Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Turkey in the Doghouse. Woof!

During many holidays a fair amount of turkey is cooked up and devoured. There’s a well-known element in turkey that makes us a bit sleepy. It’s called tryptophan.

The idea goes that after ingesting a goodly portion of the stuff with stuffing, the mind may be willing to watch a seasonally appropriate televised sporting event, read a book, or watch a movie, but the body says, “G’night all!”

In life, there’s something that makes turkeys of us on a regular basis.

You could call it “tripped-by-sin.”

I’m a nice guy! Really I am!

Generally I’m a pretty nice guy and try to be a pretty good husband. But, too often, like most living and breathing human beings, I have my lesser moments.

You know, those moments the wife puts me in a metaphorical doghouse.

The dullard effect of “tripped-by-sin” is especially potent when we’re stuffed and puffed up on self. 

As in, “Me Tarzan. You Jane. See me thump my chest! Here me burp!”

Well, isn’t that attractive.

The male ego is a prickly and gassy beast.

In our marriage, when I react to my wife’s bad-day-frustration-venting with less than patience, or when I really just want my own way, someone gets hurt. Usually her.

Okay…always her.

When this happens, she’s not too happy with me. God’s not too happy with me. And, in short order, I’m not too happy with me.

It breaks my heart when I break hers.

You’d think I’d learn my lesson and not do it, but this “tripped-by-sin” stuff is even beastlier than the male ego.

In these moments of brilliant failure, we husbands are glad the doghouse is nothing more than a silent chilly evening or, at worst, the couch overnight.

When I do something stupid that hurts the heart of my beloved, it makes me feel crappy.

I don’t mean to be mean or say mean things. But, stuff leaks out and stains us both just the same.

Thankfully, we eventually work through my testosteronal faux pas, she graciously accepts my fumbled apology, and my stay in the doghouse comes to an end.

Thank God for His grace, and hers, and yours.

Without grace we’d all be living in spiritual doghouses, or worse.

I am a grace junkie.

I desperately need it to live with her. And with Him. And with you.

I’m sure you could use some, too. Right?

How many times a day do we screw up and offend God, let alone those around us? And why does it happen so often and so easily?

As God warned Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7, NIV).

It’s all about choosing not to give in to that nasty “sin in our skin” that we inherited from the Fall thanks to Adam and Eve.

This is the stuff that puts us in the proverbial doghouse as it’s our inherent sinfulness that leads us into hurtful aberrations instead of good husbandly or neighborly behavior.

When we lean toward sin instead of toward Him, things get a little messy and relationships get a tad tense.

It’s a daily challenge and struggle.

A happy wife means a happy a life

Love is tough. And truly wonderful. But challenging. Yet very rewarding. It takes a lot of work. While yielding a lot of reward. Love requires effort. Especially in a marriage. Especially for the man.

Paul lays it out simply in a couple of verses:
  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV).
  • “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them…” (Colossians 3:19, NIV).
Guys, think about this for just a moment. Every time we want to do our “me-Tarzan-you-Jane” chest thumping, we shouldn’t. Instead, we need to take our prickly male egos and set them aside, extending gentleness to our wives.

In fact, not too long ago I heard a guy talk about how his dad told him when he got married that it was his (the man’s) responsibility to be the first to defuse tension in the marriage. No matter who was to blame!


What the world needs now is...

The idea captured in Ephesians 5:25 is echoed in John 15:13 that states, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [aka BFFs]."

And who is a husband’s true BFF if not his wife?

But obviously this carries beyond the spousal situation into all of our relationships. The Apostle Peter rocks it like this:
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” (1 Peter 3:8-13, NIV).

If all of us lived this out every day, the world would be a much better place. And can you imagine what would happen if those elected peeps in D.C. lived this out?


But they don’t and neither do we as well as we should.

Why oh why do I do what I don’t want to do?

The erudite Apostle Paul knew all too well the challenges of avoiding “tripped-by-sin.” He details the struggle we all have with this persistent force that causes all creation to groan, but caps it with a point of hope:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:15-25, NIV).
Robert Robinson captured the same concepts in his 1757 hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," with this stanza:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Out of the doghouse and into forgiveness

What’s the bottom line here?

Sin dogs us all through life, even as Christians, seeking to make turkeys of us daily.

However, through Christ and His grace we have a defense and a way out of the proverbial doghouse.

  1. Confess failure to God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
  2. Admit fault to the offended: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
  3. Bear with one another: “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13, NIV).
  4. Always be forgiving: “So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4, NIV).
  5. Reap what's sown: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV).
Giving and receiving forgiveness is not a once-and-done thing, but an ongoing cycle we must choose to participate in.

The extending and accepting of grace is the only way we can all avoid being turkeys in the doghouse.

Have you been in the doghouse recently? How’d you get out? Do you have tips for living a forgiving life? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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