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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
July 1, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 7
Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Pt. 4
This morning we continue with the seventh sermon from Proverbs on the family, and the fourth specifically examining solutions to foolishness in marriage. If you have missed any of those, I encourage you to pick up copies of either the audio or text of them. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6). Proverbs 14:1 is specifically written to the wife, but the general principle in it is equally true of the husband. “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Those who are wise will build up their home, while those who are foolish will tear it apart with their own hands.
There is no question that this is an important subject for us since marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation for society. There is no greater joy in common human experience than what occurs in a good marriage, and no greater pain than what occurs in an ungodly marriage. We live in a society in which people with perverse morals advocate as good what God says is evil and that has had a terrible effect on marriage. The supports that once existed are crumbling even while attitudes and laws increase that discourage and diminish marriage and then assist them to break up. Marriage has always been difficult because of the sin nature of each partner, but a society that caters to that sin nature makes it even more difficult. That is why we need solutions to the foolishness inherent in ourselves and advocated by our society which will destroy our homes unless we are diligent to defend ourselves and root it out. The book of Proverbs gives us many practical answers and ways to make our marriages and our families blessings instead of curses.
In the first two messages in this particular series we looked at several characteristics that are dangerous and the solutions to them. These included being naive, receiving poor counsel, pride, foolishness, (See: Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Part 1) wickedness, stubbornness, self-righteousness and selfishness (See: Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Part 2). I am not going to review those this morning other than to say they are the roots that result in the actions I spoke about in the last sermon which included being demanding, contentious, nagging, critical, quarreling, temperamental, harsh and hateful. They are also the roots of what I will be talking about today and next week.
The solutions for these foolish actions go back to solving the foolish beliefs and attitudes that underlie them. That is actually true for all foolish actions. While it is still important to correct foolish behavior, the foolishness will be repeated, though perhaps in a different form in the effort to escape punishment, unless the causes are corrected. Being naive and listening to and heeding poor counsel only leads astray and then feeds the natural foolishness of man. Fearing the Lord to gain knowledge of Him and His ways and surrounding yourself with godly and wise friends will keep you on the right path and starve that natural foolishness. However, true change must be internal, not just external. Mere knowledge and external pressures are not enough to correct the underlying causes of foolishness.
Selfishness turns a request into a demand, a demand into a point of contention, and then follows up with nagging. Selfish people want what they want and will make the lives of other people miserable in the effort to have their desires satisfied. The innate evil in selfishness is seen in this sequence because a request is an appeal to someone else to do something that is then left to the discretion of the other person. Selfishness changes that to a demand upon the other person which if not satisfied can become a point of contention (Proverbs 26:21). It will keep coming up and can become an area of strife. If the demand comes up often, it is nagging which even if it succeeds in getting the desired action, destroys the relationship and drives the other person away. As Proverbs 21:9 describes, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” They may be in the house, but the naggee will find ways to avoid the nagger. If it continues, then Proverbs 21:19 can come into play, “It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and vexing woman.” A nagged spouse finds lots of excuses not to be at home – work, friends, hobbies, charity work – or they may leave permanently. If you are wise, you make your home a place where your spouse wants to be because you are there, not a place they want to avoid because you are there.
The solution to this is to solve the underlying selfishness as Philippians 2:3-4 commands. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” However, the passage continues that these external actions are not enough. You must also “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Verse 5-8 then describe Jesus’ humility in setting aside the glories of heaven to become a man and then dying as the sacrifice for man’s sin. You will not be able to do this unless you have repented of your sins, sought forgiveness from God based on faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and His resurrection, and then follow Him. You need to become a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) after which you will have the Holy Spirit to guide you and empower you to live for Christ and others instead of yourself. This is the solution whether you are on the giving end or the receiving end of someone who is demanding, contentious and nagging.
(A quick side note to parents and those in positions of authority regarding making a request and making demands. Your position makes it proper for you to make demands in your areas of authority, so don’t confuse the issue by making a request where you should issue a command. For example, don’t ask the kids if they would like to go to bed, tell them to do so. Police officers are not to ask if you would like to step out of the car, they are to respectfully tell you to get out of the car. Say what you mean, and mean what you say).
People are critical and quarrel because they are foolish and proud (Proverbs 20:3). This is often accompanied by being self-righteous too. They not only wan
t what they want, but they think of themselves, their ideas and their way of doing things as superior to others. They have clear vision to easily see the faults and sins of others, but they need glasses and bright lights to see their own. Pride blinds people to the truth and makes them stubborn in their sin. The result is complaining and arguing. And worse, it is often about things that are not even important.
