Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Building Character into Your Marriage

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt


The majority of all people that I know face challenges of one kind or another - financial, relational, physical, mental, and more.

Whenever we face challenges, we face pressure. When I think of personal pressure, I think of a force pressing down on me. You know what it's like when you squeeze a toothpaste tube. Toothpaste comes out. When pressure is put on us, what is inside of us comes out. What comes out of us under pressure is what's inside of us. As we've all learned - that is sometimes good and sometimes not so good!

Early on in my marriage with Renee, immaturity is what was in us. When pressure came, immaturity is what came out. We never knew how to respond correctly to pressure. We would only react. We both reacted in different ways but almost none of our reactions were good. If you would have been watching us at times like that, you would have easily thought, "They sure don't love each other." That couldn't have been further from the truth. We loved each other very much. So why didn't it seem like it or why didn't we act like it? It had to do with what was in us.

When I was squeezed back then, all of my pre-Jesus old man that had not yet been transformed by the Holy Spirit, would ooze out of me. The same with Renee. What do I mean by "old man?" We can get a better idea reading in Ephesians 4:21-24 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, put off your old man - your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Holy Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy."

What came out of Renee and I at that time, was not our new nature in Christ. It was a horrible combination of knee-jerk reaction, emotion, and undeveloped character. It wasn't that Renee and I didn't love each other. We just hadn't let Jesus be formed in us enough to get rid of the old way of communicating. Did that work against us? Of course it did! What kept us together? Knowing that WE DID love each other and that we needed God's help in communicating better. We wanted our marriage not only to succeed, but also to be a blessed marriage of God. So how did we turn around our marriage? We learned a valuable lesson from the wisdom of a verse on giving that we applied to our marriage. The verse says, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”(Prov 11:24-25)
Most people think, "hold on to what you have and you'll end up with plenty. Give away much of what you have and you'll have little less." This verse says the opposite of that. It says, hold on to what you have and you end up with nothing! Give liberally and somehow you miraculously end up with more, AND you get refreshed in the process!

The same thing can happen when fighting breaks out between two people. When communication is going lousy and a couple is verbally beating each other up, each will pull back and withdraw. Each person wants to fight for his or her position of being right. Neither wants to apologize and work toward forgiveness. If you want to learn God's supernatural way of turning things around, then apply today's verse in giving. Instead of withdrawing and defending the position of being right and thereby withholding love - change direction and give love more liberally! Now that is a unique way to respond to pressure!

There were times when Renee and I had a fight. I knew the Word said, "be angry but sin not." I knew the Word said, "Don’t let the sun go down in your anger lest bitterness set in." I knew the Word said, "If you want forgiveness from God then you have to forgive." I knew that the Word said that "where there was strife, there was every evil work of Satan." I knew the right thing to do but wanted to withdraw, not do the right thing. But, I knew as the head of my house, I had to or we would end up in disaster. I did what today's verse said; instead of fighting to win the fight or argument, I gave love more liberally. I asked Renee to forgive me and tried to make things right. Even if she didn't want to forgive right away, I just kept telling her I was sorry and how wonderful she was. I'd sow the seeds of love liberally. "Honey, you were right, I was wrong." "I love you so much; all I want to do is get this right between us and love you more." I would just keep on this path. Love is hard to resist and pretty soon she'd soften, we'd make up. No one said it would be easy and it wasn't. We both had to swallow a lot of pride. Doing things wrong is hard work with lousy results. Doing things right is hard work with good results.

Before long, character was built within each of us. We learned to respond in a loving way. And when pressure came - love flowed even more liberally! And we'd be refreshed with an ongoing blessed and happy marriage!

Luke 6:38 (NLT) Give, and you will receive... "

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

Published by Pastor Tim Burt

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