Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remembering the Word

2Pe 3:1  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
2Pe 3:2  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.

In Peter’s second epistle, he is warning the church of false teachers who will lead them into sin and away from Christ.  In warning them against error he doesn’t have them focus on the error but on the truth found in the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God.  He exhorts them to grow “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”, 1:2.  To use the old adage, one becomes an expert spotting counterfeit money by studying the genuine, not the false.

In the above verses Peter also points out that much of what he is writing is not new but he is reminding them of things they have already been taught.  So he is causing them to focus on the genuine over and over again.  The implication is that we tend to forget what we have been taught and along with that we tend to store biblical teaching in the hard drive of our memory not the RAM.  What I mean by that is that we walk out of church and we tuck the message away until next week as if it isn’t relevant and necessary every moment of every day.  We don’t live our days with the Word of God constantly in our minds.  We haven’t let it permeate our thinking so that it determines our world view and identity; so that it is readily available in our minds when we need it.  We let our current financial or relational status or political climate or the discomfort we are in determine our thinking and actions and mood rather than letting the Word of God be continually guiding us.

It is amazing how so many modern day saints think that one message a week is sufficient Bible study.  One would have to assume that they have retained everything they have ever heard and it stays fresh in the memories so it is right there when they need it.  I think the reality is that we need to learn and relearn the Word and it needs to be drilled and redrilled into us because our natural bent to sin will easily take over our worldview and thought patterns if we don’t keep our minds saturated with the Word of God.

Peter gives us a good example of this in Luke 22:60-62.  In the previous evening Jesus told him that before the cock crowed in the morning Peter was going to deny him three times.  Now I know that if the Lord told that to me I would think that all I have to do is not forget what he said and hold out for a few hours.  There is no way I am going to forget his words and deny him not once but three times.  But my sinful tendency, just like Peter’s, is to let self dominate my thinking.  Like Peter, as soon as I am confronted with the possibility of physical danger my natural tendency is self-preservation even if it means disassociating myself from the Lord.  Instead of dwelling on Jesus’s words, Peter and we tend to dwell on self and this is why we need constant, steady Bible study and teaching.  I think this is seen in the text in Luke, Luk 22:60  But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. Luk 22:61  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times." 

Can you image Peter looking at the face of Jesus and remembering what he had forgotten just a few hours before?  How prone we are to forget and how much we need the power of God to keep the Word before us and to be controlled by it.  But without the Word in our heads, it can never permeate our hearts.  Let’s pray that we would have a proper desire to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and to be patient when the preacher preaches on something that we “already know and don’t need”.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What Land are We Looking For?

Gen 28:13  And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Gen 28:14  Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 

One thing that Christians have debated from the very beginning of the church is how are the land promises given to Abraham fulfilled.  Were they fulfilled by the time Christ came or is there a future fulfillment for them to be regathered back into the land of Palestine?  Some see the Jews being regathered back into Palestine as pretty much the culmination of God’s plan for the world.  People like John Hagee have made it their life’s ministry to “help” God fulfill prophecy by physically relocating Jews back to their “homeland”. 

While it is a vast study that is too large to cover entirely here, I want to offer a few thoughts that might help us find a more practical application for the subject.  Where this can move into unfruitful and even dangerous areas is when people seem to be more concerned and even excited over Jews being gathered to Israel than they are about the gospel being proclaimed to them.  Some even go so far as to say that the Jews don’t need the gospel since God loves them outside of Christ and their future isn’t connected to Jesus’s work but the blood that runs in their veins. 

One of the problems as I see it is that many fail to realize that the land promises while fulfilled literally in the OT always had a universal goal in mind.  In other words, the promises look forward to the day when God’s people will dwell in the whole earth not just in a tiny part of it.  By “God’s people” I mean all those in Christ because anyone not in Christ ultimately will have no part of God, period.  It was necessary for the Jews to possess the land for a time so that Christ could come and do his work but the goal was never Palestine but a new heaven and earth because the goal was never just about the Jews but about the elect unto salvation.  The above passage shows that early on the Lord was speaking about his people possessing more than just a few square miles in the Middle East. 

Elsewhere in Genesis, for instance, we see that it was never just the Jews in mind but that the Gentiles would be brought in to create a people way too large to merely indwell Palestine, Gen 12:3  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Gen 15:5  And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Gen 22:17  I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, Gen 22:18  and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."

