It’s funny, I am a person who never cries, let alone show tears in public. At times, leesh would describe me as emotionless and I couldn’t remember the last time I cried, until I started doing sermons and now, I’m good for tears every fourth week. I apologise as the novelty is wearing off on me too, but I speak from the heart and hope to show you how Christ works in our lives and how important his love is.
So, bear with me this week as I again tackle an honest approach of my faith in my life.
The last time I was up here, I spoke of self-control and how it does not come to us naturally. How It is something we must learn and are taught through Christ and the spirit. It is something we are given as a gift through, trusting in Gods will, by listening to his words.
When I finished my talk, It was quite silent in the room and it initially caused me some concern, as I hoped, I had conveyed the right message across.
To my pleasure, in conversations with a few of you afterwards, some via text message. I was comforted to know that the message had been received. However, I was honoured and overjoyed that some of you, most outstandingly, somehow in my talk, saw my wife coming through. And conveyed that to me through your words, Ash, You have an amazing woman in your life.
I was so happy and grateful about this unexpected result, as it was not something, I intended to do or even thought about as a possibility during my sermon preparation.
But on hearing it, it caused me so much happiness, as, it is true! She is amazing.
Charles spurgeon captures this thinking and one im sure you would all agree with, Happy is the man who is happy in his wife. Let him love her as he loves himself and a little better. For she is. His better half.
I would not be the person I am, without the love of my wife. I couldn’t be.
But what does it mean? It got me thinking. How and why did my wife’s love shine through my sermon, it wasn’t even about her.
As I thought about it, the answer came to me. It was because of Love. The love of Christ, reflected through the role my wife has in my life and who I am. This got me going and exited to explore it.
What can the life of wives, teach us about God and how we should be in our faith.
Like most things I do, I went to the beginning, Genesis and the garden.
It is important to understand that Adam was placed in the garden to work it and take care of it. God knew it would be a difficult and hard job, dare I say in other words, God knew it would be a difficult and hard life to live alone in his creation, and as such, he knew man needed a helper, a specific helper.
Genesis 2:18 NIV
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
That being the first Woman, the first wife.
Gen 2:24, That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
You see my life is not about me. It is about love and the source of that love that works through my wife and I, Joined together as one. To help each other live in this beautiful garden of Gods creation.
So let’s to delve into the not so talked about, people in our lives and community, Wives.
Proverbs 31 v10 gives us a great start.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth more than rubies.
To prepare us I want to mention a few wives of the bible. We have Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who like Abraham left all that she knew behind to follow and be by Abraham. She showed loyalty.
Ruth, again packing up and leaving to follow her husband to Moab and then returning to Israel trusting in God. Her faith strong. Showing perseverance humbleness and servant hood.
Mary mother of Jesus, Displaying her faith and trust in Gods will. Not to mention her strength and also Courage in telling Joseph what was happening.
Each of their lives a teachable moment for us, and worthy of their own sermons, another time. Today though, I’m focussing on wives and what they can teach us, all. moving Further down in Proverbs 31, to verse 25 we start our first of two readings for today,
Proverbs 31:25-31. As we read it, I urge you to think about it, imagine it and appreciate it and how it relates to your own life.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I’ll tell you a story, When Leesh and I first moved to Bulahdelah, both new in our faith and trust in God, we struggled massively financially and emotionally with no nearby family to help us.
We had bills to pay, loans to be repaid and weekly groceries to buy, a newborn child, who’s now a Raptor, and two young growing girls needing new school uniforms and clothes, whilst dealing with a move from what they called home to a whole new place. With new people not known to them, having to make new friends.
During this first 12 months, we had numerous discussions (I wont call them arguments as they weren’t), Although, tears were common as we discussed how hopeless we felt in our circumstances and how tough it was on us. We at times regretted moving and contemplated somehow going back to our comfort zone in Tenterfield. We were at a loss and many prayers were said, but nothing changed. At this time, I was quite fixed on my career as a policeman.
I had just passed the Sergeant promotion pool and was able to apply for Sergeant Jobs across the state and I thought this was the opportunity or the correct path I needed to take with my family. Leesh was against this and even though she knew we were doing it tough, she had thoughts of her children, having to move away and start again, me and my career prospects, her worries about money for the family, bills and, Her household at her forefront, yet with a confidence that things would get better, and that we would manage, as we were managing at that point in time, as we, or, I should really say, She was making it work. Some weeks leesh would buy the household groceries for all of us to last 2 weeks, on less than $100. I don’t know how she did it.
