Posts tagged ‘1 Peter’

May 15, 2014

843 Acres: Christopher Hitchens and Christian Unity

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 15 (txt | aud, 1:35 min) 1 Pet 3 (txt | aud, 3:18 min) Highlighted: 1 Pet 3:8

Unity: Have you ever noticed that Jesus prayed specifically for us—you and me? In one of his last prayers, he said, “I do not ask for [the apostles] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” [1] We are—“those who will believe in me through their word.” What did he pray for us? Unity: “that they be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.” [2] Peter, too, wrote, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” [3] What is at stake in our unity?

Observation: While Christopher Hitchens was undergoing various cancer treatments, he journaled his thoughts about dying. These thoughts were published posthumously in a short book of essays called Mortality. In one essay, Hitchens—a renowned atheist—offers an insightful observation on Christian unity: “If I were to announce that I had suddenly converted to Catholicism, I know that [two particular fundamentalist evangelicals] would feel I had fallen into grievous error. On the other hand, if I were to join either of their Protestant evangelical groups, the followers of Rome would not think my soul was much safer than it is now …” [4]

Disunity: The debate he observes is not merely Catholic vs. Protestant; it’s also Presbyterian (PCA, PCUSA, etc.) vs. Baptist (SBC, CBF, etc.) vs. Methodist (EMC, UMC, etc.) and more. To be sure, there are important doctrinal differences between these groups that should be taken seriously—sometimes very seriously. Yet how we talk—our tone, sympathy, and love—about those with whom we disagree, though, can tell us about our own views on unity. Do we have hearts that long to pray with Jesus, saying, “Make us one, just as the Son and the Father are one, that we together may be in the Christ”?

Prayer: Lord, Freud coined the phrase—“the narcissism of minor differences”—and we confess that our sinful human nature seeks to make major differences out of minor ones because we are prideful. There are, of course, some differences that cannot be overcome. Where we can, however, give us “unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind”. For when Jesus prayed for us, he told us what is at stake in our unity: “that the world may believe that you have sent me.” [5] Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] John 17:20 ESV | [2] John 17:21 | [3] 1 Peter 3:8 | [4] Hitchens also writes about how Christians engaged with him as he was dying. Although he wasn’t always accurate in his assessment of Christian theology, his voice about how he was treated during this time is important (and painful) to hear. (One notable exception was his friend Frances Collins, who was lovely, he said.) | [5] John 17:21

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May 15, 2014

843 Acres TBT: Once You Were Not a People

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 14 (txt | aud, 4:35 min)
1 Pet 2 (txt | aud, 3:29 min)

Peter: 1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Moses: Deuteronomy 7:6-14

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples.

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May 14, 2014

843 Acres: How to “Lean In” at Work

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 13 (txt | aud, 3:07 min)
1 Pet 1 (txt | aud, 3:48 min)
Highlighted: 1 Pet 1:15

Priesthood: Peter is writing to a group of Christians that is being slandered and falsely accused because of their commitment to Jesus. [1] In the midst of these trials, Peter says that they are to live uniquely in the world: “Since he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” [2] They are to transform their affliction into service to the world—a world that does not honor Jesus. Yet they should not think of themselves as victims, but as servants—“a holy priesthood” as Peter says. [3] How can this priestly calling shape their everyday lives?

Lean In: Don Flow, CEO of Flow Automotive, says, “A priest bears the burden of people by absorbing those burdens and bringing them before God and bringing God’s blessing to the people. Paul made it clear that to fulfill the law of Christ meant to bear each other’s burdens. Both John and Peter call us a ‘Kingdom of Priests.’ As Christian leaders, we must lean into the burdens of the people in our organizations. This means that we must genuinely know the people with whom we work. For Christian leaders, who a person is and what they do are fully integrated. People cannot be reduced to instruments of production.”

Pray: “Christian leadership,” he continues, “requires that prayer be fully integrated into the life of work. The whole world groans with the burden of the fall, and it is our calling to participate in the healing of this world. In prayer, we can lift the burdens of others before God, and we can bring God’s refreshing touch to the world. I believe we are called to pray for the people with whom we interact every day, for His in-breaking into our day, that our organization would be a blessing, that it would do good, that it would be a positive force for shalom, and for God’s blessing, which is the source of all abundance in this world. Prayer is central to the calling of leadership.”