Romans 12:18 commands us as Christians, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” You cannot control the other person, but you can humble yourself, lower your expectations of others and be realistic. Follow Jesus’ example and learn to love as He did which is what He commanded us to do so that we will demonstrate that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).
People are temperamental, harsh and hateful because they are wicked. Wickedness is the opposite of righteousness and it moves a person away from God’s design and its income is trouble (Proverbs 15:6) which destroys the home. The solution is repentance. Proverbs 28:13 explains, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.” There must be a change of heart to turn from sin to the Savior, and then being converted, to learn to walk with Jesus. God uses other Christians to help in both learning God’s word and becoming obedient to it.
If you are married to someone with any of these characteristics, then you have to commit yourself to fulfilling your God given role in the marriage and glorify God in the midst of it while striving to make the best of it. That could be very difficult, yet there is still success and fulfillment in pleasing God even if the marriage is not according to God’s design or what you had hoped.
Keep these solutions in mind while we now look at some additional foolish characteristics which can tear down your home.
Neglectful or Indifferent
The origin of a spouse’s neglect could be from several different sources or a combination of them. There are those who are ignorant about their actual role in the marriage and honestly think they are doing what they are supposed to do. This is commonly seen in men who think their role is to provide the paycheck after which they can then pursue whatever other interest they may have. However, God’s role for the husband is to love his wife (Eph. 5, 1 Peter 3:7) and be diligent in teaching his children to know and love God (Deut. 6). Providing for the material needs of his family is only a part of demonstrating that love for his family.
This kind of ignorant neglect can also be seen in some wives, and especially after they have children. There are some women who seem to think the purpose of their husband is to supply the funding so they can pursue their personal interests. More common are those who after they are married turn their focus to the house and kids to the neglect of the husband. However, the God given role for the wife is to follow, respect and learn to love her husband (Eph. 5, 1 Peter 3, Titus 2). Taking care of the house and caring for the children are only part of that role in following the lead of her husband. After the Lord, he is to be her first priority.
The solution for such neglect caused by ignorance is to turn into wisdom’s house and partake of the feast she has prepared (Proverbs 9:1-6). Learn your God given role and how to fulfill it instead of the one you have assumed due to family or societal traditions. You will have to help one other with this. Husbands, you need to show the way in this by leading your family spiritually so they will know God and what He wants. Also, be sure to get your wife out of the mommy role on occasion. Get a babysitter if you need one, but take her out where you are not going to be interrupted and talk about how each of you is really doing. Open yourself up to talk about your dreams for the future as well as ideas about how to overcome current frustrations. You both need to pursue your roles in having your marriage demonstrate the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). Wives, you will need to show interest in those things in which your husband is involved and in what interests him. Learn to encourage him to step out in the direction of his dreams and keep encouraging him even when he hits snags, roadblocks or fails in that pursuit. There is a truth to the idea that great men accomplished great things because they had wives that were great at encouraging them through their failures.
Neglect can also arise from selfishness and its related sins in which case it becomes indifference. The husband or wife may know what God requires, but they do not pursue it. This could be somewhat benign having its origin in laziness, or it could be malignant having its origin in being uncaring or even cold-hearted.
Laziness is easier to deal with only because there is the possibility of finding ways to motivate someone who is lazy. Proverbs 6:6-10 calls on the lazy person to “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise,” and then warns about the consequences of continued laziness. Even a person’s selfishness can become the cause of motivation to get them moving in order to get what they want. While that is not a godly motivation, at least it gets their behavior on track and moving in the right direction.
The indifference of the uncaring and cold-hearted is much more difficult. Both need to repent, but without a change of heart there will be no change of action by such an unloving person because the attitude is reflective of a depraved mind (Romans 1:28-32). Proverbs 8:33-36 warns such foolish people to “Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect [it]” continuing on to say that those who find wisdom “finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord. 36 “But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death.”
If you are married to someone who is neglectful, then find positive ways to encourage them to learn the role their God given role. That begins with you fulfilling your role. If you are married to someone who is lazy, then don’t be lazy yourself, but find positive ways to motivate them. If you are married to an indifferent, cold-hearted, unloving spouse, then be diligent to pray for their repentance and salvation while continuing to fulfill your role in the marriage as a means to fulfill God’s commands to you and please Him. You are glorifying God by doing so even when your life situations are frustrating and you feel like a failure. God measures success differently than man because He looks at the motivations of the heart.
