Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 "RESPECT" - RESPECT: It's a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It's tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don't give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.RESPECT: It’s a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It’s tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don’t give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT”

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s hard to see the word with out thinking about the old Aretha Franklin song (although I may just be showing my age). Aretha sang, “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect … just a little bit.”

I’ve heard that same plea across the counseling desk many times, especially, when husbands don’t keep their eyes where they belong, when they flirt with other women, or when a wife doesn’t feel her husband is showing her the proper honor in some other way.

We all know what it’s like to feel disrespected.

Those are real concerns. A husband should honor his wife in the way he interacts with her and with others.

But, wives are not the only ones who are disrespected. In fact, if we’re honest, there is a lack of disrespect toward husbands and fathers, in general, today. Maybe it started during the women’s movement. You know, “I am woman, hear me roar.” Often, the implication was, I can handle things. Get out of my way. I don’t need a man.

Think about the typical family show in the 50s and 60s: Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Leave It to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show. Fathers held a place of honor. They were wise. Their wives and children showed them respect.

Now think about the typical family sitcom today. Often, the father is the bumbling idiot and the butt of the jokes. Wives are out conquering the world or rolling their eyes over their husbands’ actions. Children are anything but respectful.

While husbands, wives, and children should all show respect for one another, God has specifically commanded wives to respect their husbands and children to honor their fathers and mothers.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5.33).

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6.1-3).

I’ve been doing a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of respect in the wife’s attitude toward her husband.

 

I’ll Respect My Husband When He Deserves It!

 

Someone is thinking. You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t deserve my respect. You don’t know what he has done. He’s not a believer. He’s a drunk … a womanizer … lazy … you pick the adjective. He doesn’t care about me. He never shows me respect. I’ll show him respect when he deserves it and he shows me respect. Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 “Resolving Conflict” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 "Resolving Conflict" - Conflicts and disagreements happen in the best of marriages, but what happens when we aren't resolving conflict biblically?Conflicts and disagreements happen in the best of marriages, but what happens when we aren’t resolving conflict biblically?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 “Resolving Conflict”

 

In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then we covered the wife’s role and submission. Last week I shared a video by my husband Mike. His explanation of biblical decision making has helped many couples understand how to honor God in an area that can be difficult.

Mike uses a 4-way stop intersection to explain both the husband’s and wife’s roles and the responsibility each of them have to not allow differences to escalate into conflict.

But what happens when couples don’t seek to resolve problems biblically? And why is it so hard, even when we know what we should do? Look at James 4 for a minute:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask (Jas. 4.1-2 NASB).

Lust isn’t just about sexual desires. It can be the result of any strongly held desire. When we lust sexually, we’re so controlled by the desire for sexual pleasure that we’re willing to sin by going outside of God’s ordained will to obtain it.

When we lust after other things, we fight and quarrel, rather than resolving problems biblically. The things we want have become controlling desires and we, too, are willing to sin to get them.

Lustful desires might be having the house we want, spending money on a certain purchase, being in control, spending holidays or other times with our biological family, raising our kids a certain way, or a host of other things.

Even good things can become lusts if we’re willing to sin to get them or to hang on to them.

 

Unresolved Conflicts

 

Sometimes, when conflicts arise we go on the attack, verbally or physically.

Sometimes, we put up the “do not enter” sign. Our spouse learns that attempts to discuss the matter lead to anger, withdrawal, tears, or various forms of withdrawal. So conflict goes unresolved.

Sometimes, one spouse or the other is a controller. He or she may control through manipulation (tears, anger, withholding sex or affection) or fear and intimidation. It’s “one way, my way.”  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 9 “Decision Making & 4-Way Stops” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 9 "Decision Making & 4-Way Stops" - What can a 4-way stop intersection teach us about submission, biblical authority, and decision making within marriage?What can a 4-way stop intersection teach us about submission, biblical authority, and decision making within marriage?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Decision Making & 4-Way Stops”

 

In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then the wife’s role, and last week we looked a little deeper at submission, what it is and what it isn’t.

If you missed the last two and you’re struggling with the idea of submission or not even sure if it’s biblical or fair, I encourage you to go back and read them.

Today I want to look at a practical explanation of what submission should look like and how it ties in with the husband’s role as leader (Eph. 5.25).

