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.

The Curse of Makeup

I took my two youngest children to the city today for a Recce (reconnaissance orientation) and a relaxing time together. For those who know Melbourne I have a list of things to see at the end of this article.

I surprised my nearly 15 year old daughter as we walked through a department store, suggesting that she allow one of the beauticians to show her their range of makeup. It was a surprise because it was spontaneous and unexpected, but also because I don’t encourage makeup.

After a few moments of embarrassment, Sophia yielded to the lady’s request and sat for a demonstration and to have various cosmetics applied to her face. The beautician recognised that a youthful face is best left to its natural glow, but a tinted moisturiser would help cover the breakouts (that was her politically correct term for acne and pimples).

So Sophia endured the exfoliation, moisturiser, eye shadow, lip gloss and whatever they call that stuff you put on your cheeks for highlight (is it rouge?). About an hour later there was little of the makeup left, as Sophia ate a souvlaki, scratched her skin and splashed water onto her face. Having a high fashion face must make life very difficult for people.

Something New

I explained to Sophia that, while I do not encourage her to use makeup, I want her to be comfortable with it and to know how to use it if and when she chooses to. She has used stage makeup before, but the idea of “putting on a face” for vanity is not something she has been concerned about.

New things are strange to us for the first few times, but we soon become comfortable with what was once strange. Such things as wearing a tie, dressing up in a tuxedo, walking in high heels, or using roller blades can be quite uncomfortable and challenging until we get used to it.

So I want Sophia to be comfortable with those things that women need to have recourse to from time to time. And today “makeup” was the matter in hand.

So that brings me to a quick explanation about the Curse of Makeup. I trust that these thoughts can be a caution for all those young ladies who think it might be exciting to enhance their natural beauty.

The Beauty Issue

It seems natural for girls and women to desire to be beautiful. The Cinderella princess fantasy is one that the West promotes and which girls take a liking to. The inherent desire to be loved leads many women to assume that if they are beautiful and attract men’s attention they will be much more likely to be happy in love.

That’s why you will observe some chap walking down the street in grungy clothes, looking like a slob who couldn’t care less about how he looks, and yet his girlfriend or wife beside him will be dressed sharp, trim, neat and as attractive as she can. The miss-match can be laughable at times. If she really did value carefully manicured beauty you would think she would demand some level of care from him as well.

But what is at stake in the mind of the woman is her need to be beautiful, to ensure that she keeps “him”. He does not need to attract her eye. She is in the place of insecurity, not him. She must perform to his expectations, not him to hers.

So it is easy for a woman to fall into the curse of feeling that she has to rise to high standards of beauty, fashion and attractiveness.

The Lure

When a girl or woman thinks she needs to prove herself by attracting the attention of men, she will take care to make herself attractive to others. While she may not realise it, the more she makes herself attractive in human terms, by fashion, makeup, flirtatious behaviour, or the like, the more she lures the lustful interests of men.

I notice that many women dress shamefully, as if their intention was to have men look at them lustfully. I assume that some if not many of those women don’t realise how their appearance cheapens them. They appear to be immoral, loose women, who wish to be ranked for their sex appeal, rather than valued as a person to be respected.

Insecurity at Heart

The Bible advises that the most wonderful beauty any woman has is the beauty of a heart that is free and confident in God. If the “hidden man of the heart” (see 1Peter 3:1-6) is full of joy, confidence, security and faith, then the countenance will glow with a radiance from within.

However, if a woman is insecure, fearful, ashamed, anxious, hurting, selfish or the like, the hidden man of her heart will not be able to radiate from within her. That woman will very likely rely heavily on painting herself to mask the dullness of her own spirit.

And if a woman has immoral attitudes, disrespect for her personal value, sensual desires and cheap values, then she will also fail to have an inner beauty which will make her stand out as a woman to be valued and prized.

The more insecure a person is, the more they will use props and excuses in their life. Insecure people hide, cover up, deceive, avoid revealing the truth about themselves, and so on. And that has direct connection to the way a woman deals with makeup.

The Cover Up

When a woman feels the need to cover up her natural appearance, either because she believes it needs to be enhanced to make her more beautiful, or because she feels she needs to make men look at her, she has become trapped in a snare.

Makeup for such a woman is not something she can use as and when she wishes. Instead, makeup becomes a vital part of who she is. She is no longer complete without makeup.

Once a woman uses makeup as a prop she will never be free from it. She will fear that she will not be properly appreciated without it. And that’s where the slavery takes over.

