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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.

Comedian Jeff Allen has recently capitalized on a humorous and catchy little modern proverb: "Happy wife, happy life." His comedy is compelling, and his style engaging, but, like many catchphrases in Christian pop culture, his seemingly harmless comedy actually communicates falsehood. The truth is, the idea of "Happy wife, happy life" is not found in the Scriptures, and pursuing this advice will make both you and your wife miserable. Here are three biblical reasons.

  1. Neither you nor your wife knows what will make you happy. The assumption behind, "Happy wife, happy life" is that your wife knows what she wants, and your life would be happier if you would just give her what she says she wants. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches us that no one knows their own heart and, if there is one thing we do know, it is that the heart can easily be deceived. Eve got what she eventually wanted in the Garden of Eden, presumably while Adam was not far away. Adam was the original poster boy for "Happy wife, happy life," and when Eve got what she eventually came to believe would make her happy, no one was laughing.
  2. Even if you give your wife what she says she wants, you cannot make her happy. We all come to realize that a new job, a new truck, a remodeled house or 2.4 healthy kids cannot make us happy. James teaches us that we do not even realize that we often ask wrongly for things that we intend to spend "on our own passions" (James 4:3). There is no more miserable person than one who receives the thing they set out to get only to find that cannot satisfy the longings of their heart. Conversely, the one who is pursuing Christ with all her heart can be content and satisfied even while enduring the most difficult of circumstances. Marriage cannot make one happy and, therefore, a spouse cannot make the other happy, either.
  3. You were not designed to make her happy. The Scriptures do not instruct a man to make his wife happy. Every person is made in the image of God and, therefore, a wife finds her ultimate meaning, worth and, yes, happiness, in him alone. Your wife was made to be complete in God. She will be most happy when she counts everything a loss compared to the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:8). When a husband gets in-between his wife and God he can easily become an idol. She may appeal to you, require of you, and even manipulate you. But life will eventually deliver circumstances which you cannot control or overcome. You will learn that God is God, and that husbands make lousy gods. She will find that her soul will be satisfied (made happy!) with nothing less than God himself.

So, what's a husband to do?  Here are three actions for husbands who love Jesus:

  • Take initiative. Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife. Husbands, this means that you have been given an important role; and that, for God's own reasons, he is holding you responsible, not for your wife's happiness, but for the way you minister godliness in your home. Oh how our Christian homes will be impacted when the men step into the role that God has designed them for: not primarily to respond to the needs of our wife, but to set the pace in following closely after Christ!
  • Know the Word of God. Eve could’ve really received benefit from this. When you know the Word of God and are seeking to apply it first to your own heart, you have the credibility, boldness and wisdom to show your wife what the Word says by first doing it. Isn't that what Paul is teaching us in Ephesians 5:26 when he speaks about a washing and sanctification that comes "with the word"? The church is in need of men who are actively pursuing God by actively pursuing his Word.
  • Understand the uniqueness your wife and then aim at the goal of giving her sacrificial love each and every day (1 Peter 3:7). But this does not equate to living each day to try to make her happy. Understanding your wife does not mean, "Try to keep her comfortable." It means that we understand where our wife is weak, and we bring service, prayer, humility and love to cover that weakness. Does your wife struggle with body image? Was she abused? Is she an addict? Does her insecurity breed social anxiety? Does she avoid people who have hurt her? Is she pre-occupied with politics? My Christian friend, making her "happy" in these areas will not yield a "happy life." Not for her or for you. So take initiative. Step into your role and bring a humble spirit as you pursue God with her.

Setting out to make your wife happy will not make your life happy. If this becomes your goal, you will experience failure, frustration and a string of fights. But if you will faithfully pursue Christ Jesus with all your heart and mind, you will begin to deliver to your wife what she really longs for, a godly husband.

[Today’s guest post is written by Jon MacDonald, Pastor of Family Life/Discipleship at Sheboygan Evangelical Free Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.]

