January 2009: The Parable of the Unfaithful Wife

There was a young man and woman who fell in love. The young lady fell head over heels for this young man and they quickly wed. On their wedding day they both promised their faithfulness to one another, till death do them part, and so forth, in traditional wedding vows. As both of them worked, they always coordinated their days off so that they could be together. Their love was solid, and they were inseparable. However, nine months down the road and the young wife's ex-boyfriend came to town. The young wife had deeply loved this man, and even though she committed herself to her husband, and to him alone, she still felt a deep bond and connection with her ex-boyfriend. So when the ex-boyfriend came to town, she decided to spend her days off with him instead. For two months the ex-boyfriend was in town, and every time they both had the day off, the young wife would spend the time with her ex-boyfriend instead of her husband.

Now even if the young wife and her ex-boyfriend never engaged in adulterous activity, what does it show about the commitment she made to her husband? While the young wife and her ex-boyfriend may have engaged in innocent talk and time together, does not the very fact that she was choosing her ex-boyfriend over her husband have sinful implications? How long do you think this would go on before her husband became her ex-husband? What if she excused her behavior by justifying to herself that she was with her husband the other 10 months of the year, and these were just special occasions when her ex-boyfriend would come to town? If it were your spouse, would you tolerate it? Would you find that behavior acceptable? Do you think it would strengthen your relationship and allow you to flourish in happiness?

And so we are the naïve young wife, when any of us chooses the world over our commitment and service to God. Is it just a few services during deer hunting season? Is it just a few Wednesday nights during baseball season? Is it just a couple of services during vacation every year? Who is our "ex"? That is, what is our "ex-worldly" companion? What is it that we would allow to take precedence over our commitment and our relationship to God? What is that ex-worldly pleasure, delight, love, desire, passion, hobby, attraction that we allow to draw us away from God, perhaps weekly, monthly, seasonally, or yearly? What ex-worldly activity do we make excuses and justifications for by saying, "I am with God, I worship God consistently all the other times of the year; this is just a special occasion (or series of occasions)." Does it not say something about the weakness of our commitment and love when we no longer regard each worship service as a "special" occasion? That, somehow, church has just become part of "normal" life that can be replaced when something "special" comes up? While the activity you may choose to engage in instead of your committed service to God and His people may be an innocent activity (hunting, sports, or sightseeing, etc.), does not the very fact that you would choose an ex-worldly companion over God have sinful implications? Can we see how that can damage our relationship to God? Can we see how that behavior can be discouraging to the church? Can we open our eyes to see the truth; that just as a husband would be jealous of his wife's behavior, that we likewise serve a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Joshua 24:19)? What do you suppose the consequences of that are?

The way in which you know the wife has left the first love of her husband (that is, the love that she had when she first committed to her husband) is by the fact that she chose her first love (ex-boyfriend) above her husband. Likewise, we know we have left our first love of Christ (that is, the degree of love that we had when we first committed our lives to Christ) when we choose our first love (ex-worldly companion) above Christ. And so Christ says of the brethren in Ephesus,

"But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent" (Revelation 2:4-5).
Do you remember the love you used to have for Christ? Do you remember the days you would always put Him first? Do you remember that inseparable commitment that you once felt? If you have to remember farther back than yesterday for any of those things, then heed the words of Christ, and repent now!

David Osteen