Sparks in the Home (Part 2)

SPARKS IN THE HOME I. Married couples may expect to undergo trying times in their relationships. 1CO 7:28. A. Trials that come against a couple from outside sources tend to bring the couple closer together. B. It is the trial that develops in the battle of wills within the marriage that drives couples apart. II. Marital conflict can be a useful tool in maintaining mutual respect and enforcing mutual accountability. PRO 27:17. A. Virtually noone respects a pushover. B. Conflict lets each partner know when his/her behavior is selfish and disrespectful towards the other. C. Without such conflict, one's selfish behavior can go unchecked, breeding resentment in the other that can result in an explosion of the relationship. D. Issues of discontent are better relieved by letting off a little steam before the pressure rises to a critical level. E. Respect in marriage is indeed a mutual thing. 1. Wives are to reverence their husbands. EPH 5:33. 2. Reverence: "Deep or due respect felt or shown towards a person on account of his or her position or relationship; deference." 3. Husbands are to honour their wives. 1PE 3:7. 4. Honour: "High respect, esteem or reverence, accorded to exalted worth or rank; deferential admiration or approbation." 5. Without this mutual respect a marriage is in trouble. a. The wife reverences her husband as her head, strength and savior. (1) Even though he must struggle with his own insecurities, upon his shoulders rests the solemn responsibility of leadership and supply. 1TI 5:8. (2) She should realize that he must often compete in a "dog- eat-dog" work environment which has pressures that follow him home after clocking out. (3) She should cut him slack if he doesn't ideally transition from "work-hat" to "hubby/father-hat." (4) She should think twice before handing him unnecessary extra pressures or making incessant demands. b. The husband is to give honour unto (respect/reverence) his wife "as unto the weaker vessel" (1PE 3:7). c. He should not require her to bear burdens that were not meant for her to bear. d. He should shield her from harmful influences, including his own. e. He should accept that her physical, emotional and mental make- up may very well make it difficult for her to do, feel or think as he does. f. He should realize that her defensiveness may very well be because she knows she is the weaker vessel. g. Instead of despising her for those weaknesses, he should love her and be not bitter against her. COL 3:19. h. To be bitter against a wife for being as God made her is to fault God for making her that way. i. She is to be nourished (brought up, reared, nurtured) AND cherished (held dear, treated with tenderness and affection; made much of). EPH 5:29. j. She thrives on praise and reward for good character and work and should accordingly receive such. PRO 31:28-31. k. She is poetically a garden (SON 4:12) and a garden that is not well-cared for yields little pleasure. III. If both want to please the Lord they will deem that separation is a poor option in dealing with marital conflict. 1CO 7:10-11; 1PE 3:7. IV. If help is needed in resolving marital conflict do not wait until the situation is so bad that it is either almost or altogether beyond repair. A. Counsellors are not God. 1. They are not omniscient, nor can they be. 2. They can only deal with the information they have which is often inadequate and biased. 3. A minister must strive for impartiality (1TI 5:21), so let none assume that he is automatically on his or her side in mediating conflict. B. Marriages take time to build and rebuild. Hasty solutions are unrealistic and can actually frustrate the process. C. No counsellor can resolve the conflict if either or both parties is unwilling to work at the marriage. D. As in the building enterprise of Nehemiah's day, you need the Lord AND "a mind to work" (NEH 2:20; 4:6). 1. This common "mind to work" is considerably hinged on each spouse sharing a common view as to a final source of answers. 2. It is very difficult to resolve conflict when one spouse holds to a Scriptural worldview while the other has a naturalistic perspective. 3. However, even in such handicapped arrangements there is hope. 1PE 3:1-2; 1SAM 25:17, 36-38. V. Women should acknowledge that they do have a problem submitting to their husband's authority. A. Women are to be subject to their husbands "in every thing" (EPH 5:24). 1. This is a qualified "every." It would exclude anything which would represent a clear violation of God's law or a clear and present danger to her person or family. 2. This "every" would not exclude such things as she might deem beneath her status or education. B. When conflict arises a woman needs to honestly examine herself to see if rebellion against authority is not a key factor. C. Beware of the tendency to blame the person in authority regardless of the cause when things go wrong. VI. Husbands need to remember to undergird their authority with consideration and tenderness. A man of steel can also be a man of velvet. EPH 5:25-31. A. Authority does not mean the simple right to always have your own way. 1. Pastors, men of authority, are not to be self-willed. TIT 1:7. 