Put Your Face On

Let me repeat an incident a friend told me about many years ago. One day he had to visit a client near his family home. He decided to call in unexpectedly for morning tea with his mum. But when he went to the door and knocked she made him wait on the step for about ten minutes.

When his mum finally let him in she was still dressed in her dressing gown. He asked her why she didn’t just let him straight in. Her reply shocked him.

She said, “I couldn’t let you see me until I had put my face on,”

He had never realised how insecure his mum was. He was her own son. If she could be relaxed and natural with anyone, surely it would be with him. Yet she would not let him see her without makeup.

Now, that’s Slavery!

Be Warned

Girls, I know that you want to be beautiful. I don’t begrudge you that aspiration. And I know that many of you are insecure about whether you will really be beautiful enough and stay beautiful enough to catch and keep the attentions of some young man who will make you happy.

But if you carry insecurity and look to fashion and makeup to help you, there is a grave risk of you losing the joy of just being you. God already made you beautiful, and he put your loveliest beauty in your heart, not on your face.

Let the joy of your heart, your fascination for life, your heart to serve and bless others, and your confidence in God shine through. Let you heart be filled with the love of God, being His love for you and your compassion for others.

When you do that, you don’t need makeup and high fashion. You don’t need to lure men to look at you. After all, you only need that one man to commit himself to you. There’s no reason why any other man should be looking at you too. That will only lead to moral challenges that you don’t need in your life.

Free to be Me

I want you to tell me that you’re “Free to be Me!” God did not make a mistake when He fashioned you. You don’t need a plastic mask. Just enjoy being you.

Now, enjoy nice clothes and play with your hair, and even throw a bit of colour on your face from time to time. But never become enslaved to those things. Make sure you are not depending on them.

If you can do that, then you have a lifetime of enjoyment and freedom to explore.

I pray that the Lord grant you His grace to live in the glorious liberty (freedom) which He created you for.

Recce in Melbourne

Now, for those who may want to scout around Melbourne…

The early sailing ships in Port Phillip Bay needed a landmark to find the tiny settlement. A flag was raised on the highest hill, which is now named Flagstaff Gardens. The Paris end of Collins Street displays European décor on the buildings and the Sofitel Hotel has a great view from the restaurant level – from the toilets. We take our Kiwi and UK friends there for a birds-eye view of the MCG. In the basement of the Rialto Building the original flagstones were preserved, showing where the steel rimmed wheels gouged their track. The old Shot Tower at Melbourne Central shows how lead pellets were formed in olden days. The military museum under the Cenotaph is worth a look. Melbourne Town Hall was jam packed with men over 100 years ago when a prayer revival was at its peak, spreading from here to the world and feeding into the Welsh Revival. There’s Parliament house, Docklands, Southbank, The Museum, Exhibition Building, Melbourne Gallery, Bourke Street Mall, the Free City Circle Tram, the underground trains, Flinders Street Station, the Yarra River, and more. Enjoy!

Women With Wise Words part 3

This series is about wives and mums learning how to “share” life with their family, rather than contending with them. The concepts taught here apply to all people connecting with others, but they are crafted to address the challenge many women have, to avoid contending with their husband and family.

Sharing Instead of Contending

Contention comes from pride and is anchored in the notions of “rule” and “judgement”. When a woman contends with her family she is likely being moved by pride and by feelings of her right to rule and judge others.

Contending is adversarial in nature and puts two people at variance. That is why “sharing” is such a powerful way to neutralise the tendency to contend. When a wife and mother takes on the role of a counsellor to her family and “shares” life with them, she will be much less likely to contend with them.

It’s A Challenge

Changing behaviour is challenging. This is just as true for stopping contention. You will need God’s help to control your tongue. So ask for God’s help every time you find yourself in contention.

Learning new behaviour will take practice and commitment. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle. It is worse that you simply give up or don’t realise what you are doing. If you are conscious you are doing things wrong and struggling to change, that is a good sign.

coupleTo help you through this challenge I am giving you some tangible examples of communications which can lead to contention in families. I trust they help you change your own behaviour patterns.

Insult and Injury

What happens when a husband makes an off-hand remark about his wife’s family? Let’s assume he says that he thinks her brother is an idiot. And let’s assume that the wife feels quite stung by this personal remark about her own brother. She feels insulted and injured. Now what does she do?

A contentious woman would dive in and start a fight in defence of her brother. She might say, “You’ve never liked my brother. You’ve always looked down on my family. You’re just an opinionated pig!”

