Sometimes, I really love to take a verse and apply it specifically to my marriage. Somehow, it has so much more impact for me when I do that.
This instruction in I Peter 3:8-9 is for all believers, in all situations. I love the wisdom God gives us. It is LIFE-GIVING, FREEDOM-PRODUCING and INCREDIBLY POWERFUL when we apply it, embrace it and determine to live by it, asking God to empower us to do these things. I am inserting my husband’s name here – but please insert your own husband’s name – or the name of anyone else for whom you want to learn to love with God’s love.
BE LIKE-MINDED WITH GREG
Obviously, I can’t be like minded with sinful things. But in areas where I can be like-minded – I can strive for unity, relationship, emotional/spiritual oneness, a team-spirit.
When I say “strive for unity” – let me clarify. I used to think of unity as him changing his mind to agree with me – since I was always right, and all. Yep. Seriously. That is how I thought. Now I know that striving for unity involves ME going towards HIM and seeking to understand him better and look for the wisdom in his unique perspective. And, ultimately – I pray for God to make us one mind in Christ – in God’s way, not mine.
One thing that has really helped me is to ask questions and learn how Greg thinks. IT IS SO DIFFERENT FROM HOW I THINK! The more I understand how his mind works and what it means to be a man – the more I can stand in awe and wonder of God’s design for him instead of being angry that he is not me. Shaunti Feldhahn’s book For Women Only greatly facilitated my understanding of Greg and of other men. That gave me a place to begin asking questions – in a friendly, caring way – not an interrogating way. And it helped me get into his shoes and see the world more from his perspective. How I wish I could experience life in his mind and body for a day or two – how amazing would that be!?! But since I can’t do that – I can ask respectful, gentle questions about how he thinks, how he processes his emotions, how he feels, how he sees life and I can appreciate his unique masculine perspective and allow it to broaden my own understanding of the world.
BE SYMPATHETIC TOWARDS GREG
If he says/does something hurtful – I can assume the best instead of the worst. I can find out if he had a bad day or if he is sick, tired, hungry or in pain. I can ask if I did something disrespectful. I can listen to him talk about his work and his day and the concerns on his mind – and offer empathy and sympathy to him. I can seek to understand his mindset and perspective instead of assuming he did something because he “obviously doesn’t love me.”
I can accept that he is an imperfect human being just like me and that is ok.
I Corinthians 13:4-8 – I love to put my name in those verses. This is how God loves us and this is how He wants me to love Greg:
April is patient,
April is kind.
She does not envy
She does not boast,
She is not proud.
She does not dishonor others,
She is not self-seeking,
She is not easily angered,
She keeps no record of wrongs.
April does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
April always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This is the kind of love God desire me to have for my husband and for everyone! I need His Spirit to fill me with His power to be able to do this! I cannot love like this on my own.
BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS GREG
I can have a huge supply of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness at the ready for Greg – and for other people – because of the massive quantity of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness God has lavished on ME! I have been forgiven MUCH… so I can love much. I can love God much and I can love people much and I can extend the gifts God has given me to others.
BE HUMBLE TOWARDS GREG
I can admit that
- I am a big time sinner.
- I am not always right.
- I do not possess all the wisdom of the universe.
- God DOES possess all the wisdom in the universe
- Greg has wisdom, too.
- God may be trying to teach me or lead me through Greg if I will listen. Since He did place Greg over me as my protector, leader and provider and all. 🙂 (I Cor 11:3)
- My way is not necessarily “better than” his.
- He is not automatically “wrong” just because he thinks differently from the way I think.
- He may have a different idea about what God’s will is than I do – and he may be right!
DO NOT REPAY GREG WITH EVIL WHEN HE HURTS YOU
If he rolled over and went to sleep without cuddling with me, saying goodnight or kissing me – I used to take that as a very clear sign that “he doesn’t love me!” Now I know it means, “he’s really tired.” So there is no reason to plot revenge. Later, when he is awake and not exhausted – I can say (in a pleasant tone of voice and with a smile on my face), “It means so much to me when you cuddle with me, tell me good night and give me a kiss before you turn out the lights at night.” But, if he forgets – I can assume the best and I can put my hand on his back and bless him and silently pray for him with gratitude.
What if he injured me in a really big way? What if he was dishonest about our finances, or what if he was unfaithful to me, or what if he spread lies about me and destroyed my reputation with my family or at church? (He has not done these things, by the way, they are illustrations only!)
