I read this article the other day. As always-at least from pretty much all that I’ve read of his, Matt Walsh was spot on. I was challenged to be the best for those I love. I read it for me-for me to grow and become a better person through it. I can’t say that I’ve always read things like this for me. Sometimes I’ve read things like this and wanted to take it to my husband and say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks this way and why can’t you be more like this or understand this?” It would have made me feel even more justified to withhold love from him. As I was reading through some of the comments, I noticed a lot of people weren’t reading it for themselves. They were reading it for their significant others or just people in general, thinking what a narcissistic generation we have being raised up. And when we think that way, I think that we become part of the problem.
While it may not seem related, I’ve never really understood why people don’t go to church because of the hypocrisy that’s there. I know it’s there. I know it’s hard to be around people who are hypocritical. I’ve just always thought that if you see things you don’t like, you should try to be part of the solution not the problem. So, if you don’t like hypocrisy, make sure you’re not being hypocritical and make sure you’re being the picture of Jesus you wish to see in the church. Merriam-webster.com defines hypocrisy in this way:
noun \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\
: the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel
So in a way, any time someone claims he/she won’t go to church because people who go to church aren’t acting like Jesus, I have to question what one thinks Jesus would do and whether or not he/she is doing what Jesus would do. Luke 4:16-21 says what Jesus did:
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[b] 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Not only did Jesus go to the synagogue (kind of like our modern-day church), He also spoke of what He came to do-what we should be doing. By saying we won’t go to church because others aren’t being like Jesus-who by the way, was surrounded by the Pharisees-the people Jesus even called hypocrites, I think in a way, we’re being hypocritical. We’re not acting like Jesus either-whose custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and not only that, He wasn’t part of the problem looking down on others, He took the responsibility to be part of the solution. Actually, He is the solution.
In the same way, I think when we read these articles thinking about what others need to do rather than for ourselves, we’re being hypocritical and part of the problem. We’re on dangerous grounds then because we’re doing exactly what Satan would have us to do as an accuser of the brethren. We become so blinded by the plank in our own eye and instead start pointing to the speck in someone else’s eye. We let a root of bitterness grow up in our lives that defiles many. When you instead focus on other people’s problems rather than taking responsibility for your own actions, you take Satan’s side and start accusing people that God wants to redeem. Your love grows cold and can no longer have the affect that love has. As Martin Luther states:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I think that it’s an honest assessment at times to say that a lot of “Christians” are hypocritical. I think a lot of us resemble Pharisees more than people who have been redeemed. I know I have and am truly sorry for it. I know there are times I still forget and continue to act hypocritical. It sometimes seems that the longer a Christian “serves” Christ, the more entitled we feel. We become like the jealous brother in the prodigal son parable forgetting that all our Father has is ours. We forget that while sin may be pleasurable for a season, it only leaves us absolutely enslaved to it. We become addicted. I don’t think any Christian man or any man with a conscience that hasn’t been seared can honestly say that he truly enjoys being enslaved to the addiction of porn. It might seem enjoyable at first, but the longer you look, the more your lust grows to even things you would have originally been mortified over in the past, and the more you become enslaved. It’s a fix for them- just like any drug addict or any person stuck in sin can attest to.
When my husband sinned against God that I let have an affect on me, I grew really bitter and unforgiving. While I tried to do everything right on my own, the more he sinned against me, the more justified I felt to be unloving. What hurt the worst was when my husband would sin and hide it from me-always believing it wouldn’t have an effect on me if I just didn’t know, not realizing the wedge it was creating between us. Then, he would often tell me, “Well, if you don’t forgive me, God won’t forgive you.” It was absolutely selfish and disgusting and not apologetic at all. Trust me, if anybody can say that they married someone with a narcissistic problem, I can. I wasn’t given an apology and I wasn’t given time to heal; and to make matters worse, I knew he was right. God says that if we want forgiveness, we have to be forgiving ourselves. Instead of becoming forgiving, I felt justified in my anger because what he was doing was absolutely wrong; and I knew it, and I continually tried to get him to know it. It didn’t matter how many times I told him what he was doing was wrong, that I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy; it didn’t change him. It didn’t matter if I tried to be everything others deem as the perfect wife, my actions could not penetrate his heart. If doing everything perfectly on the outside made someone lovable and led people to repentance, then the Pharisees would be the most lovable people of all and have had the greatest influence. And like I said, I knew God brought us together and I grew really angry at God for ever bringing him into my life. I had never been treated so badly in my life- and I haven’t always been treated so well. Instead, I could have just continually taken it to God and allowed God to soften my heart more and become more like His perfect bride.