It is important to note that nowhere in the NT does anyone refer to the Jews waiting to inherit the land.  Anytime there is a reference to anyone inheriting land it speaks of the church and the word “land” is changed to a more universal word like “world”.  Mat 5:5  "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Mat_6:10  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Rom 4:13  For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.  Rev_5:10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."  Rev_11:15  Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

If Israel gets to live in Palestine for a few years then I am glad for them.  I will be with Christ so I will have something much more glorious to think about.  But what is sad is that there are so many who are much more interested and excited in the Jews getting their own country than they are about Christ’s kingdom being established on earth.  Christ told us to go into all the world and establish his kingdom through the gospel, not worry about getting Jews to Palestine.  

There is a lot more that could be said about this but I think a biblical and a much more practical, Christ honoring case can be made that the land promises to Abraham as well as all the promises are fulfilled in the new nation that God is making through the preaching of the gospel that includes Jew and every other people group, Rev 5:9  And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, Rev 5:10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Do We Vent or Pray?

Exo 5:22  Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?
Exo 5:23  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."
Exo 6:1  But the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land."

The above passage is an example of a poor prayer.  If we are truthful, all of us have prayed equally as badly when we think that we know better than God and care about people more than he does.  Yet Moses and no one else in the Bible is ever chided for coming to the Lord with their needs or questions, in fact, we are commanded to do so; “Pray without ceasing”.  As we see in the next verse, the Lord intends to correct Moses’s approach to his problems by trusting in God, not by accusing God of doing something evil.  But even when our faith and prayers are weak and misguided, prayer is necessary and good.  So Moses isn’t chided but neither does the Lord let his prayer go unchallenged.

The great heroes of the faith in the Bible always kept a line of communication open with God; they weren’t in the habit of going to some man to do their praying for them.  We are a kingdom of priests which expressly means that we are free from going through another man.  We can go to God through Christ.  Isn’t that better than having to go through a priest or even your pastor who can never care for you like Jesus and who have no power to help you anyway?  Isn’t it better to be able to pray at any time rather than hoping that I will remember to pray on your behalf?

Asking God why is not sinful providing it is asked honestly and faithfully looking to God for help.  Even weak prayers are not condemned but God uses them to communicate to us.  I think this brings in another good reason for us to have a healthy prayer life.  The world knows that suppressing things is not good; things need to be vented.  The problem is they don’t know how to vent properly.  One popular method of venting is to take your frustrations out on something, like punching a pillow or screaming at the top of your lungs.  If we stop and think about this for a moment we can soon see how foolish and unhelpful this really is.

First of all it isn’t helping the problem.  At best it releases some tension but only for a while because the problem is still there with all its anxiety.  It is also quite self-centered as it exposes someone who can’t handle things when they don’t go in a way that pleases them.  It is merely an adult throwing a socially acceptable temper tantrum.  It is what someone who doesn’t have God on their side does because they really have no recourse for help.  So they are saying that I can’t have my way and I am going to let everyone know that I am not happy.  Fine, but now what?  You haven’t fixed anything and you haven’t dealt with it in a way that will bring peace and certainly not bring honor to the Lord.

Yes, we were designed to vent our frustrations and needs and we can do so by talking things out.  We were made to find relief through prayer to the only One who can help us in a meaningful way and One who loves and cares for us better than anyone else. 

God answers Moses’s prayer by pointing to himself and his power and purpose.  Instead of yelling and throwing a hissy fit because we aren’t getting our way, we can hand things over to the Lord who has told us that everything has a purpose that will ultimately end up for our good.  If there is any piece of knowledge that is more helpful than that, then I would like to hear it.  Talking things out with the Father who has been brought near to us through Jesus’s work, is the only God-honoring effective way to “release tension”; to deal with problems and find peace and comfort in a world in which we “will have tribulation”.  God made us and knows what we need better than we do.  Useful, saving, true faith takes him at his word and rests in his providence. 

Do our prayers reflect faith or accusations like Moses’s did?  One will bring peace, the other will just bring more frustration.




Friday, July 14, 2017

Are We Like Moses or Isaiah?

Exo 4:10  But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." Exo 4:11  Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exo 4:12  Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak." Exo 4:13  But he said, "Oh, my Lord, please send someone else."

There are a lot of wonderful things to learn from Moses.  No doubt he becomes a great example of a leader who loves his people so much he is willing to die for them.  But like most OT characters there are some lessons to learn that teach us how not to serve the Lord.  The above text is one example.

