Adam's Rib Pt.10
- Date: February 11, 1996
- Teacher: Pastor Star R. Scott
- From Adam's Rib
Aren't you glad He didn't give up on you? How many of you would have given up on you? That's why He's Lord, praise God. The love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts, that's what we owe to one another. He said, "We ought [or owe it] to love one another" to the same degree that we've been loved; amen? So that's what we've been learning here, trying to learn for these last months and years, is just how to love one another, how to fulfill the lordship of Jesus in our lives and become a family, to become a community and not give up on each other. All the while, still demanding righteousness and holiness; amen? That is the balance that we're looking for. So we're going to continue along with the men, because I think we need to get the men straightened out. And all the ladies said-
We've spent six tapes on you ladies. Men, I've been trying to get it in less than that, but we're not going to do it. I think you're going to take more than the ladies to get this thing done. We've got the ladies finished in six, and who knows how long it's going to take to get the men straightened out.
Let's turn to the Book of Ephesians and the Book of Colossians, the Book of 1 Peter, and the Book of 1 Corinthians, and we'll start on the men.
Ephesians, Chapter 5. We've been talking about what it takes to be a godly man. And now we're going to talk about what it means to be a husband. You can be a godly man without being a husband. You can be a godly man without being a husband. You don't have to get married, men. But God said it's not good for you to be alone. So there is the feminine perspective, that we talked about, that is so necessary. God may call you to a life of singleness in serving Him. But most likely, He has for you a helpmeet. And you can't confuse Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians and exclude the rest of the passages in Ephesians, Colossians, and in Peter's writing to us in his first epistle, when Paul was dealing from an eschatological perspective, really believing in Corinthians that the coming of the Lord was so imminent that it could take place at any moment. And along with the imminent return, there was also violent persecution that was taking place. So all Paul was saying is that in this environment, you might be better to stay single. But he said there are consequences to that and there are dangers to that, "So I would that every man have his own wife." So don't mistake what is being said in Corinthians as a fact that we're better off and necessarily can do more for the kingdom if we're single. That's not exactly what Paul is saying there. We'll look at that as we go on a little further.
But I think it's important as we look at the whole duty of man to remember that Adam was created to have dominion over the face of the earth. He was created as God's friend. He walked with the Lord in the cool of the garden, and he was created in that dominant role. And to help him fulfill the role of God, he was given the helpmeet. So men, what you are looking for is someone, as we shared Wednesday night, who can help you, someone who can assist you to fulfill God's call in your life, not someone who will alter your call but someone who will assist your call; not someone who will take you from your call but someone who will assist you in fulfilling what God has ordained you to be.
In the process of this union, we were saying that the ladies cannot marry a man that they not able to submit to, period. You cannot marry a man that you're not willing to submit to in what? "In every thing," the Scripture says. Men, you are not to make covenant with a woman that you can't die for, that you will not love to the point of death to self.
Ephesians, Chapter 5. Let's pick it up there and begin to look at what the Lord has for us this morning. Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as [even as] Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." How many of you understand, here, that the man has the toughest role to fulfill in this relationship? So many people think, "The woman, what a tough role, having to submit yourself!" How many of you understand that submission is easier than dying? So what we're looking at here is the call to men for death to self.
It reminds me of the story. Remember the farm animals that got together and wanted to do something special for the farmer? Do you all remember that story? They got together and began to say, "What can do we to honor the farmer?" So the chicken came up with a great idea. She called the old pig over and said, "I know what we can do. Why don't we get together and give him a great ham-and-egg breakfast?" The pig looked at her and said, "Yeah, it sounds good to you. For you, that's involvement. For me, it's commitment." So what we're looking at here is a man that is willing to commit himself to a marriage.
It says he is to love his wife "as Christ also loved the church." We're going to see what that means in detail today and tonight. We see the purpose found in verse 26: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it [this is telling you how love expresses itself, for the purpose of presenting] a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies." Now, let me get this for you before we go into this, this morning, so you can understand it. When we talk about this, in the Greek it's very interesting. It doesn't mean that you are to love your wives to the same degree that you love yourself. That is not what it's saying. It goes beyond that. It says, "You must understand something here that the rest of the world doesn't know." Christianity brought in a whole new perspective of human relations that had never been known in the world. So you have to get ahold of this. It was not in any culture. It didn't come out of the cradle of humanity in the Mesopotamian area. It was not known in the Judaistic upbringing. The Greeks didn't know it. The Romans had no concept of the value of a woman. To all of these cultures, women were chattel, and that's it. They were property to be possessed, discarded, at will. So this will help you understand the magnitude of what Paul is saying here. It will cause you to realize that when Paul is speaking, when Jesus was speaking here, it cut contrary to everything that history had said about men and women and their relationships.
Women were being raised to a new position that had never been held since Eve, through Christianity. Doesn't it make sense that Jesus' redemptive work that destroyed sin's power would revert back to the original purpose of man and woman? "Created He them" both in His likeliness. Because of the fall, because of Eve's deception, because of Eve's defection, there had been this breach in humanity for all this time. Only regeneration can take it away. Only a regenerated man can treat a woman the way she should be treated.
So with all that in mind and realizing there are no historical references when Paul is writing these things about the Holy Spirit, you have to understand the magnitude this is having. These men who are hearing this never saw women as anything but chattel. And all of a sudden Paul, through Jesus, stands up and says, "Love your wives. Value them more than your cow, more than Ol' Shep. You have to understand they are to be loved as your own body." What is he saying? Not as a separate entity. When you receive this covenant in the Spirit of Christ for what it is supposed to be, you two become what? One flesh. It's not saying, "Love them as much as you love yourself." It's saying, "You have to understand what happened in Jesus: you have been made one." They are no different. They are not a possession. They are one with you. They are bone of your bone. They are flesh of your flesh. "No man ever yet hated his own [body]; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." We're saying you can't separate the woman. The woman is not a separate entity anymore. She is one with you. When she hurts, you hurt. When she's honored, you're honored. But see, men never had this kind of perspective.