Or she might jump in with her interrogation, spoken with the sting of her hurt feelings. “What’s wrong with my brother? Who are you calling stupid? He could easily say the same thing about you, you know!”

In any of these responses the lines are drawn and husband and wife are on opposite sides of the line.

Stay On The Same Side

Rather than creating a dividing line between you both, the better strategy is to have both of you on the same side. Stay on side with your husband. Stay on the same side.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with your husband. What it means is that you have to “share” with your husband. Share life with him. Be part of his journey, rather than being separate, judging his journey from a distance.

On-Side Responses

If a wife is stung by her husband’s criticism of her family she first needs to rule her own spirit. She needs to restrain her anger and reactions. She needs to be committed to the marriage, not just to her emotional sense of right and wrong.

An On-Side response could be to play it down. “Is my brother irritating you again?”

Alternatively she could simply investigate what her husband is dealing with, in order to find godly wisdom. “Has he done something to upset you again?” “Tell me what’s bothering you about him.”

Another approach is to be caring to the husband’s inner needs. “I’m sorry he bothers you like that. I’d love you both to get along better.” “Oh dear. You have enough on your plate at the moment without some frustration from my brother.”

Yet another approach is to find a solution, rather than make a reaction. “This seems to be an on-going issue for you. Is there anything we can do to improve things?” “My brother is actually quite a wonderful guy, but you two just never seem to hit if off. What if we talk to someone about this issue, to see if there’s a way to get past this hurdle?”

Diffuse Tension

I have seen many Aussies successfully diffuse difficult situations, and so maybe you could look for ways to achieve that. When you feel aroused and at risk of reacting, first find God’s grace, then look for His wisdom to diffuse the tensions with your spouse.

Susan and I have used a light-hearted humour to diffuse tensions at times. She will look at me with exasperation and say, “You are the most difficult husband I have ever had!” And that’s true because I am the ONLY husband she has had. I may well respond with an equally teasing comment such as, “I have never had a wife who gets me as frustrated as you do!” And that’s true too, since she is the ONLY wife I have ever had.

Because we use this gag from time to time it is an easy way to express frustration, but not make an issue of it. We both recognise that we annoy each other at times, but we know that such is life. No matter who we married we would have the same challenges. So, we acknowledge them and let them pass.

Humour

Humour is tricky. Some people can make a happy moment out of anything, while others turn humour into an ordeal. If you have liberty to use humour it can be a simple way to diffuse tension.

For example, in a situation like the one described above, a wife could try this. Next time she sees an advertisement for a job in Siberia or Antarctica, she could stick the ad on a note that says, “Maybe you should recommend my brother for this job!”

Each time hubby is upset at the brother again, she could say, “I’ve kept that ad, just in case you want to recommend a job to my brother.”

Bottom Line

In all relationships the bottom line is the relationship itself. Whatever the tensions may be, take care to protect the relationship. It’s all about sharing, staying on the same side, rather than putting a dividing line between you.

Contention puts you on separate sides. Sharing keeps you on the same side. So, do all you can to stay together, not on opposite sides.

Repair Mechanism

You will not always get it right. When you get upset, react and contend with your children or husband, use the repair mechanism. The repair mechanism is to repent and apologise.

“I’m sorry honey. I did get upset and I shouldn’t have. Please forgive me.”

At the same time you may need to silently forgive them for upsetting or offending you. Ask God to forgive them, because you are putting off your upset feelings.

When you put right what you have done wrong it makes it easier for you to get it right next time.

And this also keeps the relationship in its rightful place, as the most important thing to protect. Your pride will have to lose out. Your control will have to lose out. Your sense of self-righteousness will have to lose out. But the relationship will win. And that’s fantastic.

Women With Wise Words part 2

In part 1 of this topic I pointed out that women are known historically for being contentious. That means that some women tend to say things that make for argument and strife.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13

I pointed out that the basis for such trouble-making words is “pride” and that it involves a desire to “rule” others and be their “judge”. Insecurity has a part to play in that as well.

bossy2

I won’t repeat the background points made in part 1, but if you missed them I encourage you to go back and brush-up on the points made there.

Wise Words

The point of these articles is to teach women and all who need to know it, to stop contending and start sharing. Wise words do not lead to contention. Hasty, angry, thoughtless words will tend toward strife. So I want to give you some wise counsel about alternative ways to respond, rather than with contentious words and argument.

