Devotion #39

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

Love is demonstrated most when the person who has the Message absorbs the difficulty in the relationship with a person who doesn’t have the Message. This statement shifted my perspective of those difficult relationships in my life. When we are in relationship with unbelievers, or even believers who have not yet grown in areas that we have grown, if we are the ones who are in the more mature position in our understanding of the Message, then we are to absorb the difficulty. We are to resolve the conflict, forgive the offense, take the first step, send the first text. We are the ones who should make the move when there is relational strife, even when we are the ones who have been wronged…especially when we are the ones who have been wronged. 

I think that’s hard enough to do when we are in relationship with difficult people, but even harder when that relationship is our spouse. When we live day in and day out with the same person, their weakness can become magnified in our eyes. It can grow to a size that it blocks out those traits we fell in love with in the first place. We think we would never treat them the way they treat us, and we justify our responses based on what we think we deserve. We pray and pray for their change, but our hearts grow colder and colder as they harden over wound after wound created by the weaknesses and temptations of our spouse. 

What if we halted the progress down that dangerous path and just absorbed the difficulty in the relationship? What if we chose to be like Christ in the relationship and turn the other cheek, recognizing our spouse is struggling with a weakness they don’t know how to manage yet? What if we stopped making the assumption that just because we can see it, they should be able to see it? Love is demonstrated when we absorb the injury, and weaknesses are illuminated most when love is demonstrated. In other words, if you want your spouse to see their weakness, respond to their harshness with kindness—not the passive aggressive kind of kindness, but a true kindness born out of a supernatural grace. Just as Jesus loved us and transformed our hearts, you can choose to love your spouse to change. 

I have such a tendency to want to push my point when I’ve been wronged, but the truth is that it is rare for people to  come to an understanding of anything at the end of a shaking finger. Love is demonstrated when we let it go. We can be the ones who absorb the tension and the difficulty. We can be the ones who love unconditionally, even when our spouse makes choices or responds in ways that are unloving. We must recognize the importance of our response in these relationships. 

Our response—whatever it is—will lead them in their understanding of the Message. If our response is unloving, and we are claiming to represent Christ, we teach them that our God loves conditionally. If our response is loving, then we teach them about the steadfast, unconditional love of God. 

My deepest desire is that all will come to know and understand the love of God, even those people with whom I struggle to be in relation, and those standing by watching my marriage. I want all to see the love of Christ in my life, so I am working on intentionally choosing to absorb the difficulties.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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