Prayer: Lord, You call us to be holy as you are holy, to live uniquely in our world. As we consider the people with whom we interact daily, we pray that we would “lean in” to our calling to be  “a holy priesthood”—bringing their burdens to you and your blessings to them. May we genuinely know other people as relational, not transactional, human beings made in your image. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See 1 Peter 2:12, 18-20; 3:13-17; 4:4, 14, 19. | [2] 1 Peter 1:15 ESV | [3] 1 Peter 2:5

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November 28, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday (Lincoln): Day of Thanksgiving

by Bethany

M’Cheyne1 Chr 24-25 (text | audio, 3:23 min)
1 Ptr 5 (text | audio, 2:06 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 5:6-7

Apostle Peter. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you …

President Abraham Lincoln. October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful Providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict … Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship … Population has steadily increased … and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

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November 27, 2013

843 Acres: Unpopularity as a Form of Suffering?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 23 (text | audio, 3:42 min)
1 Ptr 4 (text | audio, 2:40 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 4:12-14

Suffering: In our modern Western world, suffering for the faith rarely looks like “the forty lashes minus one” that Paul was given. For most of us, it is the daily decision to trust the goodness of the Lord in the form of obedience when our inner and outer voices tell us to question his goodness and disobey him. Is God really being good to me when he tells me only to marry Christians? Doesn’t he know how few Christian men live in New York? Is he really being good to me when he tells me to give from my salary to the ministry of the word? Doesn’t he know how little I make? When we obey him—as everything within us and around us tells us not to—it is suffering for the faith. It is, as John Owen says, mortification of sin. It is, as C.S. Lewis argues, a great divorce.

Promise: Such suffering is part of the Christian life because obedience is optional. It feels that we are choosing pain, even though—in reality—we are choosing trust, obedience, and joy. Choosing obedience in a culture that mocks it creates short-term pain, but long-term peace. The apostles understood this. Peter wrote, “With respect to [the non-believers], they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.” [1] Then he continued, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” [2]

Prayer: Lord, Christ suffered in the flesh for his obedience and, therefore, we will suffer in the flesh, too. We confess that we hate suffering and pain. When we experience it, we want it to end immediately. Yet suffering is a part of life—not only because our culture mocks obedience, but also because our sinful hearts have disordered loves. When we choose obedience, it is painful. Yet the time is coming when your glory and our joy will be revealed. Therefore, renew our hope in your promises that we may, by your Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh. Amen.

Note: Recommended readings: Mortification of Sin by John Owen (this version, in paperback only) and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (any version).

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Peter 4:4 ESV | [2] 1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV

November 26, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: Wrongdoing and Forgiving

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 22 (text | audio, 3:28 min)
1 Ptr 3 (text | audio, 3:18 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 3:8-9

Discerning Brokenness

“I didn’t mean what I said.” Can we take back, however, what has already been uttered? Who swallows the pain?

Can we somehow neutralize a wrongdoing so that we can restore a relationship without having to do the hard work of forgiving?

Imagining Redemption

To forgive is to name the wrongdoing and condemn it. To forgive is to give the gift of not counting the wrongdoing against the wrongdoer.

“For Christians, forgiving always takes place in a triangle, involving the wrongdoer, the wronged person, and God.” @MiroslavVolf

We forgive because God forgives. We forgive as God forgives. We forgive by echoing God’s forgiveness. @MiroslavVolf

Have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, humble mind. Bless those who revile you that you may be blessed. #1Ptr3

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for the forgiveness you offer to us through Christ, which came at great cost and much suffering.

We #confess that offering our forgiveness feels costly, too. Yet does it cost our lives? Is there anything we cannot forgive by your Spirit?

#Thanks for empowering us to share in your suffering that we share in your glory. Thanks for entering our pain so forgiveness is a triangle.

May we lean on Jesus, who brings unity, sympathy, love, tenderness, humility, that we may be blessed by blessing wrongdoers. #supplication

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Note: For additional reading on forgiveness, see Miroslav Volf. “Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.”

