Putting Away Childish Things

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

(I Corinthians 13:11, NLT)

As we grow in our Christian journey, God expects us to become mature people and act like adults instead of children. He wants our faith to be childlike but not childish. The word childlike indicates good qualities of a child, such as honesty, sweetness, purity etc. Childish refers to a behavior in which a person acts in a foolish and annoying way. I want to particularly tackle the area of maturity in our marriages. How many times have you wanted to (and maybe even did) say to your mate, “Could you just grow up, already?”

Growing in maturity takes a lifetime. I’m sure you know people, personally, who are a good number of years up in age but have the mentality of someone much younger. I’m not talking about someone who has an intellectual disability. I mean someone who is operating without such a disability but is just plain immature.

You can determine your personal level of maturity by looking at some of the characteristics of a childish person. See if you fall into any one of these descriptions:

  1. A childish person Is the center of his own universe.

The mature couple wants to share their lives and makes every effort to make each other feel special and validated.

  • A childish person can be very insensitive to others.

Maturity causes you to want to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings and make adjustments where necessary.

  • A childish person is prone to throw a temper tantrum now and then.

Being mature means that you don’t allow your temper to run away with you. Remember, the scripture in Ephesians 4:26 (NLT) tells us, And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.

  • A childish person is at times non-communicative as a form of punishment.

When you are mature, you realize that the only way to resolve issues is to talk and share your heart.

  • A childish person will demand his way.

Mature people look for ways to bless their mates and are very willing to acquiesce to the desires of their mates.   

My list could go on and on but suffice it to say that God expects better of us as we grow up; and we should expect better of ourselves. 1 Peter 2:2 (KJV) says, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby. We start as babies and have limited knowledge (and are expected to do so), but as we drink of the word of God, we will develop into healthy, mature individuals who love our spouses and only want God’s very best for them.

Love Your Own Wife

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV).

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church (Ephesians 5:28-29 NKJV).

In the scriptures above, husbands are instructed to love their wives; but it also emphasizes that the wife a husband is to love is his own wife.  In today’s world, which I would describe as overstimulated and exposed, the specification of own wife is truly significant and appropriate.  People are bombarded with contemporary guidelines for successes that direct us to focus primarily on our own needs and desires above all else.  As husbands living in the “me generation”, God’s Word gives, yet again, another reason to pause and ponder how to actually walk and live the love commanded here.

Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church and was exemplified in the ultimate act of self-denial and sacrifice.  Christ was willing to give up His position in glory to come and die for the object of His love: the Church or Body of Christ.   Many of us will say to our wives that we will give our very lives for them but won’t take ten minutes to listen and provide positive feedback concerning their value to you and your family.  Christ’s joy was made full, knowing that He had made the way for mankind to be reconciled back to Father God.  The cost and sacrifice were indeed counted but given secondary priority to the coveted goal of meeting mankind’s greatest need for redemption.

I know we can’t die physically every day in demonstration of our love for our wives, but we can make a decision to give them first priority – second only to God, Himself – to love them as our own self or body.  This would be awesome to execute for the “me generation”.  Think about it: all the wonderful dreams of fulfillment and satisfaction we desire for ourselves being shared and targeted with our resources toward our wives. 

I believe no man in his right mind hates himself but endeavors to be successful and possess a sense of personal wellbeing. If you love yourself, the best way to bless yourself is to nourish and cherish your wife; to dare to believe that God has established a love plan that benefits both you and your wife.  Commit to, selflessly, invest in the growth and development of your wife, knowing that God assures blessings and fulfillment to all involved.   

Why Do Christians Hate On Sinners?

For here is the way God loved the world—he gave his only, unique Son as a gift.  So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it (John 3:16-17, TPT)

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NLT)

There is an issue that has bugged me for a long time. I’ve met a number of Christians who actually seem to take delight in the idea of unbelievers going to Hell! Doesn’t that shock you?! Actually, we shouldn’t be that shocked because I think we are all guilty of it at one time or another. We see someone doing something we think is unconscionable, and we shake our heads and reason in our minds, “That person’s an idiot!” or we jokingly say, “That guy’s gonna bust Hell wide open.” Should that really be our response? I know it’s hard, in the heat of the moment to say, “Wow! That person must really be empty inside to do such a thing. I need to pray that they find Jesus.” But at some point, that’s where our thoughts should go.