If you study it historically, the Greeks believed that every man should have at least three women: a wife who would bear legitimate children- These women, if you study the Greek culture, had an area that would be set off for themselves many times, and no one could see them but their husbands. They were actually separated in society. A man should, of course, have some type of either concubine or slaves that would care for the house and take care of all of the domestic needs. Then, of course, every man had to have a prostitute, someone that would meet all the sexual desires. And this is what men thought belonged to them and how relationships were to affect themselves in the Greek culture.
The Roman culture is interesting. Historians say that for the first 500 years of the Roman Empire, there was not one divorce on record. Then in the year 234 b.c., the first recorded divorce took place. At the time Paul was writing now, it was rampant to the place where they said, "Time [history, the calendar] was recorded [this was found in a Roman writing] by the Caesars, and a woman keeps time by the names of her husbands." In one record, a woman had just gotten married. Historically, they recorded that was her twenty-fourth marriage-to her husband who had been married twenty three times. There was no marriage. There was no family unit. There was no fidelity. And that was in the time when Paul wrote these words: "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and be ready to die for her." Yes, love her as your own body. Not only to the same degree, but understand that in the spirit realm, when you say before Jesus that you two have made covenant to become one flesh, in the heart and mind of God, you have been unified, and no man hates his own body.
What are we talking about? It doesn't mean you look in the mirror and hate that spare tire. "Oh man, I hate that. You dog. You're just a raggy looking thing this morning." We're not talking about that. We're talking about natural responses. We're talking about when you hit that thumb with a hammer-Wham!-you don't say, "Serves you right, sucker. You shouldn't have been there." What's the first thing you do? What's the natural response? "Whoa! Aah! Ouch!" Then you want to show everybody-"Look what I did." You want sympathy from everybody. What it is saying is you don't love your wife if you can ever see her as a separate entity. If your wife can hurt and you're not hurting, you are not one; you are not loving her. You cannot be insensitive to her feelings or to her needs; you can't minimize them. These are the things that we're talking about here when Paul is speaking about loving your wives as your own bodies.
So men, if you're not willing to experience that kind of commitment and that kind responsibility, then you need to remain single. But if you can find a woman that you can cherish, a woman that you can honor as the weaker vessel, one that meets all of the criteria that we were speaking of earlier, then "[He that finds] a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22), the Scripture says.
Now, let's talk about what this love is. There is no way to understand this without going to 1 Corinthians 13. So when we talk about husbands loving their wives, we want to see what this love is all about and how it expresses itself. Tonight we may talk a little bit more about the responsibilities of how this love affects the daily walk. But right now we want you to see what it is.
- Love Is Longsuffering
In 1 Corinthians 13 is this passage that we're all familiar with. You can find it on any little plaque in a Christian bookstore. It carries some profound truths for us. We begin at verse 4, and we understand that it says, "First of all, you need to realize that true biblical love suffers long." Some of you are saying, "Yes, I've been suffering in this marriage for a long time." No, that's not what we're talking about. The word here is a very interesting word, and it means literally "self-restraint under provocation." Get it down in your notes, men. All the ladies wrote it down rapidly. Men, I want you to write this thing down. "Self-restraint under provocation."
How many of you are glad that our omnipotent, holy God is longsuffering? How many of you have ever provoked Him, like this morning already probably, some of you? Are you glad He is restrained under provocation? You see, love doesn't always feel that it has to meet out instantaneous judgment. In other words, men, there are times that you can let it slide for the moment. You might see something, but you don't have to speak towards something every time you see it. Longsuffering is self-restraint.
It's not being hasty-get this down-to retaliate or bring punishment. Now, we apply this in the relationship to our wives and to our children, because this is what love is. Love suffers long. I want you to understand this word is a powerful word. When we're talking about suffering long, get it this way: it's exactly the opposite word from anger. Anger, that spirit that is quick to flare up, that retaliatory-type spirit. The men of God, if you're going to have a relationship with your wife, men, you must suffer long. You can't be someone who flares up and becomes angry at the circumstances that you're going to encounter in relationships. There must be that suffering long. Personal hardships and trials, the circumstances, can't affect you. We are to love as Jesus loves the church: consistently, patiently, expecting maturation. Don't do to your wives what so many parents do to their children. You speak and say, "You never do anything right. Aren't you ever going to…?" No, that is not what a longsuffering person does. It's one that speaks peace and the truth, words that are fitly spoken in their season, apples of gold.
So we realize, then, that this is part of what has to take place in the heart of a man if he is going to represent Jesus Christ in that house. Because remember, men, that woman doesn't belong to you. That woman is the property of Jesus Christ. Now remember when we talk about this-and we're going to talk about these character traits, men, that you and I are responsible for fulfilling. Remember what we're talking about here. We're talking about assuming that this woman that you're loving is in pursuit of the righteousness of God. I didn't say "perfect." I said "in pursuit of the righteousness of God." That is what we have to understand here. Because if, in fact, she is not; and if in fact, she is not fulfilling the biblical role that God has given you, then you don't have to worry about showing these things toward her, because she shouldn't be there. She shouldn't even be in the house. Because 1 Corinthians makes it very clear that you cannot keep company with one who says he is a believer but is living contrary to the Word of God. So you see, you can't take one Bible principle and throw the rest of them out. The assumption here is this. What it is saying here is, "Men, when you have a woman who loves God, and a woman who is fulfilling her role, you are obligated to respond to her in this way." It doesn't mean she is going to get everything just right. And ladies, just like we went through the Proverbs 31 list for you, the 1 Corinthians 13 is the list for men that we're going to go through. This is the checklist, men, to see whether or not you're fulfilling your God-given role.