Few people ever got to meet God, let alone see some aspect of his glory, like Moses did.  While he will see a greater glimpse of God’s glory later on, he has certainly had an amazing revelation of God at the burning bush where among other things he was told the Lord’s name that demonstrated his eternality and self-sufficiency.  But it is precisely because of this encounter with God that the above text stands out.  He soon forgets how glorious the Lord is and asks to be excused from doing what the Lord wants him to do using the excuse that he is insufficient to perform the task. 

This text is sometimes entitled by preachers as “Here I am, send somebody else”.  It is an astoundingly good example of how we are so quick to live by sight and not by faith even when we are given an actual physical demonstration of God’s glory.  Moses has not only seen some of God’s glory in the burning bush but has seen three amazing miracles of his power and yet he can only look at himself and conclude that he can’t obey God because God has not gifted him with the abilities necessary to perform the work. 

Of course, Moses’ failure is that he looks at himself and not the revelation of God.  We easily see ourselves in this because we are experts at making excuses as to why we can’t obey the Lord due to circumstances all around us.  We justify our depressions and unloving attitudes because of things that have happened conveniently forgetting that God allowed those things in order to train and strengthen us, not as an excuse to think only about ourselves and disregard his calling.  We take it upon ourselves to decide that God failed to give us the required gifts needed for a certain task or service even though he clearly commands us to do it.  It is good for us to consider that such thinking is actually an attack on the wisdom of God.  We know that God sees it as such by his response in vs. 11 when he essentially says that Moses is blaming God because God gave him his mouth.

To me, the lesson that screams out from this account is that the Lord is sufficient for us and that nothing is impossible if the Lord commands it.  Case in point: Luk 1:36  And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. Luk 1:37  For nothing will be impossible with God."  If God can cause an elderly woman have a baby then we immediately are without excuses when it comes to doing whatever the Lord would have us do.  Vs. 37 makes it clear that nothing is impossible “with God”.  Nothing God calls us to do is impossible because he will supply the strength.  All things are impossible without God.

Finally, there is an interesting parallel between Moses and Isaiah.  Like Moses, Isaiah also was given an amazing glimpse of God in his glory.  He also saw that in comparison he was a ruined sinner who needed grace, Isa 6:5  And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"  Like Moses he was given a task to take a message to people who would not want to hear God’s Word and would not respond properly.

But the difference between Moses and Isaiah is that when God asked was there anyone up for the task Isaiah says, “Here I am, send me!”  His vision of God encouraged him that he could do the most difficult of tasks.  Moses, upon seeing how little he was compared to God, kept his eyes on himself and so naturally didn’t believe he could do anything.  Thankfully the Lord works with Moses until his confidence (faith) is in God and not in his own abilities.

May the Lord give us a vision of himself in his Word that we abandon all excuses and by faith remove all mountains as we give ourselves totally to his glorious power.  Will we be like Isaiah, eager to obey, or like Moses and blame God for not making us like we think he should have?

Friday, June 23, 2017

For the Sake of Your Prayers

1Pe 4:7  The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

This is an interesting verse in its motivation of prayer to be self-controlled and sober-minded.  We probably would think that we should exercise self-control and sober-mindedness in order to be godly and effective in service or to save ourselves from fleshly addictions and so on.  But here Peter exhorts us to be vigilant for the sake of our prayers.

I see two ways to take this.  He could mean that we need to be careful to be godly so that our prayers will be heard.  This would be in keeping with chapter 3:7 where he tells husbands to live in an understanding way with their wives so their prayers are not hindered.  This is assumed to mean that God won’t answer your prayers if you are living in known sin especially in your relationship with your wife.  I think there is something to be said about this interpretation but there also might be more here than just having our prayers heard; especially in the text above.

Perhaps Peter is thinking back to the night of Jesus’ betrayal when instead of praying he and the other disciples slept.  It is clear from the Gospel accounts that the disciples had no clue as to what Jesus was about to face in his cross work.  It is also clear that Peter was overconfident in the flesh as seen in his encounter with the girl where he ended up denying Jesus three times.  He does this after promising the Lord that he would never deny him. 

So as they enter the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks them to pray with him but they are not being vigilant, sober-minded, and self-controlled because they are not aware of the danger they and the Lord were in.  They are overcome with the flesh as they grow weary and instead of praying they pamper the body with sleep.  There is nothing wrong with sleep, of course, but in this case prayer and the sustaining power of God both in their lives and their Master’s was much more needed.

