Scorn – Hidden Source of Contention

Over this past year or so several words have taken on new significance in my understanding.  Recently the word “scorn” took my attention and I am surprised how significant this topic may be in daily life.  So let me unpack it a little for you.

The key verse that brought ‘scorn’ into focus for me is Proverbs 22:10…

“Cast out the scorner, and contention will exit; yes, strife and reproach will cease.”

Here I saw a key link between scorn and ‘contention’.

Many homes live under the weight of contention so scorn could prove to be very relevant.

Previously I linked contention with pride, because of Proverbs 13:10…

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

Scorn is another piece of the contention puzzle.

Contention is linked to scorners and also to pride.  So scorn must be an expression of pride.

Scorn includes contempt, disrespect, disapproval, criticism, dislike, derision, indignation and disdain.

The link to pride probably sits with the scorner feeling a sense of elevation or superiority over the one scorned (that’s pride) so they judge the failings or poor qualities of the one scorned.

So scorn blocks forgiveness, because the scorner is not looking to act humbly or in good faith, but to serve their pride.

The scorner takes a place of pride and superiority over the one who is scorned so they do not adopt a posture of grace and forgiveness.

If there is contention in your home or your relationships you can be sure there is pride and scorn.

Many years ago my marriage was under great strain.  I had offended Susan by my persistence to achieve a goal, without seeming to care for her struggles in the process.  For many months our relationship was strained and I found Susan difficult to relate to.  All that time she struggled with feelings of offence, knowing her attitude was not right but not able to break free from it.

Late one night we were finally able to talk about the tensions and Susan poured out her string of hurts and feelings of offence caused by my actions.

All I could do was admit that I had burt her and ask her forgiveness.  Then the way forward was in her hands, not mine.  I said to her, “You know what you have to do.”  We were well aware of the need to forgive offenders in order to come to freedom ourselves.

Susan said she already knew she had to forgive me.  She was struggling to do so.

When she got to it, Susan’s forgiveness took only a few moments to say but it changed the atmosphere completely and set our relationship free to blossom again.  The impact was profound, even though the forgiveness process was almost momentary.

Think about your situation.

Is there contention, strife or reproach in your relationships?

Does the contention and strife settle down when someone else leaves the room, or when YOU leave the room?  Who is the ‘scorner’ in your situation?

Do you face contention and strife in many of your relationships?

Are you sitting in judgement of others, elevating yourself in pride, thinking you have the right to hold them in contempt, disapproval and indignation?

If you take the place of ‘judge’ over others God will judge you severely and one of the judgments is that God cuts you off from the benefit due to you through those you despise, which could even be your spouse and family.

And consider another verse about ‘scorn’, the very first verse of the Book of Psalms.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

The ungodly walk, sinner stand, and scorners sit.  Scorners make themselves comfortable in their place of scorn, pride and judgement of others.  They probably affirm their right to stay in that seat of judgement through all manner of justifications and fault-finding.

If you are a scorner you are probably very inflexible and slow to come around to grace and forgiveness.

If this touches you in some way then please take a lesson from my lovely wife and get out of that seat of scorn into the wonderful freedom that grace and forgiveness pour down upon us.

Woman Beware

As a dad and as a pastor giving guidance to young people I have written very little for young women.  Following the pattern of King Solomon in his instructions to his son, I am starting out with some cautions.  And much of what I share here comes from the wisdom of Solomon.

The Heart of the Matter

For all of us the heart is the “heart of the matter”.  Our actions are less significant in God’s eyes than our motives.  So any guidance to youth is really guidance for their heart.  This is particularly so for young women who can be distracted by externals, such as their own appearance or competing with the beauty of others.

King Solomon instructs us to be very diligent in protecting our heart, because the reactions of our heart become the “issues” we have to live with and deal with in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

“Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts: if you seek him, he will be found of you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.”  1Chronicles 28:9

Womanly Issues

From my counselling experience and from my reading of the Bible I am aware of several issues which women are likely to struggle with.  I want to draw them to your attention with the caution that these areas deserve careful consideration to keep the heart free.

I note, for example, that women are more concerned about security and preparation for the future than their husbands often are.  I note, too, that women want to feel “loved” and yet their husbands can often neglect them without realising it.  I also note that women can fall into contention, argument and having the last word, when they are upset with their husbands.

Then there is the reflection about womanhood that I once heard from Iverna Thompkins.  She observed to a large group of women that men tend to have a pigeonhole for everything – from work, to the kids, to the car, wife, dog, etc.  A man can therefore shut off to his unhappy thoughts or feelings about work (or some other issue) when he faces something that is not in that pigeonhole, such as playing with his children.

