Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Results of Maturity

To become a medical doctor you must go through many years of school. In the US you by the time you've finished medical school, you will have been a student for 16 years. Add to that the three to four years of residency, and perhaps a two-year fellowship and you will have been in school a grand total of 22 years. Sometimes a specialization is desired, and further schooling may take place. Added to this process are board tests that must be passed along the way, as the would-be physician gets ready to practice.

Becoming a Doctor is similar to life in general. We go through trials and tests enduring them, we grow, and are better prepared to move on to the next stage of life. Isn't it helpful that each stage towards maturity is a pre-requisite for the next stage we'll encounter? Unfortunately, we don't often think about maturity as something to be worked toward, so we become lax, and fail to pass those tests and trials that we could have, if only we would have allowed the Lord to prepare us. Failing a temptation at one level makes it easier to fail next temptation. But thank God that if we're willing to listen, hear and follow; He overcomes the temptation in us.

If we look at Christ's life to see how He handled temptation, test and trial, we'll see that each stage prepared Him for the next. The time in the wilderness, when He fasted for 40 days and later was tempted by the Devil, prepared Him for His ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). The three years and a half on ministry prepared Him for Gethsemane. Gethsemane prepared Him for the Cross (Matthew 26: 36-45). The Cross prepared Him for His epic death. Through out this whole process Jesus learned to yield to the Father’s will and to trust Him.

Sunday’s lesson states in the Hebrew language the word for man is “Ish.” In fact it means mature man. Israelites understood the maturation process. They had names for each stage in the masculine journey. (There are apparently six corresponding stages for women.) Many marriages do not work because those who have entered its gates, have not gone through the
pre-requisite stages or levels of maturity. Each stage involves a pinnacle or pivotal point in which there must be a sacrifice or yielding. If you have avoided the pinnacles in your maturing process, you are probably not adequately prepared to yield or submit to your partner. In other words, many marriage fail because one or more of the partners have become stagnant at a particular stage of maturity, (or immaturity). Thus that partner has not only thwarted their maturation process, but they've likely thwarted the joy that they should know in their marriage.

In a man, this is demonstrated as believing he is the superior (or sometimes inferior) one. Thus he entertains the 'I am the head,' syndrome, or the she's not better than me' syndrome. In either case, this man is unlikely to cherish his wife as the scripture enjoins him to -- as Christ cherishes the Church (Ephesians 5:29). Consequently, selfish and self- pleasing decisions and choices are likely to be made without the consultation of his partner. This man believes that as the head of the home he is entitled to make these decisions, and it is his wife's duty to submit, and be content with his choices. When a wife has not allowed the Lord to mature her through His designed processes, she demonstrates this through disrespecting her husband verbally as well as through emotional manipulation withdrawal, and secrecy.

When a man resists Paul admonition (Ephesians 5:25), “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” and a woman resists the scriptural command given to protect her marriage in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord,” they both reject the only principle given couples whereby they might live a life of happiness together. That overarching principle is found in Ephesians 5:21, and states, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Had each learned earlier in life to forgo selfish pleasures, and whims to have his or her own way, the marriage would be smoother now. Yielding self-will is the way of the kingdom, for self-will is sin. Ultimately, the refusal to submit to one another has been predicated upon an earlier decision not to submit to God (whether during that week, day or moment).

The key to a successful marriage is whatever cures Sin, for sin lies at the door of a dissatisfying and unsuccessful marriage. Perhaps you or your spouse did not learn or choose to trust the Saviour, and instead you trust your own plans, and ideas. The life that Christ has yielded for us has made it so, that if you are reading this, it is not too late to learn to trust Him, and to submit your will to Him. It will make submission to those living with you -- namely your spouse, so much easier; after all, it's never too late to grow up. You'll be glad you did, and your spouse (or potential spouse) will too.

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