How do you treat your wife? Do you consider her your fellow-heir in Christ, your helper and closest ally against life’s adversities? Or are there times when you turn and unleash friendly fire, as it were, on her?
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28)
Marriage is somewhat of an enigma. Frequently, we come into this relationship thinking it’ll be easier than it will. Then, as years pass and experience teaches us not to expect a smooth ride it actually gets better, partly because of our own greater maturity and partly because God has allowed us the wisdom to actually make it work. Yet, the stresses of life being what they are, there are times at any point in a marriage when husbands can loose track of the fact that their wives are on their team.
Each of us is impacted by our daily interactions with other people, with financial and health burdens, and with the expectations of those around us. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to be someone’s punching bag at work or elsewhere and come home and take it out on our family, even though they had nothing to do with what is going on and do, indeed, suffer because of us. And while outbursts of anger are a consequence of our sin nature, God takes them very seriously–so seriously, in fact, that He says those who exhibit behavior like this as an ongoing way of life will not inherit His kingdom:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT)
But what if you want to act differently, but still struggle with this? Consider Paul’s argument to the Roman Christians:
“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans 6:16 NLT)
God is telling us that in and through Christ–with the power He provides–we have a choice; we have the free will to reject our sinful urges. We no longer have to be a slave to our sin:
“So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master…” (Romans 6:11-14 NLT)
But how, specifically, do we stop this particular sin? The answer is a combination of a practical application of the wisdom God gives, prayer, and faithfully reading and applying His Word.
So first, if there is a particular situation that is causing you undue stress and you can do something about it, do so. Perhaps it is time to find another job, or cut down on activities that drain your time and energy. Give yourself enough time to sleep; make an effort to eat enough healthy food. In other words, structure your life so that you are not always at the end of your rope, if at all possible.
Secondly, we need to pray. Jesus promised, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13 NIV) Our heavenly Father is glorified when we, as Christ’s followers ask what is pleasing to Him. Asking for the power to not sin certainly pleases Him!
Finally, we need to remain in Christ–continue reading and applying His Word as found in the Bible faithfully–because this is the only way we can do anything truly worthwhile:
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:3, 4, 16 NIV)
Help us not live according to our sinful urges, but according to You. Help us “…consider…[ourselves] dead to the power of sin and alive to God” through You, Christ Jesus. We ask because this is what You want for us–in Your name–and we know that You will do it. Amen.