- Love Is Kind
Look at the next word here regarding men who are fulfilling their God-given role. Men, to love your wife is to be kind. We're raised up with a macho mentality. We have to be a tough guy. There does need to be a strength in that way, in the way you approach things. I approach things a little differently from others.
I was talking to someone the other day. I can't remember what it was. There were some different things. My body has been so beat up over the years, and somebody was asking, "Do you still do that?" I said, "Yes." And they said, "Doesn't it hurt?" And I said, "Yes." "Well, why do you do it?" "Because I want to." To me, pain is only pain. Pain doesn't do anything but hurt, right? I mean, all it is is a warning saying you're doing damage to yourself. It doesn't keep you from doing it. It's just a warning saying, "This probably isn't a good idea." And you say, "I understand that, but we're going to do it anyway." Now, that's the approach, that kind of attitude. Men are raised to be tough. "Men don't cry. We're a bunch of hard guys." Yes, men do cry. The greatest man, the strongest man who ever lived, has the shortest Bible verse written about Him: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Yes, there is a time to cry.
We realize that what has been ingrained in many of us has made a hardness that is not biblical. The Scripture says, "Love is kind." I want you to see what this kindness is. It's really kind of an interesting word. It means-get it down-"goodness in action." Don't you like that phrase? Kindness is goodness in action. It is something that is expressed. It's not good intentions. "I really want you to know something, Honey. [Men, they want to pat themselves on the back.] I was so tempted to pull out of that Route 7 traffic and buy you some of those roses they were selling alongside the road, but I think I would have lost 12 car lengths. But I want you to know it was in my heart to do it. I was thinking about you on the way home." Men, come on. Get action, kindness.
That kindness. We're aggressive. "We're in line, and there ain't nobody getting in front of me. I'm on my way home." Like you're not going to get a chance tomorrow to beat that guy in the red Ford? He's going to be there tomorrow. Everything so self-oriented, so competitive, so self-indulging. "I've worked hard all day." And nobody else in that line has? And your wife hasn't, at home, with Junior and Juniorette? She's slaving and working and diligently keeping the house, and you can't get out of traffic? "Goodness in action." Kindness calls and makes the reservation at the nice restaurant and doesn't pull into Taco Bell. What we're talking about here is the showing and expression of tenderness, those things that mean absolutely nothing to you but are big in her eyes. That's what it means to be kind. It's just talking about preferring her before yourself, whatever it might be. It might kill you to have to spend $12.95 for a meal. I'm telling you, guys, that's not as high as you can go. You're sitting there eating that thing, and she's enjoying the candlelight and the ambiance, and you're thinking, "I could have bought a hammer." This is what love is. The word literally means-get it in your notes-serviceable. You begin to serve her instead of to be served.
Now, I'm not talking about in a non-biblical way. Remember what we're talking about. We taught on the other thing. We're not talking about what society is trying to do today, to get the man to come home and do the housework. That's your job, ladies. "Yes, but if he was kind…." We're not talking about this kind of stuff. We're talking about serving in the areas that the Scripture has given distinction in our roles. And the things, then, that are important. We become serviceable. It's done-get this, and the word implies this-with pleasantness. It's done without any strings. You want the best biblical example of this? We're not going to take time to go to it, but turn to Luke 10 and read the Good Samaritan. See the spirit there. That's the spirit of kindness. Others were too involved in themselves to get involved in a real genuine need. Some were too spiritual to get caught up in the secular and the menial, so rigid.
We have to understand, then, that He's calling us into the spirit, here, of kindness so that we can minister Jesus to our wives. It's vitally important that these principles are seen: goodness in action, tenderness, compassion. Whenever your wife is struggling with something emotionally, we may not use these words, but we show this attitude. They are struggling emotionally, and here we are being called as men of God to be loving our wives, and that's the expression of kindness. But instead we have this attitude, "Come on. Why don't you be a man about it? Come on. Suck it up! Be tough!" Where is the tenderness? Where is the compassion here? Compassion isn't weakness. The Bible says that Jesus lifted up His eyes and looked upon the multitudes, and He had compassion for them because He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. He was broken and saying, "Somebody needs to lead this thing." Men, when you see things in the house that are out of order, it shouldn't cause anger; it should cause compassion. Compassion responds and says, "Somebody needs to take control of this situation. I will be the example. I will take the responsibility. I will take on the extra effort that is necessary. But my wife will be edified. My children will be nurtured in the admonition of the Lord." Kindness, so important for us to see.
- Love Does Not Envy
Thirdly, it says that love, in the relationship, men, that you're dealing with your wives, it says you can't become involved in envy. Now, "envy" is a very interesting word here, and especially as it's used in the Greek. It means "to deprive someone of their position." What is the wife's position? Get it down in your notes. What is the wife's position? We're quick to say, "Helpmeet! Praise God, that's her role." It is. But the Scripture also says they are heirs together. Your wife is a joint heir with you. You're not lord and throwing her crumbs. She has a right to your respect. She has a right to your honor. She has a right to everything that edifies her life in Christ. She has a right to be pleased. First Corinthians says that a man, then, who marries and a woman who marries is no longer able to use all of their energies as to how they can please the Lord. But now they are responsible to do what? Please their spouse. So a wife has the right to pleasure, to be pleased. There are things that she wants to do, that she should be able to do, because that's pleasurable to her, because that's what she wants to do, because that would please her. And love, then, that does not envy does not deprive her of her position. This envy of position here is one that is always, again, possessive, selfish. "I have to have things my way." You will see that as you go through the other attributes here.