A person who is indifferent is generally much more damaging to a marriage than someone who is manipulative, but depending on the manner of manipulation, such a person can also severely damage or tear down their home. To manipulate is to control or influence cleverly or unscrupulously. This would include purposeful efforts to mislead which include withholding pertinent information and lying. Selfishness with some pride mixed in is also the origin of this foolish characteristic. Manipulation may be done in the effort to get what you want, or it may be done to avoid trouble. In either case, manipulation chips away at the trust that is needed for a godly marriage.
In a good marriage, the husband and wife will freely share their thoughts and opinions openly and honestly in the effort to come to the wisest decisions possible for the family. Proverbs 12:5 reminds us that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” In a good marriage, that wise counsel starts with the spouse. A husband that does not seek the counsel of his wife plays into the hands of foolishness. A wife that operates independent of her husband or uses her counsel to her husband to manipulate him also plays into the hands of foolishness.
Manipulation hinders finding the best decision because its quest is to bring about the desir
ed decision. It is the proud and foolish that are wise in their own eyes and think what they want and their way is always the best decision. As Proverbs 26:12 warns, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” You have to have enough humility to at least gather all the information and then give it all consideration in order to make a wise decision. Proverbs 18:13 states, “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.” That is true not only of the person that makes a decision before getting counsel, but also the one that may physically hear what others say, but does not actually listen to what others say. Their minds are too busy thinking of what they are going to say next to pay attention to what is actually being said.
Manipulation is also foolish because it requires either the withholding of pertinent information or lying and that chips away at the trust necessary for making mutual decisions and for a good marriage. It is damaging the foundation and structure needed to support a healthy home. Politically correct speech calls such manipulation spin or disinformation, but God calls it deceit and lying.
In Proverbs 4 a father directs his son to be wise and put a deceitful mouth and devious lips far from him (Proverbs 4:24) because as Proverbs 12:20 states “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.” Proverbs 12:17 tells us that deceit is the mark of a false witness and Proverbs 14:8 says it is the folly of fools. I hope you understand that it is deceitful to purposely withhold information in the effort to get what you want. I am not referring to emphasizing what supports your point of view. That is a common and proper practice in persuasion. I am referring to purposely ignoring valid counter arguments and purposely withholding information that could have a negative effect upon the desired outcome. Let me give you a couple of examples.
An opportunity has come up to do something you would really like to do. It could be going out to do something fun for the evening, or perhaps get away for a couple of days, or perhaps something you have wanted for a long time that has gone on sale and you want to purchase it. Since it will involve your spouse or have an impact on the family budget you will need to talk it over. In that discussion there is nothing wrong with emphasizing the reasons for taking advantage of the opportunity. However, what if an unexpected large bill also came in the mail that day, or you were aware that your washing machine just broke, or a meeting was changed and now conflicts with your desired plans? Any of these have the strong potential to block you from getting what you want. If you purposely ignore them or withhold the information in the discussion, then it is deceitful manipulation. Tragically, such deceit is a common practice fueled by selfishness.
Let me add that the use of such deceit even in the effort to avoid hurting someone is not wise and neither is it the mark of a true friend. Proverbs 27:6 states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” The immediate hurt you might avoid through manipulation may well turn out to allow a lot more hurt to occur in the future because the needed correction was not made. As a pastor I have had to deal with the tragic results of this in counseling people. Ignoring and hiding the problems when they were small allowed them to grow into monsters. One of the worst cases was a wife that hid from her husband what she knew about the actual behavior of their teenage daughter because she did not want to upset him. He found out after there was a pregnancy.
Ephesians 4:15, 25 commands us to lay aside falsehood and speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:29 adds that we are to say what is “good for edification according to the need [of the moment,] that it may give grace to those who hear.” We are not to be deceitful, but at the same time, we are to have the proper motivation and are to be careful in how we say things. We are truthful, but not brutal. We will be loving and kind even when we have to say things that may be hard to hear and cause hurt.
Deceitful manipulation is a sledge hammer that puts holes in the walls of the home, but outright lying is even worse. It is a wrecking ball against the structure of the home and a jack hammer on the foundation. And be warned as well that deceit easily slides into lying. Both Psalm 109:2 and 120:2 join the two together, and flattery is a combination of the two. Flattery is deceitful in withholding what is negative while emphasizing what is positive until it distorts it beyond truth into a lie. Proverbs 26:28 shows the relationship and common results of flattery and lying, “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.” Flattery uses deceit and lies to lure its victims into its trap – Proverbs 29:5, “A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.” Proverbs gives several warnings about the flattery of the seductress and adulteress because of this (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5, 21).
