I got home a few weeks ago to face awful criticism. My wife said, “You reek of garlic!” It’s true I’d been to an Italian restaurant for lunch and had a breadstick or two, but the garlic in the bread was something I didn’t detect.
As Robert Burns wrote, “Would some Power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.” Burns wrote his poem after he saw a louse on a lady’s bonnet at church and thought how horrified she’d be if she knew the parasite was crawling on her. All in all, it’s much better to smell of garlic than to host a parasite.
Nevertheless, I had a decision to make — either enjoy my wife’s company or give up breadsticks. I really love breadsticks, but the choice wasn’t hard to make.
I told this story at church lately and we all had a good laugh. But I shared it in the context of a message on worthy goals. For a worthy family goal, I asked the women to tune out for a minute while I spoke to the men.
The Apostle Paul gave two straightforward words to men in the book of Ephesians. “Fathers, bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” he wrote in chapter six. It’s always been God’s intention that the man be spiritual priest of the household. It’s the man’s job to be sure children receive religious instruction. Of course, countless women have taken up the slack when men haven’t lived up to this ideal, but the ideal is real, nonetheless.
Many men in my age group look back with regret to the time our children were young. We were so busy with work responsibilities that we didn’t give enough time to our children who now are grown and away. We wished we’d done better. But we “seasoned citizens” also know our gracious God has given us another chance with grandchildren. We can tell them they’re special, love them and pray for them. We can be their parents’ best partners in raising their children.
Paul also instructed husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). This exhortation is in the context of the wife being in submission to the husband — a passage of some interpretive difficulty. But I can’t autocratically instruct my wife to submit if I ignore my part of the contract. To me is given the seemingly-impossible task of loving her just like Jesus loved his church. He loved his church enough to die for her.
Giving up breadsticks is probably one-one hundredth of one percent of my duty to love my wife as Christ loved his church. But it is that.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.