Unfortunately, it took me a long time to do that. God’s still releasing me from the strong hold I’ve had over my life. I lost a lot of trust in God during that time although He’s always only remained faithful to me. My view of God became tainted with how my imperfect dad had treated me growing up and how my husband was treating me. I lost sight of the fact that people are flawed-all of us, including me. The only blameless human to walk this earth was Jesus. I started trusting my own strength to protect myself rather than casting my cares on God, and became overly sensitive and hurt to all the sins my husband committed. I became controlling of the situations we were going to be in, and became fearful of the times that I couldn’t control.
Even if I could manage my husband’s actions during that time, I couldn’t change his heart, and I knew that. It was a painful realization. I could never draw his heart to me by anything I did, and it made me fear never being loved. Because I stopped trusting God, I didn’t have a stable foundation and the more uneasy I felt about different things (I had the worst nightmares during that time-was seriously tortured during my dreams), the more controlling I became and the more I felt like I had to find out if my husband was being unfaithful because he wouldn’t be straight with me. While it was painful to find out the “truth” of situations, it was also relieving to me to know I wasn’t feeling uneasy for nothing. It became a fix for me. It was addicting and very damaging. I would have given anything to just be completely set free from it. I felt like there was no way out.
Thankfully, nothing right I did changed my husband’s actions and heart. If it had, I might have continued to trust my own strength instead of turning to the only One who has the power to save. The only One who can redeem all of us. I would have been trapped into believing the lie and sin that my works could save me and others, rather than God’s grace. I would have thought that I could produce the same fruit that only a life connected to God’s vine can produce. We are only branches. When we disconnect ourselves from the Vine, NOTHING good can come from us as God is the only One who is good who can produce goodness. And it is that goodness that leads people to repentance.
The fact that nothing I did and the fact I couldn’t do it on my own-literally, I couldn’t handle it; I was driven mad and on the verge of insanity with my un-forgiveness and bitterness- although I was good at hiding it at times- made me come to the end of myself. While I had cried out to God to fix all my problems before, I cried out to God in a whole new way. I needed Him. I wanted Him. I couldn’t do it on my own and I realized that. I realized that I had gone down a path of sin that was leading me to Hell and I feared the One who has the power to send me to Heaven or Hell, but I also knew He loved me and a broken spirit and a contrite heart, He would not despise. He has always remained faithful to me and never denied Himself despite my many infidelities/sin. It was His love and goodness that led me to repent to Him, and I could trust in His forgiveness over me because of His lovingkindness and faithfulness that never fails.
Because I had been forgiven much, I’ve been set free to love much. I have been set free to love in a way I’ve never loved before. And my husband, holy cow, he’s like a whole new person! Yesterday, I was again reminded of that fact as we were walking on some ice and he, without my asking, held my hand to make sure I wouldn’t fall. He’s written me numerous letters apologizing for the way he’s treated me (obviously, a far cry from how he was before) and yet so grateful for the way God has used Satan’s plans he intended for evil over my life for good. He’s become the biggest blessing in my life and my best friend! I often feel like he’s too good for me now! Only God could do that! Only the transforming power of God’s love can do that! Yeah, we still screw up at times. We still fall back occasionally. We’re still human and we haven’t fully “arrived”, but we know what that path leads to and are more aware right away when we start heading down that path. We can turn to God and ask for forgiveness from Him and each other now and know we’ll be forgiven. Because we’ve both been forgiven much and can love much more freely.