Lying has become normal in our culture. We even have games in which lying is a skill needed to win, but lying is a serious issue with God. A lying tongue is one of the six things Proverbs 6:16-19 says God hates and Proverbs 12:22 specifically says lying is “an abomination to the Lord.” Some of Jesus’ strongest rebukes of those who were in opposition to Him was that they were liars because they showed the same nature as the devil, whom He called their father, because the devil is a liar by nature and the father of lies (John 8:44-45). Proverbs 19:5 says, “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape” with verse 9 adding that liars “will perish.” Revelation 21:8 is specific that liars are excluded from heaven and instead will be cast into the “lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
People think they can get what they want by lying, but what they actually get is trouble. Proverbs 14:5 states that “he who speaks lies is treacherous.” Proverbs 21:6 adds, “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.” The contrast in Proverbs 12:19 is stark, “Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.”
Lying is so harmful to the family because it destroys the trust that is foundational for all proper relationships. Even simple business transactions require that we have some level of trust that the product or service being offered will accomplish its stated purpose. When truth, integrity and honor were hallmarks of the American character, business transactions were done on the basis of a simple handshake. That is the way my dad did business while I was growing up. Personal integrity, such as described in Psalm 15:4, “He swears to his own hurt, and does not change,” demanded that you would keep your promise even when plans went awry and you ended up losing on the transaction. The reason there are long contracts now and teams of lawyers to enforce them is because we no longer trust each other. As personal integrity has declined the amount of work to verify a claim and hold someone to their promise has increased. Trust in business relationships is important. Trust in a family is even more important.
The very first characteristic described in Proverbs 31 in explaining why the excellent wife was worth far above jewels is that “The heart of her husband trusts in her.” The rest of the passage continues on to explain not only other characteristics that give her such high value, but in a real sense nearly all of them also give direct reasons her husband could trust her. She is trustworthy because she is also good, industrious, prudent, diligent, attentive, a hard worker, compassionate, confident, dignified, wise and watchful which is why she was honored by her children, respected by her husband and acclaimed by the comm
unity.(See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 2 – The Excellent Wife)
We find that being trustworthy is emphasized in a similar way in Psalm 15 which explains the characteristics of the godly man who could abide in the Lord’s tabernacle and dwell on His holy hill. Each character trait is related to being trustworthy beginning with walking in integrity. Working righteousness and speaking truth in his heart are the foundations of that integrity. The rest of the Psalm gives further explanation of this man’s integrity, righteousness and truthfulness which could be summarized in saying he is godly in his treatment of other people.
Trust is crucial in a family. I would even venture to say that it is the critical characteristic for without the ability to trust everything else begins to crumble. If a man is not trustworthy, then he is also lacks integrity and righteousness. If a woman is not trustworthy, then she will also lack goodness, prudence and wisdom and probably most of the other characteristics described in Proverbs 31 as well. Lying, purposely saying things that are not true, destroys trust, and once destroyed it will take a lot of time and effort to regain trust. A husband and wife need to be able to believe each other in every area of life. Any area in which there is not that trust will be marked by suspicion. Contention and strife arise and increase as questions arise and confrontations occur over the areas of suspicion. It is not uncommon for people to try to avoid the contention by becoming secretive even though when it is discovered it diminishes trust even further.
Is your character trustworthy? Are you open and honest with your spouse? Would your husband or wife have cause to be upset if they really knew all that you do? Excluding a surprise gift for them, are there things you have purchased that you have tried to keep hidden from them? Would they have cause for concern if they knew the real level of your relationship with other people – whom you talk to and spend time with? Where there is lack of trust there is also a breeding ground for jealousy, founded and unfounded. Would an audit of your time and finances reveal someone who has sacrificed himself or herself for the good of their family or someone who is selfish?
I will probably expand on this further in the future, but trust is also crucial in the relationship between parents and children. That is accomplished by parents walking in godliness and instilling truth into their children so that they are trained to be trustworthy individuals. I will say more about that in a future sermon dealing with parenting issues, but for now, I simply want to stress the importance of teaching your children to be truthful so that they can also be trustworthy. That will prevent a lot of heartache while establishing a foundation for a lifetime of blessing.
Neglect, indifference, manipulation. It all comes back to the issue of living by godly wisdom verses walking in worldly wisdom which is in reality foolishness. These sermons have focused on marriage because it is my great desire that every person here whether married now or will be married in the future would know the great blessing of a godly marriage in which both husband and wife walked in wisdom. I know that is even more the desire of God because marriage is to reflect Christ and the church and bring Him glory. However, all the principles in this series apply just as much to singles and every other relationship. Ladies, strive to be the wise and godly woman of Proverbs 31. Men, strive to be the man described in Psalm 15. The blessings you receive will be greatly multiplied in the blessing you will be to others.