So perhaps the point Peter is making in 4:7 is not to be diligent in godliness so that God will answer our prayers but more so that we will recognize how important praying is and be vigilant to pray often.  Too often we look at prayer as the last resort; “When all else fails, pray!”  But I think we are better off to be proactive and always be praying and anticipating our needs rather than walking through life unaware of the enemies of the flesh and our souls.  Had the disciples not been “intoxicated” with a kingdom in which they had positions of honor over their enemies and had they been more in tune with the will of Jesus they would have realized how important prayer was that fateful night.  Instead they run; they deny; they fear and the only thing that gets them through all this was that Jesus prays for them that their faith will not fail. 

Peter’s point then could be that we have to see life as it really is; to have a biblical worldview.  God uses our payers to keep us dependent on him and his Word.  We are told to prayer constantly, 1Th 5:17  pray without ceasing, because we are dependent on the Lord at all times for everything.  When we have the mindset that God just wants me to be happy and have ease and health and things, we will not have any real need to pray and seek God’s face, his help and his will.  At best our prayers will be a quick prayer at meal time because we have no real sense of our need for his power.  

Part of godliness and successful service is having an attitude of prayer.  It isn’t a last resort, it is how God sends his power and blessings to us so we can be effective for him.  If we aren’t vigilant and spiritually minded, we will not be effective and constant prayers.  In fact, we might not pray much at all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Five Talent and Two Talent Saints

Mat 25:20  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'
Mat 25:21  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'

1Co 3:12  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—1Co 3:13  each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1Co 3:14  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

The Bible doesn’t give us a whole lot of details as to what the reward system for saints will be in eternity.  It does make it clear that there will be reward and that it will be according to our service in this life which would radically affect most of us if we actually lived with this in mind.  But beyond that God has willed that we be left in the dark as to most of the details.  He has given us some clues as to how to please him and that has mostly to do with our motivations.  Reward will come when we do all things out of thanksgiving and to glorify the Lord that we love.  This is why love fulfills the law or God’s will for us.

But I got to thinking about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and the difference between the one who was given 5 talents and the one given 2.  The one given 1 talent was an unbeliever which separates him from the first two but I was thinking about what is the difference between the 5 talent guy and the 2 talent guy.

Growing up listening to the preacher this passage was usually approached by the English play on the word “talent”, so that it was seen as the different talents or abilities or gifts God has given us. While some have more than others, the point was to be faithful in what God has given you small or great.  I wouldn’t argue that this is an application. 

But I wonder if the “gifts” are seen in the “abilities” later in the verse; “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”  It seems that the gifts God have given us are implied in the abilities, and the talents are given in light of the way God has made each of us.  Maybe instead of reading it, “He gave gifts to each according to their gifts”, we might understand it, “He gave each opportunities to invest in the kingdom according to the gifts he had already given them”.

Now let me try to explain why this distinction might matter.  I think I have tended to apply this to the amount of “talents” each of us have.  So I look at someone who is a gifted communicator or singer or one who has been given a big income as having perhaps more talents than the rest of us.  And so they have more to work with and have the potential for greater reward.  I am fine with that since God can do with each of us as he sees fit and whatever God does is not only perfectly just but is much better than we deserve anyway.

But instead of thinking of it primarily as “talents” or gifts which might be implied in the word “ability”; I think it applies better to opportunities for investment which is how the Lord uses it in the text.  The extra talent or two that some get might be the situations to serve the Lord that many of us don’t get.  The 5 talent saint isn’t the gifted preacher who sits in his air-conditioned office sipping freshly brewed coffee while he tries to find Scriptural application for his people who are making good money and have relatively few outward problems.  There is nothing wrong with this because this is where God has placed him and he is to be faithful in that setting.  Except for the gifted part I find myself in the same situation.  But because being a Christian costs some of us so little, I wonder if at best most of us in the West are the 2 talent servants and the 5 talent ones are those that have much bigger investment opportunities than we will ever have?

I think about faithful saints who live in places where being a Christian is dangerous and yet while they try to be faithful in danger they also have to deal with poverty and all that goes with bad health care and inadequate nourishment, etc.  They have all the gifts that we do but their opportunities to display the power of God in their gifts are much more than most of us have.  I think these are the saints that are the 5 talent saints and their reward will be greater, and rightly so, than those whose faith didn’t cost them nearly as much.

Maybe instead of thinking of these “talents” as my ability to sing or teach or give or whatever, we need to start asking ourselves if we are willing to use them when it actually costs us something.  How many saints deal with loneliness or life with an abusive or uncaring spouse, or constant pain, or never knowing where the money for their next meal is coming from or are treated like fools because they profess Christ?  How many live in areas where they might be arrested or tortured or killed because of their Faith?  To me, these are the 5 talent saints who will have the most reward in glory among the saints.  We all will be faithful but some have had much more difficult situations to be faithful in than some.

