Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hard Hearts or "Well Done"

Like many people, I find myself busy. Like many people, it is because of the choices I have made. Most of my choices are not reactionary or the result of others, but rather my own decision and my own determination. That said, I have bitten off more than I am comfortable chewing right now and am learning a good lesson through this time. I am managing, but the past few weeks have been a test of time-management skills and I have found myself in Q1 far more than I wish (if you know Covey, that makes sense. If not, click here. The .pdf has a lot in it. Page 3 in the document, or page 4 of the file will help clarify).

That said, my wife has also been busier that usual with her own interests. She has reached a time for a break (earlier than expected), but she has also helped me greatly over these last four weeks as I have tried to stay afloat. I mention this because something she always tells me is that she wants me “to look good.” Frankly, I need a wife to do that for me. I create a good deal of content (blogs, sermons, lessons – church and seminary, communication pieces, meeting information, etc.), just like many others do. But I am grateful that after I create the content, with just a few notes, she is able to apply her skills to make the documents look uniform, create resources to help (e.g. PowerPoint), etc. It is not that I cannot do these particular things, but I cannot do them nearly as quickly, nor as well as she does. And while she takes care of these items, I can move on to other responsibilities. I am grateful for her. And I am grateful that she is my helper.

The word helper (ESV) is from the Hebrew word ’ezer. God says He will make a “helper” for the man because he was alone. Many may find this condescending (or worse), but this same Hebrew word is used in Psalm 121.1-2 when the psalmist asks “I life my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Anyone who demeans the word helper in Genesis 2 does not understand the ramifications of doing so, because essentially, they are demeaning help from the Lord as well. (A real argument does exist on the role of gender in the Bible, and people do use Genesis 2 in support there, but not everyone demeans the “helper” in that argument and I do not wish to infer that all do.)

So my wife is my helper. And help she does! And yet sometimes her efforts are not exactly what I expected. Sometimes the result is better, but not always. In these instances, we usually work to correct the matter after some discussion to see what might work best. As we have done this over time, we both know one another’s expectations and the process has been easier.

Why do I write this? Because I very much appreciate my wife. She is my helper, but so much more. (I do not say more than I am, because I do not wish to embarrass her. She will read this before it is posted). And while neither of us are perfect, she is perfect for me. So when something is amiss, I simply need to remember God has provided her to me as my helper. God has provided me with the greatest gift I have received apart from my salvation through the blood of Jesus.

And that is why I struggle with the ancient Jewish practice of divorce. Divorce is a sticky subject in our world today, but the Bible is clear that God’s perfect design does not include divorce. However, in the ancient Jewish culture, a man could divorce his wife for burning the food, for not looking attractive, etc. I suppose a similar idea would be my throwing a fit because a word on the PowerPoint was misspelled. That’s ludicrous. She is helping me, just like a Jewish wife was helping her husband. I may be oversimplifying matters here a bit, but not much.

Thus, in Mark 10, when the Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife (the implied here is – “under any reason”), Jesus reminds them that Moses may have made an allowance, but God designed marriage under a different set of expectations (Genesis 2.24). It is the hard hearts of mankind that required Moses to intervene (to protect the woman, see Deuteronomy 24.1-3. You can see the notes from my message here.).

Ultimately, it is the hard hearts of men and women today that bring us to not keeping with God’s design in any number of areas. All have sinned, the Bible tells us. And thus, all fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). Like the Jews with divorce, most all of us react far more harshly than is often deserved. But that does not mean we are resigned to that. No, we have a choice. We can choose to live as God’s children or not. We can choose to become more like Him (Ephesians 5.1) or remain tied to the world (1 John 2.15). The choice we make will have an impact in this life, but also in the age to come.

My choice is to follow Jesus. I will not be perfect in that, but I can further yield myself to be conformed to His image (Romans 8.29). As I do, I will continue become a better helper (in this case, servant) for His Kingdom. I may never be able to help Him as much as my wife helps me, but what little I may do in faith, I know will please Him (Hebrews 11.6). And as much as I appreciate all of the help I receive from my wife, my words to her pale in comparison to either of us (or truly anyone) hearing “Well done” from Him.

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