Growing up, I always felt the need to give the impression that I could defend myself.
Even though I had never been in a real fight, I worked to give off the impression that I
could stand my ground if necessary. Most of the guys around me did the same thing.
One thing that would really get my attention is if someone said something ugly about
my family. Although no one asked for me to defend them, I felt that it was a built in
requirement to fight someone that mocked my family. (I think I watched too many
Jean Claude Van Damme movies in the 90’s!)
Eventually, God rescued me from a life of aggression and anger. However, I do
believe that God can use us as fathers to stand in defense of our wives and children.
The kind of defense I’m speaking of may be different than you might imagine. While I
would lay down my life for my family, the kind of defense I’m talking about is a
defense against legalism.
Throughout the entire book of Galatians, Paul is clearly upset. He’s upset because
false teachers had come into the Galatian church and the people were actually
believing them! Look at Galatians 1:6-9:
I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
These are strong words right? Maybe even fighting words? While we know that Paul
wasn’t wielding a sword against the heretics that were at the gates of the Galatian
church, we do know that his shepherding heart for the people was powerful enough
to vehemently warn these believers to fight against false gospels.
Husbands and Fathers, as we seek to remain aware of the spiritual condition of our
family members, are we keeping guard against the impact of legalism on those God
has given to us? Have our family members been influenced by a false gospel that
would add to-do lists to grace?
What does this fight look like? It looks like prayerfully seeking ways to increase gospel
fluency in the home through God’s word. It looks like reminding our wives and kids of
the implications of grace. It looks like helping your family recognize legalistic voices
that have infiltrated their circles of influence. It looks like reinforcing the identity in
Christ that grace has provided and resting in it.
While I’m not encouraging round-house kicking someone in the face that says
something unkind to your wife, I am suggesting that the leaven of the pharisees is still
alive and still pervasive. Instead of a swift uppercut, at the recognition of legalism
entering the home, we may need to shepherd our families through books like
Galatians or through the strong words Jesus had for the religious leaders of his day in
order to unlock the hatch of the performance trap.