If you have read any of the New Testament, nowhere do you see Jesus hating on sinners. The only people He was especially hard on were those who called themselves religious. These were the Sadducees and Pharisees who studied the Scriptures, but their lives were full of hypocrisies. Jesus called them on it many times. We should also remember that we, ourselves, can be caught in that same hypocrisy. For example, we may be watching  T.V. and find ourselves rooting for the criminal, or wanting someone to dump their spouse because they’re in love with someone else. Yet, when see those things in reality, we wag our finger and begin to hate on the sinner. We need to remember, always, to hate the sin wherever it shows up. However, we must remember to still love the sinner.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? The religious leaders seemed to be gleeful about stoning her to death for her crime.  Jesus reminded them, very cleverly, that they’ve committed sins as well. Then he gently loved on the woman by telling her not to sin again. Jesus acknowledged her sin, but love her, nevertheless. I would imagine that even when tempted to commit adultery again, she remembered her encounter with Jesus and thought better of it.

When I see things in the news that individuals or groups of people are doing that are so far off the mark of God’s Word, it may disturb me, but I try to remind myself that they are only doing what their father is telling them to do. Of course, I mean Satan. We can so easily forget that the sinner’s job description is to sin.

I want, so much, for the compassion of Jesus to rise up in me to remember to love on sinners by introducing them to a Savior who loves them so much that He was willing to die to give them eternal life so that they can live with Him forever. I admit that it takes great commitment and the power of Holy Spirit to stay in that frame of mind, but it truly is worth the effort.

The Power of Pause

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we find ourselves striving to make quick, yet decisive, decisions about the direction of our lives and actions that define who we are. The scripture above encourages us to trust God with all our heart. This can only be accomplished if we truly believe that God is working for our best interest and prosperity. In other words, we must believe that God loves us, and His gift of Christ is His plan for humanity’s redemption and reconciliation with Himself.  Confidence in Jesus as our Savior will allow us to also believe that God’s understanding and thoughts are superior to ours and must be factored into our final decision making. The implication is that our thoughts and understandings are only valid as they agree with those presented by God.

As I read several different translations or versions of this scripture, I found words directing the reader to seek, acknowledge, and understand the will of God for our lives. The word pause is defined as a suspension; interruption; temporary stop; break or rest. In the process of living and navigating life’s options, we must use the power of taking a pause from just doing and ask what God want us to be and do.

God’s Word conveys to Christ’s followers that He wants us to be like Jesus. He desires that our actions would emulate God’s will as Christ did. This may require us to suspend doing until we have direction from God, especially if we are not familiar with His will.

This means that as we interact with our spouse, family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or strangers, we must consider God’s thoughts and instructions regarding our conduct. The power of pause is in seeking to know and follow the path that we most believe will please God in all we do.

God has promised to direct us and show us the path that we should take. Trust that as we follow His advice and commands, we will be provided with the best strategy to be pleasing to God. Taking the time to pause can be a powerful tool in allowing God to guide you by His Spirit into His perfect will.        

Are You Ready for a Change?

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. And don’t live foolishly for then you will have discernment to fully understand God’s will. (Ephesians 5:15-17, 21, TPT)

A new year always gives us a feeling of a fresh, new start. We may celebrate each new year with all kinds of ideas for getting started on a new diet or workout program. We decide that we’re going to drop some very bad habits, and we, excitedly, make promises to ourselves to improve our quality of life overall. I want to challenge you to put that same vigor towards improving your marriage this year, and that may require some real changes on your part. Here’s an important quote I refer back to often: “Change will never occur until the pain of staying the same is more painful than the change.”

We are living in precarious, unprecedented times! Unless you have been living off the grid for many years, you surely recognize that we are finding ourselves living a “new normal”. In another version of today’s scripture, we are reminded to “redeem the time because the days are evil (NKJV).” In other words, we cannot afford to waste time anymore.

