We are continuing the series of FAQs that I hear from women – wives, fiances and girlfriends. I’d like for you to keep this post in mind as a godly mindset in marriage. There may be some applications for it in dating/courtship/engagement as well. But if a man you are with is very far from God – you can leave before you are married, you are not required to stay.
This has to be one of the most common questions I hear from wives – but the single ladies do ask it, too, at times.
He’s the one who is being so unloving! He’s the one who is far from God. He should have to change first. This isn’t fair that you say I should ask God to change me first!
(For this post, as in all of my posts, I am assuming you are dating a godly man who willingly submits himself to Christ and His Word and who has fruit of God’s Spirit in his life. It is God’s clear will for believers to only date other believers in Christ, people who are also “in the Lord.” Please do not date an unbeliever or a man who “says he’s a Christian” but has no evidence at all of a new life in Christ. That is a recipe for serious heartache.)
BLAME SOMEONE ELSE
It’s always easier to place all the blame for our relationship problems on the other person and not look at our own responsibility or our own sin. That is human nature. I see it in my children!
“Mama! He hit me!”
And, of course, my daughter conveniently leaves out everything she did to her brother.
Our son does the same thing. I remember a few years ago when Brandon was 8 years old, he came running into our bedroom and said, “Haley sat on my face!!!!!!”
Greg and I were shocked that our 3 year old little girl would do something like that. So I asked, “What did you do to her?” He said, “Well, I was pretending to sit on her head. But I wasn’t actually putting all of my weight on her. Then it was her turn – but she put all her weight on my face!”
- Mmm Hmm. I can’t IMAGINE why your sister did what she did. It is such a mystery, son. That girl is just pure evil, right?!
It’s much easier to point at my husband and tell God, “He needs to change! Look how sinful he is!” In fact, that is exactly what I did for over 14 years in my marriage. Guess where it got me?
My focusing on my husband’s sin caused me to:
- ignore my own FOREST of sin
- ignore my own responsibility to God
- ignore my own obedience to God
- develop a huge amount of pride
- become self-righteous
- become a powerless victim – forever waiting on my husband to do what I wanted him to do before I could ever be content in my life.
- break my fellowship with Christ
- lose the power of God in my life
- lose my influence for Christ
- destroy intimacy on every level in my marriage
- cherish resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness
I can’t think of ONE good thing that me focusing on my husband’s sin and ignoring my own sin accomplished.
If you are not married, you don’t have to stay with your man. But please keep in mind that all husbands and all wives need much grace in marriage. Choose a man who submits himself to Christ and His Word and has real fruit in his life on a daily basis. But be prepared to forgive and give grace and mercy.
Let’s talk about what is “fair” for a moment. If I want “fair” – here is what is fair:
- The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) The things I have done have earned me hell. If I have even just one sin in my life (like Adam and Eve did) – according to the holy God and Judge of the universe – I deserve death and separation from Him forever. God cannot tolerate sin – any sin – in His holy presence. He cannot ignore it. Someone has to pay for it in blood. And I have infinitely more than just one sin in my heart. I deserve condemnation.
- As a sinner – I don’t “deserve” anything good from God at all.
- Because I am a sinner, I have no “rights” before God.
THANK GOD that Jesus was willing to step in on my behalf and take upon Himself all of the sin of my entire life and stand in my place, receiving the full wrath of God that my sins deserved. That is CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is INSANE that Jesus would love me that much! I did NOTHING to deserve His love. I owe Him MUCH. I have been forgiven MUCH. Now, I am free from the penalty of sin. God has given me eternal life with Him through Christ – not because I deserve it. I don’t! He does this because of His great love for me and because Jesus paid my massive debt to Him in full – and I have received that gift by faith.
This is so much better than if I had won $400 million in a lottery!
I am no longer condemned before God! Now – because of my overwhelming gratitude, thankfulness and joy – I am His servant, ready to do anything He asks of me! There is nothing He could ask me to do that I would not be willing to do after all He has done to rescue me from the gates of hell and to give me abundant spiritual life here and life forever with Him in heaven.
