What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?James 4:1 ESV
James Chapter 4 has one of the clearest and most honest discussions of conflict in relationships in the bible. We all experience strife in our marriages, and we always want it to be the other person’s fault. The hard truth is that our relationships struggle because we ALL of us carry something destructive into the marriage—not only the other person, but us as well. We all carry sin into our relationships.
Sin causes us to be self-absorbed and self-focused because it causes us to live for ourselves. The hope for our relationships is not found in us, or in that other person changing, the hope is found in God’s grace.
If you follow James 4 down to verse 6, you will see how our God resolves this problem—He gives more grace. There is grace for every hurtful moment. He gives us enough grace to cover the multitude of times we will be sinned against by our spouses, and all those times we sin against others.
Many of us struggle with incredible hurts from people who have sinned against us, and far too often that person is our spouse. It is heartbreaking to watch people walk through the hurt caused by another person’s sin; it can cause us to question God’s goodness or His judgment. It can make us think we have a right to take judgment into our own hands and hand out consequences to our spouses when they sin against us. As deep as those hurts are, our failure to forgive and our desire to hand out punishments is great wickedness. God knows our hearts so well that He reminds us of this truth over and over in scripture:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:37-38 ESV
It’s so easy to judge our spouses when hurt us—that’s why God includes verses about judgment right next to forgiveness in scripture. Once we have been hurt by someone, big or small, we have a tendency to keep them locked in the box of who they were when they offended us. We decide our spouses are uncaring or thoughtless, we decide they are untrustworthy or disrespectful, so we hand out punishments. We throw harsh words in their direction or worse, we stop communicating with them altogether. These judgments form the basis for every one of our interactions in the future, and we become quick to assume the worst in unrelated events.
But we are told to forgive—unconditionally. Jesus tells us to forgive everyone, for everything. Whether your spouse has been rude to you after a long and difficult day, or they deeply offended you with a betrayal, whether their words were harsh or cruel or they have violated your trust, we are called to forgive.
And how do we do that? We follow His example of giving greater grace. We show grace for the imperfections that exist in our spouse’s heart, and we trust that God will reveal their sin to them in His perfect timing. In the meantime, we need to let them out of the box. We don’t judge their heart and make assumptions about their motives or feelings; we show grace. And when we’ve been hurt again, we show greater grace than the first time.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