Because of God’s mercy to us, He puts us in places where we cannot fix our problems. From this position of weakness, He perfects His strength. Marriage is the perfect place for the Lord to accomplish this kindness.
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Biff is your typical control freak. He loves having things go his way, and he exudes confidence in his methods and strategies. He has good reason to be confident because he is living the American dream.
As an adult, Biff has not known personal suffering. He has a huge home, a pretty wife, and two nice cars. His kids are under control, and from all perspectives, they look like the model family. They serve in their local church and enjoy two or three vacations a year. There is little that they cannot do. Biff’s standard response, when asked how things are going, is, “God is good.”
But there is a chink in Biff’s armor. What people do not know is that Biff and Mable do not get along. Their life is primarily a facade and, sadly, their friends have not been discerning or courageous enough to get into their lives. The real problem is that Biff cannot control his wife and he is angry about it.
Though Biff is a gifted man, he is also a proud and self-deceived man. God is good, and God has blessed Biff. But Biff subtly believes that his life has turned out the way it was because of his methods and strategies. This worldview becomes apparent when you take a closer look at how he responds to his wife. Primarily, if Biff does not get his way with his wife, he reacts in anger.
Weakness Equals Strength
The gospel informs us that we are helpless without God. Though Biff will tell you that we are dependent on God, he does not believe this in his heart of hearts. Though he can “ace” a Theology 101 exam, his working theology surfaces when his wife does not immediately respond or acquiesce to his preferences. The short story is that he cannot control her by making her conform to the person he wants her to be.
In the divine wisdom of God, He gave Biff a wife who complements him perfectly. Sadly, Biff does not see this. He sees his wife more as a combatant than a helper. Sometimes God’s kindness comes to us through personal suffering to save us from ourselves. This idea is the case with Biff. And it most definitely was the case with the Apostle Paul.
So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. – Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7
No doubt Paul was a blessed man. But he also was a wise and humble man: he knew his gifts and strengths could be the source of his most significant temptations. It is essential for us to know that with much gifting we should be all the more discerning and circumspect. Biff is the classic example of a man who began believing his press clippings. He had subtly forgotten the gospel.
For Biff to change, he will need to see his wife as a gift from God rather than a thorn in the flesh. God gave her to him for his good. She is God’s gift to Biff to help and serve him.
Paul needed to embrace the weakness that God drew out of him through this thorn for him to enjoy strength in God rather than strength in himself. Biff will have to do the same. Rather than trying to press his wife into his version and understanding of submission, to fuel his self-sufficiency, he will have to humble himself by embracing the weakness of a servant.
The thought of weakness repulses Biff. He will not see and apply the gospel to his life in that way. He is too wrapped up in himself, his abilities, his looks, and his possessions to see and embrace the kindness God has given him through his wife.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Call to Action
- Do you see the challenges in your life as God working in your life for your good?
- What are your strengths? How could your strengths be your greatest temptations?
- In what ways are you tempted to be self-reliant? What do you need to do to change?
- If you are married, list at least five ways in which your spouse complements you.
Also published on Medium.