We all have a choice. We can keep reading articles and the Bible and think of others and point fingers and feel justified with where we’re at in life or we can look to Jesus and allow His perfect transforming love and the fire He tries us with to melt all the impurities in our lives. There’s always going to be someone worse off than we are. But pointing at others who are worse off than we are doesn’t make us any better ourselves and doesn’t produce the change we wish to see in them. Only love can do that. Only by seeing ourselves in light of Jesus and His truth will we be able to freely allow Him to do the work He wants to in us. Only by His power can we love our enemies (sometimes people who shouldn’t be our enemies), do good to those who hurt us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us, and that’s what God has called us to do.
Like I said in my previous post, God wants to be glorified in any and every marriage. He doesn’t want us to separate what He has joined together. Yes, He’s called husbands to love and serve their wives like Christ does the church and to wash their wives with the word. But women, even the best husband isn’t God. He’s going to be imperfect and have flaws. The only way we’re going to have our “happily ever after” is when we get to see Jesus face to face. Don’t expect from an imperfect man what only God can deliver. We’re still called to respect him even in his failures. Don’t withhold love because your husband isn’t who God created him to be at the time. If anything, that’ll just drive him more into his sin as he’ll feel justified in his sinful mind to keep sinning since he’s not receiving love at home. Men, please don’t wait for your wives to be all God’s called her to be either before you start loving her. Withholding love from her will not produce the fruit only God can do in her. You can go your whole lives waiting for the other person to do what they’re called to do and I know personally many people who have done that (I wrote this poem after attending the funeral of one of those people) and wasted the rest of their lives in bitterness and some who are still doing that.
Who you are, what you do, and how you react are all things you’re going to have to answer for yourself someday when you face God. We don’t answer for others, only ourselves. We need to make ourselves in right relation to God and allow His Holy Spirit to work through us and the fruit that comes from that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. You can try hard and seem to have some of those on your own, but if you’re not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through you, your “fruit” will not last through the storms of this life. We all face storms. Some of us are fortunate to have more loving marriages from the start, but everybody faces battles in this life. We can allow those battles to harden our hearts to God and others around us causing our love to grow cold and unusable, or we can allow God to allow that fire to shape and mold us to be the people we’re created to be and soften our hearts to Him and extend the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to join all the others waiting for others to get their acts straight or are you going to become responsible for your own actions and become transformed by allowing God to love you and use you to love the unlovable? It is impossible to do that on our own and when we do that, God gets all the glory and we are here to bring Him glory!
*There’s a story I want to share where this lady has clearly brought God glory and allowed God to extend a love that most of us can’t even comprehend in an extremely difficult marriage where most of us would have told her to leave and felt very justified in doing so. Because she allowed God to use her to love the unlovable, she has allowed her life to glorify God and reach others in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had she not responded in the way she did. When I first read this story, I think I was in high school and bawled like a baby praying for God to give me a love like this but hoping I wouldn’t have to go through something like this to produce that kind of love. I almost forgot about the story though since it had been a while back, until my pastor read this story this past Sunday during his message (really good if you want to hear it) when he talked about marriage and divorce. Again, I couldn’t hold back the tears at all. This story is such a beautiful illustration of God’s love and it is so worth reading! It’s only 3 pages in the book “Larger Window” by DeVern Fromke (HIGHLY recommended-pretty much anything by him as he is a great man of God) and I know it’ll make this post seem super long, but if you read anything today, I hope it’ll be this.
Could You Have Loved as Much?
Bob Considine writes…
Edith Taylor was sure that she was “the luckiest woman on the block.” She and Karl had been married twenty-three years and her heart still skipped a beat when he walked into the room. As for Karl, he gave every appearance of a man in love with his wife. If his job as a government warehouse worker took him out of town, he would write Edith each night and send gifts from every place he visited.
In February 1950, Karl was sent to Okinawa for a few months to work in a new government warehouse. It was a long time to be away, and so far. This time no little gifts came. Edith understood! He was saving his money for the house they had long dreamed of owning someday.