My husband does a great job of explaining what I want to share, so I’m going to let him do just that. This little video is an illustration he uses in the counseling room and when he teaches on the subject.

 

 

Some of you might be thinking, I would submit if my husband preferred me like that! We need to remember that our job is to trust God and allow Him to work in our husbands.

But we also need to understand that, in the same way, that a husband’s love for his wife is purifying and causes her to want to love him back, a wife’s respect and willingness to honor him and follow his leadership, softens his heart both toward her and toward God (1 Pet. 3.1-4).  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 8 “Submission, the S-Word” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 8 "Submission, the S-Word" - Submission, it's the "S-word" that raises our blood pressure and, sometimes, makes us wonder about God's idea of fairness. What is submission, anyway? Is it unfair to women? Is it unrealistic? Did men come up with the idea as a way to keep women down? Or is it really a biblical concept? If so, what should it look like?Submission, it’s the “S-word” that raises our blood pressure and, sometimes, makes us wonder about God’s idea of fairness. What is submission, anyway? Is it unfair to women? Is it unrealistic? Did men come up with the idea as a way to keep women down? Or is it really a biblical concept? If so, what should it look like?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Submission: the S-Word”

 

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the key components of marriage that God laid out in Genesis 2.24: leaving, cleaving, and weaving. Last week I began talking about the wife’s role in a biblical marriage and today I want to go a little deeper on the subject of submission.

Epesians 5 says:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

We’re to submit to our husbands in everything with one exception. I talked about that and some of the common objections last week. I also discussed the fall and its effect on the relationship between husbands and wives, especially when it comes to submission.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God said to the woman …

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
    and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
    but he will rule over you” (Gen. 3.16).

Our desire would be to control or rule over our husbands and their desire would be to maintain control.

As women the list of ways we try to take control in our marriages is not very flattering. Among them are words, anger, tears, put-downs, nagging, criticizing, withholding sex, and all kinds of manipulation. And the list of ways we justify taking control is just as bad:

“He’s not a believer.”

“What if he’s wrong?”

“This is not the first century!”

“Men wrote to Bible to keep women down!”

“I have more education.”

“I make more money, so I should decide how it’s spent.”

We might not, actually, say some of these things, but they are often in our hearts and minds.

As I said last week, we women use what we’re good at to take control, often our words (nagging, criticizing) and emotions (anger, tears, bad moods).

Men’s sinful responses aren’t any better. They, often, either withdraw (sometimes with another woman, sometimes by becoming passive and uninvolved) or attack (with their fists or by trying to rule with an iron hand.)

And it’s certainly true that passages like Ephesians 5.22-24 have been used in sinful, unbiblical ways to try to control women.

But we can’t throw out submission because it’s been abused or misunderstood any more than we can throw out other passages of Scripture because they’re hard to understand or obey.

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3.14-16).

 

So, what should submission look like?

 

You might be surprised. First, let’s talk about what it’s not.  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 7 “The Wife’s Role” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 7 "The Wife's Role" - The Wife's Role: If there is one aspect of marriage that is often turned upside-down in today's culture, it's the roles of husbands and wives. If there's one issue that is usually part and parcel of marriage conflict, it's the roles of husbands and wives. If there is one subject that is most often misunderstood, it's this one.The Wife’s Role: If there is one aspect of marriage that is often turned upside-down in today’s culture, it’s the roles of husbands and wives. If there’s one issue that is usually part and parcel of marriage conflict, it’s the roles of husbands and wives. If there is one subject that is most often misunderstood, it’s this one.

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “The Wife’s Role”

 

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the key components of marriage that God laid out in Genesis 2.24: leaving, cleaving, and weaving. Last week we focused on how to weave our lives into the one-flesh relationship God’s wants us to have.

Today we’re going to talk about the wife’s role in a God-honoring marriage. Epesians 5 says:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands, according to verse 24, “in everything.” There is one exception and we’ll talk about that in a minute, but the commandment is plain.

For many of you reading this, that statement is not a surprise. It’s “old news,” if you will. You’ve heard it taught many times and you’re seeking to live it out. You, probably, even accept it as a good thing.

But for our culture as a whole, “them’s fightin’ words”!