Against her objections, I applied for two Sgt spots over a 3-month period, 1 in Bourke and 1 in Walgett, thinking this would be the answer to our financial burdens bringing happiness back to our lives, a quick fix. However, at this time, I experienced a personal battle, a battle I describe it today as my battle with God.
Leesh and her words which made perfect sense, were in effect, God working through her telling me, NO, you are meant to stay here, trust your wife wisdom and faith. It will be okay. NO joke, I would even shake my head in defiance as I thought about her statements and her plausible reasoning.
During this time Leesh even managed to consolidate our loans giving us a huge amount of financial breathing room. Yet my want to leave and become a sergeant, was now the only thing justifying the move, reminding myself we’ll be in a Sgt house with minimal rent plus a wage increase. Feeding my, selfish desire for career, over family. What was more important in my life. MY wife helped me see this. And I am so grateful and thankful for her.
Needless to say, I didn’t get the Sergeant Jobs and I have never applied for another. I am more than happy where we are. With leesh as my helper in this garden of life, I unashamedly admit that I was wrong in my thinking and that it is because of my wife that we are still here and what who we are together as one. I joke now that getting me to leave here now would be like trying to move a dead wombat off the road. I love it here. We love it here.
I tell this story as I want you to see that Leesh as a wife, was clothed in strength and dignity to say no to me, her optimism was present when mine was blinded, Her wisdom, and faithful instruction was spoken to me. All while she watched over the affairs of our household, busy ensuring all our needs were met. Her children wake everyday loving her as do I.
Being a wife is tough and quite frankly full on. I am sure each of you have a similar story, where you can place your wife or yourself in that passage of scripture. For those who are yet to be a wife or have a wife, this is your guide to the qualities you need to be on the lookout for.
But as we continue on, I will hopefully help you understand that these are qualities we all need to have in our relationship with God, regardless of our gender.
With an understanding of the first reading I want to move on to our second reading from Ephesians
Ephesians 5:21-25 NIV
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do 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 Saviour. 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.
These two readings directly refer to wives. The first sentence here, sets the tone and reminds us that we are to be as one, with our faith, submitting to each other. Trust and respecting the God who is love in our lives. As we continue, we see it tells us, wives are to submit themselves to their husband, as they do to the lord. We understand the submission, is one only performed out of their reverence and acceptance of Christ in their life.
This word submit, makes quite a few appearances here and I fear the modern world now causes us to react negatively to this word submit and in turn this passage of Scripture, bringing up images of control and power over another. But this is far from what the text means. The love I have for leesh, does not in any way, require me to subdue her, or demand she obey me. Far from it.
To get you on the right track, I’ll ask you, Did leesh submit through obedience and fear to my will, in my earlier recount. No, She didn’t. In fact you could probably argue that I submitted to her will.
Looking at this word submit deeper, we discover the Greek word for submission, Hupotasso, means, to get under and lift up, or to put in order. Biblically it is described as a voluntary attitude of Cooperating through our faith and reflection of Christ in our lives to help us.
Simply, to submit is a voluntary choice we all have, to act with love, with a focus of Christ guiding us and strengthening us in our relationship not just with God, but as husband and wife, lifting each other up, with a focus on keeping our path straight and nurturing each other in love, of which God is. Can I suggest it is a perfect moment to reflect on and exercise self-control, which we all know is a gift, not a human default. Like Nigel spoke of last week. Submission allows us to keep open keeping on, together as one flesh in the garden, working it together for Gods glory, not our own.
It does not mean to fearfully hand over control or obey another. Do not forget we have the gift of free will.
Away from wives for a moment, Eric told me a story the other day about his frustrations with the storm water drains in town and he is the head of a committee taking these concerns to Mid Coast council. Who although listening to his concerns, they did not understand and performed what they thought was best, even though Eric and others knew it was the wrong option. Eric, submitted to their actions, although he did not agree with them, he accepted them in good grace as they are the head in this instance. However, they recently came back to him. Stating, Eric, I think we have been thinking about this the wrong way, acknowledging there wrong and seeking a shared solution. As one.
