Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Respect & Love

You may know, or have guessed, that Bessie and I, in our fifty-eight and one-half years of marriage, have been called upon to help in marriages that need it. I think in most, but not all, we were of some help.

Often there has been a lack of understanding of Ephesians 5:18-33.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Here are a few of many comments I have heard:

Wife: “I submit to my husband when he is right. He is never right.”
Husband: “I quoted verse 22 to her and she would not submit.”
Wife: “If I submit, I will be a doormat.”
Husband: “I will love her as Christ loves the Church when she starts submitting to me.”
Wife: “I will start submitting when he starts loving me.”

Wife: “If you loved me you would ____.”
Husband: “If you submitted to me you would ____.”
Wife: “Unless you do this ____, I am going to leave you.”

The conditional statements go on and on.

If you reread the text, the commands to husband and wife are not conditional. They are not dependent on the other person obeying God. They are to be obeyed separately.

They are really dependent on continually being filled with the Spirit as in verses 18-21. Verses 22-33 are a piece of cake if you apply verses 18-21.

God did not love the Church because the Church was lovely, but to make her lovely. We are to love our wives to make them lovely not because they are lovely. A woman needs loving more when she is unlovely than when she is lovely. The more she is loved, the lovelier she becomes. Love has to do with the lover, not the loved.

Respect has to do with the respecter, not the respected. The wife is to respect her husband because he is her husband, not because he is respectable. The less respectable, the more he needs respect. The more he is respected, the more respectable he becomes.

There are men who are strong men who cave under threats by the wife. The wife loses respect for the husband when he gives in to her conditions and threats.

There are two solutions for the husband.

1. He should love his wife as Christ loved, sacrificially.
2. He should not give in to her conditions and threats.

There are two solutions for the wife.

1. She should submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ.
2. She should not submit to him when he requires her to disobey God.

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (I Peter 2:18-3:2)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Heart: Forgiving from the Heart

Here is another post on the heart by Bessie, taken from a column entitled "The Heart" which was published in The Hammer (a CCM magazine) years ago.

By Bessie Wilson

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew we have a remarkable story that Jesus told in answer to a question Peter asked. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

We all know Jesus’ answer: “Not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Or the more traditional King James rendering, “until seventy times seven.” Regardless whether it is seventy-seven times or four hundred ninety times, it is obvious that Jesus put no limit on the times we are to forgive.

The story is remarkable in that it pictures the enormous debt which was canceled because of the mercy of the master. But it also pictures the minor debt which this same servant would not cancel towards a fellow servant. Not content with choking him, he also put him into prison. The other servants soon informed the master of such cruel behavior. He withdrew his cancellation of debt and turned the servant over to the jailers “until he should pay back all he owed.”

Jesus’ words were very sobering: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

We can see from this verse that to the degree we are grateful to our heavenly Father for the enormous debt He forgave us, to that degree we should, from our hearts, forgive our brothers and sisters. If we find we cannot do so, perhaps we are not really aware what our sin cost Jesus Christ on the Cross.

I cannot forget Corrie ten Boom’s story regarding an experience she had in Munich after the war. She was approached by a former SS guard who had been a guard at the shower room at Ravensbruck. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein—to think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” He thrust out his hand to shake hers. She who had preached so often about the need to forgive kept her hand at her side.

Quoting now from the last chapter of The Hiding Place:

“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.

“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.” [italics added]

Notice it came from the heart, not manufactured by her, but in answer to her prayer, “I cannot forgive; give me your forgiveness.”

It is always good to have forgiveness ready in our hearts in order to grant forgiveness to others. I think there is no better way than to dwell on the magnitude of the debt of our sin that Jesus Christ bore on the Cross.

Think of the small debt owed to us, the wrong done to us, the words spoken to us and about us, and put it in relation to Jesus, our Lord, saying, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Heart: God’s Own Heart

Here is another post on the heart by Bessie, taken from a column entitled "The Heart" which was published in The Hammer (a CCM magazine) years ago.