Besides hundreds of hours of counseling, my husband and I taught our church’s “Preparing for Marriage” course for many years. I’ve seen so many prospective wives start the class excited to be there, until this subject rolled around. The more outspoken ones challenged the idea.

If you’ve ever talked to a new Christian or an unbeliever about submission, you’ve likely heard many of the same arguments:

“I believe in mutual submission.”

“That was for a different culture.”

“This isn’t the first century!”

“Paul wrote that and he was not even married (or a woman hater)!”

“Men wrote that and were just trying to keep women down.”

“You can’t take the Bible literally.”

“We’re not going to have THAT kind of marriage!”

“We talk about everything and decide together.”

You can probably come up with a few more. Some just reject it out of hand without even trying to understand what the Bible says.

 

Mutual Submission

 

imperfect authorityThere is mutual submission (Eph. 5.21). All of us are prefer others as more important to ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4). We’re to die to our own selfish desires (Lk. 9.23-24). Husbands are to be willing to die for their wives, not just literally, but in how they live out the command to love their wives as Christ does the church (Eph. 5.25). Wives are to die to their selfish desires to have things their way. Even parents must learn to die to self as they choose to do things for the good of the family as a whole and their children, in particular.

But just as Ephesians 5.25 has a specific command to husbands (more about that in the weeks to come), verses 22-24 above have a specific command for wives.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty Conflicts & Blended Families in the Bible + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty & Blended Families in the Bible - Today I'll talk about loyalty issues, blended families in the Bible, and then wrap things up.

Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty Conflicts & Blended Families in the Bible

 

Over the last 4½ months, we’ve looked at blended family issues of all kinds: the losses and the gains involved, how to love one another biblically, God’s goal in blending a family, favoritism, anger and how we might unintentionally provoke our children to anger. We’ve talked about step-parenting, behavior contracts, dealing with ex’s and the differences in rules between two households. We’ve also talked about the importance of taking responsibility when we’re wrong and humbly confessing our sins, even to our children. We’ve discussed the importance of overcoming evil with good and how to help our children adjust.

Last week in “Blended Families Part 16: 4 Rules of Communication,” we discussed the importance of good biblical communication and looked at 4 simple rules that can help us stay on track. I also explained something we call the “put-offs and put-ons” from Ephesians 4.22-24. We might call it God’s methodology for change.

Click here for previous posts in this in depth series.

Today I’ll talk about loyalty issues, blended families in the Bible, and then wrap things up. Next week I’ll start a new series, “Marriage Made in Heaven?”

 

Hearts: Ours & Our Children’s

 

We’ve talked a lot about heart issues and how God is always dealing with us on that level, no matter what challenges we face. He’s also working all things for good so we can become progressively more like Christ. We need to remember that and remind our children when they’re struggling. In fact, Romans 8.28-29 might be a good passage to memorize as a family.

We can also do some self-evaluation (and help our children to do the same), especially when we’re tempted to fight and quarrel, to see what we’re wanting and whether or not we might be wanting it too much.

James 1.13-15: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jas. 1).

James 4. 1-4: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?

Even good desires, obedient children, an ex-spouse who does what he (or she) says he will, step-children who respect us, a step-parent who doesn’t show favoritism, etc., can become a lust (any strongly held desire) if we want them so much that we’re willing to sin against God and others to get them.

As I said in the last post, we need to make appropriate changes, not just on the doing level, but in our attitudes and thinking, as well. That is a two-part process: both putting off unbiblical thoughts, words, and actions, and putting on godly ones.

 

Loyalty Conflicts

 

One thing we haven’t spent much time on is loyalty conflicts. Spouses can struggle with loyalty issues if one of them is constantly trying to appease an ex-spouse. This requires loving change on both their parts. The new spouse needs to understand that some contact and compromise with our ex is necessary for the sake of the children and the glory of God. But we need to remember that our loyalty is always to our current spouse. Our responsibility is not to please our ex, but to please God, see “Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life”

Parents can struggle with loyalty issues when it comes to spending time with and parenting step-children. But love shouldn’t be exclusive. Showing love to one doesn’t mean we don’t love the other. It helps if we can begin to see the blended family as a whole, instead of “yours and mine.” For more on this subject, you might want to read, “Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other.”