“Every small bit of sinful gossip in daily life is an evil echo of what went wrong at the very beginning. In fact, gossip is the same ugly sin played out again and again. Gossip is believing the ancient lie that we can attempt to play God by destroying others with the power of our words. Gossip is not just breaking a rule; it is perversely living out Satan’s lies, which we would rather believe than the truth. And, therefore, we are attracted to the wrong stories.” As we return to our interaction with Matt Mitchell’s book, Resisting Gossip, these words summarize his answer to the question, “Why do we gossip?”

Part One of the book concludes with a chapter entitled, "A Gallery of Gossips." Here the author defines the five different ways we gossip; that is, the types of gossiping people we may be or meet in daily life.

#1: The Spy – In Proverbs 11:13, the Hebrew word translated “gossip” means “‘a peddler (of secrets), a huckster/hawker, deceiver, or spy.’ The English Standard Version uses the phrase ‘whoever goes about slandering’….We might use the word ‘informer’….Spies know how to wheedle a story out of us.”

#2: The Grumbler – Another Hebrew word commonly translated “gossip” refers to a whisperer. “The Hebrew dictionaries say that this “is one who is ‘murmuring about another person behind their back rather than openly complaining about their behavior.’”

#3: The Backstabber – “Backstabbing gossip overflows from a heart bent on revenge, retaliation and real malice. The backstabber actually desires the target of his gossip to experience pain. The backstabber usually begins by spreading lies, starting what we call a ‘smear campaign.’ Absalom was a backstabber.”

#4: The Chameleon – “A chameleon is a person who goes along with gossip to try to fit into the crowd….Fear, not anger, is the main motivation for a chameleon’s gossip. A chameleon is afraid of what her peers will think, say or do if she does not produce gossip on demand. She is usually afraid of being excluded.” The fear of man keeps her in this prison (Prov. 29:25).

#5: The Busybody – “The busybody is a person who is idle, not engaged in purposeful business and wants to be entertained. He gossips for titillation and for the purpose of living vicariously through the stories of others. A busybody enjoys meddling in other people’s business” (like the idle men described and rebuked in 2 Thess. 3:11).

Much fuller descriptions are given of these five kinds of gossips, heart diagnoses of what drives them, and biblical remedies. As we continue to work through Resisting Gossip, please consider reading and growing along with us.

Jesus is coming again. Though we do not know the exact time, and trying to figure that out is warned against in the Scriptures, we know He is coming, and his coming is imminent. We believe this. We also believe that knowing this should lead us to live differently. Our church’s Statement of Faith affirms the immanency of the return of Christ, and that this blessed hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. Jesus urged His disciples to live with the ever-present reality that He is coming again: Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).

First Peter 4:7 begins the final section of the apostle’s first letter with these words: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore.” Peter’s urgent call to ministry was based upon the fact that our time on earth is limited. We’ve all had enough time already to live for the flesh, but now that we know Christ we are to live for Him (see 4:1-2). The day is drawing near. Time is short. On the day Jesus returns, many will be ashamed because of laziness and procrastination. But let us each strive to live in such a way that we will not be ashamed when Jesus returns. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming (1 John 2:28).

In 1 Peter 4:7, the apostle calls us to be self-controlled (to have a cool head, balanced mind, and live in moderation) and sober-minded (calm, collected, and serious). Together, these words speak of having a disciplined mind, a mind focused on Christ. All of this, again, speaks of the priority of Christ-centered living. Christ-centered living begins with having a Christ-centered mind (see Colossians 3:1-4). Since the end of all things is at hand, we ought to be urgent about being active in ministry in the body of Christ.

The Activities of Urgent Ministry (v. 7-10)

If we really believe that Jesus is coming again it will impact how we approach serving His church. Peter draws out attention to 4 activities.

