One man is silent when called to speak. Another’s speech is seasoned with anger, bitterness and everything negative rather than grace.
Men, the gospel of our Lord calls each of you to a higher standard. Each of you, however, has become too highly skilled at setting aside God’s clear instructions for our lives, are choosing a path of disobedience instead.
Don’t amend God’s word with the latest trends, and don’t ignore the call of God’s Spirit to our own plans and purposes. Selective obedience isn’t true obedience. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you seek to follow God 80 percent of the time, the 20 percent of the time you don’t will sink you every time.
As the apostle Paul warned Timothy, many men serve their own interests by having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ For instance, men know when they are sexually violating God’s will, but they continue to indulge their sin anyway. Husbands know when they’re tearing down their spouses, but they continue the verbal tirades. Fathers know when their kids are just dying for some time with Dad, but other demands always take priority.
By way of contrast, when God’s man is tempted to enter that 20% zone, he does what God would have him do’even if it’s less convenient or not as immediately gratifying. Guys, one of the great ironies of the Christian life is that freedom comes through obedience. Dare to live freely in joyful submission to your Lord today!
Guys, your sin is not a private matter. It hurts everyone around you. The questions I would ask you to ask yourself are these: Is the power of sin at work in my life? Am I being honest about myself? Am I struggling with anger? Am I harboring bitterness? Do I have a critical spirit? Does my wife have my permission to speak to me about these things? Or is she afraid to bring anything up to me because I’ll snap at her or shut her out?
Men, what does God want you to do when you find the power of sin at work in you? Do you have the right or permission to isolate your heart when someone tries to come near? Are you justified telling your wife’either explicitly or by your actions’to get used to it, and join you in covering it up for the kids’ sake? The answer to both questions is a resounding ‘No’! The Lord is clear and consistent on what he wants from you: ‘Be earnest, and repent.’
Yet so many Christian men feel that their wives shouldn’t confront their sin, but should instead keep their distance, remain silent and silently pray. Well, praying silently and doing nothing more is God’s plan for dealing with the hard hearts of unsaved husbands! So if you already acknowledge Christ as your Lord and Savior, expect and be open to connection with your wife and friends. You really don’t have a license to shut out the people who love you and are reaching out to you. Take a step to be open ‘ to be humble, to be a man of God, in Christ!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.
Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.
Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.
Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.
Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.