I was reading the creation story the other day and was struck once again at how easily Satan deceived Eve. Genesis 3:1-6 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
What struck me in this account is that the cunning serpent (the devil) was wise enough to whisper enticing words of deception to Eve when she was all alone. Adam wasn’t on the scene. Why was the devil so effective? It would appear that part of the reason for his success in tempting Eve to make a horribly wrong decision is because she was not with Adam. She consulted no one about the temptation she had received. She consulted no one during her deliberation as to whether to actually eat from the forbidden tree of good and evil. She consulted no one before making a huge, life-changing decision. It seemed beneficial to her. So, she just did it!
We can learn from Eve’s mistake. If you’re considering a major decision in life (quitting your job, leveraging all your savings on a new money-making idea, separating from your husband, bailing your teen out of natural consequences of bad decisions, etc), pause before acting! Consult a godly mentor. Better yet, pray with several wise and godly people in your life. Ask them all to seek guidance from the Bible and the Holy Spirit. You will often spare yourself unnecessary pain in the long run!
If you’re going through some challenges with your husband right now, it’s really wise to seek godly counsel from another woman. Often another woman can see the situation more objectively. A godly woman can encourage you to persevere through challenges instead of giving up. Sometimes, another woman can help you see the need to set wise boundaries on unacceptable behavior. It’s also really wise to reach out to a few godly women who you know will pray for you and your husband.
However, there’s a fine line between seeking godly support and husband-bashing! Sometimes, we go beyond seeking advice and prayer support and we start gossiping and whining about our husbands. That’s not constructive and it’s very disrespectful to your husband. Let’s keep in mind God’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33…”The wife must respect her husband“.
So check your heart before you pick up that phone to whine to a friend. Check your motives before you start complaining about your husband to another woman. Are you telling dishonoring stories about him in great detail and listing all of his faults…or are you actually looking for guidance and prayer support? Pay attention to the words you’re texting or speaking. Are they disrespectful or honoring to your husband?
If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage, and if you’re a believer, you’re likely dying to know what God wants you to do in this marriage challenge. You desperately need his guidance and counsel! The good news is that He loves it when his children seek his guidance. He loves his people to inquire of him!
The question is how. How do you receive his guidance for the issue in your marriage. Well, the first and most obvious answer is to study God’s Word. He has placed so many super helpful instructions on relationships in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Secondly, it’s almost always helpful to consult a godly mentor or counselor or pastor. Sometimes we need someone who can look at our marriage situation more objectively than we can, as well as someone who will remind us of God’s instructions for relationships. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
But thirdly, and often most importantly, we should seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because God is the only one who actually knows the future. He’s the only one who knows if your husband is going to change. He’s the only one who knows exactly what to do and when. John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
So ask God specific questions about specific issues in your marriage. Ask what He wants you to do and then strain to sense the nudges from the Holy Spirit. You probably won’t hear God speak out loud, but Jesus does say his sheep will hear his voice. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. So pray, and then be quiet and listen for those nudges from the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to guide you!
I wish she would have warned me that high school age boys with raging hormones would pressure me to have sex and use the infamous line “If you love me, you will….”
I wish she would have told me that following God’s ways, instead of the ways of the culture, leads to great blessing and peace. Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
I wish I would have known that a marriage will never survive if your husband is sinning against you, and you avoid addressing the issue because of fear of conflict.
I wish I would have known that if you continue avoiding conflict, your heart will start to grow so hard and cold toward your husband that the devil will gain a huge foothold in your marriage, and you will likely spiral down into divorce. Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
I wish my mom had told me that a Christian woman CAN and should set boundaries on sinful behavior of her husband, and perhaps even separate for a while if necessary. (Matthew 18:15-17)
I wish my mom had told me that a marriage can be better than you ever imagined if both spouses follow the Lord, die to self, and strive to be a blessing to the other. That is the secret sauce of marriage! Galatians 5:13 says “serve one another humbly in love.”
I wish I would have known that even after your spouse is ripped away from you in death, that God is still good to those who trust in Him, and He can and will bring beauty from ashes. Psalm 103:4-5 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Most of the time, being a woman of wisdom is an excellent attribute. You may have been blessed with the ability to make smart financial decisions or relationships decisions. That’s awesome!
