April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Most often it’s men who get the “guard your eyes” messages at church. But this post has a lot to say for the wives out there! Women need to guard our eyes as much or more than our brothers.
Guarding your eyes isn’t just for the sake of sexual purity. Thought that is a crucial part of purity. Scripture says the eye is the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22) and goes on to say that if your eye is good, then your whole body will be healthy. So in the context of marriage/family health, guarding the “eye of our marriage” seems pretty important.
As we consider some of the people in Scripture who did or didn’t guard their eyes, there’s a few stories that pop to the forefront of my mind.
In Genesis we watch Lot’s family progression and it all starts with a look:
Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:10-13 NIV)
So Lot looked around and picked the greenest pasture for his flock and pitched his tent, as some translations put it, “facing” Sodom. As we read on, Lot isn’t on the outskirts of town any more. He’s in the city gate, leading and doing business. When the angels come to get him out of the city, his family was so enmeshed in all that the city had become to them that his wife disregards the one word of caution the angel brought - don’t look back. Her heart and her eyes were turned back toward the city and she became a pillar of salt. Later as their family story unfolds, Lot’s daughters were so worried they won’t become mothers that they actually get their father drunk and become pregnant by their own dad. Not the kind of thing you really want to put in a scrapbook album. The eye of their family wasn’t set on the things of the Lord. And it showed dramatically.
Eve was the first person ever to look at something and have it change the course of her family’s direction.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6 NIV)
Today, every family is living out the consequences of the Fall and that first “look.”
Truth be told, we all know it isn’t just a glance that gets any of us into trouble. It’s the longing look. It’s the justifying why I can have that. Why I should have that. Whether it’s as seemingly innocuous as a little trinket for the house, when we set our heart, our desires, our motivations on anything less worthy than Christ, the less-than-stuff leaks into our very souls. If we aren’t constantly seeking awareness and working to guard our heart space from things taking up residence that just aren’t worthy of a child of God, then the less-than-stuff takes over.
I just read a testimony from a man about how his dad was the most spiritually inclined member of his whole family. But his faith was for Sundays only. It didn’t affect his business or his family life. Lots of people out there come to the Lord miraculously despite (or maybe even in spite of) the poor spiritual examples around them. We might take a guess at all the reasons why people we love who profess Christ practically live without Him, but at the end of the day, if our eyes aren’t wrestling to be wholly fixed on the redeeming love and grace of Christ, then we don’t have enough light in our souls to last us the rest of the week. What we treasure individually becomes the treasures of our family life. If we treasure Christ, then that is what we will have to share with out spouse and children. But if He comes in as “second” treasure (which He doesn’t play games like that with us.) then the things we prized first and best are what we will have to give our spouse and children.
My desire for myself and my family is to love God and love others WELL. But my eyes get caught on the dishes and laundry instead of my precious family; they get caught on the programs at church when I want to be tending our people; in the shops my mind race as I budget time and funds with how long my toddler is going to put up with all these errands instead of searching for those golden opportunities to pray with/for a hurting stranger or invite someone to church. My eyes need to be guarded all the time or I will run my ship aground with temporal pursuits.
In Psalm 119, the Psalmist prays, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways (Psalms 119:37 ESV).
Praying this simple prayer over our marriage and families could be an exceptionally important facet of maintaining the health of both!
Hi Friends! Today I am so excited to share this great resource: Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane! This book is packed with insight about what our kids are facing emotionally and mentally in our screen driven, how technology changes affect their developing minds and hearts, and how to navigate the use of these wonderful tools that often end up taking over more than they are meant to! As many parents focus on new classrooms and developments in our children for the coming school year, I hope this book will be a timely reminder and blessing for one of you! (If entry form does not apprear below, click this link to enter or leave a comment: http://www.motlministries.org/2016/09/book-give-away-growing-up-social/)
There’s a general principle that if we are supposed to do something individually, then it’s a good thing to do jointly, as a married couple or family.
As times change and our family grows, there is one thing I keep coming back to in my prayer life. I feel the Lord impressing on my heart a truth found in the book of Nehemiah: Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked (Nehemiah 4:17-18 NIV).
We are builders and soldiers. Through our lives God builds His church, our families, our testimonies. While we labor at the building project, we can’t get distracted from our post as soldiers and guards.
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]We are builders and soldiers. And our family depends on us to carry out both tasks diligently.[/pullquote]
I don’t multi-task as well as they say women ought to. I prefer to do one thing at a time. Myfocus on building distracts me from guarding, and visa-versa. I am slowly learning the skill of building with one hand while I wield a spiritual sword in my other hand.
This series will go through five basic areas we can be diligent to guard in our family life. In our personal experience, when we practice careful attention to these areas, we see the blessing and fruit of this purposeful consideration. And when we don’t guard these areas of our family, we see the fruit of it as well! So here’s five points we are going to discuss in the coming series:
We hope you will come back next week for the first installment of Guarding the Heart of Your Home!