Iverna observed that women operate differently.  “For us girls,” she observed, “it’s just ONE BIG HOLE!” What she meant is that if a woman is upset about one thing her feelings spill over to everything else as well.

This leads to the observation that women must pay attention to Solomon’s advice to gain “rule over your own spirit”.

“He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Proverbs 31 Woman

It is often observed that the last chapter in the book of Proverbs provides a description of an ideal woman.  Many women, therefore, take note of that description and try to match the various qualities, such as rising early, running a home business, and so on.

Let me remind you that it is not our actions but our heart that is the heart of the matter.  Despite the many activities described there, the key verse for women is not about wool, flax, food, enterprise or rising early.  The key verse is about the heart.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

The true “Proverbs 31 Woman” is defined by a heart to fear the Lord.

So let me point out how having such a heart makes you a very rare woman indeed.

Humility and Faith

I believe the two most powerful qualities a young woman can develop, and which will save her from the many traps that womankind falls into, are humility and faith.

Pride is a terrible thing in a woman because it leads her to fight and argue with her husband, which is the very opposite of being submissive and fitting in with his plans.  Let me show you how that works.

A contentious woman is proverbial, both in modern society and in the Bible.  King Solomon made repeated references to how terrible it is to be around a woman who is contentious.

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”  Proverbs 21:19

“… the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13b

Putting up with a contentious woman is like Chinese water torture!

So where do contentions come from?  Contention is evidence of Pride!

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”  Proverbs 13:10

And a fruit of pride is that people look down on others, scorning them, and holding them in contempt.  That’s why getting rid of a “scorner” removes contention.  Scorn is an evidence of pride of heart.

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.”  Proverbs 22:10

Scorning the Husband

One of my lovely daughters-in-law related a few years ago how she attended a ladies group in her church and all the women did was complain about their husbands.  These young wives held their husbands in contempt.  They “scorned” them.  This means they had pride in their own heart about how much better they, as women, were, compared with their husbands.

When a wife lectures her husband, scolds him, belittles him, treats him like a naughty schoolboy, takes control over him and the like, she is in pride and is scorning her husband.

Yet it seems very easy for a woman to do that.  So beware of your heart.

Wives are commanded to submit to and honour their husband.  If you do not rule your heart properly you will probably find contentions coming from you because you scorn your husband.

The Place of Faith

I mentioned the need for both humility and faith.  I have shown that humility is important, to neutralise pride that leads to scorning and contention.  So, what about faith?

Wives are instructed to submit to their husband.  Yet many wives struggle with the lack of care, wisdom and planning they see in their husbands.

Because women are geared toward a need for security, the impulsive, undisciplined actions of her husband can make a woman fearful.  From that place of fear, combined with scorn for her husband’s lack of care for her, a woman can take control of the home and family, so she will feel secure.

This is where “faith” comes in.  Since it is God who commands the woman to submit, she must seek to do so with all her heart.  If she is insecure in the abilities and thoughtfulness of her husband, then she must focus her faith on God, not her husband.

A wife may pray something like this: “Lord, I know You want me to submit to my husband.  But he is so irresponsible and I am afraid for myself and our children.  He wastes money and makes decisions on impulse, despite all the times I try to get him to grow up!  But Lord, I want to worship You by obeying Your instructions.  So I choose to submit to my husband and honour him.  I do this as an act of faith in You.  I give You my fears and my needs.  I ask You to protect me from my husband’s foolishness.”

Such a prayer places the woman’s faith where it is supposed to be; on God, not the husband.

Out of Order

The ideal woman is one who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30), and rules her own spirit, having both humility and faith.  So what is a woman like if she does not follow this wisdom?

A woman who does not fear God allows her pride and fear control her, so she then seeks to control the man and children in her life.  This is where we get the idea of the matriarch who rules the family, or the woman who makes her husband a “hormone hostage”.

Manipulation and control are a ready pitfall for a woman who is out of order.  King Solomon has a description of such a woman.

“And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: the one who pleases God will escape from her; but the sinner will be taken by her.”  Ecclesiastes 7:26

Note that a man will feel like it is better to be dead than to live with such a woman.  That has echoes of the comment about living in the desert rather than putting up with a contentious woman.

I have had to counsel both men and women who struggled with the manipulation and control of a mother or wife.  Such control is more than just emotional, it is devilish, because it is rebellion against the will of God.