There are two issues that need to be addressed. One is your heart and intention. If you are given to strife, like the woman I mentioned in part 1, then you will step into strife all the time. That woman ended up in strife with another lady in her church, and she was known as a difficult person to befriend.

The second issue is the appropriate process to follow. Even with the right intentions we need people to give us guidance about the best way to do things.

Let me discuss these two issues with you, to point you in the right direction.

The Heart of the Matter

If you are contending with your husband, your children or others, there will be something going on in your heart that prompts you to do so. You may be wrestling with disappointment, that your family and marriage are not what you want them to be. You may be wrestling with unforgiveness for offences they have brought upon you. You may be frustrated because you have not been able to achieve some personal ambition, which may even go back to your childhood.

Whatever the issue that is gnawing at your heart, you need to resolve it and give it to God. You are to cast all of your cares upon Him because He cares for you.

Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7

Stop looking to people to deliver you from your challenges. Trust those issues to God. Your husband, children, family, friends, career and social connections cannot do for you what God is meant to do. If you trust in people to be your saviour you bring a curse upon yourself.

“The LORD says; A curse on the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he will be like the heath in the desert, and will not see when good comes; but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” Jeremiah 17:5,6

Determine to trust God, and not to carry heart issues toward people who let you down. People are imperfect and only God can be your deliverer.

Control Your Speech

As you deal with your heart attitudes also take steps to control your speech. Hasty, impulsive, reactionary words will keep you in the unhappy cycle of contention. Stop contending and start sharing.

When your husband or child says something that you want to react to, stop yourself immediately. Don’t leap into the automatic response that you are urged to offer. Bite your tongue and hold yourself until you can find a wise and honouring response.

It is not easy to tame the tongue. The Apostle James warned us of that.

“But no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8

We cannot do it in our own strength and so we need God’s grace and power to master our verbal responses. Start by trying to hold your tongue. And call out for God’s help at the same time.

Wise Counselor

Stop taking the position of ruler and judge and take on the role of wise counsellor to your husband and children. Stop violating their will, by being demanding, argumentative, emotionally charged and manipulative. You are not their king or judge, so drop that role. Take on the much more valuable role of being a godly counsellor to your family.

Compare the Roles

In one home the children are about to head off to school. As they do so the mother calls after them with a bunch of questions, like, “Did you remember your book?” “You’ll need something warmer than that!” “Don’t dawdle on the way home.” And so on.

The children are not really paying attention, because they know that if they have forgotten something their mum will take up the issue for them. They are just mindlessly running out the door as they always do.

In a nearby home the children have all gathered to their mum before heading off to school. She will pray with them, but not until they can account for all the things they need that day, to show they are properly prepared.

When she sees that one of them has forgotten something she wisely asks, “Now, isn’t there something else you said you had to take to school today?” Thus she prompts her children to remember. When they are all fully prepared she blesses them and sends them off with a hug.

The second mum is coaching and counselling her children as she shares her life with them. The first mum is acting like their ruler and judge, apart from their life, rather that sharing it with them.

Helping Hubby

In one home a husband announces that he thinks it’s time to buy a new car. His wife reacts with irritation and scolds him for thinking about a new car when they can’t be sure they have the money for other expenses. He defends by saying he was only thinking about it, but she launches in and gives him the history of all his unwise decisions. She further blasts him for never listening to her, always doing his own thing and making her feel so worthless.

The husband shrinks away, rattled and stung. He finds some excuse to be out of the home and away from the woman who is contending with him. It is better for him to be in the pub, or at work, or anywhere else, than with his wife when she is in that frame of mind.

In another home a husband announces that he thinks it’s time to buy a new car. The wife smiles and affirms her husband. “You do love cars, don’t you? What do you have in mind?” The husband begins to share his thoughts and the wife enjoys them with him.

After a time of happy discussion she asks him how he can possibly afford it at this time, and if there is anything she can do to help make it possible. Together they realise that it is really only a dream, until they can get on top of some other commitments. However they thoroughly enjoyed the dream and will both be delighted when it is realised.

In the second example the wife is sharing life with her husband. They are partners in the process, not adversaries contending over an issue.

Getting the Picture?

Can you see how dropping the role of ruler and judge takes the contention out of the discussion? Sharing life together is much more rewarding for you and your family, than becoming an adversary to your loved ones. I hope you are getting the picture that even disagreements can be worked through, rather than turned into a stand-up fight.

