January 16, 2015

The problem with nagging

I’ve been told than many husbands give into the demands of their wives because it seems the most immediate way to gain a little peace and quiet. My experience says it is true and somehow I learned that fairly soon after becoming a Christian. Whether that stopped me from nagging or not is another story. However, I do remember telling my husband that many wives would have more respect for their spouses if, when they were unreasonable, they were rebuked rather than yielded to for those reasons.

All this came to mind reading the story of Jacob deceiving his father for gain – at the urging and plotting of his mother, Isaac’s wife, Rebekah. Jacob had already ‘purchased’ the rights of the firstborn from his brother with a pot of stew (no credit to Esau) and this time he took the blessing that went with it. Afterward, Esau was so angry that he wanted to kill Jacob so his mother sent him away to a safer place.

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?” (Genesis 27:46)

Rebekah nagged Jacob to disobey his father, and now nags her husband about Jacob possibly marrying a woman outside the family of God. She may have had the right idea, but sounds more like a nagging wife.

The other thought, which will raise the hackles of some readers, is that even nagging wives want a strong man who will insist on the right action, whether she agrees with him or not. That is another lesson that I’ve had to learn the hard way.

The next reading took a few minutes to figure out. The ESV says, “Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he.” (Ecclesiastes 6:10) but The Message clarified it: “Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed. You can’t argue with fate.” (Ecclesiastes 6:10)

In light of what Jacob and his mother did, it seems that the outcome had already been predicted by the Lord. Before these twins were born, there was much commotion in her womb. She asked God about it and He told her, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples butting heads while still in your body. One people will overpower the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23) Jacob was born last, holding the heel of his brother. Destiny had been fixed. Rebekah may have thought she was ‘helping’ destiny, but none the less, she was a nag and a schemer as she did it.

The NT reading has another mother doing some persuading of her own, asking Jesus to do what she wanted for her sons. She did kneel, showing respect as she outlined her request, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”

The two, James and John, must have been there too for they claimed that they were able. But Jesus told them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:20–23)  Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed. Boys, you can’t argue with God.

I’ve been guilty of nagging to get my way, even nagging God to get my way, but this is not the kind of person God wants me to be. He wants me to trust Him and fit into His plan. Part of that trust is demonstrated by trusting my husband (who is also a child of His) and thereby saying yes to His doings in both of our lives.

I know that many women resist this idea, and some of that resistance might have good reasons behind it, but for me, nagging him or nagging Him could possibly get me what I want, but it will not change either mind and only bring leanness to my soul. 

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