When You’re Flying Downhill: Running Head First Into Discord, Peacemaking Part 1
“You always… You never…You don’t care…”
A conversation can start out simply, but then throw in a few of these phrases and you’re headed for trouble.
Uh oh! You’re in trouble now! Just recently I had one of these arguments with my husband. I was tired. It was late. He made a comment that hurt my feelings, and then all the sudden, I’m angry and wanting to hurt him with my words. Wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be loving toward each other? Yes! That is the Biblical response. But when you’re in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to continue charging downhill like a train out of control because your feelings were hurt and you want justice! You want the other person to feel your pain.
So where are you headed? Are you veering off the road or tracks? Are you flying out of control? Are you headed toward an obstacle? Are you bracing for a crash? Are you ready for the consequences? When did the lines get blurred between desiring something good and getting what you want no matter the cost?
The Progression of an Idol
This scenario like many others can lead to what Tara Barthel from Peacemaker Ministries: Living the Gospel in Relationships calls “the progression of an idol.” Huh? First you’re talking about arguments… now you’ve jumped to idols. Isn’t that taking it a little too far? The answer is no, and bear with me.
Barthel explains that desire is a neutral term. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with desiring something. But “a desire (I want)” can quickly become “a demand (I will have).” “The demand” further “puts expectations on the people around us (Therefore, you’d better…).” When your demand is not met, you become frustrated and “someone is going to pay.” This leads to punishing “people when we don’t get what we want – we sacrifice them on the altar of our idols.”
Intense right? But true… I desire to be uplifted by my husband. I desire to be loved. I desire to be respected. I desire kind words. These desires aren’t bad desires, and your husband should be doing this for you and showing you love and respect already. BUT… when he hurt my feelings, my desire almost instantly became a demand – I will have respect. I will have love. I expected Adam to show me respect and love, and that’s not wrong, BUT… in my sinful state of mind, I quickly decided “You had better show me love and respect always.” This is an unrealistic expectation because no man is perfect, not even my husband. Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one…” and verse 23 “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Demanding perfection isn’t Biblical. When Adam failed to be perfect in my eyes, I became frustrated and wanted to make him feel my hurt. Instead of responding lovingly and asking him why he said what he said gently or telling him softly that what he had said hurt my feelings, I punished him by snapping at him and pushing him away.
Do you see the progression? My desire slowly became an idol – it became more important to me that I received the love and respect and kind words that I thought I deserved than loving my husband as Christ loved me. In essence, my husband became an idol too – as I felt that his love was more important that God’s perfect love. In Hosea 14:4, God promises, ““I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” God is no longer angry with us because of His justice and righteousness through Christ’s perfect life on earth and His substitutionary death on the cross for us. We are no longer at odds with Him because of His love and mercy through the grace of the Cross of Christ.
James 4:1 reads, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Matthew 15:18 reminds us, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” It is from the heart that ugly sin is born, and only a renewed heart can produce pure speech and actions. My ugly actions and words toward my husband came from the sin inside my heart.
Last week I shared 2 Timothy 2:22 which says, “So flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” I encouraged you to pray this verse over your husband, but this week, I challenge you to pray this over yourself. You cannot have a godly marriage if you do not pursue godliness in your own relationship with Jesus Christ. You cannot have peace in your relationship with your spouse until you have the peace of God in your heart and peace with God.
Talk about practicing what you preach! I wasn’t very righteous, loving, or peaceful with my husband. You are not alone in your struggle if you have a short temper like I do. I’m learning as I go, even as I’m writing this. I don’t have it altogether and I do fail. But I still have hope! And so do you!
Remembering the Gospel Message
Easter is coming up – next Sunday – and this is the perfect time to pursue peace in our relationships. I am constantly reminded of the beauty of the Gospel message – the perfect peace it brings to my heart that surpasses understanding, and the love Christ has for us. This is what will keep you from stumbling into discord, from flying out of control downhill like a train without brakes: remembering the Gospel message.
1. We’ve been made alive! Our debt has been canceled!
Colossians 2:13 reminds us that: “When you were dead in your sins… God made you alive with Christ.”
2. Our debt has been canceled!
Colossians 2:13-14 continues to say, “… He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
3. We’ve been forgiven!
Ephesians 4:31-32 challenges us to: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Next time you’re headed head-first into discord…
Remember who you are and where you’ve come from, but also remember the Gospel message to which we’ve been called. Through Christ, we are freed from the penalty for sin – death and eternity without God, but don’t use this freedom to take advantage of God’s grace. Galatians 5:13-15 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
I don’t think any of us are out to destroy our husbands, or anyone for that matter. But bickering, arguing, criticism, and hateful words will destroy your marriage over time. Remember Proverbs 21:9? Don’t be a quarrelsome wife. Don’t give into the desires of your flesh – your sense of entitlement – which is false and unBiblical. God calls us to “serve one another humbly in love…” to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart; put on the love everyday just as you would essential parts of your wardrobe- because this promotes unity.
Take the Challenge:
A great passage to memorize and meditate on:
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities (your husband is your head – he is an authority over you), to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one (speak badly about your husband to anyone), to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone (including your husband). At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another (this is where we came from). But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (this is who we are) This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good (devote yourself to doing good toward your husband). These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:1-8).
This Week’s Prayer:
For women of faith: Lord, You are most worthy of all my praise! I confess that I have not always been kind or gentle in my speech, that I have hurt others with my words, and that I have made my desires into idols. I pray that You would make me aware of the idols in my life that are taking the place of true worship of You. Lord, may my speech and actions be a blessing to others.
For married women: Lord, I pray that you would equip me to submit to my husband respectfully and obediently. I pray that when he fails me or hurts me that I would remember your love and forgiveness, and extend the same grace to him that you have given me. Give me the gentleness of heart when I need to confront my husband and tell him that his words/actions have hurt me. I pray that I wouldn’t make anything an idol over You – not even my husband, not even my desires. Lord, may the words of my mouth and my actions honor and uplift my husband.
To see the introduction to this series on Peace, read Jump on the Peace Train.