Glorious Failure

Life is a long series of failures. Here's to failing gloriously!

Tag: self centeredness

Marriage and Tooth Paste

tube of tootpaste

A tube of toothpaste taught me a real lesson about my marriage and myself.

As a single man I prepared myself for matrimony. I studied God’s word to define marriage and learn what my role as a husband would be if I got married. When my fiancée and I began marriage counseling we talked through our expectations about important things and even small things like toothpaste-whether to squeeze from the middle or roll from the bottom up. To which I thought either way is fine. These preparations all taken together bless my marriage to this day. I’m glad I did it. But I’m afraid I let my preparedness go to my head.

I wasn’t married long before the discovery began. I learned that squeezing the toothpaste from the middle is actually inefficient. VERY inefficient. I learned that squeezing from the middle is in fact NOT acceptable. In fact it’s downright inconsiderate!

I learned that I really DO have a problem with squeezing, and squeezers. And that now includes my wife. This was quite a change from my pre-marital position on these topics when I thought I was so laid back that either was fine. Clearly I did not know myself.

Regrettably, I allowed the toothpaste issue to fester for several weeks before addressing it with my sweet wife. What’s worse is that as the irritant continued, my sinful heart gave in to resentment. I began to believe things about my wife–awful things against her character. They were untrue, but still I believed them.

I fed my sense of entitlement–my sense of self-righteousness. After all I wasn’t the one being inefficient or inconsiderate–I reasoned with myself. But that’s where I went wrong. I forfeited the covenant I made to my wife. I promised to love her as Christ loves the Church. From the gospel of Mark we know the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (10:45).

I was not loving my bride as Christ loves His.

God convicted me. I knew I was in the wrong to make such a big deal in my heart over something so trivial as a tube of tooth cream. When I did finally come clean with my wife, she responded very sweetly and graciously forgave me for harboring resentment against her.

What I discovered about myself by getting married: I am selfish.

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” (James 4:1 NLT) I discovered through the toothpaste test that my problem is not inside a tube of toothpaste. It’s inside me. To be more specific, the problem is the sin that dwells within me. (cf. Romans 7:14-20)

Before I got married I thought of myself as quite selfless. I served people all the time. I frequently gave up my rights to prefer others’ choices ahead of my own. Yes. I thought I was quite a giving person–until I got married.

When faced with a choice to get my own way, in the above instance, I chose the selfish path.

I’m learning that marriage really is an institution God uses to make me more holy. [Hat tip to Gary Thomas and Martin Luther]

For more on this principle of marriage making us more holy check out Gary Thomas’ excellent book, Sacred Marriage

For an excellent (and relatively new) blog on marriage check out http://www.scottkedersha.com/ He’s my marriage mentor.

Thank you, God for loving me enough to humble me–even if You use something as trivial as toothpaste to do it.

Christian Consumerism

Happy girl shopping

From 123rf.com

Surveys* show a significant percentage of Christians don’t behave consistently with their beliefs. Surprise, surprise, huh? For Christians whose beliefs are in line with Scripture, that discrepancy is generally called sin. So, this is no big surprise.

But, this survey done quite recently, went further. It asked these believers if they had a problem with this inconsistency between their convictions and their actions. A significant percentage said no. They were not bothered by the fact that they did not live according to their beliefs. It’s as if they just don’t care.

I mentioned this to some of my co-workers and we began to wonder. What is a day in the life like, for an individual Christian described by this survey? We know she is faithful enough to go church and calls herself a Christian, but when it comes to things like giving in to self-centeredness, lying, or not keeping promises her actions don’t seem to bother her. According to this survey about half of those folks who struggle with this sin, don’t feel guilty about it.

How could she be okay with that? Self-centeredness and lying are not like making meals, going to work or school, or keeping oneself clean.  The Bible calls lying and self-centeredness sin. And sin is a big deal. Jesus died to deal with that.

The question I come back to, is what about this individual Christian’s experience, allows her to encounter sin, not realize it, or not think it’s a big deal? One possible answer is consumerism.

In a culture where appearance is everything and whoever dies with the most toys wins, then matters of holiness have little to no value, unless they make me look better. When my mind spends most of its time focused on my things: my work, my car, my house, my money, my investments, I just don’t spend any time considering whether I look more like Christ today than I did last week.

The scariest part of consumerism is not that I fear I might face the devil one night on a deserted highway and make the wrong decision to trade my soul for a million dollars, it’s that I’ve already sold it. And I already have my reward.

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*Culturally Captive Christian Study 2010, research commissioned by Probe Ministries and conducted by Barna Group, 2010, 57-63.

For more on this issue, consider a work by a colleague of mine Kerby Anderson.

Paul Rutherford

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