If God has put us in the place of the 2 talent saints then that is fine.  Let us be faithful with what we have and we too will receive the “Well done, good and faithful servant”.  But let’s not glory in our gifts and privilege but in how well we honor the Lord when life is hard and when people are difficult.  Let us count it all glory to suffer for his sake.  Not just by singing and preaching in our comfortable churches but at home and at work when we are surrounded by the enemy and yet can testify to the goodness of God when it actually costs us something.  I think sometimes we lose reward because we are happy to serve when it is comfortable and convenient but we balk and complain when all of the sudden the Lord takes away our comfort and we don’t understand because we think we deserve it. 

Maybe what the Lord is doing is giving us another “talent” or better opportunity to use our gifts.  Displaying our gifts in church or when everyone is saying “amen” is one thing but I would think the greater reward is getting down in the trenches and ministering to people whose lives are messy and make us uncomfortable.  It is interacting with people who don’t love the Lord and don’t understand why we do.  Maybe American Christians are about to be given more “talent” opportunities than they have had in the past by living in a society that hates God and his Word.  The question is will we embrace this new “talent” or complain about it?  Will we hide them because they are difficult or invest them for the Kingdom of God?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Rebellion and Failure of Feminism

1Pe 2:13  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
Eph 5:21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.   Wives and Husbands Eph 5:22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

In my last article I spoke on how submission to authority is a must for one to live a godly life and be great in the Kingdom of God.  I wanted to add a little to that in this blog but come at it more from the marriage relationship.

It is common for feminists to decry any form of submission of the wife to her husband as indicating that she is in some way inferior to him.  In part many men have reinforced this idea because they treat women as inferior.  But in actuality this is a fundamental error in thinking and in understanding what the Bible is after when it tells wives to submit to their husbands.  There is never in God’s Word any indication that women are ontologically inferior to men; that is in their humanity they are different than men but equal as human beings.  Their submission is for order in society and their protection; it is not a statement that men are superior and neither is it a statement that men can always do a better job at things that they are to lead in.

Feministic ideas fail because at their heart is the refusal to submit to any authority and especially God’s.  They are inconsistent because they don’t apply their rebellion equally when it comes to authority.  For example, does the fact that we are all commanded to obey the government mean that we are inferior to government officials?  Is the employee inferior to his boss?  No, and it is not unusual for a boss to be incompetent or at least unable to do his job better than some of his employees.  But the fact is that everyone can’t be the boss, everyone can’t be the foreman, the President, or the school teacher.  And in the same way the home needs a leader and God has given the husband and father that responsibility.  Whether his wife can do some of it better has nothing to do with who is to be the head of the home.  If a man is a good leader he will recognize when his wife is more or at least as gifted as he is in some area and give her the freedom to help him.  It is just like a good boss looks for those under him who can help him do his job and why a good President fills his Cabinet with people who are more qualified than him in certain areas.  As a leader his job is to make it all work for the good of the country.

A godly wife understands that she has been given her husband’s leadership from the Lord for her good and even though it is sometimes difficult to obey him, she does so within the biblical parameters because anarchy and butting heads is good for no one.  If her husband makes her feel inferior then that is on him and as the leader he will answer for that and this gives us all the ability to suffer under bad leadership.  I might be able to run the country better than the President but I am not the President so my job is to submit and the same goes for a wife even as we understand that each sphere of authority the submission is different and there aren’t one to one correlations.  In other words, the authority and consequences of rebellion are different from government to school to work place to home.

Someone put it well.  “For a marriage to be what it should be both spouses need to love the same Man, the God/Man Christ Jesus.  Without that both leadership and submission is much more likely to be guided by selfishness." This is especially true for the husband who is to lead for the good of his wife.  To fail here will lead to unneeded stress in the relationship at best and tyranny and abuse at worst.

A good illustration of this is when Jesus impresses on Peter the need for him to feed the sheep in John 21.  He doesn’t try to motivate Peter by asking if Peter loved the sheep; he asks three times if he loved his Lord.    Joh 21:17  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.  If Peter loves the Lord he will take his responsibility to tend the sheep much more seriously than if he saw the sheep as existing for himself.

Here is a fundamental lesson for all of us.  Keep our love for the Lord warm and our love and interaction with others will be where it needs to be.