This envious spirit is one that tries to deprive someone of their position or their possessions. A person who is envious of you doesn't even necessarily have to have that car. They just hope you wreck yours. It's that spirit. They don't have to have a great marriage. They just wish yours would hit the rocks. It's a spirit of envy. The husband, then, being envious. You see, there can be an envy and a resentment of having to be the head, of having to be in charge, of answering to God as to how the household is going, especially when it's not going well. There begins to be an envy and a bitterness toward the other ingredients of the home, whether it is the children and having to deal with their disobedience or rebellion or whether it is the wife and having to deal possibly with a lack of submission or whatever it is. The men, then, begin to be bitter against their wives. Colossians says, "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter against them." Don't be sharp and embittered when their flesh causes you to have to die to self to begin to put more time into serving as the head of that house and getting it back on course. You see, that's one of the things that men hate the most. "This is inconveniencing me. It's hard enough keeping me saved, and I have to drag you guys along?" Sounds to me like you signed up for this thing years ago. You're the one that cut the covenant. You're the one that asked this woman to become bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh. Now deal with it and begin to put this thing in order, and do it by example. Do it by death to self. Do it by holding the biblical order that we've been talking about. Love, then, is not envious. It does not deprive one of his position. The position of the woman, joint heir. The position of the woman, what does the Scripture say? That she is to be honored, esteemed highly because of her position, the helpmeet. So it's vitally important for us to realize this.
- Love Is Not Self-Promoting
Fourthly, men, we understand that true love in this relationship does not vaunt itself. And it says in the next phrase, "is not puffed up." The vaunting of self is action; the puffing up is attitude. Love does not, love does not vaunt itself (action) and is not puffed up (attitude). Vaunting self. Men are showoffs. So are some women, but men mostly. It starts at a little age, doesn't it? You know, when they are little and the boys want to show off for the girls, show off for the other guys, be the center of attention, always wanting to put himself forward. Who is the greatest of us all? The servant. What does the Bible say? It says that if you humble yourself, what will happen? God will exalt you.
So we're talking about a true humility. But as it relates here to husband and wife, I want you to see this. This is important. Write it down. This is vital, guys, for you to get. You cannot vaunt yourself. In other words, you need to-get it down-place a lower value on your own opinion. Place a lower value on your own opinion. What does Romans 12 tell us? Not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Some of us think we can get along without our wives. "I don't need my wife. I don't need her counsel. I don't need her feminine perspective. I have a handle on this thing." You are vaunting yourself. "I'm head of my house. I'm lord supreme." You're an idiot if you're going to try to run this thing without any counsel. The Bible says there is safety in the multitude of counsel. A woman has been called to give you that feminine perspective. Yes, ultimately the decision is yours. Yes, you will answer to God. Yes, men, you are the head of your house. And the man is the head of his wife. No question. Just as Jesus is the Head of His church. But there can't be a vaunting. Jesus did not vaunt Himself. He said, "I didn't come to do My will. I came to do the will of the Father. I didn't come to speak My words. I came to speak the will of the Father." The vaunting of ourselves is to make decisions that are contrary to biblical wisdom, whether we get it from our own study of the Word of God or whether our wives speak that wisdom into us, through counsel, whatever it is. A man who vaunts himself is a man who thinks of his opinion too highly, above the Word of God. "I have a handle on it. I understand all truth." No, we need counsel.
Are you going to love your wives? Listen. Seek godly counsel from them and for them. Why do you think God has put spiritual leadership in the body of Christ? To allow you, men, to come and say, "Look, I have a situation here in the household that I'm dealing with. Do you have some wisdom?" Men are usually too proud. We vaunt ourselves, too puffed up. "I can't ask for help." Well, why not? Like you're the only guy struggling? Like you're the only one out there that doesn't know everything? "Dear Lord, I'm in over my head. I thought I knew what marriage was, but I didn't know." Scary.
If you don't approach your marriage this way, then I question whether you really understand what's at stake. I want to tell you something. As I stand and know that I'm going to answer to God as an overseer of this flock, I want you to understand something. It scares me. If you think for a moment that I make decisions just off the spur of the moment, off of a whim, then you don't have a clue as to what it means to be under authority and to know that Jesus is the head of His church, and you're going to answer for every decision you make and the direction you take this flock-or you, men, take your household. You are not the final authority. Don't vaunt yourself and your opinions and your whims. And don't be so prideful that you can't go for counsel and receive wisdom.
The Scripture means "to be vainglorious." Vainglory. There's real glory, and there is self-induced glory, and that is vanity, thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think. I'm getting ready to get one of those tee shirts, the ones that say, "The older I get, the better I was." The vainglory. You really forget what manner of man you were. It's important for us to see what we have to deal with.
- Love Is Not Prideful
Now, that's the action. The attitude, "not puffed up," it just talks about pride or being high-minded. That pride factor is what keeps you from going and receiving the counsel and the ministry that you really need. Men, if you are going to love your wives, you're going to have to receive external counsel, wisdom from the Word of God, from the body of Christ. If you're going to make right decisions, you're going to have to make them in your house with counsel, the wisdom that your wives have from the feminine perspective, and to stop thinking of yourselves more highly than you ought to think, that you have the ability to perform these things.
