Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Gift of Wisdom

In the fifth chapter of Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi addresses the question, "How can I possibly be cheerful when my husband is a selfish jerk?" She rightly concludes that our obedience to the Lord is not dependent on our husbands' good behavior. We are accountable to follow His commands no matter what our circumstances. Debi urges her readers to pursue a path of wisdom, which requires God's help.

Repeatedly, the biblical writers urge us to value wisdom above everything else in this world, and they also warn us of the dangers of foolishness.

Two of Solomon's proverbs come to mind:

"The wise woman builds her house,
but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."

"A gracious woman retains honor."

So when my own dear and usually-loving husband has a bad day and, well, acts like a jerk, I still have a choice of whether I'm going to build up or tear down my house. And I have a choice about whether I will be gracious and honored, or be rude and take the consequences.

The internal struggle comes when I have the choice of obeying God or obeying my instincts when it comes to biblical submission. One time I was listening to the local Christian radio station, and heard a Q&A with Elizabeth Elliot. Someone asked, "What is submission?" She laughed sympathetically. Then she explained that men do not ask what submission means, they don't ask what it means to submit themselves to their employers or to the laws. She had only heard this question from women. Then she defined submission to husbands, "Do what he says."

Do you feel the same revolt welling up within you that I feel? You know that Christian women did not invent the idea of wifely submission! It is God's idea, and even though we don't always understand it, it is a wise and loving idea!

I know a group of women that call themselves "the strong-willed women"--and they think they have some unique virtue because of it. I try not to laugh. Is there a woman on the face of the earth that is not strong-willed?

I have also heard two women claim in an injured tone of voice that they are naturally submissive. Having observed each these women, I know that is not true; if her husband tells her to do something she doesn't want to do, she doesn't believe she understood him correctly, and each sweetly does what she thinks he should have wanted her to do.

But true submission is not natural. Submission is not the same thing as agreement; submission happens when agreement is not happening. And Jesus' submission to the Father is our example, though He agreed with the Father, He still was conflicted when He prayed, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours."

Our submission to our husbands is a testimony of two things. In the letter to the Ephesians, we are told that our submission to our own husbands is a picture of the church's submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the apostle Peter's first letter, we are told that Christ's submission to the Father is our example for submission to our husbands.

So with a gentle and quiet spirit, with our trust firmly fixed in our God, with the wisdom that God is so willing to give us, we can respond graciously and nobly to whatever God allows.

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