Caution signs are everywhere. Wet floor, wet paint, road work, flagmen, pedestrian crossing. Mandates tell us what to do; caution signs remind us about danger or things we should be concerned about.
Keep the Marriage Commitment
“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery” (Hebrews 13:4 NLT).
“If it wouldn’t ruin his ministry, I’d think about leaving him,” she said. But she never did. In fact, she stayed with him for over fifty years until he took his final breath. I watched my mom endure moving from place to place, continually having to put her sons in different schools, repeatedly having to change employment, adapting to new surroundings and churches, and putting up with everything that goes along with being a preacher’s wife.
Mom wasn’t the only one in my family I saw exhibit marital commitment though. My paternal grandparents were married sixty plus years and were even placed in the same nursing home in the end. My grandmother held my grandfather’s hand as he took his final breath. My maternal grandparents hung in there together until the end as well. My grandmother waited on my grandfather hand and foot after strokes continued to take away his physical abilities.
Unfortunately in American society, immorality—rather than love and stick-to-it-iveness—seems to be the norm. Living together before marriage is common and socially accepted by most. What better way to determine if we’re compatible with each other, the philosophy goes. Quickie divorces are also common. If we can’t work out our disagreements with little fanfare, it’s over. Must have married the wrong person. Didn’t bargain for this.
Marriage is an honorable estate, not to be entered into lightly. God performed the first one in the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago, and he designed theirs to be an example. I certainly don’t have a perfect marriage, but I intend to stick by my spouse until she or I breathe our last—regardless of what comes before that time. I’m faithful to her, and I expect the same in return. I don’t plan to be one of those persons whom God will have to judge for an immoral lifestyle. God gave me a wonderful treasure, and I plan to treasure her.
Live with Contentment
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT).
Marvin was a discontented kind of guy. If he didn’t have the latest cell phone, he would immediately purchase it when it came out. Other electronic gadgets intrigued him as well. He always had the latest television, video game, computer, iPad, etc. After two years of owning any vehicle, he was tired of it. Trade in time. Homes didn’t grow on him too long either. He’d never stayed in one long enough to pay off his mortgage. He didn’t fare any better in relationships. He’d been through three marriages, a string of almost marriages, and was presently working on his fourth. No woman seemed to satisfy him for long. Contentment wasn’t in Marvin’s vocabulary.
Being satisfied with what I have is a tough directive. How can I tune out all those enticements to try this, buy this, rent this, or trade this in? If I’m not spending money, there’s always someone who wants me to invest it. Money must enter any conversation about contentment because money is what our economies are based on. I can’t pay the doctor in chickens or offer to cut his grass in exchange for an office visit or surgery on my big toe.
In spite of money’s prominent place—and society’s attempt to keep me focused on it, I can learn contentment. Less is more is one key. I don’t have to heed the common message that only by having more will I be happy. What God has given me, he also wants me to share. And I don’t have to wait until I have an abundance to do so. He can take little and make much. Rather than listening to media sources remind me how much and what I don’t have, I can focus on being happy with what God has given me. He knows what and how much I can handle responsibly.
Remember Your Leaders
“Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 NLT).
I was a teenager and experimenting with things I should have left alone. At the time, he was my Sunday school teacher. I don’t remember the lesson, but I do recall what he said when referring to some acts of vandalism I had been involved in—acts he didn’t know I was a part of: “We need to pray for the person or persons who did this.” His words convicted me, and I eventually straightened up.
I watched this same humble gentleman serve as chairman of the deacons, sing in the choir, and lead on other untold committees. He offered public prayers and always had an encouraging word for others. He visited the sick at home and in the hospital and wasn’t paid for it. He lived a good long life and provided a superb example of leadership.
As the early missionaries traveled from region to region and town to town establishing churches, they installed elders in each one. They were to be men whose lives reflected obedience to God and an ongoing developing spiritual maturity. They were charged with the spiritual care of the congregation.
The saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” is often true for leaders—secular or spiritual. I’ve been there; I know. Friends can be few and far between because of your position. Employees or church members can reject you because of decisions you make that affect their lives. Backbiting among the followers can be rife. Resignations can be asked for by the powers that be.
My responsibility is to pray for my spiritual leaders and mentors. They need the type of direction and courage only God can give. They’ve been faithful to what God charged them with, and I need to be faithful in making petitions for them. Rather than tearing them down, I need to build them up. When they are the quality of spiritual leader they should be, I can hold them up as a role model for myself.
Be Consistent Amidst Inconsistency
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT).
She was the most inconsistent person I’d ever met…but she was my boss. In an office predominantly stocked by females, I was only the third male ever hired. For that, I was appreciative. I needed the job. I soon discovered, however, that each day would be different. I was hired for a particular position but didn’t occupy that spot until months later. Rather, I was put in another position, then another, and then another.
From day to day, I never knew what my duties might entail. One day, I might be a teller, the next a ccleaner-upper and the next a supervisor. Nor did I ever know what type of mood my boss would be in when she arrived at the office. One day, she might be playful and humorous and the next morose and serious. Working for her was a challenge because of her inconsistency.
Due to the day of Pentecost and the birth of the church, the first century was changing also. No longer were Jewish customs and ceremonies needed or required. Early apostles were simply saying a person needed to trust in the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Technology has brought a constant flow of change in my life. No sooner do I learn to maneuver one smart phone than another comes out and I have to learn all over again. As soon as I get comfortable with one computer operating system, it is changed to look and function in a different way.
Thankfully, among all life’s variables there is a constant variable: Jesus Christ. Belief in his sacrifice on Calvary was my path to salvation initially, and I don’t have to fear he’ll change the way. Faith was sufficient in the beginning, and it will be in the end. He isn’t fickle as I and others often are. He doesn’t keep me guessing about whether he and I are on good terms. In an ever changing world, he is the only constant. Trusting in him will never lead me in the wrong direction.
- God is with Us When There Is Conflict (Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Youth and Children) - August 15, 2021
- Grace and God’s Choice (A Study in the Book of Romans) - August 14, 2018
- Grace and Passion for the Lost (A Study in Romans) - August 5, 2018