It would be so tempting to lash out at him and want to hurt him, too.
That is what I tried to do the first summer we were married.
- I felt ignored, neglected, unloved and rejected.
- I wanted him to hurt like I hurt.
- I did everything I could to try to make him hurt so he would see how hurt I was and he would fix it.
Guess what the results were?
We were BOTH very hurt.
My hurting him did not make my hurts heal. It just destroyed him.
That is why God says not to repay evil with evil. It is destructive! This is why Jesus says for us to leave room for God to take revenge and let Him repay others for their evil as we seek to do good to those who hurt us.
That does not mean I have to trust him – if he was unfaithful or is severely addicted to drugs or something major was going on. But I can ask God to empower me to purpose to do good and to bless Greg even when I believe he has hurt me.
DO NOT INSULT GREG WHEN HE INSULTS YOU
If Greg says something hateful to me, my sinful nature wants to get right down off that cross and say something hateful right back at him. In fact, I am pretty good at that. If we are going to have a “war of words” – I could easily dominate him and “win.”
Yep! I “won” many verbal battles in the past!
Guess what happened then?
- My husband shut me out of his heart and unplugged from our marriage and our family.
Somehow, that just doesn’t seem so much like a “win” anymore to me.
If he insults me – that is wrong. But,
- Can I maybe try asking a few questions to be sure I understand correctly before I take offense?
- Maybe I misunderstood him?
- Maybe he has had a really hard day?
- Maybe he is allowing his sinful nature to rule his life and tongue right now?
I do not have to respond to sin with more sin. Gary Thomas, “Sacred Marriage,” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against.”
Guess what awesome thing happens when I do not insult my husband in return?
- He is left thinking about HIS sin instead of my sin. That is much more likely to convict him! If I lash out back and insult him – now I have given him ammunition to use against me and plenty of things to think about how justified he was in insulting me. Not good!
- When God empowers me to respond in His power – by saying, “Ouch” (like Laura Doyle suggests in The Surrendered Wife), or “That sounded unloving to me, did I come across disrespectfully just now?” (Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in Love and Respect) or maybe God wants me to say words of blessing or maybe I just need to quietly leave the room – then God has a much easier job of convicting him.
REPAY GREG’S EVIL TOWARDS YOU WITH BLESSING
This takes some prayer and intentional thought sometimes. But if you don’t know how to bless your husband in a situation like this – ask God. Pray earnestly. He will show you how to do it.
One wife I read about had an argument the night before. Her husband didn’t resolve the argument but went to sleep. The wife didn’t sleep all night – she was so upset about the hurtful things her husband had said to her. She prayed fervently that God might inspire her how she could bless her husband instead of repaying him with evil. God prompted her in the morning to make breakfast in bed for her husband even though he had not apologized and had said some unkind things.
When this husband saw his wife’s kindness and blessing – he was overcome with guilt and quickly apologized on his own for his hateful words the night before.
God’s ways are FAR above our ways!
WHY???? WHY SHOULD I BE THE ONE TO HAVE TO DO ALL THIS STUFF AND HE GETS TO SIN AGAINST ME AND HE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS HARD STUFF AT ALL?
“… because to this you were called so that YOU may inherit a blessing.” I Peter 3:9
I am the one who benefits here. That is how our amazing God works. We are blessed when we obey Him.
- Greg will benefit when I obey God because I will be responding in the power of the love of God instead of in a sinful way.
- I will benefit because God blesses my obedience and faith in Him.
- God benefits because He is honored and glorified.
- Other people outside of my marriage will benefit because my marriage will exalt God.
- My children will benefit.
- My coworkers will benefit.
- Those around me will see a godly example and benefit.
Who knows how far the impact may reach when I say, “Yes, Lord” and obey what God calls me to do?
The Respect Dare – DARE 24:
Seek to understand your husband’s intent and what he is really trying to say. From Nina “Before you say your opinion, say, ‘If I hear you correctly, you are saying…;” Then strive to understand and listen. Make your biggest goal be about understanding your husband (and others). Be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry! Be sure you understand others VERY clearly before saying anything yourself.
If the other person said something insulting – then be even more careful to really understand them and be sure you heard correctly before responding. Pray for God to empower you to listen well and to think carefully before saying anything – and to give you wisdom to respond with blessing. Seek to do good to your husband and to others.
How is the Respect Dare going for you?
What is God teaching you in your walk with Christ and in your marriage? (whether you are doing the Respect Dare or not)