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Men and Women Are Different
Day 1: Begin this week by reading through the Next Steps “Take 5 Questions” below. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth into you as you consider and answer the questions. Write down your thoughts, responses, and what God is showing you. Use these “Take 5” questions as a conversation starter with your family or possibly a close friend:
1. In what area of life (or toward what person or group of people) have you had an attitude of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’? Are you willing to acknowledge that your line of thinking is faulty; that it might not be an issue of right and wrong, but rather one of difference?
2. When are you most likely to rationalize or justify not submitting to another? Not yielding your rights or putting the needs of others above those of your own?
3. What is one specific step you can take (which you wouldn’t normally take) to display value and worth to others?
Day 2: Read Ephesians 5:21 in the context of Cory’s discussion of submission. What is your first response to the call to submit to one another? What is being valued, individual rights or relationship? What do you value? Do you find yourself drifting toward understanding the call to submit as a rule, a sentimental ideal, or principle? What would or could be different in you if you practiced submission as a step in becoming more like Jesus, as part of your discipleship and the spiritual formation of your heart, rather than simply a rule to follow? Could the attitude and way of submission be a path to individual, relational, and spiritual health and wholeness? What Jesus describes as fullness or abundant life? What would a step toward this type of attitude change look like in your life today?
Day 3: Re-read Ephesians 5:21. When is this most difficult and challenging for you? When are you most likely to rationalize or justify not submitting to another? Are those reasons real to this current person/relationship or something that has become habitual for you? Is there a relationship(s) in your past that makes the act and/or attitude of submission feel unwise or unsafe? What steps could you take - questions could you ask of yourself - that would help you evaluate your current response? Have you ever felt the need or desire to “make” others submit to you? Could your behavior and attitude in those circumstances help inform you as to your own hesitancy to submit to another?
Day 4: Read Philippians 2:3-4. “…look not only to your own interests, but the interests of others.” The interest of others, or the common good, necessarily involves others, not just attempting to get our own way. Relationship is at the heart of Christianity and what it means to follow Christ. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and James all tell us it is not possible to love and be good with God if we are sideways with people. At a heart level, relationship breaks down when one or both individuals pursue only what’s in it for themselves or work only to protect what is theirs or those like them (selfish ambitions). To see ourselves as superior, right, or of more importance than the other (vain conceit) is equally destructive. Both of these work against understanding the other gender or anyone who is different from us. Ask God to show you if there is any of this in you. If so, what steps can you take to begin to move away from behaviors that support and deepen any selfish ambition or vain conceit?
Day 5: What makes “different” so scary or off-putting? Are there stories or narratives at work in you that uphold these fears or foster contempt? What does Scripture say in Galatians 3:28? If this is true, what steps can you take to bring your relational behavior and in turn, your heart, in line with this reality. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us of the supremacy of love in all relationships, and this is coming from the same Paul who speaks to submission. Clearly these two calls are related to healthy hearts and relationships, but are not intuitive to us. What if love is never about control, but actually keeps us from being controlling or controlled? And in choosing to love (work for the common good) and submit, we are actually choosing freedom and health in life and relationship? Reflect on the scriptures from this week. What is God showing you that is in your heart? What steps can you take to align your behavior and heart with what God is calling us to?