No matter how much we love our family, they are naturally going to get on our nerves from time to time, especially the ones we live with. That is just human nature. It is probably a good idea for us to remember we are no picnic to live with either sometimes. While it is natural for us to get on each other’s nerves from time to time, and to have a little spat that blows over quickly, there is a much more destructive work that goes on in families, marriages especially. The
Bible says we are not to judge, because that job belongs to God. That doesn’t stop us from partaking though.
However, sometimes we judge our spouses much harsher than anyone else. We magnify his or her faults – the same ones that we minimize in other people.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)
Substitute the word “house” with the word “household,” and you will see a clearer meaning of this verse. Because it is not the house we build that is important, but the people in the house, and when we attack and tear down the people in the household, we are destroying the work done to build it up. Think of it this way, we love our friends and have spent time building that relationship, and most of the time, we are very careful to nurture and protect that relationship both from outside influences and internal ones.
Many friendships have suffered from outside influences, such as other people working to divide the relationship, and from internal ones, such as hurt feelings and misunderstandings. The same is true of the marriage relationship. We allow others to come between us and our spouse or hurtful words to distance us one from another. And while friendships are very important, the most important of all relationships, save ours with God, is the marriage relationship, because the Bible says “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV)
Forgiveness is the centerpiece in the doctrine of grace – the grace God offers us and the grace we offer to one another. We should do all we can to protect the reputation of our spouse by not engaging in gossip about or complaining about our spouses to another person. That in itself is monumental and difficult all at the same time. Running down our spouses, listing all his faults to our friends, is not honoring our mate, it is tearing him down. How can it be tearing him down if he doesn’t know or hear it? It’s tearing him down in our minds, damaging his reputation in our opinion, which is the place that it should be the safest. It does not honor our husbands.
This is difficult to lay hold of, because this behavior is rampant. So we very likely hear our co-workers and friends doing this, and it is also human nature to want to join in the bashing. We can get free, but it will take work, mindfulness, and commitment, but, at the same time, remember we can do all things through Christ. So begin this journey on your knees, asking the Lord every day, for as long as needed, to release you from this critical spirit and place in you instead a spirit of love and compassion for your mate. No matter how damaged the relationship is, it can be fixed.
The last step in getting free from this attitude – the hardest and perhaps the most eye opening – is, as you indulge yourself, to imagine him doing the same. Somehow, as we think of it, we begin to see this behavior as much more harmful than we thought before, realizing, that should he ever discover what you have said and to whom, he would probably be devastated, something you never wanted at all. Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will break your heart.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
What are some ways we can spur one another on to see our actions against our mate for the relational poison it really is?