Our community group is currently reading the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. The subtitle of the book says it well: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. In Christian circles, we often do a good job of addressing the ‘bigger’ sins like infidelity, pornography, or abuse, but we tend to minimize the more respectable/tolerable sins.
When I looked through the table of contents of the book, a few topics stood out as sins I know I tend to gloss over in my life. I tend to tolerate some of these respectable sins, and consequently, I knew this book was going to kick my tail. I picked out a handful of chapters I knew I would struggle with, such as anger, lack of self-control and unthankfulness. One topic I didn’t see coming, however, has really punched me in the gut and is the topic of this post today.
Today I want to talk about the sin of ungodliness and how ungodliness can negatively affect our walk with Jesus and our marriage.
At first blush, as a follower of Jesus, I did not think I struggled with being ‘ungodly.’ After all, I trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 1998, and while at times I may act ungodly, I certainly did not expect this sin to be a major battle for me.
Bridges does a good job in this chapter of helping the reader understand the difference between unrigtheousness/wickedness and ungodliness. Specifically, Bridges teaches from Romans 1:18, where the apostle Paul says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” In this passage, Paul distinguishes ungodliness from unrigheousness.
Bridges says that ungodliness describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word or deed. Ungodliness can be further described as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, of God’s will, of God’s glory or of one’s dependence on God. In other words, God becomes irrelevant in one’s life and one basically lives as if God doesn’t exist. One makes plans without even considering or recognizing their dependence on God to carry the plans out (see James 4:13-15).
So much more can be said on this topic, but I wanted to spend a few words on how our Christian marriages can be ungodly without us even realizing it. I know first hand, because even though I am a Christian, a marriage pastor and am married to an incredible Proverbs 31 woman, we can still live out an ungodly life and marriage. Here are a few examples:
1. How do you and your spouse make major decisions about things such as money, vacations and schedules?
If you are in an ungodly marriage, you will make decisions based more on what fits the budget , what’s convenient in schedules and how the stars align based on your crazy summer calendar and the opportunities in front of you. In the godly marriage, on the other hand, decisions are prayerfully made and processed with one another and with wise community (Proverbs 13:20).
2. Do you work heartily as for the Lord, or do you work, parent, and love your spouse half-heartedly (Colossians 3:34-24)?
In the ungodly life and marriage, you give 100% to some aspects of your life, but then live half-heartedly in others. For me, there are days when I give 100% to my job and then give the scraps or leftovers to my wife and kids. There are days when I kill it at work, serving with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, and then I get home and passively lead my wife and barely tolerate my kids. In the godly marriage, you get your priorities straight and choose to work hearily unto the Lord in all aspects of your life.
3. How much of your conversation with your spouse and kids revolves around the Lord?
In the ungodly marriage, you might say a brief, rote prayer before a meal or at bedtime. You check the box, but your heart isn’t in it, and you do it because you believe you have to instead of realizing the joy in thanking God for our meals and praying with dependence and thanksgiving with our spouse and/or kids.
Kristen and I can be guilty of breaking this one, especially at meals. We can fall into a routine in our prayer life and in conversation around the table. Not every conversation needs to be bathed in scripture and teaching opportunities, but I do know we are capable of having rich conversations around the dinner table and at bedtime, especially when we don’t rotely approach the Lord in prayer or conversation.
A Better Way
Instead of living an ungodly life and marriage, Paul challenges his readers in Colossians 1:9-10 to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him. Instead of living an ungodly marriage, I would like to lead our marriage in a way that is fully pleasing to Him, where Kristen and I are filled with the knowledge of His will.
Looking for a good, challenging summer read? Check out Respectable Sins. I have not been disappointed so far and I look forward to reading and processing the rest of the book with my community group. In the meantime, I hope Kristen and I live out and apply what it means to be godly and to do all we can to avoid an ungodly existence and marriage.
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