposes a strong destructive action and is caused not by the devil’s intrigues. It especially agrees with the words: “God is against the proud and He gives mercy to the humbled”. In this case the resistance comes from God, which plunges our hopes for the blessings into hopelessness. Even our Russian word “hindrance” has several serious verges, which can plunge conscience and mind into quivering.

To understand all the dramatic character of the men’s attitude to their wives more clearly, it is necessary to understand the definition of the word “pride”. The essence of it is to demonstrate its “I”, logically, against other people and God’s “I”. In connection to the apostle’s warning, man’s pride presupposes that their “I” is extolled over their wives’ “I”. And when our “I” opposes to God then our hopes for the easy and wonderful life disappear as the morning fog.

If all this is really so, then the situations in many families are getting clear to understand without any difficulties. The prayers of proud men simply do not reach heaven, which brings a lot of troubles to their lives. Just think of it, dear men, God Himself opposes to the proud people’s prayers, opposes to those who put their own interests higher than God’s. In this case the family has no prayer guard and devil knows about it. Isn’t it the reason why there are many problems with children, finance and health? A family without a prayer guard is more than dramatic!

There is only one way to avoid this situation – repentance before God for the unwise attitude to wives. I understand that it is hard for many men not only to do this but even to hear about it. However, we do not have any wise alternative to this commandment. Men, we have only one way – to honor our wives decently! I am saying this not as a pastor but as a man as well. We all need to accept these words as God’s will for our life, to accept them by faith and ask God for mercy to experience His answers fully in our families.

Let merciful Lord help us all!

With love and prayer, a man


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