An Unbeliever is No Match for You

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

2 Corinthians 6:14

Boundless recently featured a question and answer with Candice Watters on a vital topic for Christian singles. After breaking up with her unbelieving boyfriend, a young Christian woman soon began to second-guess her decision and wrote to Boundless for advice.  Her ex-boyfriend was, as she described him, “a beautiful guy inside and out,” and she knew “he would be a great father.” The question on her mind was related to the biblical command against believers being unequally yoked with unbelievers: “Is there any way around this?”

Candice’s solid and straightforward response could save this young lady from a world of heartbreak. Here’s an excerpt: 

Given how hard it can be in our culture to find a marriage-minded man who seems like he would be a good husband and father, I can understand why it’s been so hard to let your boyfriend go. You’re not the first woman to ask a question like this!

But Scripture is clear: as believers, we are to marry believers (2 Corinthians 6:14.) In short, there is no way around this.

Even if he were to promise to never get in the way of you raising your children in the Christian faith, it would still not be enough. God designed Christian marriage to be a picture, a symbol, of Christ’s relationship with the church. And if the husband in a union doesn’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord, He can’t possibly lead with the sacrificial love of Christ (Ephesians 5). Doing so requires supernatural grace that simply isn’t available to those who don’t receive it through Christ’s death, resurrection and gift of salvation.

I’ve known people who ignored 2 Corinthians 6:14 only to find it unbearably painful and difficult to be married to a mate who doesn’t serve and love their Lord. Things only get worse when babies arrive. One friend of mine is in an ongoing struggle with his wife to get her permission to take their children to church with him on Sundays. And certainly there are couples whose stories take an even darker, more dangerous turn.

Scripture also calls fathers to lead their children by training them in godliness and raising them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Again, without Christ’s Lordship, this is impossible. To think your boyfriend would be a “great father” is to limit your idea of greatness to what the world esteems.

This raises the issue of your thinking. I fear it’s become cloudy. You say, “he’s a beautiful guy inside and out.” But without Christ’s redeeming blood covering him, this is impossible. Our best selves next to God are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23).

You say “he’s not really practicing his Muslim faith” and that you told him that you are “a practicing Christian.” Based on your actions though, I’d say you’re not really practicing your faith either. James said “faith without works is dead,” and Jesus told His followers “if you love me, you will obey my commands.”

I say this not to condemn you, but to help you see that your “decision to follow God” and break up with your boyfriend wasn’t really your decision, but God’s mercy through His Holy Spirit, calling you to repentance. This is important. If it was all you deciding, then changing your mind is less serious. But if it was God’s Spirit calling you back from a precipice, you’re in grave danger if you go back on your decision, and in need of great humility and repentance before His throne of grace…

Read the entire article HERE.

 

 
Illustration: Svilen Milev

The Cleansing Power of Dirty Work

“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:43-45

When I was young, my sister and I loved to sing together. One of the songs we sang repeatedly was called “Make Me a Servant.” I remember singing these simple lyrics and meaning them with all of my little heart:

Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayers of my heart always be
Make me a servant
Make me a servant
Make me a servant today

As I thought about the topic of servanthood during a reading assignment today, I realized that I don’t pray and ask the Lord to make me a servant nearly so often as I once did. The following excerpt from the book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp challenged me to once again make the humble spirit of servanthood the sincere prayer of my heart:  

If our relationships are going to produce Christlike character in us and if Christian community is going to flourish, it is going to take lots of people who relish being demoted in the eyes of the world. Imagine human beings who naturally want position, power, and recognition being transformed into people who gladly throw off self-glory and self-love to be servants in the image of Jesus. This is what will turn average relationships into something glorious. Serving others is a simple way of consolidating all the Bible’s “one another” passages under one big idea. When we serve one another, we carry one another’s burdens in practical ways. We get our hands dirty as we come alongside people and pay attention to the details of their lives. If our professed commitment to Jesus does not lead us to resemble him in our actions, then we are mocking him and not representing him accurately to the world.

When you think about your relationships, how many of them ultimately revolve around making sure your concerns are heard and your self-defined “needs” are met? Start with those you love the most. I am married and have four children, and most of the time I am committed to thinking about how they can make my life more fulfilling. I know this is true because of how easily I get irritated when I have to give up personal comfort to serve them. This is with people I say I love; I haven’t even begun to think about the difficult people. And let’s not even bring up our enemies! Do you see this in yourself? This is the first step to becoming a servant. You have to see how much of a servant you aren’t before you can start to become one. That is the abiding irony of the Christian life. Up is down, life is death, and power is expressed in serving.

[Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, p. 119]

Related Post: From Mess to Masterpiece

Illustration: Amy Burton

Becoming the Completely Clingy Type

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Here it is–the moment every American girl is raised to live for…

 

I’m not sure, but I think it’s some kind of law that every chick flick must include this scene in one form or another. Why? Probably because movie producers know that we women absolutely love to dream of experiencing a moment like this. You know that dream I’m talking about…the one where the man who completes you finally confesses that he desperately needs you to complete him too. Ah, yes, two partial people coming together to make one whole…so romantic.

While this idea is certainly romantic, it can also be incredibly problematic. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with romantic stories or dramatic confessions of love; it’s the notion that one person actually needs another to be complete that can so completely wreak havoc on a girl’s heart. Having a boyfriend is great; having a husband is even better, but neither is necessary to make a woman complete. Although companionship can be provided by a man; completeness will only be found in Christ. It’s an important distinction to keep in mind.

Understanding this distinction is another characteristic of a woman of wisdom. In a chapter entitled “Neediness,” Mary Kassian explains that while a foolish woman depends on man to fulfill her deepest longings, a wise woman depends fully upon the Lord: 

A Girl-Gone-Wild relies on her own devices to quench her thirsty heart. She hews out a relationship and expects that it will meet her needs. She scoops out as much water from the leaky cistern as she can, but as some point, realizes that she’s still not satisfied, and that the water she has greedily sipped has left a bitter taste in her mouth. Her heart feels parched–like a dry, brittle bush in a desolate desert. She has no roots. She feels her spirit wither up. But instead of planting herself next to the stream, she desperately tries to suck more water from her cistern, or she hews out another cistern with the unrealistic hope that there she will find water that is plentiful and sweet.

The Girl-Gone-Wise does not “trust in man and make flesh her strength.” Her heart relies on the Lord. She is “like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

(Girls Gone Wise, pp. 184-185)

Are you the clingy type? As long as you’re holding tightly to Christ, clinginess is a good thing! Learn more…


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Illustration: Chris Hurtado

Avoiding the Danger of Wide Open Spaces

“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.”

Proverbs 22:3

My husband and I have two labradors named Khaki and Chester. Khaki and Chester have something in common, actually, two things, but this post is not about canine insanity. In addition to their shared craziness, my dogs also have in common a complete lack of wisdom. Sad, but true, my labs are utterly foolish creatures.

In order to protect our dogs, Joseph and I provided them with a large and roomy kennel in which they can romp and play without hindrance, yet still their hearts long for wide open spaces. Together they howl, “Don’t Fence Me In,” as they poke their furry snouts through any gap they can find between fenceposts and chainlink. In the folly of their thinking, my labs look at their gated enclosure and see only the restriction of their freedom. But with the memory of two dogs lost to the dangers of the road still fresh on my mind, I look at the fence from the opposite side, seeing in it Khaki and Chester’s protection. Safety is found when wise boundaries are established.

Teaching on the differences between wise and foolish women, Mary Kassian makes it clear that we, too, will find safety and protection by keeping within Scripturally-based boundaries:

How can a woman keep her way pure? By “guarding” (hedging) it according to God’s Word (Psalm 119:9). Practically, this means that we identify the common pitfalls of sexual sin and guard ourselves from stepping into those traps. We save ourselves “like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:5). We stay far away from the “thorns and snares” that entangle sinners (Proverbs 22:5). The Proverbs 7 woman did not do this. She did not establish hedges to protect herself from sexual sin. She overstepped ten boundaries that any woman who wishes to keep her way pure ought to hedge.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 158)

In her book Girls Gone Wise, Mary expounds on the following ten tips regarding boundaries and purity gleaned from Proverbs 7:

  1. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids unhealthy environments.
  2. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids inappropriately pairing herself with men.
  3. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids being in private, secluded places with men.
  4. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids secret communication with men.
  5. A Girl-Gone-Wise controls the frequency and amount of contact with men.
  6. A Girl-Gone-Wise abides by curfew and nighttime boundaries.
  7. A Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t inappropriately confide in men.
  8. A Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t leave herself open and unguarded.
  9. A Girl-Gone-Wise maintains strict boundaries of physical contact with men.
  10. A Girl-Gone-Wise does everything she can to honor and affirm marriage covenants.

Here’s Mary with more teaching on the wise woman’s view of boundaries:

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Photo: Stella Levi