The lonesome months dragged on. Each time Edith expected Karl home, he’d write that he must stay “another three weeks.” “Another month.” “Just two months longer.” He’d been gone a year now, and his letters were coming less and less often. No gifts…she understood. But a few pennies for a postage stamp? Then, after weeks of silence, came this letter:
I wish there was a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married.
Edith walked to the sofa and sat down. He had written to Mexico for a mail-order divorce. He had married Aiko, a Japanese maid-of-all-work assigned to his quarters. She was nineteen. Either was forty-eight.
Now, if I were making up this story, the rejected wife would fight that quick paper-divorce. She would hate her husband and the woman. She would want vengeance for her own shatter life. But I am describing here simply what did happen. Edith Taylor did not hate Karl. Perhaps she had loved him so long that she was unable to stop.
She could picture the situation. A lonely man. Constant closeness. But even so, Karl had done the easy, shameful thing. He had chosen divorce, rather than taking advantage of the young servant girl. The only thing Edith could not believe was that he had stopped loving her. Someday, somehow, Karl would come home.
Edith now built her life around this thought. She wrote Karl, asking him to keep her in touch. In time he wrote that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. Maria was born in 1951; then in 1953, Helen. Edith sent gifts to the little girls. She still wrote to Karl and he wrote back: “Helen had a tooth…Aiko’s English was improving…Karl had lost weight.”
And then the terrible letter. Karl was dying of lung cancer. His last letters were filled with fear. Not for himself, but for Aiko and his two little girls. He had been saving to send them to school in America, but his hospital bills were taking everything. What would become of them?
Then Edith knew that her last gift to Karl could be peace of mind. She wrote that if Aiko was willing, she would take Maria and Helen and bring them up in Waltham. For many months after Karl’s death, Aiko would not let the children go. They were all she had ever known. Yet what could she offer them except a life of poverty, servitude and despair? In November 1956, she sent the two girls to Edith.
Edith has known it would be hard at fifty-four to be mother to a three-year-old and five-year-old. She hadn’t realized that. in the time since Karl’s death, they would forget the little English they knew. But Mariah and Helen learned fast. The fear left their eyes; their faces grew plump. And Edith, for the first time in six years, was hurrying home from work. Even getting meals was fun again! Sadder were the times when letters came from Aiko: “Aunt, tell me…if Maria or Helen cry or not.” In the broken English, Edith read the loneliness, and she knew what loneliness was. She knew that she must bring the girls’ mother here too.
She must make the decision, but Aiko was still a Japanese citizen, and the immigration quota had a waiting list many years long. It was then that Edith Taylor wrote me, asking if I could help. I described the situation in my newspaper column. Others did more. Petitions were started, and, in August 1957, Aiko Taylor was permitted to enter the country.
As the plane came in at New York’s national airport, Edith had a moment of fear. What if she should hate this woman who had taken Karl away from her? The last person off the plane was a girl so thin and small that Edith thought at first she was a child. She stood there clutching the railing, and Edith knew that, if she had been afraid, Aiko was near panic.
She called Aiko’s name, and the girl rushed down the steps into Edith’s arms. As they held each other, Edith had an extraordinary thought. “I prayed for karl to come back. Now he has- in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl he loved. Help me, God, to love her, too.” (B.C.)
I feel sure many wives would have exhorted Edith:
“Forget him! Get on with your own life.”
To some that may seem like sound advice, but that is not what Edith felt God wanted for her, and we appreciate her decision. She might even have questioned in weak moments: “Was it really God telling her to forgive, and forgive some more?” Yes, she chose to send her roots deeper into the river of his grace: And God responded by giving her two daughters and a close friend.
It is awesome! When God writes the last chapter, for whatever He writes is good…good for all. The Psalmist seems to know this:
“I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh shall rest in hope… Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Let us be assured…
“…weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning!”
Father, I am sure that I could not endure as Edith did, but I remember that You are the One Who provides special grace for those Who choose Your best. I now choose to become Your channel for loving all the “Aikos” and their children around me, who are helpless victims of sin and lust.