"Now of course you know she has problems…" I remember hearing this said about a certain woman. It was as if her "problems" categorized her. Period!
This morning I read an excerpt from Gary Thomas’ new book, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. He writes concerning our temptation to see others as worse sinners than ourselves:
Humans arguing about who is holier is like a couple of twenty five handicap golfers fighting over which one of them can drive the ball farther–while Tiger Woods watches over their shoulder. We’re all so many degrees below God’s standard of perfection that even the holiest of humans is in desperate, aching need of God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness.
While we tend to rank certain sins, in the glory of God’s goodness every mark of sin–whether an errant attitude, a prideful spirit, or a lust of the flesh–is vile and offensive in his sight. I’ve seen wives who abuse food disdain husbands who struggle pornography; I’ve seen controlling and arrogant husbands disdain wives who watch too much television. Both seem blinded to their own shortcomings.
We’ve not called to judge our spouses–ever; we are called to love them. We are not called to recount their failures in a Pharisaic game of "I’m holier than you"; we’re called to encourage them…
Sometimes, we get so focused on one thing:
"Well I just don’t like her language."
"He has a way of reminding everyone of his successes."
"She needs to be at home more."
The truth is, we are all flawed, sinful, imperfect human beings. Thomas goes on to suggest that we pray for people whose flaws are so apparent to us.
Are you spending more time asking God how you can love your spouse like he or she has never been or ever will be loved, or are you endlessly repeating your spouse’s failures and presenting God with a laundry list of things you want him to change?
1. I need to stay focused on the "plank" in my own eye instead of "the speck of sawdust" in another’s eye (Luke 6:41:42). (Surely that includes our spouses).
2. When I do see a "plank" (something that is obviously wrong) in someone else’s eye, I need to pray that I will genuinely love that person. (Sure I will pray that this person will change. However, I need to be praying that God will help me to show an incredible love toward this person. (Again, surely that ought to include our own husbands and wives).
3. Beware of a critiquing mentality. Some of us constantly "size up" one another. We get overly focused on how others don’t measure up. Instead the focus should be on how God might use me to encourage another. (That might make an incredible difference at home. Instead of spending each evening steamed about my spouse’s faults, I might need to be thinking, "How can I encourage her?")