Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creative Counterpart - Inherit a Blessing

Finally, I'm back with another look at the book, "Creative Counterpart," by Linda Dillow. I'm sorry it's been so long since the last entry. I guess I should have looked at my vacation schedule a little earlier!

I have to say that this week's chapter, "Inherit a Blessing," is one of my favorites in the book. It's one that can radically affect your marriage as well as every other relationship in your life.

Have you ever noticed that for some women, listing out their husband's faults is much, much easier (not to mention satisfying!) than taking note of and mentioning their strong points? Sadly we often revel in going over and over their faults, while never noticing our own. Today's post is about our responses to things which our husbands may do that hurt us.

Some women take the approach of returning insult for insult. It's a very natural response. When we are hurt, we tend to lash out. If we are offended, we want to hurt the one who caused us pain. However, God has a better way.

"Finally, all of you live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9

God is telling us that when we are offended we need to step back, take a deep breath and make a choice. A choice to not escalate the situation. A choice to show love. A choice to follow Christ's example of love and forgiveness on the Cross.

It's not easy. We live in a world that constantly tells us to stand up for our rights, to demand what's ours, to demand respect. All of which is completely contrary to Scripture. Now, I'm not saying to be a doormat. What I'm saying is to choose to keep in mind that all of us sin and to extend the grace to others which you would want extended to you. Probably, yes, this may lead you to be taken advantage of from time to time. I can't promise you that your husband will suddenly be kind and sensitive. But I can tell you that you will be obeying God's will and living in accordance with His desires, which brings peace.

People who refuse to respond with a blessing often find themselves living lives of bitterness, refusing to forgive. They become hardened and resentful and cannot see good in their lives. This is not God's plan or desire for anyone. Choosing to respond with blessings can lift those burdens from us and free us in ways we never imagined.

Responding with a blessing involves three things: the restraint of the tongue, a decision of the will to turn from evil and do good, and an inner attitude that says, "I will seek peace and pursue it."

So how do we do it? How do we retrain ourselves to respond to hurts with blessings? Let's look at what Christ did.

1) We are to have no sin - Think about what Christ when through as He was mocked, scourged, humiliated, beaten, and finally put to death. If anyone had a right to lash out, it was He. And yet, He didn't. He responded with prayers of forgiveness. Yes, He was sinless, but it should draw us to look upon our own hearts and see where we may be wrong. Perhaps we have done something that has hurt the one offending us. Perhaps we are actually the one that needs to ask forgiveness. Take time to honestly search yourself and see if we have any fault in the matter.

2) We are to make a purposeful decision that we will return a blessing for an insult - No, it may not come naturally, but many things that are good for us don't. Exercise, eating well, going to bed at a healthy time. All of these require a decision of the will. It's the same thing. When you determine in advance what your response will be, you have time to think it out and can be prepared and have half the battle won.

When the offense actually happens, take that time to step back and breathe deeply. Remember the good things about your husband. Stay silent while you consider what to say and how to respond. Don't just spout off the first thing that comes to mind - it will often be said out of anger. Remember, that James tells us to be "swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." Once you have made that decision that you will indeed return a blessing instead, try to find a way to bless him - pray for him, praise him, thank him for something he's done.

3) Commit yourself and your situation to the Lord - Trust the situation to the God, just as Jesus did. He did not try to prove Himself right or defend Himself. Allow God to take care of you and what you need. Give thanks - not necessarily for the situation, but for the good that God will bring out of it. Choose to withdraw from the battle so that God can fight for us.

4) Be willing to suffer in order to heal - Perhaps there are greater problems in your marriage than the small slight. By choosing to consistently respond with a blessing, you can begin to heal the larger hurts in your marriage. Showing your husband unconditional love will heal his heart towards you and may make your marriage stronger than it ever was. Yes, in the short term, it may be difficult to swallow your pride and not return with an insult, but it can offer you greater hope than the tit for tat routine many of us fall into.

My prayer for you (and for myself) is that we learn to be gracious and grace-filled with our husbands. Learning to overlook minor slights and to choose to love them and bless them regardless can have a tremendous impact on our lives and marriages, not to mention on our relationship with our God.


Debbie said...

These are excellent points. There are times when responding in love is so hard and contrary to my flesh and what the world says to do. I don't want to be a doormat. But I do find that my husband loves when I notice things he's doing that are good and when I tell him so. He's like a little kid. I heard Beth Moore say to "tattle on people to God". I like that because sometimes I need to get it off my chest and yet don't want to be blabbing about what someone did to hurt me. I tell the Lord and then choose to forgive. God knows what actually happened and instead I'll trust Him.

Robert said...

What a wonderful post. I needed to hear this...especially with my hubby being gone right now. It is much easier to give into bitterness than it is to bless him.



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