Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Talk from Sydney's Wedding Shower

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at a wedding shower for someone very special.  We moved to New Albany when Sydney Morris was 11 or 12, and I had 3 small children at the time.  Hannah was 3, Sarah 2, and Will was a baby.  Sydney spent many afternoons coming over to help with kids while I sewed, cleaned, cooked, or did projects, and everyone loved it when SSSSS-Ninny came over.  As she got older, she continued to be our babysitter, and we were very sad when she left for college.

I can NOT believe that now my girls are older than she was and that she is getting married!  Time goes by so fast!  Although she has been gone from New Albany for quite a while and has been with Jerry for some time, she is about to enter the completely new experience of marriage.

There are many passages about marriage and being a wife in the Scripture, and many of these passages are very familiar.  The temptation when we read or hear familiar passages is to gloss over them without truly thinking about them and failing to apply them to our own hearts.

Therefore, I ask you to pay particular attention to the instructions and examples in the following passages.  As you read, please consider what the Lord might be saying to you for how you relate in your marriage... or for what type of wife the Lord wants you to be in the future!

The first passage is from Proverbs 31:

An excellent wife, who can find?

For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

Next is Titus 2:3-5:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Finally, Ephesians 5:22-24:
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

When women within Christian circles... to clarify, I am talking about ladies who choose to be in church and claim the name of Christ... When women hear passages like this, it seems there are three general types of reactions.  As we discuss this, think about your personal reaction to the above passages and which category describes you.  

1.  The first woman we are going to describe is Mrs. Worker.  

Mrs. Worker hears the individual bits and pieces described in these passages and takes it to heart and thinks, “That’s who I want to be; I can do that," and she strives to imitate those biblical qualities.  

I once read a book that described a godly wife’s characteristics like petals on a flower.  It seemed to intimate that if a person could amass all of the petals of kindness, submissiveness, hard work, and so on... she would become the beautiful flower of a godly wife.  Mrs. Worker loves books like this.

Mrs. Worker often genuinely wants to please God and have a biblical marraige, and she very much wants to be that godly woman with the Proverbs 31 flower petals.  

2.  The next woman is Mrs. Careless.  She hears these passages and writes them off, not even really considering becoming this kind of woman.  She might give it a passing thought, and then think that the proverbs 31 woman is a cultural myth from 2,000 years ago.  

OR when Mrs. Careless hears phrases from Titus 2 like,  “women are to love their husbands, be workers at home, and being subject to their own husbands," she gets a little angry.  

When the passage from Ephesians, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife..., so also the wives ought to be [submissive] to their husbands in everything" is read, Mrs. Careless thinks that surely it does not apply to her; men and women are all equal now.  

3.  The third woman is Mrs. Faithful.  Mrs. Faithful hears these passages and possibly thinks about how far short she falls of the standard, and maybe she thinks about what a humanly impossible task it is to fulfill.  But at the same time, Mrs. Faithful knows that she has been forgiven so much by Christ.    Out of love for her Savior, she wants above all to honor the Lord in her marriage. 

She doesn’t start from the outside working in... instead, Mrs. Faithful knows that a daily depending on the Lord is the ONLY way that she will be the kind of wife that will honor God.  

So, here is the question.  Those are the three women.  Which one are you?  Where do you think you fall in this?  

Mrs. Worker, the first woman, makes the mistake of relying on SELF.  She falls into the trap of thinking she can figure it all out and make everything perfect if she just works hard enough.

Mrs. Careless is also thinking about SELF, but in a different way.  The thought of being a servant and putting her husband first in all things completely rubs her the wrong way.  Even if it is a picture of Christ and the church, it just somehow doesn’t seem fair.  

Mrs. Faithful is walking that tightrope in the middle.  She is not perfect, but she knows that a close walk with the Lord is the only way that her marriage will survive.  As she walks with the Lord and chooses her husband before herself, those “Proverbs 31 petals” come, but walking with Christ comes before the petals.  

In my marriage, even after becoming a Christian, I can say that I have been all three of these women at different times.  

We are sinful women married to sinful men.  I hope Jerry is your best friend, and I hope that you have chosen a man who you respect and are happy to place yourself under, because marriage is not easy for anyone.   Dying to self daily is difficult, but it is key to having a successful marriage.  

It is easy to fall into the trap of being Mrs. Careless or Mrs. Worker, but the example of Mrs. Faithful is the one who is the example of a truly godly wife.  

When we were in Kentucky, Scott preached through the book of Galatians.  He talked a lot about the temptations of the Christian to fall into the trap of Legalism (Thinking that you need Christ plus obedience, works, etc. for justification or sanctification) or the trap of Licentiousness (Thinking that Christian freedom means we have teh freedom to live however we want to) as opposed to walking in the narrow path of love to Christ.  

A lady in our church drew a picture of a path across a canyon.  The path is labeled walk by the spirit., and on one side is the pit of loose living, while on the other side is the pit of practical legalism.   

I think this is a great illustration for the Christian walk that can be specifically applied to success in marriage.  In marriage, it is so important to walk with Christ.  I promise you that Mrs. Worker and Mrs. Careless are not truly satisfied, happy, or at peace... even though it may appear that way from the outside.  

This verse from Galatians sums it all up and is a wonderful thing to set your mind on, whether you are a new bride, a future bride, or walking in the midst of marriage:

Galatians 2:20:  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  

All of us, as we go about our days and lives must remember the importance of denying self, walking by the Spirit, hoping always in Christ for our righteousness AND sanctification, and looking to Him as our pattern.

The shower was beautiful, with fresh flowers and glass dishes- the ladies in our church really know how to put something together!  Sydney spent a year in Italy, so the the food consisted of a crepe bar and gelatto for dessert- It was beautiful AND delicious!  

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