Today’s guest blogger is Anne Dryburgh. Anne is a missionary in Flemish speaking Belgium since 1991 doing evangelism and biblical counseling. Her ministry is unique and I know she would appreciate prayer as she ministers to those around her. These posts will give you an idea of what she faces in her ministry, and how important biblical counseling is to the people she serves. Today she continues the story of “Mary.”

As
was her usual practice, Mary attended her church’s woman’s Bible study. During
the study, the teacher said that wives should always ensure that their
husband’s needs are met and that they are happy. This confused Mary because it
was not possible to know what her husband wanted. One day he would insist that
she do something one way and then completely change his mind a few days later,
being equally insistent and assertive for both. She clearly remembered early in
their marriage that her husband was insistent that she put sugar in his coffee.
He called her stupid and selfish because she did not know that intuitively.
About a month later, he threw his coffee cup on the floor, shouting at her
because there was sugar in his coffee. How could she be so stupid and selfish?
He stopped talking to her for a week after the second incident until she
apologized to him.

His
mood swings and changes of mind meant that she was often walking on eggshells
when he was around, as she never knew how he would behave or react to her or
what was going on around them. Furthermore,
if she was always to make him happy, it would mean that she would have to lie
for him, be deceitful to others, and let other people down. The most painful
thought, however, was that he demanded things of her sexually which went
against her conscience and were degrading. Was she supposed to do all these
things?
Mary
knew that she is called to be her husband’s helper and that a wife is to be
submissive to her husband. Being committed to these, she studied Scripture for
further help. It was when she read Romans 6 that she started to get answers to
her questions.

In
this passage, she learned that since she had died to sin, she was no longer to
live in it. Mary saw that she is united with Christ in a death like his, and
will be united with him in a resurrection like his. The body of sin had been
brought to nothing, so that she would no longer be enslaved to sin. She was to
consider herself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin was no
longer to reign in her mortal body. Instead of being a slave to sin, she was to
present her members as slaves to righteousness.

Clearly,
since she was dead to sin, and was no longer to let sin reign in her mortal
body, she could not please her husband when he asked her to lie or be
deceitful. Mary knew that this would make him very angry and that he would
probably punish her in some way for it. She knew that he would probably
increase his attempts to control her. But now she knew that she is first the
Lord’s. She lives to please the Lord first and from this, relates to her
husband in a gracious, righteous, and loving manner.Having
understood that she was dead to sin, Mary began to think about hoe this
affected her life. As she thought about it, she came across Ephesians 4:22-24.
In this passage, she discovered that she was to put off the old self, which
belongs to the former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
and is to be renewed in the spirit of her mind, and to put on the new self,
created after the likeness of Godin true righteousness and holiness.

It
suddenly dawned on Mary that the way that she was living, was to a great
extent, out of fear and shame. These emotions do not belong to the new nature
in Christ, but the kind of fear and shame she experienced are a result of the
Fall. Adam and Eve experienced such emotions in Genesis 3.

She
thought back to the coffee incident when she was first married. Early in her
marriage, her husband was insistent that she put sugar in his coffee. He called
her stupid and selfish because she did not know that intuitively. About a month
later, he threw his coffee cup on the floor, shouting at her because there was
sugar in his coffee. How could she be so stupid and selfish? He stopped talking
to her for a week after the second incident until she apologized to him.

Now
Mary saw that her response to her husband had been wrong because she had
responded out of fear. On top of that, she apologized for doing something
wrong, when she had done nothing of the sort. She had followed his clear
instructions. It would have been better for Mary to have spoken up in a loving
way as soon as he had started calling her names. It would have been better if
she had told her husband that she loved him, but not did appreciate being
spoken to like that. Each time he behaved in this manner, a more loving and
godly approach would be to have gently told him that speaking in such a manner
is not edifying nor helpful. Instead of doing this, she had given into her
husband because she was scared of what else he would call her and wanted to win
his love and approval. She never did, because he knew that he would get his own
way each time he raised his voice.

Realizing
that Christ had died for her so that she would no longer live in the old nature,
but for him, was a transforming thought for Mary. It changed her thinking
regarding how she should relate to her husband. She prayed to the Lord that she
would gain insight into when her husband was trying to control, intimidate,
punish, or isolate her, and she prayed that she would see when he used
degradation, humiliation, or fear in order to get his own way and to control
her. It was an eye-opener for her to see that the times when he did this were
linked to the times when she was fearful, worried, angry, and filled with
shame. 

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