- Love Does Not Behave Inappropriately
Look at the next aspect here. In verse 5 it says that love never behaves itself unseemly. Well basically, what we're talking about here is Christian character. If you're going to have a healthy relationship with your wives, there has to be Christian character. We've talked about the word "sobriety." When we look at this particular word here, we're talking about the fact that, men, this "unseemly" behavior is "disgraceful" behavior. You want your wife to respect you, and yet you're acting like a dog. That is unseemly. You want your wife to submit to you, and yet your life is totally disorderly. "Follow me as I'm a wreck." The principle is, "Follow me as I follow Jesus." Yet too many men today, men, you want to behave yourself unseemly and then have your wife and your children submit and obey you, and your life is out of order. You don't go to work on time or regularly. You are spiritually undisciplined: You don't pray; you don't read the Word. Oh, you can get out and fulfill your habit, whatever that might be. You can get out in the woods or go fishing early. No problem getting up at 4:00 in the morning to go fishing. But you can't get up for work, "Because there's a lion in the street." And then you want to order your wife and say, "You know honey, I really think you need to become more diligent in cleaning the house here." If you want your wife to clean the house, get out of it and go do your job and let her do hers. But this unseemly behavior means to act without honor. In other words, you are not honoring your head, Christ.
Men, if you are going to realize true authority in your home, you have to understand you must be a man under authority. The head of every woman is who? Men, the head of every woman is who? The man. Is there any question about that? No. The head of every wife is the husband, period. And the head of the man is Christ. Now, unseemly behavior is behavior that disgraces your head, Jesus. Is what you're doing dishonoring Christ? If it is, then don't expect your children to obey or your wives to submit. To love your wife is to move in these attributes of kindness and humility, of bringing her the best counsel available, of being tender, of watching her growth, and being honored by her service in the kingdom. Don't be "rude" or "brutish," are two terms that are used here for "unseemly behavior." Never be rude to your wife. Never be condescending. "I told you I'd talk to you later. Go sit in the corner." That's rude.
Now, remember. Your thinking here as twentieth-century Americans isn't-listen-is not indicative of the spirit of when this was written or, in fact, what goes on in most of the world today. Because very frankly, in most of the world today outside Christian circles, women are still chattel. To a lesser degree than it was, but it is still a fact. And in many cultures, it hasn't changed. In Japan, they may not physically walk a few paces behind anymore, but they are still there. Throughout the Middle East, it's still there in the culture. Our perversion here in America went the other way to the extreme, as we've talked about the matriarchal influence. We need to get this thing in the house of God back to where it works properly. And love never behaves itself unseemly. It is never rude. It is never brutish. You don't have to be a brute in your house, men, to be in charge. If you love your wife, you will never have to command her-never. If you love your wife, you will never have to command her. It is vitally important for us to see this. So there need to be these aspects of kindness and consideration. You see how these compound themselves in these biblical principles.
- Love Is Not Self-Serving
The seventh one, we see that love never "seeks its own." I think this is very important for us to realize, men, as we are working in the household here. It does not seek its own way, not self-serving. Love does what? It seeks or prefers others, the Scripture says, better than itself. Now, I like this phrase. It's one I wrote down years ago: "It seeks the equal good of all parties." Now, how can you do anything else than that if you truly understand the spiritual concept that this woman is bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh? To do her good is to do you good.
Now listen, don't look at that from the carnal perspective. "I guess if I'm nice to my wife, I will get something out of it." That's not love. That's not love. That is philĕō, but it's not agapē. Agapē loves why? Because you are a loving person. So what we're talking about here, men, is this. If you are going to fulfill your God-given role, you need to fall in love with Jesus. You need to have your character change. It needs to become natural to you to serve others, and your wife is included in those that you are serving. You look for the equal good of everybody. You want everybody in the fellowship to be blessed the way you're blessed. You want them to have as happy a marriage as you have. You want them to be as healthy as you are. You want them to be prosperous in the kingdom like you are. All of these things are just a natural outflow of regeneration and the lordship of Jesus Christ.
So when he's talking about "love does not seek its own," if you begin to find yourself saying, "I am going to make this kind of an investment in my wife just to appease her a little bit so I can get something out of it," then you're not loving her. And do you want to know the tragedy of it? You're not loving her because you don't know what it is to be loved by Jesus. Because the Scripture says we are to love how? As we have been loved. And you have the wrong concept of Jesus' lordship in your life. Tragic. You might not even say this, but you think that Jesus is using you. Because that's all you see love being, using people for mutual gain. That's not love.
Love is emptying yourself for the prosperity of the other person with nothing expected in return, absolutely nothing expected in return. Jesus, when He died for the world, knew that the majority of the world would reject His love for them. Men, you don't love your wives because they are going to reciprocate. You love them whether they give love back or not. You love them whether you get a response of submission or not. Why? Because you have been loved.
Now, what is the debt that you owe? You all know that parable real well, don't you? "Lord, forgive me, and I will pay you all." Jesus has forgiven you everything, and you can't forgive your wife, and you can't forgive your children, and you can't forgive your brothers and sisters? They owe you? They haven't lived up to your expectation? How have you done? You see, this is the principle that we are working off of, and if we are moving in the love of God, the love of God does not seek its own gain. First Corinthians 10 makes it very clear: seek not your own but others' wealth. You just want to see people blessed.
- Love Is Not Easily Provoked
Because of the time factor, let's go on to the eighth aspect of this, where we're talking about "not easily provoked." I like this one. This is a good one for us, guys. Not to be touchy. Literally-get it to your notes-literally, you can't be "easily stirred to anger." You know, it's not there. You can't stir me to anger easily. Easily provoked. No, I'm not touchy. I'm not stirred to anger. I move in longsuffering. And because of that, I'm able to make rational decisions on the situation rather than emotional. There is not a sharpness or the irritant that Colossians speaks of, where you are bitter against them.
