Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:1-2 ESV
This verse reminds us of one of the most important truths in scripture—we need each other. God created us to live in community with one another because He knows our heart’s tendency toward deceitfulness. He knows that on our own, we will never see the evil that exists in our own hearts; we are blind to it. We have no problem seeing the evil in other people’s hearts, but we just don’t see the evil in our own. So, God designed marriage as a way to refine us, to help us clearly see our own hearts. We need our spouses to hold us accountable, and we need them to confront us with the truth about what’s in our hearts. Without that exhortation, we will not grow in the ways He calls us to grow.
The problem is that when we are confronted with the truth, our initial response is defensive. We use comparisons and excuses as a way to shift the focus off our issues, holding a hand up to the truth they’re sharing. We just don’t want to acknowledge what our spouse sees in us. Then, we often withdraw in anger, nursing our wounds by continuing to justify why our spouse is wrong and running through a list of why we’re not as they see us.
It can be so hard to listen with a humble, softened heart. When we have a humble heart, we are obedient to what we are taught, regardless of who God chooses as our instructor or what God chooses to instruct. This is how we see change in those stubborn areas; this is how we release our strongholds. Scripture reminds us in numerous places to humble ourselves because that’s how we reap His blessings, but that just goes against the self-preserving nature of our hearts. God knows this. He knows our tendency toward self-protection, so he gives us these reminders to approach one another with a spirit of gentleness. In other words, we can help our spouse along the path of transformation if we heed Paul’s advice and ensure our confrontation is gentle.
Gentleness is an inward calmness and a peace with God. We achieve gentleness when we completely surrender to God’s will and His way in our lives. A true spirit of gentleness is simply not achievable without the grace of Holy Spirit washing over us. You know a spirit of gentleness has taken hold of your heart when you see the storm raging, but know with confidence that He is at work and your heart is at peace. It is that inexplicable calmness or peace when chaos surrounds you; it is the confidence that He is with you and He is sovereign over every difficult circumstance, over every battle you face. In order to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our souls with gentleness, we not only need to stop fighting God’s plan and submit our will to His, we need to confess our desire to take control. We need to humble ourselves first—before we approach our spouse, choosing not to be prideful or arrogant, or demanding in any way.
In order to approach our spouse with a spirit of gentleness, we must fully surrender our expectations and our need to control the behavior that offended us. We do not approach them with any expectation of an apology or even acknowledgment for the wrong. We think of their feelings before our own and we try to imagine their situation or why they may be caught in a sin. We remember they are as blind to their sin as we are blind to ours, and we choose words that are kind and loving. We don’t act superior when we point out their transgression, but instead we are humble and low and meek.
If we cannot approach our spouse with this kind of gentle attitude, then we shouldn’t be addressing a sin issue with them—not yet. If we carry any resentment or bitterness against their sin in our hearts, if we carry any hurt or offense in our hearts, then we should not be approaching them. We first need to resolve the conflict in our own heart. Our goal should never be to condemn our spouse in their sin, but to restore their relationship with God and with us. Our goal is not to make them feel bad about what they did. No one has ever grown closer to Christ at the end of a wagging finger.
God can bring us a spirit of gentleness when we have been hurt or offended. When we go to Him first, and seek His Spirit to fill us with His supernatural gentleness, He allows us to be used by Him to restore our spouse to a right relationship with Christ.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