If you have been walking in the foolishness of the world, then repent and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. It is abundantly supplied through the Lord Jesus Christ who has not only redeemed us by His own blood, but who empowers us through the Holy Spirit to be new creations in Him and live radically different lives than the world. See me or any of our church leaders if want to know more about what it means to be a Christian, need counseling to help you in your walk with Christ, or just need someone to pray with you this morning.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down the scripture references and look them up later 2) Count how many times “foolishness”is said. 3) Discuss with your parents why it is so important to be honest and truthful and not deceitful and lie.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is marriage difficult? Does our society help or hinder marriage? Explain. What is the solution for being naive? How can you be sure you are receiving wise counsel instead of foolish counsel? What is the root cause of people being demanding and nagging? What is the solution for those things? When is it proper to make demands of other people? What is the root cause of people being critical, complaining and quarrelsome? What is the solution for those things? What is the root cause for people being temperamental, harsh or hateful? What is the solution for those things? What should you do if you are married to someone who is foolish? What are some of the ways that ignorance can lead to neglect? Give examples. What is the solution for such neglect? What is the difference between neglect and indifference? How can laziness result in indifference? What is the solution to such indifference? What hope is there for someone who is indifferent because they are cold-hearted? What should you do if you are married to someone who is indifferent? Describe the nature and purpose of communication in a good marriage? What is manipulation? How is deceit used to manipulate? Why is deceit harmful to a marriage? Why is deceit harmful even when it is motivated by the desire to not hurt the other person? Explain the commands concerning communication in Ephesians 4:15, 25 & 29 and their application in your life? What is the relationship between deceit and lying? What does Scripture teach about lying? What is the eventual outcome of lying? Why is lying so destructive to any relationship, but especially to the family? Why is being trustworthy so important to relationships and family life? What responsibility do parents have toward children in teaching them to be honest and trustworthy? What do you need to do if you have been lying and deceitful in your relationships? What has God done for you to give you hope that you can change and become an honest and trustworthy person? What do you need to do? When will you do it?
Sermon Notes – 7/1/2012
Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Part 4
___________________ is the foundation of the family and society
Marriage has always been difficult because of the _______________ of each partner
The solutions for foolish actions are found in solving the foolish ______and attitudes that underlie them
Selfish people make the lives of others _____________ by their demands and nagging
Nagging ends when a person becomes _____________ and follows the example of Jesus (Phil. 23-8)
Those who are prone to be critical and quarrel are foolish and ______________
Foolish pride is solved by ________________ and love
The wickedness of harsh and hateful people is solved by _________________ and conversion
If you are married to a fool, remain committed to fulfilling your role and living for the glory of _______
Neglectful or Indifferent
Neglect can be the result of _________, which can then be solved by learning the proper God given role
Neglect can arise from ______________ and its related sins
The ___________ person needs to be both warned and motivated (Prov. 6:6-10)
The indifference of the uncaring reflects a ________mind (Rom. 1:28-32) & must have a change of heart
Encourage the ignorant to ________ their role. Seek to ____________the lazy.
Pray for the _______________ of the indifferent while fulfilling your own role to God’s glory
To manipulate is to control or influence _______________ or unscrupulously
In a good marriage, spouses are open and honest in seeking the ____________ decisions for the family
In a good marriage, wise counsel begins with the ___________ (Proverbs 12:5)
Manipulation is __________and so hinders finding the best decision in favor of fulfilling its own desires
Manipulation is __________ requiring either deceit or direct lying both of which destroy trust
Purposely withholding information in order to get what you want is ______- an evil (Prov. 12:20; 12:17)
Deceit in order to “avoid hurting someone” is _______ wise nor the mark of a true friend – Prov. 27:6
Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29 – Lay aside falsehood, speak truth in ________ , say what will edify
Deceit is a sledgehammer knocking holes in a home, lying is a wrecking ball ________________ it
Lying brings ___________ – (Proverbs 14:5; 21:6; 12:19)
Lying harms the family by destroying the _________ that is foundational for all proper relationships
Without trust even simple ______________ transactions become difficult.
The first characteristic of the valuable Proverbs 31 woman is being ______________
The key characteristic of the Psalm 15 man is being _______________
___________is the critical characteristic of the family for without it everything else begins to crumble
Parents are responsible to teach their children to become _______________
The issue is living by ______________________ verses walking the foolish wisdom of the world
Those walking in foolishness need to ___________ and seek the blessings of walking with God
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