If you missed the first post in this series…you need to click here so as not to miss the flow of today’s post.
The book, Relationships A Mess Worth Making, goes on to provide “seven tendencies of the sinful heart that are damaging to relationships, disruptive of God’s purposes, and require persistent battling. Ask yourself if any of them are evident in your [marriage]…” (NOTE: The Scripture references are all taken from Ephesians chapter 4).
I might add that it takes a willingness to be gut-level honest with yourself as you evaluate whether or not any of these tendencies are evident in your heart. Your marriage is worth such vulnerability, and it is how your relationship goes to the next level of intimacy.
1. The tendency toward self-indulgence (vv. 19-24). My behavior in the relationship is driven by what I want and not God’s purpose.
2. The tendency toward deceit (v. 25). I will manipulate the truth to get what I want out of the relationship.
3. The tendency toward anger (vv. 26-27). I want to control the relationship by venting my anger or by holding it over you to control you.
4. The tendency toward selfishness (V. 28). I want to protect what I have rather than offer it to serve you.
5. The tendency toward unhelpful communication (vv. 29-30). Rather than use my speech to make you feel better and put you in a better position, I speak to make myself feel better and ensure that I am in the top spot.
6. The tendency toward division (v. 31). I give in to the temptation to view you as an adversary rather than a companion in the struggle of relationship.
7. The tendency toward an unforgiving spirit (v. 32). I want to make others pay for their wrongs against me.
As you can see, this list hits us hard in the secret places where we don’t usually allow others to see, much less admit. But I encourage you to pay attention to your heart as you read this list. Is there an area where the Holy Spirit seems to be nudging you to see? Then, go after it and allow Him to reveal to you the motivations of your own heart that may be opposing God.
It takes manning up to admit our failures. It takes humility and a willingness to change.This is the place where the mature stand out from the immature.
This is how strong, lasting marriages are forged; it requires a desire on the part of both husband and wife to do the hard work necessary to see their own faults and then to humbly confess, repent and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to change for God’s glory.
We are all tempted by these tendencies. We are not immune even as believers. Paul is writing to Christians because he assumes that these will be critical areas of struggle. The amazing part is that this entire passage promises grace for every area. One of the first places we see the evidence of God’s grace personally is in the realization that relationships demand hard work. We become willing to enter the struggle rather than avoid it because we start to see that this is where God is present and active. We begin to run toward others rather than away, and we begin to experience the following:
- How much wiser God’s plan is for us than our plan for ourselves (vv. 19-24)
- The life-changing power of truthfulness (v. 25)
- The healing benefit of gentleness, patience, and love (vv. 26-27)
- The joy of serving the needs of someone else (v. 28)
- The value of loving and wholesome communication (vv. 29-30)
- The beauty of functional unity in a relationship (v. 31)
- The freedom of practicing forgiveness (v. 32)
As you can see the list above goes with the first list in providing the benefit of evaluating your own heart in regard to your marriage. We pray this will help all of us on the road to a deeper, more intimate marriage where Christ is the center, not our own selfish demands.