I want to give you more examples of “sharing” instead of contending. I want you to feel comfortable with changing the way you relate and speak to one another. I’ll give you those examples in part 3 of Women With Wise Words.

To go directly to Part 3 of this series click this link:
http://chrisfieldblog.com/?p=1193

Women With Wise Words part 1

Some women struggle with their tongue. So here is practical advice for wives and mothers and for others who end up creating trouble through their words. The point is to stop contending and start sharing. Let me explain.

The Unruly Tongue

The Apostle James, Jesus’ younger brother, warned that the human tongue is impossible to tame. Everyone says the wrong thing at times, and those who rule their tongue have mastered their whole life.

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2

“But no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8

Only God can empower us to tame our tongue. So we need God’s wisdom and His grace and power to succeed in this important challenge.

The Argumentative Woman

bossyIt is significant that the Bible makes several references to an argumentative woman. On three occasions King Solomon advised that you are better off living on the rooftop or the wilderness rather than with a woman who wants to argue with you.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9

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

“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” Proverbs 25:24

We know that men, women and children can all be argumentative, so the points made in this lesson can be put to use by us all. But the argumentative woman is clearly bad news and a common enough reality for repeated mention in the Bible.

Contending

Let’s look at the dynamics that occur in contention and argument. Contending is a form of fighting. Two people become adversaries when they contend with each other. One or both are trying to gain some victory over the other. Or one is trying to defend against the demands of another.

For some reason women have a propensity to become contentious. This means they will contend with their husband and their children. Possibly as younger women they will contend with their parents. And they probably contend with others, outside the family, as well.

Many husbands comment on how their wife “nags” them and how she will not let up on some point or other that she is trying to press upon them. Solomon even refers to this.

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13

The Roots of Contention

Contention springs from pride. King Solomon points out that contention only comes when pride is involved.

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

The pride that produces contention is linked to a person’s desire to rule others or to judge them. We know that from the Hebrew word for contention, ‘midyawn’, which comes from a Hebrew root word meaning to rule and to judge.

When a person is given to contending with others they are most likely motivated by pride in their own opinions or their own importance, and will feel they have the right to rule others and to judge them.

A contentious person can often operate as “judge, jury and executioner”. They take rulership over others and execute judgement upon them. They will do this purely on their own account, according to their own opinions and evaluation of a situation.

Powerless Women

I suspect that one of the motivations for some women to become argumentative and contentious is that they feel powerless. They feel the need to gain control over their husband and children, so they are not so vulnerable.

The godly challenge for women, however, is to submit to their husband. So women need to find security in God, not in their powers of argument. Since it is God who asks them to submit, they can appeal to God to protect and bless them, even if they have grave concerns about their husband’s leadership abilities.

When women become secure in God’s care for them, they will not need to “rule” or “judge” others. They will be content and happy to get on with the life God gave them.

Contending on Autopilot

I have noticed that contentious people are quick to scoff, rebut, react and create arguments.

I recall an example from my time in New Zealand. While preaching, I asked a builder in the church for an on-the-spot estimate of the length of the building. I was showing how people develop good estimation skills. He scanned the building, then said, “Fifty Feet”. Immediately an older woman in the congregation gave a loud scoffing, “Hoh!” She clearly thought the estimate was ridiculous.

There was so much emotion in her mocking reaction that the builder later grabbed his tape-measure and confirmed that the building was within inches of the fifty feet he had estimated.

That lady had a problem. Without any ability to come up with an answer herself, she instantly and loudly contended with the very accurate information offered by someone who knew what he was talking about.

I am afraid many people who give in to contention are similarly ruled by it. They feel impelled to buy into things they are not qualified to speak about. They contend as if it was their automatic setting, whether they have anything to offer or not.

Getting Personal

Argumentative people also seem hard to instruct. When someone shows that they know what they are talking about the contender is likely to say something like, “You think you’re SO smart, don’t you?” They are unlikely to say, “Thank You. I’m glad you explained that to me.” Pride and the desire to dominate and judge others are at the heart of contention, so the contender will be too aroused to be humble and teachable.

Note too that if people feel threatened they will resort to personal attacks, rather than argue the issue at hand. Accusations, dredging up past failures, mockery, personal taunts and the like often find their way into arguments.

A Better Way

There is a much better way to communicate than to argue. Even if the other person is wrong there are better options than argument and contention. And it’s that better way that I really want to share with you. Now that I’ve taken so long with these background remarks, I’ll save the “better way” for Women With Wise Words part 2, which I’ll post in a couple of days.