Parents all understand Paul’s command to “bring the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). But sometimes we grow weary in teaching the same old truths on many occasions again and again. Solomon could relate. He said “Hear my son your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov 1:8). All through the Book of Proverbs, we receive many examples of Solomon pleading with his son to hear, listen to, heed, pay attention to, and receive His instruction. For instance, “my son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments” (Prov 3:1). This is a vital and unending part of parenting. As the children grow, we as parents must be deliberate in our teaching and instructing of their hearts. This not only takes place in the discipline room when they’re very small (with simple points of instruction) but as the child gets older, the physical spanking will decrease and the verbal instruction and biblical reasoning with the child will increase. When the child is so young that he cannot articulate or reason with you as the parent, discipline with the rod is the primary means of discipline when he has sinned. But as the child grows, verbal instruction, reasoning from the Scriptures, and helping the child see the desires that rule his heart that cause him to then choose to act, speak, or respond a certain way will then take priority in shepherding them toward Christ.
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Philippians 2:14 — “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
James 5:9 — “Do not complain, brethren, against one another…”
THE CORRUPTION OF COMPLAINING
Everyone does it. It’s all around us. In fact, it’s so normalized and pervasive that we hardly even recognize when it actually occurs. The sin of complaining is one of those “respectable sins.” That is, it’s one that’s hardly spoken about, seldom preached against, and still less frequent, a sin with which Christians persistently wage violent war. Complaining is ugly. Complaining is one of the most commonest and frequent sins that’s almost as easy to find and common as the air we breathe.
Complaining isn’t, however, the real issue. Complaining is the outward manifestation of other heart-sins taking place in that moment. Let’s diagnose complaining. When we complain, we manifest three heart-sins that are all taking place together.
First, complaining manifests an attitude of “deservedness.” It’s like saying: “I’m not getting what I feel like I deserve!” Or, to state the opposite: “I am getting what I don’t think I deserve.” And in that moment of a complaint, we soar to the realms of deservedness, specifically, that we deserve something good or better than what we’re actually experiencing.
There just might be some news that would toweringly soar far above any other news you could receive today. That news is that you have, at this present instant, a Great High Priest who intercedes for you before God’s heavenly throne. At this moment, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, and however you may feel, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a Surety in heaven who pleads His own merits before God the Father on your behalf. Jesus, right now, prays for you. In fact, He does not stop praying for you. He loves you and brings you incessantly before the Father’s throne in prayer. Dear Christian, this is what your bridegroom does for you!
So husband, strive to emulate this by praying for your wife. Just as your Savior brings you before the Father, so you should bring your wife before the Father frequently. Just as your Savior intercedes for you out of fervent love, so you can intercede on behalf of your bride before the Father with a heart overflowing in love.
Husband, do you pray for your wife? Not just a few words here or there. But do you really pour out your soul to God in desperate pleadings, fervent cries, and intercessory petitions on behalf of your most treasured possession on earth, your bride? If God were to affirmatively answer all of your prayers right now, at this instant, how much would really change in your marriage, or in your wife’s life?
Pray with frequency for your wife. Seek the Lord early for your bride. Prayerfully lead her to the throne before she even brings herself to the throne of grace. Beg God for strength to equip her to stand strong in almighty grace and to ward off the devil’s wily schemes. Seek the Lord that she may grow in grace, in wisdom, in love, in patience, in holy zeal, and in evangelistic opportunities.
Husbands must live with their lives in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7). The Greek phrase for “an understanding way” literally could be translated, ‘according to knowledge.’ Every husband must dwell together with his wife in such a way that he knows her — very well. That means, quite practically, that husbands must date (and continue to date!) their wives. The wedding ceremony doesn’t mean the work of learning one another has ceased. Rather, it only has launched!
What does it look like for husbands to learn their wives?
First, learn her intentionally. This means that the husband must actually try and remember that he must be deliberate and proactive in reaching her heart and learning more about her. Because, naturally, this won’t happen automatically. Men can so quickly fall into laziness and apathy which can be utterly catastrophic for a thriving and holy marriage relationship. Thus, the man must strive to ask questions, pursue her as much after the wedding as he did to win her before they were even dating. Second, husbands must learn her emotionally. Women change as different seasons of life come and go. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just life. Seasons and life and families change. So husbands have the wonderful privilege of knowing and learning and seeking to learn how their wives are doing on the inside. This allows the husbands to shepherd and love their wives well.
Third, learn her repeatedly. It’s not a one-shot endeavor. Rather, this is an ongoing pursuit. It’s relentless. It’s undying. It’s a continual desire to ask questions and more questions and dialogue together and ask good, heart searching questions regularly. Again, this is to remain throughout the entirety of one’s marriage. Fourth, learn her studiously. Husbands can tend to study theology more than their wives. Husbands can tend to study their work and hobbies and sports teams more than their wives. And this ought not to be. Every husband must study his bride. He should be constantly asking and learning. Constantly inquiring and seeking to know why she thinks and speaks and does and reacts and lives the way she does. This comes with time. It’s not a quick, drive-thru, get it done easily and quickly endeavor. This studying of the wife is a life-long pursuit.