God’s Pattern for Relationships


It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Reading Group. We are reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. We have reached Chapter 4, “A Wife’s Understanding of Relationships: God’s Pattern.” This is still only the first section (out of four) of the book, and Martha is still laying important groundwork for the nitty-gritty ahead.

One bit of housekeeping before I start the discussion. From time to time, to keep you all motivated and reading and writing about this book (because it’s long), and to insert a little more fun, I am going to give something away. All you have to do is write something (comment, email, or blog post) expressing your thoughts on the chapter. Hannah will help me draw a name from the helmet.

First giveaway? TODAY! The winner of the drawing will receive this book and our reading group bookmarklet. I’m going to have to limit winners to the contiguous 50 and Canada, though. I’ve heard overseas shipping is pricey. And Hubs isn’t made of money, so he tells me.

I know it takes time to read and write something, so I won’t close the participation until Thursday. I’ll announce the winner in next Friday’s post.

Summary

No thing exists outside God’s dominion. Not even your marriage. God designed and continues to set the standard for all relationships. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit enjoy a perfect relationship. Three distinct persons existing in perfect oneness.

On his way to the cross, Jesus prayed, “that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:21-23, ESV). God’s children enjoy this positional unity for which Christ prayed.

God says that when husbands and wives consummate their relationship, they become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Peace writes, “The Hebrew word for “one” is echad which means “one, alike, altogether, or all at once.” The very same word is used in Deuteronomy 6:4 for “the Lord is one.” In other words, somehow God makes the husband and wife into “one” as the Trinity is one, compound unity.”

This kind of unity is only possible in Christ. Within the Trinity exists perfect unity, perfect submission, perfect intimacy, perfect harmony. God intends for our marriages to follow His pattern. This is possible as we follow Christ, striving to be more like Him every single day. One key to living Jesus’ way is to, as Paul wrote, “No longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15, ESV). Giving of ourselves, expecting nothing in return, but trusting God alone, is our duty.

The final paragraph is worth a direct quote:

In your relationship with your husband, God wants you to communicate in love and experience a righteous intimacy through sharing thoughts, present and future desires, aspirations, goals, struggles, and spiritual insights. He wants you to be open, honest, and transparent. Your words are to be edifying. Your tasks sacrificial. Your motive for the glory of God. Remember that your pattern for oneness is the Trinity. He wants you to be not only like the Lord Jesus, but He also wants you to help your husband become as much like Him as is possible. Your becoming more and more like Jesus is the process of progressive sanctification. You and your Christian husband helping each other become more like Jesus is the process of mutual sanctification.

My Thoughts

This chapter had me wondering about the Trinity and how my marriage relationship is supposed to be like it. The kids and I have memorized a catechism question about God and the Trinity. Question: How many persons are there in the Godhead? Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory. They are one, they are the same in essence, and they are equal. Yet, they have special roles in creation and eternity. An order exists. Not hierarchy, but order. The Father wants to glorify His Son, Son submits to the will of the Father, the Son wants to glorify the Father, the Spirit wants to glorify the Son, the Spirit submits to the Father.

Likewise, in my marriage, Karl and I are the one in the Spirit, because we are in Christ, and one in flesh, because we are married. We are the same in essence, we are equals. Yet, we have very special roles in our marriage, in our family, and in creation. No hierarchy, but there is order: God rules over us both. As long as my husband isn’t asking me to violate God’s law, then I can joyfully submit to him for the glory of God.

We are not, however, perfect. Peace offers a chart on page 29 that lists our characteristics that result in a lack of harmony and intimacy. I’m not very good at pinpointing what I do well and what I don’t do well, so I asked Karl if I am guilty of doing any of those things listed. He said maybe #4, but no more than the average person. He thought #5 was a bit vague.

We both could recall times early in our marriage when we were guilty of all 9! And I more than he! I distinctly recall being angry at every little thing he did — breathing too loud, coughing too much during allergy season, you name it! — it made me furious. He couldn’t do anything right, in my opinion, and that made me very ugly toward him. By God’s grace, nowadays, there is not anyone else with whom I would rather spend my time. I also remember being self-protective to an extreme. God gave Karl a heaping of patience toward me, and I slowly came out of my shell. I am happy to report that Karl usually knows what is going on in my heart and mind whether he wants to or not. God has been doing His restoration work this last decade of our lives. He has done great things and we are filled with joy. (Does anyone else love Psalm 126?)

In light of this reminder that I am one with my husband, I am going to work on a new habit: asking myself the right questions!

  • How can we glorify God?
  • How can we walk in a pleasing manner with God, enjoying Him as we go?

Was it just me, or did that last page (32) feel like a punch in the gut to you, too? Ouch!

I mean, Wow! I am so motivated now to be an excellent wife!

Your Turn!

I want to know how this chapter inspired you! Leave a comment, shoot off an email, or write for your blog. As usual, I will link to your post. By the way, I really enjoy reading your posts and all the comments! It’s so fun to see us encourage one another from around the globe.

Women who’ve written about chapter four on their blogs:

Keep reading! Click for Chapter 5.

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13 thoughts on “God’s Pattern for Relationships

  1. Great post Leslie, I appreciate your honesty and insights. Yes, page 32 was like a punch in the gut for me too!I have my post (a short one this week) up but I am heading off for the weekend, so I will have to catch up on the other posts next week. Have a good weekend!