Change is one of those things that happens to us whether we want it to or not. Sometimes, we’re in control of it, and sometimes, we are not. Unless they are very progressive-minded, most people don’t like change because it moves them out of their comfort zone. That’s why most people fail at keeping new year’s resolutions. Sometimes, however, we experience an event that requires us to make a decision whether we are going to change or not. The decision will be affirmative only if we feel that staying the same make us worse off. One good example is when one or the other spouse threatens divorce unless they commit to counseling. Even though something needed to change in the relationship, one was not willing to do anything proactive until the idea of divorce seemed much worse than the status quo.

Many of the couples who are struggling in their marriages don’t do anything about it because they are not willing to make the necessary changes to make things better. They get comfortable living the same way over and over again. They kind of hope things will change but are not willing to be actively involved in making that change happen.

When working out issues in a relationship, it can become quite uncomfortable; but it’s worth it if the end result will be a harmonious union that brings glory to God. And, ultimately, isn’t that our goal? Aren’t we trying to live in obedience to His Word? We sometimes tell our marriage coaching clients, “If you are not willing to do the things that will please your mate or to try to meet his or her needs, then do it out of a desire to please God until the feelings come and your desire towards your mate changes – because it will.”

Change can be our friend. It can launch us into a realm where we reach our full potential – in life and marriage. Let’s choose not to be afraid of it but to embrace it with joy. May this be the year significant change happens for you. Let me repeat a portion of today’s verse, “Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.”

Transparency With Love

Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. (Galatians 6:2, AMP)

I remember when I first met my wife and the joy of finding a friend who brought such happiness to my life.  We were committed to each other and desired to help the other achieve what we believed was God’s call upon our lives.  It was, and still is, our belief that God allowed us to be joined in marriage to help us please Him better together than we could ever realize by being apart.

Our relationship began with trying to learn and appreciate as much about each other as possible. It was fascinating and so much fun to discover the likes and dislikes, visions, and plans for the future that we had made as individuals.  We, then, lovingly handled each other’s desires, always wanting to preserve and combine our goals to allow each other to feel and experience the value, respect, and honor of an open and transparent relationship.  We realized what it meant to assist the other in pursuing our determination to please God and each other. We came to an awareness that God had placed us in each other’s lives to be His physical and emotional representative of love. 

God knows everything about us better than we know ourselves; and in marriage, we must learn the intimate details of our mates over time..  This is where transparency is so vital to the health and continued growth and maturity of our marriages.  Being open with one another allows us to not only stumble upon but to see the weaknesses and strengths of the other.  Openness reveals the dreams and nightmares of your mate to help with nurturing, protection, and sharing.  Closeness is very difficult, if not impossible, without the vulnerability of open and honest communications – honest talk that is spoken always in love and a desire to bring healing.

The transparency that pleases God is not one of expressing any and everything that comes to mind but communication that conveys truth in a loving manner.  Thoughts that are hurtful, unkind, and unloving that would burden or bring pain to the receiver, should be shared with God alone.  The positive and the negative exchanges of words must all be done with the goal of stating and sharing love. Our determined purpose must be to be truthful and kind. Many of our difficulties arise simply from a lack of talking to each other.  Instead of talking, we are satisfied with trying to read each other’s tones, expressions, or even silence. We discover, most of the time, we are poor readers. Learn to ask clarifying questions when meaning or understanding is missing from your conversations and relationship.

God helps us because he knows everything, but He still wants us to ask for help.  In order for us to help one another, we must learn to share who we are with our mate.  Remember, we want to know so that we can demonstrate the love of God toward our spouse.  This requires a selfless attitude that invites the presence and help of God into our lives.  We must stay on task as God’s representatives and assistants to help our mates achieve their destinies and God-given purposes.  You will only be able to do this if you believe God is working for your good through your mate. This requires you to be wholly committed to love your mate as you believe God loves you. You are one in Christ.   

To accomplish this, you must encourage each other and spend time weekly sharing goals, aspirations,  and dreams, as well as hurts, failures, and feelings of inadequacy, mistakes, sins, and victories.  Be vulnerable enough to communicate what may seem obvious: that you love each other and are committed to the other’s success in life.           

When Iron Sharpens Iron, Sometimes Sparks Fly!