Witchcraft in the Home

While a godly woman is a most wonderful thing, a rebellious and contentious woman is a bitter thing.  However the deeper danger is the spiritual curse such a woman can bring in a marriage and home.  So let me add this observation to caution your heart.

A woman driven by fear, pride, scorn, self-will and an out of control heart will be in rebellion against God and he husband.  And “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”  1Samuel 15:23a

If a wife was to practice witchcraft in the home then spiritual oppression would come upon her, her husband and the family.  So, when a wife practices rebellion against God’s instruction to submit to her husband, she also brings spiritual oppression upon herself, her husband and the family.

This is part of the “snares and nets” problem a woman can be in a home.

What is Ruling You?

If a wife gives in to her impulses, fears, pride or reactions, she will be out of control.  She will not be under God’s headship, nor will she be under her husband’s headship.  Instead she will be ruled by her fears and other things that are ungodly.

If she then tries to contend, manipulate, control, argue and the like she is exalting that wrong spirit over the home.  Her husband should not give in to her, otherwise he is saying to Jesus, “You can’t be the head of this home right now, because my wife wants that spirit of anger to rule her and me.”

A wise husband will resist his wife’s manipulation and control, tantrums, outbursts, verbal attacks, contentions or the like, because he wants Jesus to remain as the head of the home, not some out of order attitude or spirit that wants to rule through the wife.

A Good Thing

Don’t think that these cautions mean women are terrible or evil.  All men and women have fallen short of God’s glory.  The challenge for each of us is to be holy as our God is holy.  For women that involves some challenges different to men, and vice versa.

It is God’s favour to give you as a godly wife to a man the Lord blesses.

Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the LORD.”  Proverbs 18:22

Godly women want to be a blessing.  And you are.  You are a gift to your husband.

Note, as a final word of caution, that you are a blessing when you are a “wife”.  A woman who is married to a man but acts as his superior, boss, mother, manipulator, jailer or the like is not his “wife”.  Being married to a man makes you a wife in human terms, but not according to God’s plan.

I call upon each of you to be a godly wife, by living in humility and faith and the fear of God, ruling your own spirit, so you do not give in to fear, pride, scorn, manipulation, control or any other thing that leads to rebellion against God.

And may the Lord bless you as you do.

Rebel Queen

While weak husbands can become Dungeon Lord of their home, wives damage their marriage by becoming the Rebel Queen. Some women seek to subvert their husband’s home from day one.
They run an ongoing insurgency in the home, either to resist the husband’s leadership or subvert his world under her own control.

Queen

Pride in Heart

Some wives live in the delusion that they are morally superior to their husbands. Their sensibilities to domestic order, cleanliness, social propriety and the like testify to them that they are the morally superior being and the husband in the oaf or ogre who must be tamed.

Such thoughts spring from pride and self exaltation. From that position the wife can justify her efforts to enslave the husband and make him serve her leadership. She can equally justify her resistance and insurrection.

If the wife cannot win the husband she may at least enlist the children to her cause, values and domestic wisdom. The “don’t be like your father” message may be played repeatedly by the wife to push her rebel cause.

Enslaving the Husband

Because most men want their wife to be happy it is possible for women to enslave the husband, making him servant to her standards and ideals. The wife may restrict the man in his own home (“Don’t sit in THAT chair!”), dictate what he eats and drinks (“Don’t eat before dinner!”), control his money (“Don’t come to me for more!”), set the family goals and plans (“These kids are going to go to Uni!”), and so on.
Some men happily comply with this rebel cause, to keep the peace and in gratitude for having a woman in their life.

Other men are more stubborn and set on their own will. The wife may then end up in a long-term cold war of passive resistance, contention, manipulation and the like. While she may not enslave her husband, she can be a constant resistance against all the things he wants to do that don’t fit her will.

Abducting His Life

I have seen wives who simply abduct their husband’s life. Instead of being his helper, as per God’s design for the woman in Genesis 2, she sees the husband as the means to fulfilment of her dreams.
Her aspirations of wealth, home, lifestyle, etc, are forced on the husband. She sees it as her role in life to tame his wishes, and make them subservient to her own.

Many men happily comply with this abduction, not seeing how completely the family values, direction, achievements and aspirations are being set by the wife. The wife’s values and goals may be fine. But when she asserts them, in place of submission to the husband as head, she abducts the home. She is acting in rebellion against God.

A True Wife

God created the role of ‘wife’, and He made the woman to be the man’s helper. The man who finds a ‘wife’ finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). The man with a rebel queen has not found a good thing. A woman doesn’t become a godly wife, as a gift to her husband, just by saying “I do”. She must fulfil her unique part as ‘wife’ in her husband’s life.