The example that I'm talking about says there was "sharp contention" that came between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. These guys got in the flesh here. Oh, they got it worked out. But what we're looking at here is preference-listen-between Paul and Barnabas, preference that brought schism. Barnabas said, "I think it should be done this way." Paul said, "I think it should be done this way." And neither one of them could say, "Thus saith the Lord." Neither one of them could say, "This is what the Word of God says to do." So what do you do? You prefer. It doesn't mean you have to in any way even condescend to it. But you don't get in a fight over it. You don't let there be schism over it. You just say, "Well, if that is the situation, then I am going to let this thing ride. I am not going to be provoked by the fact that she [we're talking about marriage now, and later we can talk about universally, the body] doesn't see everything the way I see it." Your wife doesn't have to see everything. She doesn't have to agree. "Come on. Say it. Say I'm right. I'm right. Say it." That's not submission. Submission is the ability to say, "I think that you are wrong. I have given you my advice in this thing. But it doesn't affect my eternal state and therefore, I will help you all I can. I haven't had a good failure in a week. I thought I'd get involved in one." But the attitude, the attitude. And when the wife responds, then you can't be touchy or upset that they don't see it your way. They may not. The Bible didn't say, "Wives, agree with your husbands on everything." It said "submit." So these are some of the things that, men, you can't be threatened by this. Your ego rises up, and you have to have total affirmation that you are infallible. You're not. Go for it and be humble in your failure.
- Love Does Not Think Evil
Love does not think evil. Ooh, this is a good one. Do you know what it means? You don't keep a list of wrongs done against you. There can't be any lists. Do you love your wife? "Yes, I love my wife, but back in 1956…." Well, what does 1956 have to do with anything? Love does not take into account the evil done to itself. Love does not take into account the evil done to itself. Now men, you are the head of this house. You have to set this example. Many of you men are sitting here right now saying, "I wish my wife could get these things down." We are talking to you. We're talking to the fact that you can't take into account the evils that are done. You didn't do your job, therefore she didn't do hers, and so now you're holding it against her. No, you can't keep that list. You just go do your job, is what the Spirit of God is trying to tell us here. There is no place for resentfulness in love. There can't be a plotting of retaliation. "I'll get her back. She'll pay. I'm going to sabotage the vacuum cleaner. She's going to have to pick up every piece of lint by hand. I'll show her how blessed she is." There is none of that in love. There is no retaliation. Someone speaks a harsh word? What does the Scripture say you owe them in return? Peace. If someone hates you, what do you do with your enemies? You love them. They spitefully use you and persecute you? What do you do? Pray for them. That's the way you relate to your wife. That's how love responds. It doesn't think evil.
Get this down. I want you to have this one. This is so important. You don't presuppose that a good action has an ulterior motive. You don't think evil. "What are they up to now?" Guess what. They might be doing something right because it's right. They might be doing something right because Jesus is Lord of their life. They might have even seen a good example in you and followed it. Now, I know that might be an obscure thing, but anyway. What we're talking about here is the thinking of evil. There cannot be the assumption, "I do things that are right because I am holy and just and righteous, but they are up to something." Love doesn't think that way. It doesn't have that capacity, suspicious of others' well doing. That is thinking evil. How do you relate to the body of Christ as it pertains to this? Do you think you do things because you are saved but they do it because they are trying to put on a hypocritical front? You'd better be careful in how you judge, because so many times you are judging out of your own heart.
It's very important to realize, then, that as you relate to your wives, men, there can't be any second guessing of the motives. Just set the course, hold everything up to the criteria of God, if it matches the Word. Maybe it is being done by the letter of the law and not out of regeneration or renewed heart or renewed mind. But it's being done, and the law is what? The tutor, or the schoolmaster, that leads us to Christ. Maybe they will do it under legalism long enough to have a heart change. But the fact of the matter is, men, with you as the head of the house, "It will be done this way." "Now, I'm not going to question whether you're doing it out of legalism or out of a regenerate heart, but this is how it is going to operate in this house. This is the will of the Lord. This is the Word of the Lord. As for me and my house, we are serving God." So then when the wife begins to respond, love doesn't question her motives once you set the course for the household. So it's very important then. In other words, you don't sit your wife down and be bitter against them, again, or be disrespectful of their position, saying, "Why are you doing that? I want to make sure you are doing this for the right reason." Just set the course. Look for the obvious offenses. Deal with those, and trust and believe all things and endure all things and hope all things, and don't let love fail under the pressures.
- Love Does Not Rejoice In Iniquity
Verse 6, the tenth thing. As you're dealing with your wives, love doesn't rejoice in iniquity. What are we saying? It doesn't rejoice at all in the evil done to others. Some of you have resentment, bitterness, that Colossians talks about. You've been at war for so long in your marriages that you're battling the paradox of, "That serves her right." And then you know that's not right and there is a little bit of love there that hasn't died, and you're questioning yourself. You're questioning the lordship of Jesus in your life. You're convinced she's not saved. It's tragic. We have marriages like that right here this morning, sitting here, coming to church every service. And then somebody pays the price, and one of your favorite verses for them is, "You reap what you sow." Tragic, this kind of an attitude. Love doesn't respond that way. You love them as your own body. You don't rejoice when there's evil that is done or experienced in their lives. Listen to me. Nor can you love them this way: "I love them. I desire them. My passion for them is so strong that I permit evil in their life." Men. "She looks so good on my arm. She is this being that meets all of my physical appetites and desires. She is the lady of my dreams. Yes, she acts like a dog, but I'm going to love her anyway." Love cannot rejoice in sin. It cannot see sin as pleasing. It cannot tolerate sin in your wife. Love cannot say, "Yes, I love you honey, even though you are rebellious to Jesus." It can't do that. You cannot choose to fellowship with workers of iniquity, evildoers. Read it in Romans 1:32 and 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2, verse 12. We can give you passages on all of these, but I just don't want to take the time this morning. So it's vitally important to see, then, that true love cannot rejoice in workers of iniquity. "Well, I just love her so much. I'm just going to overlook these things." No, that's not love. That is love of self.