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

Sharpening is the process of creating or refining a sharp edge of appropriate shape on a tool or implement designed for cutting. It’s done by grinding away material on the tool with an abrasive substance harder than the material of the implement, followed sometimes by processes to polish the sharp surface to increase smoothness and to correct small mechanical deformations without regrinding. That is what happens when humans relate and interact (en.wikipedia.org).

Humans were made for fellowship, and what better fellowship opportunity can there be than a marriage relationship. When God created Adam, and placed him in the Garden, I’m sure they had wonderful fellowship; but God, Himself, recognized that it wasn’t enough. Adam was blessed with Eve because people need people.

The problem with people needing people is that sometimes, during their interactions, sparks fly just like when iron sharpens iron. However, it’s during those times that we should begin to help each other get rid of the dullness (insensitivity to the Holy Spirit), the imperfections (the areas we have not submitted to God), and the rust (picking up old non-fruit-bearing habits). The result should be brightness (shining forth more of the light of Jesus) and perfection (maturing in the things of God).

Trust me. You do not want to be like that dull knife you might find in your kitchen drawer. “Dull knives are more dangerous in the kitchen because they don’t bite into food as well as sharp knives, so there’s a higher chance the blade will shift or slip. In addition, blunt blades need a lot more pressure to cut, so if and when the knife slips, there’s a higher chance you’ll get hurt (simplelifesaver.com).” When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit, through our spouse, to sharpen us, our unregenerated tendencies and flaws remain on the surface and cause us to bring harm to our mate. We’re not as mindful of our words, or we are just unkind or selfish, in general. The sharpening process, though painful, is helping us develop into the image of Jesus Christ.

Isn’t it marvelous how God has put couples together to be a blessing to each other? Marriage is never about individuality. If, in our relationship, we never change to truly become one, there is no purpose in being married. We learn from each other, and we develop into better human beings as a result. I can think of so many instances where my life has improved by living with my husband. He has areas where he is stronger, and I have areas where I am stronger. I believe I shared this once before: Since I was a fairly young Christian when we wed, I wasn’t fully developed in my faith in God.  I watched as Adrian met every difficult class he had with an expectation that God was going to help him. I have since learned how important faith is in every instance and circumstance of life. Adrian, along with the Holy Spirit, was my teacher. In turn, my husband has shared with me how I have taught him to be more generous and caring.  

Your mate was placed in your life, not to frustrate you, but to bless you and help you become more like Christ. When the frustrations come, we should use them as opportunities to grow rather than excuses to throw in the towel.

Cooperation and Encouragement

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NKJV)

This scripture is applicable to any covenant friendship but especially pertinent to a husband and wife team.  The dictionary simply defines cooperation as working together and secondly as compliance.  As we look around our world today, the old cliché that said, “something is easier said than done” comes to mind.  Maybe you have experienced the difficulty of simply trying to work together with your spouse.  The synonyms listed with the definition were assistance, help, support, teamwork, aid, and mutual aid.  All of these actions should be our goals and practiced conduct as husband and wife.

The scripture above promises us that two are better than one, and their efforts lead to good rewards.  The idea presented poses that if one falls, the one can help the other up again.  The encouragement is that in two working together, there will always be the partner to assist.  This requires the two to agree on what their relationship paradigm is to consist of.  The team can choose to compete and sabotage each other’s progress, peace, and success or rather, negotiate on a path of compliance and cooperation.

It is much easier for two to lie together and accomplish the generation of warmth than to go it alone.  In our marriage covenants, we have promised to aid and abet our spouses in the pursuit of life’s many pleasures and challenges.  Mutual aid and support is the only way to succeed in being a God-centered, healthy, productive couple.  Let encouragement be one of your main tools of support for one another. Learn where each other’s strengths and weaknesses lie and provide encouragement when and where best needed and appreciated. The verse goes on to state that although one can be overpowered by attacking forces, two working together can withstand and become victorious.

Today in your marriage relationship, allow God to be the third strand of the not easily broken cord of your life and relationship. Dare to believe that God did not bring you and your mate together to compete with one another, but to complete one another.  God, with our cooperation, wants to assure your team effort will be a success that brings glory to Him and provide fulfilled joy to your heart.  Let God be the mediator of your discussions for agreement and planned strategy for marriage and life.      