The true wife is instructed to submit to her husband. He is her head and she is his helper, assisting him to fulfil God’s call on his life. She is not lord of her husband. She is not queen of the home. She is not the focus on the husband’s life. She is not there to be served.

A true wife does not manipulate, undermine, compete, resist or frustrate her husband. She empowers him by being wind in his sails, as he seeks to be the man God calls him to be.

The Rebel

When a woman rules her own home she is in rebellion against God. As a rebel queen she not only stands against her husband’s authority, but against God’s authority too.

The reason many woman engage in subversion of the home is insecurity. She fears that the husband’s ego-driven decisions will be unwise, self-serving and damaging to future security. In her insecurity she rises up and take control.

She needs to put her trust in the Lord and find security in Him. She needs to worship God, by being what He made her to be, not what her self-interest prompts her to be.

Another reason women rebel is their pride. Many have a deluded sense of moral superiority as if that gives them a different place to the one God gave them. Pride exalts, and when women exalt themselves over the husband, pride is at play. But pride leads to destruction, so it must never be pandered to.

True Beauty

The Bible teaches that a woman’s true, inner beauty comes from a submissive spirit. When a woman submits to her husband, not because she fully trusts his wisdom, but because she is determined to glorify God, a new radiance glows from within her (see 1Peter 3:3-6).

The rebel queen will never fulfil her natural beauty. She will become hardened and her efforts will be unfruitful. Her pride will lead to destruction. Going her own way will lead to death and failure. Her fears will enslave her. She will pluck down her home with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1).

A Life of Trust

Women were designed to help their husband. They are designed to be under instruction, not taking lordship. This requires trust. Her trust is not in her husband and his wisdom. Her trust is to be securely placed in the Lord, as her source of supply and defence from harm.

A life of trust in God is the highest life a wife can live. Becoming a rebel queen is the total opposite to that high calling.

Life will not be without challenges. No husband will always delight his wife. We may all have to miss out on some things we desire. But when a wife can lay down her own life, to take on the calling of ‘wife’, she will find a life far richer and more fulfilling than the one she would demand her husband to build for her.

The Crash of 2008 part four

The financial crash of 2008 is the product of greed, boom and bust cycles and the manipulations by power players. But it is also the product of man’s sin, man’s mammon worship and God’s judgements.

Prophetic insights tell us that God wants to humble people and the nations and to have them rely only on Him, not on their money or their survival plans.

What Should You Do?

What are the things you should do to weather the storms we are facing and will face in the future? I suggest that you consider the following list of things that I have taught others to do in this situation.

Humble Yourself

If it is true that God is at work in this situation, seeking to humble the nations and bring them back to Himself, then the best thing you can do is be quick to humble yourself. It is time to repent of your materialism and to stop looking to money to be your saviour. Money is proving unstable and even toxic to some.

You also need to consider whether you have been worshipping Mammon. God wants you to worship only Him.

Cry Out To God

Call on the name of the Lord, cry out to God and trust Him to deliver you in this situation. God is ready to rescue those who trust in Him. So call upon Him. Put your trust in His ability to protect and save you.

God promises in His Word that we can be kept safe even when we go through the flood and the fire.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.” Isaiah 43:2

Expect God’s Blessing

We are able to expect God’s blessing, even in a time of famine or trouble. God’s ability to bless us is not limited by physical circumstances.

Thousands of years ago Isaac, son of Abraham, experienced a 100 fold return during a time of famine.

“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar ……. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year one hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.” Genesis 26:1,12

Whatever is happening in the global markets, God is able to protect you and to bless you. He is even able to bring you amazing provision when everyone else of struggling, just as Isaac had a one hundredfold return during a time of famine.

Avoid Slavery to Debt

Debt is not sin, but debt does make people servants or slaves to others. Those who are in debt are vulnerable to having their situation overturned by the lender.

“The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

I reiterate that it is not sin to have debt, but it is dangerous. In a season of financial upheaval it is possible to be penalised by the one who has lent you the money. If you have the opportunity to get out of debt, that would be to your advantage and an excellent strategy.

Let God Purify Your Heart

When our faith is tested then so too is our heart. God holds our faith to be of great value. He tests us to see how we cope under various pressures and to see what comes out of our heart.

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

As your financial and material security is put at risk your heart will be exposed. You will either trust God or be angry with Him. You will either rest in God’s provision or you will strive more and more in your own strength and cunning.

