Have you ever considered that tension in your relationship can be a good thing? Often God is introducing areas that need to be improved. He wants you to embrace these marriage struggles. The best way to do this is by asking each other tough questions:
A husband might say, “Outside of the Lord Himself, do you feel like you are taking second place to anything in my life?”
A wife might ask, “Do you feel like I respect you?”
Then there are right and wrong ways to respond to these questions:
Imagine a wife answers that she does not feel that she is the supreme relationship in her husband’s life. He should not try to talk her out of the way she feels or persuade her to see things differently. This will make her feel even more misunderstood.
Imagine a husband answers that his wife makes him feel disrespected. She should not argue with him and try to convince him he is wrong. This will make him feel even more disrespected.
Instead, each spouse should listen to the other, apologize the right way, and try to make the appropriate changes. When couples ask each other these difficult questions, they should expect some painful discussions. That’s great.
Each week I write a letter to the church on the back of the bulletin. Then I take those letters and make them into a post for my blog. Yesterday my beautiful wife wrote the bulletin letter about her time at the Ladies’ Retreat earlier in the week. Here it is…
I just returned from our annual WCC Ladies’ Beach Retreat and it was such a blessing. I have never had so many sweet sisters in Christ surrounding me in my walk with the Lord before. While we were there the theme was Biblical Conflict Resolution. For the first bible study we discussed different personality types and how the body of Christ consists of different people, but we’re all called to live at peace with one another. Paul said, Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Cor 12:12). In the second bible study we discussed tips for resolving conflict biblically. Here are four of them:
Think on Christ: He said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). People often don’t know they are offending us, so we should give them grace like Christ gives us grace.
Learn to receive correction:Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being corrected is stupid (Pro 12:1). Need I say more? 🙂
Overlook offenses:It is his glory to overlook an offense (Pro 19:11). In other words, it’s for our own good to “get over it”. Be more like Teflon and less like Velcro.
Talk to the person, not about the person:This might be one of the hardest to live out, but the bible is VERY clear: If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over (Matt 18:15). If the problem is big enough to talk about the person then it’s big enough to talk to the person.
Then we finished with verses on dealing with difficult people. That was the most enjoyable study for me, being the most practical of the whole retreat in my opinion.
The third study consisted of a series of Christian quotes about conflict. One of my favorites was: “Don’t equate peacemaking with peace-achieving. A peacemaker longs for peace, and works for peace, and sacrifices for peace. But the attainment of peace may not come.” Romans 12:18 is very important at this point: If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. That is the goal of a peacemaker: “Don’t let the rupture in the relationship be your fault.” Conflict is everywhere; it is inevitable. The question is, will we deal with it from a biblical standpoint or from a worldly one?
At Creation, there was perfect peace and harmony, but as a result of The Fall, seven conflicts were created. We say, “The Fall of Man,” but this can be misleading, since it sounds as though only man was affected. A better title would be “The Fall of Creation” because sin affected all of God’s creation.
Before banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God outlined what life would be like in a fallen world (Gen 3:16–19). The following conflicts were created:
1. Conflict between man and God.
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gen 3:8). The intimacy and close fellowship mankind had experienced with God was ruined.
2. Conflict between man and animal.
“God spoke to the serpent: ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed’” (Gen 3:15). This points to the future conflict between the devil and Jesus, the Seed of the woman. But a surface reading also reveals the enmity and fear that exists between man and reptiles, insects, and other animals, many of which are now threatening and lethal.
3. Conflict between animal and animal.
Prior to The Fall there was peace between animals. The wolf, lamb, leopard, goat, calf, and lion dwelt together, and the cow, bear, lion, and ox ate together (Isa 11:6-8). Animals were herbivorous, but the harmony that existed between them was destroyed, and they became a threat to each other.
4. Conflict between man and nature.
“Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” (Gen 3:17b–18). Tending the Garden of Eden was a pleasant, enjoyable experience for Adam and Eve, but now nature poses a terrible threat.
Beyond the sheer labor needed to survive, millions have lost homes and lives in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, and other natural disasters. This is why:
Paul described creation itself longing to be redeemed, struggling under the weight of sin (Rom 8:19-22).
Jesus rebuked a storm: “Hearose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water” (Luke 8:24). Rebuking a storm makes sense only when considering the way creation was affected by sin, and put in subjection to the devil (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; Eph 2:2; 2 Cor 4:4; 1 John 5:19).
5. Conflict between man and man.
“Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Gen 4:8). Since Adam’s firstborn, Cain, killed his brother, there have been millions of people destroyed by wars, murder, or some other form of violence.
This consequence is the topic of my book, Marriage God’s Way. If the Fall hadn’t taken place, there would be perfect harmony between husbands and wives. Perfect oneness. As a result of the Fall, there is pain, conflict, and struggle.
7. Conflict with death.
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). The worst conflict introduced by the Fall is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26 calls death mankind’s last enemy, whose defeat will come only when Jesus Christ returns to end sin’s curse and place all things under His rule.
The destruction of death is one part of Christ’s redemption. Isaiah 2:4 says men will turn their weapons into agricultural tools, describing the peace that will be created by Christ’s redemption.
Just as sin affected all aspects of creation, so too will Christ’s redemption affect all aspects of redemption. Jesus will reverse the affects of The Fall, destroying all of sin’s curse. The conflicts will be gone, and perfect peace and harmony will again exist.
Are there any aspects of The Fall that you see as worse than others? Any part of sin’s curse that you particularly long to see it reversed by Christ’s redemption? Share your thoughts below!
Have you ever heard, “You can be right and still be wrong”? There’s an example in this week’s sermon, and recently I faced a situation where it applied. Here’s a little background info: a relative of mine (who isn’t a believer, but thinks she’s a good person who’s going to go to heaven…like most unbelievers) was caught in a lie she told about Katie. I confronted her about the lie. This left her with the two options we face when confronted with lying: admit it or deny it which usually involves telling more lies to cover up the original lie (and this is what happened with her).
Here’s where the quote comes in! My desire: confront her about the other lies (aka keep the tension in our family going). We (my parents, Katie and I) had a family meeting. It’s obvious to everyone she’s lying, but everyone wants to let it go…except me…because of my flesh and because I’m immature. I could confront her AGAIN and be right in what I say…but be wrong because I know the right thing to do is let it go. Here’s the conversation I had with Katie (with my notes in parentheses):
Me – She’s caused a number of problems in our family over the years and there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon, so this should be addressed.
Katie – Things are already tense between them (her and her husband) and you (true). She’s obviously not going to confess; confronting her again is just going to push her further away and decrease the chances of us witnessing to them.
Me – People don’t get saved until they know they’re terrible, wretched sinners who need forgiveness through Christ, so let’s help her see that…I mean that’s basically how I got saved.
Katie – She’s not you. That’s just going to push them further away. You need to love them, so they can see the love of Christ through you and see how He changed your life.
Me – That won’t help her see her sinfulness and need for Christ.
Katie – This is exactly what you did with your parents (true) that made them want to move to Texas to get away from you (true).
Me – Uhhh…umm…well…
Katie – It wasn’t until you backed off and started loving your parents and being gentle toward them that they came to salvation.