2. Authority is for the edification, not the destruction of those under it. 2CO 10:8; EPH 4:11-12. B. A wife needs to know that a husband's authority is being wielded for the good of herself and the children, not simply for his ego. C. A man must give his wife the consideration that he would give his own body. D. A man is to cherish his wife, which means to hold her dear, to treat her with tenderness and affection, to make much of her. E. An appeal to the wife borne of love may be a more preferable approach than dictating orders. PHM 1:8-9. F. A wise leader considers the thoughts of those under him. He knows that there is a time to give in. 1CH 13:1-4 ct/w 1KI 12:1-20. G. A wise leader will avoid impractical or unnecessary extremes in setting standards. PHIL 4:5; MAT 23:24. H. A wise leader/husband will consult with his wife on family decisions. Her perspective is valuable and her suggestions are to be considered. PRO 15:22; 1PE 3:6; GEN 21:9-12. I. The day to day order of the household rests very much on the shoulders of the woman. 1TI 5:14; TIT 2:5. 1. It is a man's responsibility to support his wife's efforts to keep an ordered home, not frustrate them by his own bad habits. 2. Men should accept that a woman has a "nesting instinct" and that time spent making and maintaining the nest in good order is time well spent. 3. A man should not impose unreasonable expectations of perfection and cleanliness upon his wife, particularly if he is not willing to lend a hand with household upkeep and chores. VII. Couples must learn to practice 1PE 3:8-11 IN marriage. A. Be pitiful and courteous to your spouse. 1. Try to understand his/her problems and feelings. 2. Seek to understand rather than pressing to be understood. B. Because you may feel you were mistreated does not justify treating your spouse the same way. Where will this ever end? Render blessing for cursing! C. "A soft answer turneth away wrath..." (PRO 15:1). VIII. Forgive, forgive, forgive. MAT 18:21-22; EPH 4:31-32. A. Forgiveness is contrasted with wrath and bitterness which only promote conflict. PRO 15:18; HEB 12:15. B. It is good to overlook one another's faults when reasonable to do so. 1. Making much of every little fault in your spouse only sends a message that is impossible for him/her to ever measure up to your expectations. This is a foolish "forcing of wrath" that guarantees strife. PRO 30:33. 2. Any relationship needs a lot of forbearance to survive. PRO 19:11; COL 3:13. 3. However, when faults cannot be passed over they must be dealt with lest grudging set in. LEV 19:17-18. C. Anger should be dealt with on a daily basis rather than being allowed to seethe. EPH 4:26. D. When you forgive, TRULY forgive from the heart and do not keep reviving the issue. MAT 18:35. 1. God forgives and forgets. HEB 10:17. 2. We are to forgive AS God forgives. EPH 4:32. 3. The wise forgiven one will not exploit this principle. E. Don't let pride stop you from admitting error. Love means always being prepared to say you're sorry. IX. Whereas strife and conflict in a marriage is to be expected and (as noted) may actually prove beneficial, if it is the defining trait of a marriage, something needs to change. A. Insistent and continual bickering is self-destructive. GAL 5:15. B. Wounds need time to heal. Wars need to come to a close. Nobody can build or live an emotionally healthy life under the pressure of continual warfare. 1. Where there is strife or warfare there is likely to be confusion. ISA 9:5; JAM 3:16. 2. Constructive co-existence is thwarted by confusion. GEN 11:7-9. C. The ongoing presence of strife is likely due to an issue that is deeper than, and underlying, the present conflict. JAM 4:1. 1. PRO 15:18. "A wrathful man stirreth up strife....." a. Governed wrath is permissible. EPH 4:26; JAM 1:19. b. The wrathful man is, by definition, FULL of wrath. He has no room for love, patience or forbearance. c. The wrathful man actually likes and foments the strife. He may perceive the strife as justification for his wrathfulness. d. This problem is not sexually unique. PRO 19:13; 21:19; 27:15. e. Such a contention-causer is a fool. PRO 18:6; 1SA 25:10-11, 25. f. Repent! COL 3:8. 2. PRO 28:25. "He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife..." c/w PRO 13:10. "Only by pride cometh contention...." a. Contention: "1. The action of contending or striving earnestly, earnest exertion, effort, endeavour. 2. The action of contending or striving together in opposition: strife, dispute, verbal controversy." b. Pride of one's authority, education, attainments, and self in general tends to make one despise others. LUK 18:9. (1) The proud person mentally downgrades or even dehumanizes those with whom he/she differs. (2) Dehumanizing one's partner somehow makes trampling on his/her rights and dignity moral. c. This basis of strife and contention shows that there is a lack of the fear of God (PRO 8:13) and the fear of God is the basis of all healthy human relationships. EPH 6:5-9; GEN 42:18. d. Charity " not puffed up" (1CO 13:4). 3. Sometimes wrath and pride masquerade as a holy indignation against perceived error. ACT 8:3; 9:1; 26:11. a. One's advocacy of righteousness must take into consideration the fact of human infirmity and also one's own weaknesses. ROM 12:3; 1CO 10:12; GAL 6:1. b. Righteousness and judgment must be tempered by the law of forbearance and mercy. COL 3:12-13; JAM 2:13. 