- Love Rejoices In The Truth
Love rejoices in the truth. What are we talking about? Love, when you love this individual, you meditate upon the things, you feed upon the things, that are right and not wrong. What am I saying? What do I mean by this? Well, if you're a man of faith, remember we talked about in Titus that you first of all have to be men of faith? What does faith do? It calls things that are not as though they were. So if you are a man of faith and one who rejoices in the truth, what is the truth? God's Word is truth. If you have good soil, and you plant the Word of God in it, what will happen? You will get a crop. Thirty-, sixty-, one-hundred-fold, and you have to begin to rejoice in that. So men, you can't be governed by the immediate circumstances.
What we're saying is there is a time to sow; there is a time to reap. I'm going to rejoice in the good that I expect because of what I've put into this marriage, because of what I've sown through the Word of God, and I am not going to any longer be dominated by all the things that I see that are out of order in this person. I am going to begin to rejoice in the one good thing I see, whatever that might be. The one good thing might be that they are just still there receiving the Word being put into their lives. Focus on that and not on these other areas. Rejoice in what the Word says will be the consequences of the seekers, because those that seek Him will find Him. You might think, "They are going in circles." But are they seeking? If they are seeking, ultimately they will find Him. And when you find the truth and you know it, what will it do? It will make you free. So this is vitally important.
- Love Bears All Things
Let's go on to the next one, the twelfth aspect here that we're going to deal with this morning: love bears all things. The word "bear" means "to cover." It's interesting. It doesn't mean "to cover up." I love this aspect of it. Love. If you love your wives, men-and I think this could even be more applicable to you ladies. If you love your husbands as the Word of God requires in Titus; if you love your children, ladies; husbands, if you love your wives, then you will bear all things. That means that you will never expose any of their faults-listen. You will never expose any of their faults. You will cover them at all times from all others and deal with them yourself. You will go to them into their face and bring them the Word of God and bring them the reproof and bring them the rebuke. But you will not go into the community. You will not go into the locker room and talk about how your wife is a nag and a drip and a slob. Ladies, you will not go into your hen gathering and go clucking on your husbands about how they don't do this and they don't do that. "I wish they were more spiritual." "They don't love me." Love bears all things. It never exposes. It always covers up. Now remember, I'm going to say it again. We're not talking about covering it up and ignoring it. We're talking about covering it from the eyes of those who would pass judgment based upon that one observation. You know that's not what the person really is. You are just wanting sympathy, or you're wanting justification for your non-biblical behavior, so you need to make them look bad for the moment. That's not love.
Love bears all things. It conceals it to itself, covers from the others. Love tolerates imperfections while growth is manifesting. Love tolerates imperfections while growth is manifesting. Now, Ephesians 5:11 says you can't cover sin. If you do, it will lead to death, if you try to cover your sin up. We're talking about exposing it in the realm that it needs to be handled, between the husband and wife. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath. Don't blow it off. Get it dealt with today. Don't give place to Satan in your relationship.
- Love Believes All Things
We're in verse 7. Love believes all things. Love always takes the best and kindest view of the other person. Are you suspicious of your spouse? Tragic. Can you not trust your wife as the Proverbs 31 woman to do you good all the days of your life? That would be a tragic relationship to be in. I'm trying to remember which one of the philosophers it was. I was doing some research on this last night, and I can't remember. It might have been Cicero who was saying, "Isn't it strange that we entrust the most to those we speak to the least?" referring to their wives. I would say we need to speak to our wives more. We need to have communication. We need to bring these things out into the area that they can be dealt with so there can be healing all around. And if love is truly manifesting itself to where it believes all things or believes the best and kindest view of all things, then you can put anything up on the table. There is not a fear of rejection. There is not a paranoia. You're not going to be accepted or rejected based upon these particular circumstances because you are loved, and love never fails. This is what we're talking about building in our relationships. Love always, always, as it relates this "believing all things," gives the benefit of the doubt. If the action is ambiguous, you assume the best unless there is an obvious transgression to the Word. Then you have to deal with it. What am I saying? Perceive them as better than they appear. Can you do that? That's love.
A lot of times, people question me. See, a lot of you don't understand who I am. A lot of you think I'm a hard guy, and I'm not at all. As you talk to some of the staff and the guys who work with me, I'm always the one that says, "They're not that bad. Come on. We'll give them a break." I have this thing in me. Why is it? Probably because I make so many mistakes. Because I make so many mistakes, yet I understand and know where my pursuit is of Father, and I understand His love for me, I have to assume that everybody else wants to do right too. And they are probably better than they seem, but they are warring through some of these situations and looking for the victories to manifest themselves. Love believes all things. You just believe that God is going to finish the work. You see, I have to believe that the Word never fails, that if there's a heart that absolutely is hungry for God, the seed will produce life in it. I believe that. So therefore, I'm not going to give up on somebody's growth.
- Love Hopes All Things
Love hopes all things. Now what are we talking about? Again, this "hope" is "favorable expectation." It is confidence in the Holy Spirit, confidence in the Word of God, confidence in the ministry of the body of Christ. It just hopes. There is favorable expectation. Things don't look real good now, but it's not over. It's not over yet, and I'm expecting the best. Now remember, all of this has to be held in balance with what? The fact that you're doing the Word of God. You are not seeking to save a marriage; you are seeking to exalt Jesus Christ. You're not seeking to please a woman; you're seeking to do the Word of God. You see, these are the proper motives behind the relationships that we are working in. So the favorable expectation is this: If I do the Word of God, and I have all these other character traits that assume others are wanting to do the Word of God, then this thing is going to work out, and God is going to be exalted in this, with the absence of naïveness that really is aware that most people are going to choose their flesh over Jesus' lordship.
