In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, we explore the importance of turning the other cheek and discuss how this non-combative approach to dealing with tense situations can produce positive results.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.Matthew 7:5
When a spouse has made the decision to turn against you and the Lord by abandoning the vows made before God, it’s a natural instinct to point the finger of blame. But how many of us pause and take a look at our own lives, which in many cases, played a role in cultivating an environment conducive to marital disaster? The realization of my own contribution to our marital demise came far too late for me, because for years I was consumed with judging my spouse’s actions and not my own. Sadly, this delay in spiritual self-awareness exacted a heavy toll on our family, marriage and my relationship with Christ.
At the beginning of my stand, I remember being focused on what my wife was doing and how she was acting. Early on, my conversations with others typically involved describing her behavior and painting myself as a victim. It was so very clear to me that what she was doing was wrong, but it wasn’t until I began really diving into Scripture that I realized my focus and attention was off base. The eyes of scrutiny had been aimed in the wrong direction. I was so focused on my spouse, that I had grown blind to my own iniquities.
Through the course of Biblical counseling, and intentional quiet times with the Lord, I began to understand how misguided this perspective was. Correcting my flawed point of view meant turning the eyes of scrutiny completely on myself and allowing the Lord to expose the parts of my own life that had not fallen under complete submission to the Holy Spirit. When I was able to stop focusing on the actions of my spouse and instead became more aware of my own sin and shortcomings, my heart and mind gradually became transformed. This metamorphosis was not something accomplished on my own. To be clear, without a steady diet of Gospel truth and transparent conversations with the God, my spirit would have no doubt remained the same. Of this I am certain.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
The path to restoration and healing is never paved with bitterness and resentment. If you recognize your own heart is filled with animosity towards your spouse, with the help of the Holy Spirit, purpose right now to change. Relationships are reconciled and grievances forgiven when both parties put off anger and instead put on love and compassion. You may not be able to control or suppress the malice directed towards you at this point, but over time, the transforming power of Christ exhibited in your own life will produce seeds that will one day bear fruit. As God’s Word tells us, do not grow tired or weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap if we faint not. May we all learn to focus our efforts on becoming more like Christ through the examination of our own hearts and minds. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you today and when conviction sets in, purpose to set your thoughts, words, and deeds under the full submission of God and His holy Word.
Let’s be honest. Initiating divorce proceedings in order to dissolve a marriage only comes after an individual has predetermined the guilt of the other party. Whether the offense is rooted in infidelity, emotional abuse, or financial impropriety, the situation nearly always results with one spouse concluding that enough is enough, and it is time for justice to be served.
This righteous indignation possessed by so many pursuing divorce is something witnessed on a routine basis in our culture. Nearly everyday we see examples of “outrage mobs” screaming from the rooftops over issues that according to them, are more important than anything the world has ever faced. There is no negotiating, no compromise and no reasoning with these people. The only thing that brings satisfaction is for “justice” to be brought immediately. These individuals aren’t content to see a simple slap on the wrist. There needs to be pain, suffering and reproach brought upon the targets of their wrath. They want to see lives crushed and destroyed. They want vengeance and they want it now.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.2 Timothy 3:1-5
Reading this passage accurately describes what we are seeing all around us. When it comes to divorce, at least in western society, the rates have never been higher. Why is this? How do people arrive at the point where hearts have become so hardened that dissolving the bonds of holy matrimony becomes the ultimate prize? Quite frankly, it’s not hard to understand. Once you acknowledge how wicked our hearts are apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is little in terms of surprise relating to how deep our sins can take us.
Years ago while standing for my marriage and fighting against divorce, I remember seeing in my covenant spouse an anger I had never seen before. She had become single minded of purpose to undo what had been done. Not to excuse her wrath or sense or vengeance at the time, but I now recognize that so much of what I felt and experienced stemmed from her deep sense of hurt and sadness. She had been deeply wounded and for years kept the pain bottled up. Over time, the suffering and grief turned into something dark and sinister. She demanded justice. There was a price to be paid for the anguish I put her through. It became her mission to make sure I was punished and that I tasted the same bitter fruit she had eaten for years.
For me, there was absolutely nothing I could do to assuage her anger. I was guilty on all counts. No acts of remorse or apologies could quench her thirst for justice. The ironic thing at the time was that while pursuing the divorce, she was claiming to have a close relationship with God. She even went so far as to say she had forgiven me. Of course, none of this was true. She was deceived and being held captive by the enemy and was simply repeating Satan’s lies. The devil played on her vulnerability and tricked her into believing that exacting vengeance on me would bring her happiness and restitution. Thankfully, the Lord rescued her heart and set her free from the strongholds of bitterness and division. I thank God for the work only He could do.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.Romans 12:9
While the pursuit of justice is something worthwhile and honorable, Christians must understand that when it comes to this matter, our job is not to take measures into our own hands. If you have been hurt by your loved one and have endured heartache and suffering due to your spouse’s sin, do not fall into the trap of unforgiveness. Pursuing an ungodly divorce places you in the role of judge, jury and executioner. None of these roles define what we as Bible believing Christians are called to be. Instead of giving into the flesh and pursuing your own sense of justice, I challenge you to put on love, patience, endurance and longsuffering. The Lord Jesus provided the template for how we should live. May we remember His example the next time we embark upon a “so called” mission of justice.