November 25, 2013

843 Acres: Sovereignty in the Social Order

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 21 (text | audio, 4:56 min)
1 Ptr 2 (text | audio, 3:29 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 2:13-14

State: In medieval times, people believed that God mediated his sovereignty of the different spheres—family, state, church, education, science—through the institution of the church and, therefore, the church sponsored the arts (for example) and controlled the state. In the 1880s, however, Abraham Kuyper argued that each sphere stood coram deo—that is, face before God. God, he argued, is sovereign above all spheres and these spheres draw their own derivative sovereignty from the Lord Himself. This is how we encounter the sovereignty of God in the social order, as “his sovereign authority is exercised in human office.”

Functions: The state, Kuyper argues, is a special sphere that “gives stability to the land by justice.” [1] It has three functions: (1) to mediate between the spheres, e.g., “the family hour” on primetime television was instituted by the state as a negotiation between the family and the media, (2) to protect oppressed individuals within a sphere, e.g., “the minimum wage” was instituted by the state to protect workers within a sphere, (3) to provide for the common good and stability of the people, e.g., roads, police, etc.

Subject: Here, in 1 Peter 2, Peter encouraged his readers to honor the state: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to the governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” [2] Peter recognized that the Lord, having vested authority in the state, calls his people—who are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for his own possession”—to honor the state as a proclamation of the excellencies of the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, Rather than merely creating this world and then stepping away, you have chosen to govern your creation through us, your image-bearers, as viceroys. We recognize, however, that sin has distorted not only how we govern, but also how we are governed. Through Christ, you have shown us what submission to and honor of authority looks like. Teach us to love others, fear you, and honor the state. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Proverbs 29:4 | [2] 1 Peter 2:13-14 ESV

May 18, 2012

On Loving God and Others in Our Communications

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 5:6-7, 10
Full Text: Isaiah 17-18; 1 Peter 5

Love | How should we think about loving God and others in our communications with each other? After a year hiatus, I recently rejoined Facebook for work. As you probably know, Facebook stores all your information so that, if you want to reactivate your account, you haven’t lost anything. Three weeks ago, when I logged back on and saw my past activity, I was disappointed with myself. Almost all my activity was about three people – me, myself and I. So I decided to start anew. I deleted my entire wall and resolved to make the purpose of my online communications the same as my in-person communications – namely, to love God and others.

Church | When the apostles wrote letters to churches, they didn’t merely broadcast information about themselves. They never spoke of their persecution to brag about their gospel commitment or to gain their readers’ sympathy. Instead, they always aimed to magnify Christ and encourage their readers to endure in their love for God. Peter, for example, exhorted his discouraged readers, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you … And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” [1].

Others | In Philippians, Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” [2]. When it comes to our communications – whether in-person or online – with one another, how can we love God and others? No, not every conversation or status update has to be about God and Christianity. But how can we re-imagine what loving God and others looks like in all of our communications with each other?

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we are oftentimes self-seeking and self-focused people. As it was in the beginning, so it is now – we love to look to our own interests above the interests of others. How desperately we need new hearts! Give us great joy in imaging forth the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice as we put others’ interests first in all of our communications with one another. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Peter 5:6-7, 10 ESV  |  [2] Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

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May 17, 2012

On Courage, Duty and Integrity

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 4:19
Full Text: Isaiah 16; 1 Peter 4

Integrity | The Navy SEALs are special operations forces that carry out critical and dangerous combat and intelligence missions. In 2005, they adopted a creed that codified their commitment to courage and duty. It reads (in relevant part): “The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstances, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast … I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity … If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission … Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail” [1].

Mission | As Christians, we are called to even higher standards of courage and duty in the face of adversity for (at least) three reasons: (1) the stakes of our mission are eternal, not national, (2) our legacy is thousands, not hundreds, of years [2], and (3) our strength is Christ, not ourselves. Peter wrote to believers who were discouraged by the persecution they were experiencing because of their faith. He said, “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” [3].

Commitment | We are to commit to these things – trust God, live obediently no matter the circumstances, and fix our hope on God’s ultimate victory [4]. Last year, when SEAL Team Six captured Osama bin Laden, many of us wanted to join the SEALs. Integrity and endurance in the face of adversity on a mission are attractive, especially in our fickle culture. As Christians, our lives should be attractive so that others see Jesus as the treasure of the universe. We are to live so that “in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” [5].

