You are probably familiar with the Ides of March. In the Roman calendar they split up each month into three sections. Each month had the Kalends (1st of the month), Nones (5th to 7th day of the month), and the Ides (13th to 15th day of the month corresponding to the full moon). So, each day in a month was defined in relation to one of these three days. So, after Kalends in March, the next day would be something like VI Nones, V Nones, IV Nones until you get to Nones. Then you would have a similar countdown until you got to Ides followed by a countdown to get to Kalends again. So, in Ancient Rome the Ides was just a day that occurred each month.
Just like 9/11 became forever known as a fateful day in 2001, the Ides of March became known as a fateful day in 44 B.C. in Ancient Rome. Julius Caesar was assassinated just outside the Pompey Theatre where the Senate was meeting. It is said that Caesar had been tipped off that a plot seeking his demise was in place but he didn’t listen and went out to the theatre anyway. This day immediately became known as a fateful day in Rome, but we probably have become familiar with it from the play by William Shakespeare.
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue shriller than all the music. Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
Caesar: What man is that?
Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-19
With March winding down, I thought it would be an interesting post to look at the “ides” in marriages. These are things that we may realize are problems for us, but we try not to admit it, and then they lead us to a pitfall. Most of these could be positive if utilized properly and handled with a Godly purpose in mind. Most of these slip up on us and prey on our weaknesses. They find a convenient time to expose themselves. Those times when we are feeling down, disrespected, unloved, away from God, bitter, or angry are perfect times.
Everybody wants to pursue the “ideals” in life. They want the ideal car, the ideal house, the ideal job, the ideal wife, and the ideal family. Ideals are expectations. If we are able to find the ideal car that fits our budget, it will fade over time, have mechanical issues that we didn’t expect, require regular maintenance to keep running properly, and will probably get a few dings and dents over time. We can marry the ideal person, but then they get a few dings and dents, change in some ways we didn’t expect, and need regular maintenance over time. Our expectations are that we are going to be a great spouse and parent. In reality, we have a hard time meeting our own expectations for ourselves and can have an even more critical view of our spouse’s abilities.
Why is it so hard to adjust from our dreams to real life? I think part of it is we tend to see the best in everyone else without really seeing the reality of most people’s situations. We only get to see the highlight reel of most people. If you follow someone on Facebook, you are probably only seeing the birthday parties, the awards, the vacations, and the cute kids. The hard times, the struggles, and problems are left out. It is so easy to see other people’s lives and think that I wish my life was like theirs.
Besides, they also learn to be idle, going about from house to house. Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 1 Timothy 5:13
So, what is so bad about idle time? I find that I am most vulnerable to getting into trouble when I have idle time. Idle time is time that isn’t purpose driven time. There is an old proverb that says that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Basically, lack of purpose almost always leads to sin.
It is very easy for us to look at this one and just pass right over it. We think of idols as those statues that people would make and worship in the Bible. We couldn’t be so foolish that we would worship something that we made with our own hands. Truth is we are unbelievably good at making idols.
Wes Church, a minister at our church, describes it this way, “The human heart is an idol factory. We can make ANYTHING into an idol! And we don’t even realize it!”
Idols we have today may best be described as priority failures. We put a priority on something that places its importance in our lives above God. Our happiness, peace, and attitude are more reliant on our relation to these things than our pursuit of God.
My wife has done a good job of listing some common items in our culture below.
COMMON IDOLS IN OUR CULTURE:
- Self– I put myself in God’s place in my life. I think I am sovereign and powerful and HUGE and God is small, wimpy and impotent – if I even acknowledge His existence at all
- Control– I think I have to MAKE things happen “right” or everything will be a mess. I think I am responsible for the outcome of circumstances and events and for controlling other people’s behavior. I think I am responsible for things that I actually have no control over. I can’t see where my boundaries of responsibility end and other people’s or God’s begin
- Our Spouses– I put them in the place of God in my soul – to be perfect, to meet all my emotional and spiritual needs and to be completely responsible for my happiness every second of every day. If I am not happy – it is their fault!
- Our Children – we live for them, sacrifice everything for them, live vicariously through them, make their happiness our biggest goals in life
Others: money, career, wealth, happiness, power, fame, expensive things (clothes/houses/cars/jewelry), popularity, certain friends, parents, government, people’s approval, a presidential candidate, music, salvation of a loved one, healing from a disease, a singer, an actress/actor, a crush on someone, pleasure, comfort, health, being thin, beauty, looking young, sex, sexiness, modesty, being “religious”, following rules, being “good”, reputation, people being happy with us (not letting anyone ever be mad at us), sports, TV, Facebook, media, unforgiveness, anger/bitterness/resentment, a loved one not dying, shows/books, our children’s behavior, church, ministry, rituals, feeling “in love”, feeling loved in our marriage, feeling respected, changing someone else (especially our spouse), getting married/being married, having children, being busy, hobbies, saving money, travel, gambling, addictions of any kind, rescuing people, and being overly responsible for other people
Most (not all) of these can be wonderful things if they are pursued with the right motive and priority in your life. It is in our weakness that we try to be our own God and move our own chess pieces in the game of life. It is a matter of where our focus is.
When we let the “ides’ take over the result is sin. The sin can lead to fear, lost intimacy with God, anxiety, worry, discontentment, anger, bitterness, resentment, loneliness, lack of joy, restlessness, debt, disease, insatiable appetite for more, addictions, and even death.
In Ancient Rome there was a practice called proscription used by the leaders in that age. Proscription was basically a list of the enemies of the state and people who were on the list did not live a long or happy life. During Caesar’s time as dictator before his death, he chose to not use proscription but instead pardoned his enemies. It was this move that ultimately led to his demise. On March 15, 44 B.C., a group of conspirators made up largely of members of the Senate attacked and ultimately killed Caesar. It has been said that more than 60 men participated in the assassination and Caesar was stabbed a reported 23 times. The citizens of Rome ultimately rejected the group seeking to end the dictatorship and this led to the creation of the Roman Empire. So, are you willing to pardon the “ides” in your life or are you ready to create a proscription list and seek to rid your life of those things that might come back to haunt you. Look inside yourself and evaluate if there are any “ides” that you have that need to be dealt with, placed in proper priority, or removed from your life.