I hope to have things in place within the next few weeks. I promise to keep you posted. (Wink-wink.)
In my mind cheating isn’t limited to physical infidelity.
Song of Solomon 2:15, Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. We harvest what we plant in our marriage, or as the Bible says in Galatians 6:7–8, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
If we spend our days grumbling about our spouse and how he or she needs to change, can we not expect to have our spouse grumble about what needs to change in us? When we escape the hurt from a lack of affection and intimacy in our marriage by chatting with our girlfriends, which often includes bad-mouthing our spouse, should we not expect our husbands to “vent” in the same way with “the boys”?
The bible says, Matthew 7:3–5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We feed the little foxes when we curl up (sequester ourselves) with an array of munchies and a romantic comedy to feel better. Instead of feeling better we walk away bitter that our husband isn’t like the hero in a make-believe movie. The same is true of men who believe there is nothing wrong with perusing the lingerie magazine that appears in the mailbox.
The world teaches: Why should I have to change, if he/she isn’t changing (as we perceive change)?
The Creator teaches:
For the kingdom of heaven of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the market place without work. And he said to them, “You go into the vineyard too and I will give you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and he said to them, “Why are you standing here all day without work?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You go and work in the vineyard too.”
When it was evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. And when those hired first came, they though they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, saying, “These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.
And the landowner replied to one of them, “Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? Take what is yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave to you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1–16
Can you see yourself in the story? Why should I tell him he looks handsome, if he’s not telling me I look beautiful? Why should I encourage her if all she ever does is belittle me? Why should I reach for his hand if there’s a remote in it? Why should I bring her flowers if she’s just going to say the money could’ve been used for something practical? Why should I dedicate a song to him if he can’t even remember our anniversary? Why should I bring her breakfast in bed if she never has dinner ready on time? Why should I suggest a romantic getaway if all he’s going to do is talk about work? Why should I nuzzle her neck and tell her I can’t wait to be alone with her if all she’s going to say is, “I’ve got a headache”.
The list goes on and on.
In order for the story in Matthew to work, the imagery has to be clarified. The landowner clearly represents the Lord, and the vineyard represents his kingdom. There is no reason to ask what kind of work they were supposed to do, because that is not the main thrust of the text, but what is important is the apparent inequity in the pay scale. In the Bible, working in the vineyard is a fairly solid image of serving in the Lord’s kingdom. The emphasis on wages in the outworking of the event means that this story is primarily about God’s gifts, or rewards, for faithful service. However, the length of service and the amount of work does not determine what the reward is.
Quite understandably, the workers who had been there all day complained to the landowner. They thought it was unfair that the men who worked only a little should get as much as they. Most workers would think the same thing, but the landowner simply had to remind them of their vows and that ended the discussion. He paid the early workers exactly what He promised, what they agreed to. Therefore, they had no reason to complain.
Do these vows ring familiar?
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. I, ____, take you, ____, for my lawful (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
The final analysis of the story in Matthew is basically about people responding to the opportunity to work in His vineyard when the invitation is made to them. For some the vows are clear, for others they are not, but in both cases the Lord deals justly and fairly with His people.
Do you complain when you could choose to do something positive? If so, ask yourself what changes you can make to do it differently, then stand firm and do not allow the enemy to steal God’s truth, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6