By Bessie Wilson

When God rejected Saul as king over Israel, He said He would choose a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), and that man was David.

This has puzzled me, and perhaps it has puzzled you. Not only did David commit adultery with Bathsheba, but he attempted to cover it up by having Uriah the Hittite placed in battle where he could be killed. He compounded his sin of adultery by that of murder. We find ourselves saying, “Do you mean this is a man after God’s own heart?”

We must look at David at the time when God chose him to replace Saul. As a shepherd boy on leave from the sheep to carry provisions to his brothers in battle, David heard the challenge of Goliath. We read in 1 Samuel 17:26 that David’s response was, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" He later repeated this question to Saul along with his record of killing a lion and a bear while protecting his sheep (1 Samuel 17:35-36).

David’s further confidence in the Lord is seen in verses 45-47. His implicit trust in God resulted in his victory over Goliath. We need only read the psalms of David to see this confidence, even in his most desperate moments, in the God whom he loved and trusted.

He also had a correct view of sin: "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Paslm 51:4). We are inclined to think horizontally of sin. Bathsheba had been sinned against, although she seemed willing enough. Certainly David sinned against Uriah when he took Bathsheba, and later when he had Uriah assigned to a place of danger to be killed by the enemy. But it was God who had said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and Thou shalt not kill (murder).

David recognized that sin is transgression against God’s laws. Our sins are going to involve others, whether it be betrayed wives and husbands or children who are damaged emotionally by sinning parents. But the chief damage is done in our relationship to God. Thus we hear David saying, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (verse 2), and "Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity" (verse 9), and finally, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (verse 10).

This is why he was a man after God’s own heart. When Nathan confronted David, his reply was simply, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13). Our problem is twofold. We think of sin only in terms of hurting ourselves or friends and relatives, or we only express concern when we are caught by people and we apologize to them.

Revival will only come when we recognize our sins are against God. He has, in His faithfulness, told us what sin is and how it can be forgiven.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Guarded Heart

Here is another post on the heart by Bessie, taken from a column entitled "The Heart" which was published in The Hammer (a CCM magazine) years ago.

By Bessie Wilson

Most of these articles on the heart have been written to stress the importance of keeping a right heart before God, because this is what our God is concerned about. We could continue this indefinitely because the Scriptures abound with such references. However, this month we shall consider His gracious provision for the “guarded” heart. He can make our heart a garrison.
This is found in a very familiar portion, Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In this passage we are told to do several things: 1) rejoice, 2) be gentle, 3) reject all anxiety, and 4) present our prayers, petitions, and requests to God with thanksgiving.

Although it is our responsibility to do all these things, it does not mean it is our work. Rejoicing, gentleness, and thankfulness are all evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. It should be natural for us as Christians to produce such fruit. Anxiety, however, is the antithesis of thanksgiving. It can best be described as a fear, an uneasiness of mind, usually over an impending or anticipated ill. Anxiety can only be displaced by faith. The writer of Hebrews in 3:12 calls it a “sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. It is our response to a faithful God. Romans 10:17 tells us, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”

When we respond in obedience and, by the grace of God, choose to rejoice, choose to be gentle, choose to reject all anxiety, and present our prayers to God with thanksgiving, then the “guarded” heart is promised. It is His gracious provision to keep us from the attacks of the enemy.

In the final analysis, the indwelling Christ produces in us, by His Spirit, all the spiritual benefits which are also required of us for the “guarded” heart. Isn’t that just like our God? He only requires of us what He enables us to be by His Spirit. Someone has said, “God’s commands are His enabling.”

In very simple terms He tells us not to be anxious about anything, as He will enable us not to be anxious. He tells us to pray with thanksgiving, and He promises His peace as our garrison. Having the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds in our turbulent world will be a great witness to attract others to the Savior we love.