  • Pray earnestly (v. 7b). We should be disciplined in our mind “for the sake of” prayer. Effective prayer requires a disciplined mind (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is labor. It is spiritual work. It is not for the faint-hearted (Col. 4:12; Rom. 15:30).  Prayer is the God-ordained means through which we call down the power of God to act upon people and situations in our lives. Prayerlessness is a subtle sin (1 Sam. 12:23). The reasons we fail to pray are many: pride, laziness, stubbornness, anger, self-sufficiency, lack of conviction, lack of God-dependency.
  • Pursue love (v. 8). Keep loving; that is be “fervent” (NAS) in love. This speaks of intense love, love that is stretched out like a muscle. The words “above all” call attention to love as the supreme Christian virtue since love makes all the other virtues what they ought to be (1 Cor. 13:1-3; Col. 3:14). And Peter says we must keep loving because “love covers a multitude of sins.” A true Christian who truly loves others as God loves will be willing to forgive over and over again. One commentator writes, “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound – to Satan’s perverse delight.”
  • Practice hospitality (v. 9). To be hospitable is literally to be “friendly to strangers; a lover of strangers.” It means your home is open to anyone, not just family and friends. When was the last time you had a stranger over for a meal? In Peter’s day, there were many travelling Christians who had been cut off from their families because of their faith in Christ. They desperately needed the hospitality of other believers. We must practice hospitality without murmuring or grumbling. To grumble about your hospitality is to lose your blessing. Every believer is called to practice biblical hospitality, even to be eager about it (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:1-2). Hospitality is a powerful means to evangelism. A contemporary illustration of this is the conversion of Rosaria Butterfield, a prominent university professor in the fields of feminist and lesbian theory. Listen to her interview, Hospitality on Mission, with Desiring God ministries. How about you? Do you practice hospitality? Look at your calendar for the past year or two. Did you open your home to anyone? If so, who did you have over? Did you have any strangers over? Did you have over anyone who you are not related to by blood or marriage? Or who is not in your inner circle? The time is at hand. Therefore, let us practice love toward strangers!
  • Perform service (v. 10-11a). Peter makes it clear that “each one,” every believer has been given at least one spiritual gift to be employed in the service of the church. We must be “good stewards” of these gifts of grace by using them to edify the body (1 Cor. 12:1; 4:7). If we fail to use our gifts, the body of Christ suffers, and others must pick up our slack. “But,” you say, “I don’t know what my spiritual gift is.” Fine. Then get to work and see what it is. Are you eager to serve? Do you have initiative? Or must people beg and plead with you to serve? Jesus is coming again. Therefore, we must be active in serving the Lord and His church.

The Ambition of Urgent Ministry (v. 11b)

What should be the goal of our service? The proper motive for ministry and the use of spiritual gifts: the glory of God. Spiritual gifts are never given for the glory of the individual. If you have speaking gifts then be sure to speak the “oracles of God,” i.e. Scripture, the writings of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Teachers will be judged by a stricter standard. Therefore, do not depart from what is written (Titus 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3). If you have a serving gift then serve in “the strength of God,” not the strength of your own flesh. God is glorified by the growth of the body as believers use the gifts He has given to them.

What does it mean to live with “constant expectancy”?

Jesus is coming again. In light of this, we must be urgent about ministry. People are dying and going to Hell. We must rescue them. Christians are stuck in immaturity. We must help them to grow. Serving Christ this way means we must live with constant expectancy. What does constant expectancy mean? Here’s the answer I gave in my EFCA ordination paper, last year.

Constant expectancy for the believer implies a call to live in holiness and hope, longing for His return, being excited that He could return at any moment (Luke 12:40; Phil. 3:20; 1 John 2:28). We are called to be patient, and stand firm because His return is near (James 5:8). Constant expectancy also means we are to live with a sense of evangelistic urgency. He will come like a thief in the night and, therefore, we must be ready (1 Thess. 5:2). There is no prophesied event that must occur beforehand and, therefore, we must live with constant expectancy; we should want to be found “waiting,” but not passive (Jude 21). We are commanded to be “looking” for His appearing (Titus 2:13). The prayer of our heart should be “Even so, come. Lord Jesus, come” (Rev. 22:20).

[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]