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we are often weak and vulnerable in the face of adversity. Yet we long to commit ourselves to you and continue to do good. Therefore, when we are tempted to give in to sin, help us fight for obedience. Make our lives attractive so that people see your glory. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Brett & Kate McKay. “Manvotional: The Navy Seal Creed.” The Art of Manliness. 9 August 2009.  |  [2] See Hebrews 11 (“The Roll Call of the Faithful.”)  |  [3] 1 Peter 4:19 NIV  |  [4] Peter says that we should live “no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2 ESV) [4], that we should avoid “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3 ESV), that we should “keep loving one another earnestly” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV), that we should “show hospitality without complaining” (1 Peter 4:9 ESV), that we should “serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10 ESV), and that we should “rejoice insofar as we share in Christ’s sufferings that we may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13 ESV, but changed “you” to “we”).  |  [5] 1 Peter 4:11 ESV

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May 16, 2012

On Being Attractive to Men

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 3:3-4
Full Text: Isaiah 15; 1 Peter 3

Advice | Ladies, how can we be irresistible to men? Cosmopolitan suggests, “Men find heels sexy. But that stiletto is even sexier when it’s dangling off your toes … For maximum man magnetism, show off your shoulders with a strapless dress or sleeveless shirt. Bare shoulders plant one thought in a dude’s brain” [1]. Although the advice is ungodly, the assessment is true [2]. Men are wired to notice beauty in women.

Adornment | There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking to be attractively feminine. Solomon celebrated his beloved: “How beautiful and pleasant you are” [3]. God made women to be beautiful to men. As a result of the Fall, however, we sinfully crave the power of beauty [4]. Peter wrote, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of your hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing that you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” [5].

Love | Have we, as Christian women, asked the Christian men in our lives how we can care for them in the ways that we dress? [6] Is our goal in choosing outfits to entice and attract or to love and serve? Are we trying to cultivate their love for God or their lust for us? Even in dressing for church, do we ask whether our outfits might be distracting?

Precious | Solomon wrote, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” [7]. As we saw yesterday [8], to fear the Lord is to know that we are always in the presence of God. What does He find attractive? “The hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Yes, let us be attractively feminine, but let us never use our beauty to entice or manipulate.

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we have used our beauty for selfish purposes. In this way, we haven’t participated in the redemption of our culture and its desire for beauty. Forgive us, Lord, and give us wisdom to obey you in how we adorn ourselves. Let us not judge men for their struggles in this area [9] and, instead, let us be co-laborers with them, as we seek to live as precious in your sight. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Cosmopolitan. “How to Get Hit On All the Time.”  |  [2] As journalist Christopher Morley once wrote, “In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”  |  [3] Song of Songs 7:6 ESV  |  [4] The Lord told Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband.” A few years ago, I did a lot of thinking about this. Interestingly, I compared the Western and Eastern ideas of how this “curse” has played out in our world. In the East (primarily Muslim nations), they recognize that a woman’s body can be alluring and, as a result, they cover women head to toe so that men will not stumble. In the West, we have done the opposite. We have thrown off any modesty and declared women’s rights. Yet both cultures are responding to the same curse. It’s almost like two sides of the same coin.  |  [5] 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV. For an extended reflection on these verses, see John Piper, “Holy Women Who Hoped in God.” 11 May 1986.  |  [6] Over the years, I’ve had several conversations with godly men who have told me that certain types of clothing are generally more alluring and challenging than others. For example, some have told me that yoga pants or low cut shirts are challenging. When I tell women this, they’re shocked (especially the yoga pants one!). So don’t take my word for it! Ask the godly men in your life what particular outfits they find to be more difficult. Ask them how you can dress to point them more to God. Respect their assessments of what is hard for them.  |  [7] Proverbs 31:30 ESV  |  [8] 843 Acres. “On That-Which-Is-God and That-Which-Is-Not-God.” 15 May 2012.  |  [9] I have found that women have a hard time understanding men’s struggle in this area. Sometimes that leads them to think that we don’t need to pay attention to what we wear because, as they say, “This is their problem, not mine.” There are two problems with this response: (1) Sure. But as Paul says, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor’ (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV). We, as Christians, are called to love and serve one another. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 ESV). We should be considering how men think about these things and, in response, respect and serve them in these areas. (2) Someone once told me that men think about sex as often as women think about calories. Wow. That put it in perspective for me. How can we help them in our clothing choices? Just as I appreciate men who don’t make comments that make my struggle with calories harder, men would benefit by being around women who aren’t making their struggle harder, too.

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