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  2. I need to re-read the chapter. When I read it earlier this week, I was focused on my struggles with parenting a pre-teen. Everything she said really spoke to my heart & opened my eyes to some things I need to change in THAT relationship. Interestingly enough, through my personal study of John, the Holy Spirit has been echoing what I’m learning from Martha Peace.I will post next week. Like Much Ado, I’m heading out of town myself.Thanks for your honesty in this post. Brave woman to ask your hubby how he thinks you do in these areas!Have a good weekend.

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  3. When God open my eyes to all I was doing wrong I realized how much grace God has for me when he gave me a very patience husband. Yes page 32 is definitely a big one, and I am guilty as charge…but the good news is that I am working on it, with the help and grace of God. Thank you for sharing…My post is up.

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  4. I have been a bit distracted the past few days. I have not yet read the chapter but will have it read and my post up by Sunday night or Monday morning. I pray for safe traveling to all those going about this weekend. Leslie, I haven’t read your post yet. I will read it as soon as I have finished my own. I so look forward to reading what you all have to share. God Bless. Linda

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  5. This may be long because I really want to share but I don’t want to post it on my blog.I read this chapter as part of my quiet time and boy did God use it to speak to me!I’m married to a pastor, who is wholly commited to following Christ. We married 3 years ago. My first marriage ended in divorce. My 1st husband was very demanding and in the end days, verbally abusive. (He later admitted that he was being that way so that I would leave him.) His tactic didn’t work but it sure did do some emotional damage!When I read this chapter, I realized that I was slipping back into that “self protective” mode.A few weeks ago, my husband just seemed to be very short with me. And on a couple of occasions lashed out at me, which is atypical for him.Instead of communicating with him about it, I let it go. But I realized today that I have begun building a wall of defense and was flying the flag of self protection around my heart.I have confessed this to the Lord and plan on talking with my husband tonight.Thanks for letting me share!

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  6. Excellent post and summary of ch 4! : ) I was interested in comparing all relationships to the trinity as well! Thanks for expanding on that. I love how you asked your husband which ones you are guilty of! Whoooo! You are doing good, girl! : ) I think I’m guilty of all of them MUCH of the time! Maybe that’s why pg 32 was such a punch in the gut for me as well! That’s what my post will revolve around!! I’m almost done with it ; ) OK…I’m just missing out! for some reason, my reader isn’t downloading your blog again : ( I realized I never read last weeks at some point this wk…..but was hardly on the computer b/c Jason was gone to T4G. But then today, remembered to actually go to your blog b/c I knew something was up…..and I’ve just totally been missing out! : ) I love the new word your son made up with the mountain dew spill – so fun : )

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  7. After I read your post, I kept thinking back to what you wrote “I distinctly recall being angry at every little thing he did — breathing too loud, coughing too much during allergy season, you name it! — it made me furious. He couldn’t do anything right, in my opinion, and that made me very ugly toward him.”It seriously took me back just a few months ago…I am really new in my path of ‘redemption’ if you want to call it that…so I sometime I am reminded of what used to be and who I am trying no to be any longer…I had similar feelings toward my husband about little things as you described…from time to time now it still happens and I have to call on God for help.I would get upset because he was shewing too loud or singing too loud. I realized later that each time I did that I took a little piece of him away. My husband loves to sing but after a while in our marriage I realized he dreaded singing around me. It came to a point that I did not like they things ‘made him, him’. They were just a big annoyance to me…so he was more comfortable at work..where he can be who he is…Oh Boy, it was really awful.Now I am learning to accept and love him for who he is. I am really happy to say that my husband sings in the worship team now, and I had the chance to make up for lost time and encourage him in that. What I appreciate about your post is that it let me know that I was not alone in my ‘misguided thought’. You know how sometime when we have a problem and we don’t dare share it because we think people we think that we are crazy. So we remain alone and silent in our misery or in the ‘pit’ if you will. As a result the darkness grow stronger and we thing we can never overcome it…something we even dare to think that the problem is bigger than Christ. So, what I am really trying to say is that thank you for sharing a piece of you, a piece of your journey with God…it let me know I was not alone in my thoughts and most importantly…that the story does not end there…as it is evident in what you shared. I think through that one sentence in your post, God told me (especially after this week as I shared it on my post) not to loose sight and that the hard work is needed and will be rewarded. Also, thanks for taking the time to leave comments on each one of your posts, on mine.Thanks again for sharing!God Bless.

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  8. I, too, was guilty of so many sins early on. Only I thought they were small enough that they wouldn’t affect the marriage. I thought is was innocent to have my little hissy fits and then move on without an apology. I excused my actions to just being a ‘chick’. But my anger did have an impact on our marriage, and I have to remind myself still that it is sin when my attituded gets like that.

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  9. Greetings On the subject of the trinity,I recommend this video:The Human JesusTake a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider “The Trinity”Yours In MessiahAdam Pastor

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  10. Thank you Leslie, you have put this together so perfectly. And YES a “punch in the gut” was felt over here too. I pray that God would continue to remind us of all that we are learning and that our lives would reflect the image of Him to our husbands. Linda

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