I don’t obey Him to be “good enough” for Him. It is impossible for me to be good enough. I am a guilty sinner. I don’t obey Him to try to “earn” heaven.
I obey Him because of what HE has done for me and the scandalous grace, mercy and forgiveness He has lavished on me, a wretched sinner.
WHO AM I TO DICTATE TO GOD WHAT HE SHOULD DO?
Why on earth would I not be willing – after all that Christ has done for me – to humbly and joyfully do anything He asked me to do? Why would I want to sit around in my own sin and not repent of my own sin and demand that God must change Greg first? That just doesn’t even make sense at all!
“Jesus -please just leave me in all of my sin and filth and clean up my husband first! Don’t touch me until he is all cleaned up. I’m good. I can stay here for years if necessary.”
If I really and truly “get” what Jesus has done for me – I am going to be raising my hand as high as I can saying:
“Oh, Jesus!!!! Pick me!! Pick me! Change ME now! Get rid of all of my sin as soon as possible! Don’t let me stay in this filth and nastiness another minute!!!! Show me what you want to change in my heart! Cleanse me of every trace of sin that offends You. Make me the woman You desire me to be! I don’t care what it takes. I don’t care what You ask me to do. I don’t care how much it hurts or what the cost is to myself – I want to please and honor You with all my heart and life!!! You do whatever You want to with my husband. I trust him to Your hands. Just don’t leave me here. Change me and heal me!”
What if His greatest concerns with me are for me to learn to:
- die to self
- live as a daily living sacrifice to Him
- humble myself and focus on my own sin, my own attitudes, my obedience to Him, my heart and my life
- become a godly woman and wife no matter what my husband does or does not do – because I want to please and honor Jesus more than anything in my life
- obey Him and allow Him to take me out of the way so that He can reach my husband
What if I am standing squarely in God’s way in my husband’s life? What if my sin (pride, disrespect, contentiousness, control) is keeping my husband from hearing God’s voice? What if God wants men to change first because I am causing destruction and damage in my marriage and in my husband’s soul?
In my marriage, that is exactly what was happening.
Here is why God wanted to change me first (- one of the reasons, at least. I am sure there are many I don’t even know about.):
- Greg told me years later that when I stopped all the criticism, negativity, lecturing, telling him what to do, all the disrespect… that it was like someone “turned off the static on the speaker in his soul that had God’s voice.” He began to hear God’s voice again for the first time in many years.
- Then, he said, when I began to add the positive things – the encouragement, the praise for what he did right, the genuine admiration and building him up with my words – it was like someone put an “amplifier on the speaker with God’s voice.”
What if God knows that He needs to change me first in order to reach my husband? Isn’t that totally worth it? If there are things I can do to become God’s partner and to cooperate with Him in drawing my husband to God and to myself – I would be crazy not to be willing to do those things – whatever they might be.
Here is God’s prescription for us- His commands for us – when our husbands are far from Himself:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. – I Peter 3:1-6
Single ladies – please remember that you cannot change a man. God changes people. We do not. We are not the Holy Spirit. We can’t drag people to God. In fact, if we try to drag our men toward God, we will repel them from us and from God. If you cannot accept and respect a man right now as he is without wanting him to change – either you have a lot to learn about the Lordship of Christ, respect and biblical submission, or he is not a godly man or you may both have a lot of spiritual growing to do.
Be sure that you focus on becoming the woman God desires you to be no matter what any man in your life is doing. Focus on repenting of any sin in your own life and on abiding in Christ and allowing His Spirit to empower you to obey Him. Seek to obey Him in everything! If you don’t earnestly desire to obey Christ – something is seriously wrong in your walk with Him. There could be sin you are cherishing, or maybe you have never actually trusted Christ as your Savior and as your LORD. If you are not experiencing the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control of the fruit of God’s Spirit on a daily basis (Galatians 5:21-22) and you would like to talk with me about your relationship with Christ, please let me know. 🙂
If you can’t tell if your man is close to Christ – please find a godly mentoring wife or pastor to talk with or a godly parent. The time to decide if this man has godly character and if you can truly respect him is BEFORE you marry him!