“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
It’s important to realize that if the enemy of our faith can get us to fight against each other we’re buying right into his plan. As we turn our efforts towards fighting with each other, we’re no longer fighting against him and his destructive efforts. Instead we put on a great show, delighting his heart and hurting God’s. We play into the hands of the enemy of our faith —the enemy of God.
Just who are we to be fighting anyway? As we dig in to “win” our spouse over to see things our way, we often run over our relationship in the process. We need to realize that when one of us fights so hard to “win,” the other has to “lose” in the process and thus, BOTH of us lose.
Something Pastor Perry Noble remarked about his marriage comes to mind, concerning this issue. He said,
“Lucretia and I have a great marriage; however, it has been far from perfect. But what I have personally discovered is that it isn’t my job to point out her imperfections and shortcomings but to ask the Lord to reveal my own so that I can work on my issues, and trust the Lord that if there is something that He wants to work out in her, He will do so in His time.
“Please understand I’m NOT saying that there are not times when we haven’t had to sit down and have hard conversations with one another about some things. But this is always done with the thought in mind that we’re fighting FOR our marriage, not IN our marriage, and that fight begins NOT with who we perceive the other person to be, but rather who Christ is shaping us into.”
In marriage we’re to be a covenant-keeping team —those who work together to become all God created us to be. Anyone who knows anything about team effort knows that when one member works against the efforts of the other —hurting them in the process, the entire team suffers the consequences (as does yours and your family relationship).
The Bible says, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” And that includes us as husbands and wives!
This has been especially on our hearts as we’ve been reading so many e-mails and comments on the Marriage Missions web site, from spouses grieving because their spouse is abusive in how they express their anger. How this breaks our hearts …and more importantly, how this must grieve the very heart of God. He never created us to degrade each other. We need to do what it takes to learn how to stop wounding of each other’s spirits.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
There was an excellent segment on a Dr. Phil TV program that focused on fighting with a spouse in a degrading way. It featured a married couple that was having marital problems because they fought so much, calling each other horrible names, trying to “win” their arguments at the expense of crushing their spouse’s feelings. Dr Phil said something to them that’s worth noting. He said:
“Let me tell you guys something I want you to hear. The number one predictor of divorce —the one thing that predicts with 90% accuracy that you’re going to eventually get a divorce (and research bears this out), is not WHETHER you fight or not. It’s HOW you do it.
“It’s whether you stick to the ISSUE, or you detour away from it to the point that it deteriorates into character assassination; it deteriorates into name calling and accusations and all of those things that assassinate the self-worth, the self-esteem of the individual involved. No person with any dignity or respect will go very long, allowing someone to emotionally beat them down like that.”
Dr Gary Chapman (in his book, “The Other Side of Love –Handling Anger in a Godly Way”) writes the following, about recognizing the difference between valid anger and distorted anger and the importance of learning to direct your anger into loving responses with God as your guide:
“Since we’re made in God’s image, it shouldn’t be surprising to read the words of Peter, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16), or the words of Jesus, “As I have loved you so you must love one another” (John 13:34). It is clearly God’s desire that His nature be reflected in us.
“Learning to understand and process anger in a biblical way is an essential part of being a follower of Christ. Christians who fail to handle anger responsibly cannot reflect the holiness or the love of God; that is to say, mismanaged anger is far from being holy and far from being loving.
“Anger is God’s gift to man and when it’s handled biblically it demonstrates both a reverence for God’s holiness and commitment to loving people. When anger is processed properly, relationships are restored, wrongs are righted, and the world is a better place in which to live. We can sleep with a clear conscience, and the people around us can live without fear.
“A man or woman who learns to control anger responsibly has taken a giant step in Christian maturity. No Christian is spiritually mature who has not learned to evaluate and manage anger in a constructive manner.
“Much of the dysfunction in Christian families is rooted in misunderstood and mismanaged anger. Few tasks in the area of marriage and family life are more important than correcting this widespread anger mismanagement.
“If married, I hope you will become a POSITIVE MODEL for your spouse and children in how to respond to anger. Please don’t preach to them until YOU are consciously growing in your own anger management skills.
“In reality, our anger is at the very heart of who we are. Tell me what you’re angry about and I will tell you what is important to you. For the mature Christian, anger will focus on true injustice, unfairness, inequity, and ungodliness. His anger will be tempered with MERCY and HUMILITY realizing that he too is capable of falling.
“To use the words of the ancient Hebrew prophet: ‘He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God‘ (Micah 6:8).”
May God help us to take this message as seriously, as HE does!
Steve and Cindy Wright
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