The reason I tell this story, is again to remind you that submission is not losing yourself to other people’s authority. It is not accepting something because you are too scared to challenge or put forward your concerns. Submission provides you with the confidence to allow your voice to be heard
Submission is ensuring you raise your thoughts, with grace and tact, to work as one with someone. It is total inclusivity, allowing your love of Christ to guide it.
The most interesting thing in this passage of scripture though is the focus he has on a husband to love his wife more than himself and place her needs above his own, Sacrifice for her.
When a man, proposes to a woman, that woman, says yes, only if she voluntarily trusts him and is confident that, that man will love her endlessly and provide for her and care for her, for better or worse. I like this image as submission. A woman submitting to a man’s love.
Likewise, a man, will not propose, unless he is confident of being able to love this woman and take responsibility for her in every way, knowing he can and will make her happy and provide a life of joy and comfort.
Like our faith, Us choosing to submit to Gods love in our lives. We choose to trust God and his promises to care for us, through better or worse, sickness or health.
If you have not fully submitted to God in your life, stop and think about it, Use the image of Christ down on 1 knee, asking for a relationship with you, knowing with full confidence he can and will meet and exceed all your needs, if you allow him too, by making the voluntary submission to his request to allow him to love you.
With this, I am ready to highlight the message I want conveyed to us as Christians.
I want us to see what the characters and actions of a wife are, her loyalty, humility, kindness, patience, trust, vulnerability, understandings, humbleness, tenacity, passion, robustness, hopefulness, selflessness, wisdom. Think of a wife, in daily duty and life, I am sure there are many other terms. Think on them.
As you do, and as you appreciate them and the meanings they have.
I want you to see them as qualities we as Christians need in our relationship with Christ living in Gods Garden, this world. As part of the church. With Christ the head of the body. Each one of use the bride, Jesus the bridegroom.
I want us to see that the qualities and actins of a wife to help motivate us in our own relationship with God and to seek Christ and to understand him and your relationship with him. As like a husband is required to do, and as Jesus did, he knowingly Sacrificed himself for you. He placed your needs above his own.
Be as a wife in your relationship with Jesus. Who loves you. Communicate with him. Make your concerns known to him. Be patient and accepting of him and your circumstances, knowing he loves you and is working for you.
Most importantly, know and appreciate your faith is not a forced one. It is a voluntary choice you have made of submitting to a love in your life that no other can provide.
Becoming joined together as one with your God. Leaving the worldly temptations of sin and its desires of wealth and pride behind.
Last time I spoke, I left asking you to listen to the words of the spirit and knock on the door of Christ to allow him to enter. This week, through the eyes of a loving wife, I ask you to look and see yourself as a beautiful bride, as a wife, and mirror those qualities and attributes as Proverbs highlights to us, Mirror them in your faith, allowing it to guide your actions and relationship with Jesus, who is for us. Communicate with him, talk to him. As leesh communicated to me, in my battle with god and also how Eric communicated to the Midcoast council. I encourage you to communicate with Jesus, our head and focus.
Simply, it is all about Love.
How do I not include 1 Corinthians here. To me, a wife is a central figure of love in a family home. The well know verse 13 4-8, spoken at many marriages, but how often is it appreciated and mused on.
Today as we leave here, I want you to ponder on it and relate it to a wife, so we can appreciate who and what they provide and teach us about our faith and our relationship with Christ, and he also with us.
Love is patient,(A) love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.(B) 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking,(C) it is not easily angered,(D) it keeps no record of wrongs.(E) 6 Love does not delight in evil(F) but rejoices with the truth.(G) 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
These are all attributers of a loving wife, and attributes we as Christians should be adopting and living by in our lives.
I want to add one more bit of food for thought before we leave. As I’m writing this, I couldn’t help thinking about the armour of god and the breast plate of righteousness. Do the characters and actions a wife, when adopted into our life, provide us with this breastplate? Think on that one. I myself believe they do.
Pick up your armour, your breastplate. If you can’t find it, look to a wife, your own wife.
As we leave today, hopefully with some music in the back ground and a good silence in the room, I’ll leave you with a benediction
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.