The Right Perspective

The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17, CSB)

Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Do you remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? None of them knew what an elephant was, but wanted to experience it by touching it. They each touched different parts of the elephant and drew conclusions of what it was like based on what they touched. Each one was convinced that he was correct and argued his opinion. Their truth was solely based on what they encountered and none of them was accurate.

How easy is it to see something from someone else’s perspective? Many times it’s difficult because, somehow, we are under the impression that our way of viewing things is the most accurate. But is it really?

One of the reasons why strife breaks out in relationships is because we find it too challenging to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see their viewpoint. That takes too much work.

The story of Saul (later named Paul) immediately comes to mind. If you recall, Saul was a great persecutor of the Christians of his day. He was a Jew from the highest order and sorely believed that the preaching of Christianity was heretical. God had a plan for Saul’s life and later used his zeal for His own purposes. When Saul was apprehended by Jesus, he was able to see the truth. He, at first, was blinded by his encounter but was later prayed for by a believer “and immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight (Acts 9:18).” Saul was now able to see the truth about Jesus as the Messiah and changed his former stance and became a Christian.

Having the right perspective is vital. Otherwise, we can fool ourselves into believing that we know the truth. But that truth may only be from our perception. I’m reminded of the account of Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 6. The king of Aram was waging war against Israel, and God, supernaturally, revealed the king’s plans to Elisha. The king found it out and sent a massive army to capture him. When Elisha’s servant saw the great horde of enemy forces surrounding their city, he basically freaked out, but Elisha wasn’t worried. He knew the truth, but his servant needed a new perspective. “Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see. So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2Kings 6:17, ESV).”Guess who now understood that there was nothing to fear?

Sometimes, in our walk with God, we experience things that could cause our view of God to be faulty. We must remember, however, that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He is true to His Word. If we encounter a disappointment we may think that’s the end of the story; but we can easily forget that God sees the end from the beginning. I love a statement that Adrian always says, “God can see around corners; we can’t.” In other words, there’s more to the story that just has not been revealed to us.

When it comes to life, just because we see something one way, it’s not always the right way. Our perspectives can be skewed by so many factors. What we perceive is strongly influenced by your past experience, education, culture, values and how we were raised.

In dealing with our relationships, marital or otherwise, we must recognize that our outlook may not be the only one and we need be open enough to ask Holy Spirit to give us a heart of empathy to put ourselves in their shoes to get a better understanding of where they are coming from. That requires listening more deeply with, not just the ears, but with the heart. Scripture says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight (Isaiah 5:21, ESV)!” Let’s be humble enough to admit that we simply don’t know everything. We desperately need God to give us the right perspective. (Pam)

Make Understanding a Priority

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 AMPC)

Today’s scripture instructs us to be kind, understanding, and forgiving.  Today I want to focus on being tenderhearted or understanding.  To be understood is a desire that most all humans crave but seem to have less intentionality in providing it to the others we interact with or have relationship with.  One of our greatest challenges for pursuing understanding is with our spouses and children.

Most of us have very little understanding of other people including our mates. It has been said that it takes a huge amount of understanding to make a marriage successful.  Yet many of us, despite relational difficulties, have not made a concerted effort to truly understand those we say we love. 

Our marriages require accepting a life-long project and commitment to learn to understand each other. It is only in coming to understand the other that true love can exist and thrive.  If we can invest our time and energy into understanding our mates, the rest of life’s complexity will seem easy in comparison. In order to understand and really know your spouse, you must study them.

Studying our mates is to observe them as the unique and complicated being they are.  There are no two of us who are exactly the same because God has created us as unique individuals who are ever changing as life happens.  We need to note habits, likes and dislikes, humor, what pleases or upsets.  We need to know when encouragement, affection, admiration, confirmation, or calming support is necessary.  Simply put, we must know what makes our spouses tick.

By making our spouses the center of our attention, we will begin to understand them with their and God’s help.  We started with the directive to be kind, understanding, and forgiving.  In coming to know our spouses, we will know the thoughts and acts of kindness  we can provide for them. Understanding one another reduces the conflict caused by misinterpreted motives, and actions. When we understand, we can realistically love and forgive each other just as God does.

Make understanding those you love a priority so that true love can be expressed in kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.  Give your spouse the gift of being able to say, “I get you”.  (Adrian)