I have personally been through protracted times of hardship and those seasons tested and purified my heart. In such seasons I have been able to sort out my attitudes toward material goods, worldly values and God’s call on my life.

So, let God purify your heart even in the challenging financial times you may be going through.

Stand On God’s Word

People of faith know how to stand secure on the Word of God. God makes many promises about His blessings and His protection in our lives. Rather than looking to the newspaper headlines, you are much better to look into God’s Word and stand firm on what He is saying.

God says the He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19) and that His blessing meets your needs without bringing you sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).

Look To God

People seek to protect what they have and to build up a greater store of assets. This is the desire for gain and fear of loss which drive so much of our markets.

The Bible reveals that God is our greatest source of security and blessing. In fact, unless God supports your plans for protection and profit you are wasting your time.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders waste their time: unless the LORD protects the city, the watchman wakes in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Look to God, not your own cunning or resources. Your financial advancement and your security are found in him, not the markets or your clever ideas.

Help Us Turn Australia (and the Nations) back to God

God is challenging the pride and rebellion of the nations that try to survive without Him. Christians have the role of bringing the nations back to God. Rather than being eaten up in your own concerns, ask God how you can help to bring your nation to repentance and humility before God.

Ruled by God or Mammon

What I address here might be a revolutionary eye-opener to you. I trust it opens the Bible to you in a fresh way. Many Bible truths take on a completely new complexion when considered in a fresh context. My post about the Bible being a Book of Books hinted at some of the possibilities that open to us when we see the Bible in a fresh context and with sharper application. To help me get where I want to go, allow me to present a few basic premises from which to work.

You Are Ruled

Whether you like the idea or not your whole life is being ruled by someone other than yourself. Obviously you have a high level of personal autonomy within the bounds set by your sovereign, but you are ruled none-the-less.

You are either ruled by truth or deception; confidence or fear; love or hate; and so on. But for the purposes of this discussion you are either ruled by God or Mammon.

God or Mammon

The Bible affirms that you are ruled and identifies the two masters who you can choose between. They are God and Mammon.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:24

In the original language the meaning could be taken to be, “No person has the power to serve two lords…. You do not have the power to serve God and the power of wealth.”

Note that the Old Testament prophets warned Israel about worshiping such gods as Baal and Ashtaroth. When Jesus came He did not speak of these gods, but embodied all other competitors to Almighty God under the title of Mammon.

You Are Ruled by the One you Serve

Another way of understanding what Jesus taught is that you are “ruled” by the one you serve. The Apostle Paul said that we are enslaved to the thing we serve.

“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16

So you are ruled either by God or by Mammon.

What is Mammon?

Since there is a 50:50 chance you are ruled by Mammon it might be good to know what it is. Mammon is a Chaldean word. It is a word that came from the heathen people around the nation of Israel. It apparently refers to a deity and the root meaning of the word is: “confidence”; “wealth personified”; and “avarice” (which is greed).

What Mammon refers to, when opposed to the person of God, is the power of wealth.

Time to Reflect

Take a moment to ponder the following question. If everyone in the world is either ruled by God or Wealth, what would be the indicators to identify each one?

How would you tell if someone was ruled by God? How would you tell if someone was ruled by money?

And to take the reflection further, does the evidence suggest that you are ruled by God or Money? What about your family, community and culture? Which deity is ruling over them?

Simplifications

I love to simplify things so they are easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to teach. While simplifications involve reductionism which can remove key information from the topic, they do allow an easy grasp and a ready starting point for further investigation. So allow me to make some simple observations.

The simplified point I have already made is that you are either ruled by God or Money. The next observation is that God’s rule demands that we live for others. Consider these instructions from God to love others and to do to others what you want them to do to you.

“You are to love your neighbour as yourself” Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Mammon stands contrary to God’s standards and involves people living for self and personal gain. This causes people to live in pride, directed by their greed and lusts.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1John 2:16

Reflecting Again

So do you live for self or for others? Does your family and culture promote selflessness or self-gratification?

If the focus is on self, then Mammon is the master. If the focus is on selflessness, living to be a blessing to others, then God is the master.

It’s time you made sure you are in the right kingdom. Repent of self interest and self serving attitudes and values. Ask God to transform you until you can live for others and not self.

There’s More

I started out intending to discuss the Bible and its value on political topics. Hmmm. I think I’ve made a pretty good fist of this posting, without getting where I want to go. So I’ll make a point in the near future of picking up the theme of the Bible as a Political Text.