So when I'm talking about hoping in all things, I'm expecting the best. But most likely it's not going to happen. You say, "Well, that's not faith." Yes, it is. Faith is calling things that are not as though they were based upon their obedience to the Word. But the fact of the matter is most people aren't going to obey the Word. So I'm hoping for the best, but I'm prepared for the worst. As for me and my house, we're serving God. So that is the bottom line as to how we approach these things.
- Love Endures All Things
Let's look at the last two here. Number 15: "Love endures all things." Can I help you out, men? This will be good for you. Endures all things. What's a phrase that I can use that will help you here? Wait for God to do it. Write it down. Ladies, you write it down for they are sleeping right now. Love "endures," "to be patient, to be longsuffering." Now, this is from a different perspective than that suffering long that we started off with. This has to do with true patience, endurance, the ability to stand long and say, "God is going to work in this thing." It's the patience that's needed in the midst of persecution and rejection. Just stand and say, "Having done all, [What do you do?] stand." And you just stand, and you stand some more.
- Love Never Fails
So with all of that in mind then, we finish this morning, men, with the aspect that love never fails. What does that mean, that love never fails? Then, if you love properly, your wife and children will stay on course and never do anything wrong? That is not what that means. Does it mean that love never fails in that you or your spouse will never do anything contrary to the Word of God or to ever inflict pain on one another in your relationship if you love one another? That is not what that means. It just means love never fails to express itself in these attributes when Jesus is the Lord of a person's life. There are times when we fail to love, but love never fails to do what? To put us back on course to biblical love. There are times when we choose ourselves over our spouse. There are times we choose our flesh over Jesus' lordship. But love will never fail to say, "This is the only standard by which a relationship can bring glory to God." It never fails to say, "I will do my part in being conformed into the image of Christ." As it relates to you this morning, men, what we are saying is, you're going to say, "I will do whatever I can do to love my wife as I've been loved. I want to be as forgiving to my wife as Jesus has been forgiving to me. I want to be as tender to my wife as Jesus has been tender to me. I want to be as concerned about her eternal state as Jesus is concerned about mine." Because men, before you can become a good husband, you have to be a good wife, the bride of Christ.
You ladies that say, "Well, these men don't know what it means to be a wife. They don't know what it means to have to be in submission." Really? We're wives. We're brides. We understand clearly, and that's why the respect is given to your role. That is why we know that what you're asked to do isn't an easy task. That's why the honor is given. That's why we're there to help you as you're there to help us.
Father, we thank You for the Word of God, and we ask that as we continue in this study, You would cause these things to become a reality to us. Father, as we have this before us, let us begin to see now the practical ways in which this is done, the worth of our wives, the fact that their pleasure is to be sought, that we empty ourselves in this role of making them strong so that they can serve the kingdom by fulfilling their call on their lives in the relationship we have, that men would see the good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
We're going to talk about more practical things tonight. We've got the theory out. We related to a few of the practical this morning. I want to deal with the more practical things tonight in how to love your wives. The kindness, the tenderness, the esteeming and honoring them in their role, causing them, men, to know that you care about the things that they are functioning in and that you see it as vital, their role, in the support system of the household. We're going to talk tonight more, men, about the other responsibilities you have in your household.
Why are we studying this? We believe Jesus is coming back. And the Scripture says in the last days it will be as it was in the days of Noah: there will be marrying and giving in marriage. It will be as ruthless as it was in the times of the Judges: all men doing what is right in their own eyes. If we're going to preserve our households in this spirit of lawlessness, this spirit of antichrist, the spirit when men are trying to become women and women trying to become men. That is the spirit of antichrist. This unisex approach to life is the spirit of antichrist. With that permeating our society, if we're going to keep our houses intact, if we're going to keep the kingdom of God pure, we're going to have to know what our roles are. Because of that, this is why we are studying this. This is why it's so important, men, for you to begin to set up this hedge of obedience that will protect your house, so that same serpent can't find Eve on her own and bring deception and havoc to your home. Men, that you won't wimp out like Adam did and defect from Jesus' lordship to please your wives. Why? Ephesians, that His church might be presented to Him spotless. See, Paul kept going back and forth there from the natural relationship to the spiritual relationship. Because very frankly, as involved as God is in your home and your marriage, everything that He does is from the eternal perspective. He is looking for a bride, man or woman, that will be spotless, that He might present to Himself. Husbands, you are not going to present your wives. Jesus will present them to Himself a glorious church. You will be an instrument. You'll be a vessel He uses. You'll be iron that sharpens. But He will choose whom He loves and whom He has bestowed His grace upon and present them to Himself a glorious church. So don't mistake what we're doing here at all. We're not looking to make life easier for you in your marriage. We're looking to see a glorious church that can be presented to Jesus. Our motive is fulfilling His love, and then we get to experience the benefits of it as we relate to each other.
Let's stand before the Lord. As the pianist plays, we'll just take a moment and meditate on the Lord's presence. We covered a ton of material this morning. It's a lot easier to dissect it than it is to live it. What's the greatest mistake any of us can make this morning? Thinking that because we know these things, we're doing them. "I know that." That's not the issue. If you're not a doer of the Word but only a hearer, you've deceived yourselves. Men, you've wasted your time if you don't leave here this morning and begin to do these truths that have been put into your heart. Don't say, "Well, next month after this project at work ceases and the pressure is off, next month I'll really start to be a good husband." You've already had the seed robbed out of your heart, according to the parable of the sower. I don't care if your business has to collapse. I'll tell you what. You are capable of doing both, because many of us do. What you're saying is, "I can't fulfill that role and please myself too. So I've got to do my job and please myself. I just don't have time for my wife right now." If you'll die to yourself, you'll have time to minister to your wife. These are the practical things that we need to start doing.