4. PRO 10:12. "Hatred stirreth up strife...." a. If this is the reason for one partner stirring up strife, is it any wonder that the spouse may feel a lack of love in the marriage? b. This hatred may be of one's partner or of the weaknesses or failures of one's partner. c. This hatred may be of one's self due to a sin issue, a failure, an unrealized goal, regret over past sins or bad judgment calls, etc. (1) Self-loathing tends to seek relief by spreading its misery to others and dragging them into it. (2) The self-loather has likely not fully grasped the cleansing mercy of Jesus Christ. 1JO 1:9; 2:1-2. (3) Self-loathing may also spring from excessive perfectionism. (A) One may hold to an impossibly achievable standard of excellence in duty or morality and then chide himself for every little shortcoming. (B) Such perfectionism may well be due to a pride issue and/or a spirit of emulation. (4) Justified self-loathing involves repentance, not spreading one's misery. JOB 42:6. 5. HEB 12:15. "...lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you..." a. Bitter: "Characterized by intense animosity or virulence of feeling or action: virulent." b. Virulent: "fig. Violently bitter, spiteful, or malignant; full of acrimony or enmity." c. The root is bitterness; the fruit may be anything from persistent vicious verbal attacks to physical injury. d. Muhammad may think wife-beating appropriate but not Jesus Christ. (1) The Qur’an in Sura 4:34 says, “Men are the managers of the affairs of women....Those you fear may be rebellious-- -admonish; banish them to their couches and beat them.” (2) Some English translations of the Qur’an and Muslim apologists moderate the impact of such a statement, reducing it to a proverbial “slap on the wrist.” (3) But the original Arabic actually says “scourge them,” and the same Arabic word is used to describe the beating of camels and criminals. (4) Bible Christianity is not the enemy of women. It is the the salvation and exaltation of women. e. Husbands are especially to be mindful of avoiding bitterness towards their wives (COL 3:19) but bitterness is a universal problem which ALL must put away. EPH 4:31. 6. PRO 27:4. "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?" a. Where there is envy, there is likely also strife. JAM 3:14, 16. b. Rachel's envy of her fruitful sister became a source of strife between Jacob and herself. GEN 30:1-2. c. Husbands need to be cautious about envying a single man's "freedom" or another married man whose wife seems more level-headed, intelligent, vivacious, etc. than his own. d. Wives need to be cautious to not envy their husband's rule or another woman whose husband seems more virile, diligent, tender, productive, etc. than her own. e. "Do you think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" (JAM 4:5). f. "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones" (PRO 14:30). g. Remember, " envieth not..." (1CO 13:4). X. Here are some pointers for dealing with marital conflict. A. Discussion of disagreements and faults should be constructive. EPH 4:29. B. Disagreements and faults must be dealt with in an atmosphere of respect. 1. A good marriage will contain mutual respect that will be expressed. 1PE 3:7; EPH 5:33. 2. People accept criticism better from those whom they know respect them and have their best interests at heart. C. A haughty, Pharisaical attitude must be avoided. LUK 18:9; GAL 6:1. D. A spouse's good points should be acknowledged along with dealing with his/her faults. REV 2:1-7; 1CO 1:1-11. 1. This will break down defensiveness as it lets your spouse know that you are fair. 2. Defensiveness distorts perceptions and hinders mutual understanding. PRO 18:19. E. Verbal attacks should be avoided as these generate a defensive attitude in the one being attacked. PRO 15:1. F. Deal with the specific disagreement or fault. 1. Avoid the "shotgun" approach of blasting away at your spouse, hoping that at least one of many missiles will get results. 2. Trying to tackle everything at once is frustrating. 3. Each issue that is resolved gives hope for resolving others. 4. Don't expect overnight cures to long-festering problems. G. A spouse should not be confronted at a time when he/she is already tense from other pressures. H. Couples should try not to be oversensitive to the words, decisions and conduct of one another. 1. Oversensitiveness generally stems from self-centeredness. 2. True love is not self-centered and is therefore not easily provoked. 1CO 13:5. I. In addressing the perceived faults of a spouse, a most basic rule must be remembered, namely, to "love thy neighbour as thyself." MAT 22:39; 7:12. J. In the midst of conflict over a spouse's faults, don't forget to be grateful for all the good things that spouse represents to you. You could have married a Jezebel or a Nabal! XI. Love will perfectly bind a married couple. COL 3:14; 1CO 13:4-7. A. True love does not look out only for itself. It seeks the welfare of its object. 1JO 3:16. B. True love suffers long; it bears and endures. C. True love keeps believing and hoping. D. If BOTH partners have love like this in their marriage, IT WILL WORK!
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