But human wisdom is not the highest goal, and it can sometimes lead us astray from God’s perfect plan in our lives. Think of Noah, for instance. According to human wisdom, he must have been viewed as an idiot! Wisdom would tell him there was no need to build an ark. It was utter foolishness. Many “wise” people of his community must have mocked him and probably shook their heads in disbelief. Some were probably aghast at his “foolishness”. But Noah decided to go against conventional wisdom and follow the promptings of the Lord. It’s a good thing he did!
Listen to what 1 Corinthians 2:14 says: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
What I’m trying to say is this. Don’t put God in a box. He often operates outside the box and colors outside the lines! In Isaiah 55:9, God says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. I have known women who were told by wise counselors to leave their unfaithful husbands and yet, some of these women heard God tell them to stick with their marriage, and in the long run, their marriage was restored. I, personally, have experienced God telling me and my husband to do “unwise” financial things in order to carry on full-time ministry, and yet God rewarded our obedience to his “outside of the box” instructions!
So, consult God. Ask Him for direction when you are at a crossroads. Get quiet before Him and ask Him to speak guidance to your spirit. Wise counselors are fine, but God has the ultimate wisdom, and He alone can see what lies ahead. God says this in Isaiah 48:17, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Don’t be so wise that you forget to consult God and follow his perfect guidance!
When we face a challenge, a dilemma, or even a crisis…we tend to search high and low for the easy answer. We cry out to God, asking him to give us the magic pill that will make it all go away! We call our mom or our girlfriends, and we whine and complain about the problem, hoping they will have the magical, painless answer to our situation. Well, here’s the thing. The answer isn’t easy, but it is simple. Seek God’s counsel and then actually pause to listen.
Proverbs 18:13 says “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame.” Yet, that is exactly what many of us do. We complain to God. We pray that he would magically fix our situation in the way that WE say is best, and yet, we don’t actually consult the Bible to see what guidance he has for us. We pray that God would tell us what to do about the problem, yet we don’t actually pause to listen for the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper of guidance.
The answer is simple. Dive into God’s Word. It will guide you. Psalm 119:105 says. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Ask God to give you direction through a quiet whisper to your spirit from the Holy Spirit, who is our counselor. John 14:26 says (in the Amplified Bible), “But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf, He will teach you all things.”
In any relationship, especially a marriage, there are going to be times when the two of you are in conflict. Perhaps your husband is breaking your heart through wrong behavior. At each of those times, we have to make really big decisions. Should I confront my husband on an issue where he appears to be out of line? Should I keep quiet and press into prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to work in my husband’s heart? Should I compromise on an issue where we’ve been in conflict?
At these times, counsel from other godly women is very helpful, but honestly, my very best guidance comes from God himself. I just need to take a few moments to be quiet with Him and ask Him to speak direction into my mind and heart. Psalm 142:3 says “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way.” When I pause, close my eyes, and ask God in prayer to give me direction, I often sense a gentle nudge, or a prompting, or I feel like He’s speaking a word of direction into my mind in that moment. Unless the “prompting” goes against what the Bible would say, I trust that God has just spoken to me.
I did this recently on an issue between me and a close relative. I thought for sure I should make a certain decision, but once I spent just a few moments quieting myself and asking God to speak His counsel into my mind, I received guidance to go the exact opposite direction! He even allowed me to see why my original idea was flawed. Try this yourself. God is waiting at the door of your mind and heart. Open the door and let Him in.
The other day, a relative said some things about a person I love that I really found hurtful. My first instinct was to emotionally withdraw from that person…but that’s a dysfunctional behavior I’m trying to end. So, I started to tell that person what I really thought about their comments! Thank God, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me.
You see, sometimes God wants us to confront someone who is sinning against us or doing something wrong. But other times, God wants us to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the convicting in that other person’s heart, especially if that person is a believer. In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, and he explained that one of the Spirit’s jobs is to convict people of sin.
What I’m learning is that I need to pause and consult God when someone is doing something that wounds me or bothers me. I need to ask God for direction. Does God want me to respectfully and lovingly confront that person, or does God want me to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the confronting.
Back to my story. When God stopped me from laying into my relative the other day and I decided to leave the “confrontation” up to the Holy Spirit…that relative actually came to me and apologized within a few hours. Today’s question for you: Do you pause long enough to get guidance from God before reacting?