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Husbands and Heeding our Spirits

One of the things that distinguishes true prophets like Malachi or John the Baptist or Jesus is they get to the roots and foundations of things.

One of the problems with our marriages is we husbands especially are often oblivious to the roots of our problems with our wives. We often think things would be better if:

- They would just clean the house more

- If we had more finances/money

- If they were more interested in sex

- If we had more time

- If our wives wouldn’t complain so much and point out our failures

- If I could have more time pursuing my hobbies to lower my stress, etc.

As King Solomon said, “..there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9). This age old problem in Israel actually was lodged in its religious leaders according to the prophet Malachi, who in chapter two of his book is trying to help them see the roots of their issues with their wives. Malachi boldly declared,

"This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand." vs. 13 They knew they did not have God's favor, presence, perhaps even provision. But they were oblivious to the root problem and thus were trying to solve it with religious ritual or outward activities instead of looking inward.

vs. 14 - "Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Religious leaders can be extremely religious or seemingly devout with all of their religious efforts and service, and be absolutely blind to what the true state of their heart is. And now God's answer through Malachi in the rest of vs. 14 - -

"....Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant." It is very possible that when Peter in ch. 3 of his first epistle states very plainly that if husbands do not honor their wives their prayers will not be answered (vs. 7b) he had this passage in Malachi in mind. The priests didn't see the connection. They thought church work is church work. Family is family. And they would never have seen themselves as dealing treacherously with their wives. But that's because they had lost sight of the high call of the covenant of marriage and greatly minimized God's design for oneness in marriage as seen in the first 3 chapters of Genesis and beyond. (See Ecc. 9:9 for the call to companionship with our wives).

vs. 15 - "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring....? This passage has given translators fits, but taking into account the context before and after Malachi seems to be saying that the way to avoid this treachery and have a God pleasing marriage, which results in godly healthy children is by reliance upon the Holy Spirit. And where there is reliance upon the Holy Spirit, there will be the ability and power and motivation to do what comes next and is easier to translate, "...Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth."

Only those husbands who daily give heed to their spirit or their heart by the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to avoid this treachery. Only those men who agree with the prophet Jeremiah re: the state of our hearts and therefore give attention to it on a daily basis will be able to overcome this treachery “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

vs. 16 - Now God speaks up, "For I hate divorce," says the Lord, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the Lord of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously." This is the second time any man who wants to be delivered from this treachery is commanded to take heed to his spirit. Please note that the natural or normal state of a man's heart toward his wife unless God intervenes is treachery or hardness of heart.

I'm fairly confident that Jesus had this passage (among others) in mind when He as recorded in Matthew 19 was asked by the Pharisees if it was lawful for a man to "divorce his wife for any reason at all" (vs. 3). Jesus reminds them of what they should have known about the covenant of marriage from Gen. 2:24, and then they pushed back further and asked, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND HER AWAY?" (vs. 7)

To which Jesus replied, "...Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; ....." (vs. 8) From the beginning of time husbands have struggled with hardness of heart towards our wives because from the beginning of time we have not sought God with all of our hearts and have not understood how our hearts have to be cultivated and cleansed from sin and defilement on a regular basis. We tend to take our wives for granted and somehow think even in the church - if we work hard and provide for them and take them to church on Sundays and let them go to their ladies bible study and we carry out our service for the church and/or attend our men's thing, everything will be fine.

Some of this naivete comes from the overemphasis in the evangelical church on II Cor. 5:17 (our being new creatures) and the neglect of our responsibility as those new creatures to carry out the command a chapter and a half later in II Cor. 7:1, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Some of it comes from the models we had in our homes with our fathers.

Some of it comes from the models in the church among church leaders where again we assume if a man/church leader serves faithfully and diligently, and especially if he is anointed/gifted, his marriage must be healthy. Very bad assumption.

I wish I had seen these root issues in my own life and marriage sooner. But once God opened my eyes and began to show me how to cultivate my heart I developed this tool, which I have prayed through every day since for myself and my marriage - -

Husbands, our Savior is highly invested in our marriages and is so quick to come to our aid when we are ready to admit our need. May the Lord enable you and me by His Spirit to heed our spirits for His glory and for the sake of our marriages and future generations.

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