Children, too, can struggle with loyalty issues. As one little girl said, “On Mother’s Day I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know what I should do or could do. If I went with my stepmother, my mother would be furious. If I went with my mother, my stepmother would be upset. I couldn’t even think about it. It’s the worst situation I ever had in my life.”

We need to help our children understand that we want them to be loyal to God. That means to demonstrate biblical love for both sets of parents. And even though it’s challenging, we can do a lot to alleviate the stress our children feel, by giving them permission to treat the other parent or parents lovingly. And we need to set a good example for them by how we treat our ex and his or her new spouse.

 

Dealing with In-Laws

 

Many parents welcome their child’s new family with open arms, but others might be less accepting of a new spouse and children. Sometimes it’s because of loyalty to the former spouse. Other times it’s an unwillingness to see step-children as “theirs.”

If it continues to be an issue, you may need to prayerfully and lovingly sit down with them and let them know you need their help to do the hard work of blending a family. Let them know that you understand that they have different feelings for children who have been part of their lives before. Genuine relationships take time. But you may need to firmly let them know that you can’t allow them to come into the family situation and show favoritism to some of the children.

I’ve seen situations where grandparents came to visit and brought lavish gifts for their biological grandchildren while step siblings looked on in hurt or anger. This can be devastating to any sense of unity and acceptance.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 16: 4 Rules of Communication + LINKUP

Hi Everyone, I apologize. Some code must be corrupted in this post. I have tried everything to eliminate it. Removing photos, redoing things. Nothing seems to help. But the linkup is working.

 

Last week in Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust we talked about the two major pitfalls into which parents in blended families fall: either becoming overly focused on the children’s outward behavior or turning their children into victims. Today we’re going to talk about biblical communication and God’s methodology for change.

Some children in blended families adjust quickly and easily, but others struggle with fear, worry, anger, and loyalty conflicts.

Children may be angry about losing their position in the family, losing the dream of their original family being restored, unwanted changes, jealousy toward new step-siblings or any number of other things.

One of the most important skills in overcoming anger and building good relationships is learning how to communicate in a loving, God-honoring way. Ephesians 4 contains some of the clearest passages on the subject of communication. The principles can be summed up in 4 easy to understand “rules” that you can apply and teach your children.

 

4 Rules of Communication

 

  • Be honest.
  • Keep current.
  • Attack the problem, not the person.
  • Act, don’t react.

 

Be Honest.

 

Ephesians 4.25 says:

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Sounds simple enough, but being honest is more that just not telling a lie. It’s, also, more than blurting out the unadulterated truth. It involves being open and transparent in a loving way.

The first part of being honest is to communicate. “Let each of you speak …”

The second part is to speak truth. It’s not enough to just “not lie.” We must also speak truth.

For example: If, after you and your husband agreed not to make any unnecessary purchases, you put those shoes you wanted on your credit card, slipped them into the house when you’re husband wasn’t home, and simply never brought it up, you may not have lied, but your weren’t being honest either.

Our children need to understand the same principle. Instead of just punishing them for not telling you about a bad grade, sit down and explain why it’s wrong from God’s Word. Let them know that you struggle with living God’s way, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach them how much we need His help to live His way. Turn it into a gospel moment.

Whether they listen attentively or roll their eyes, you’re planting seeds.

So we and our children are to speak and to speak truth, but we must also learn to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4.15 says:

[B]ut, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

For example: If your child grew up learning to make his bed and keep his room reasonably neat and now shares a room with a step-sibling who doesn’t seem to know what a clothes hanger or a hamper is, the answer isn’t to tell his sibling he’s a slob.

Instead, help him learn to pray (another gospel moment) and ask God for wisdom about talking to his brother. It could be something like, “Hey, I’m not crazy about cleaning the room either. I used to resent it when my mom made me stay home until I did. But I learned it’s easier to just get it over with. It looks better when my friends come to hang out, too. Can I give you a hand?”

So rule #1 is: “Be honest.” Speak. Speak the truth. Speak the truth in love.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust - Today we'll discuss how to help your children and step-children adjust to blended family life and some of the issues that may need to be addressed.

I so sorry the linkup is late. My mom fell a couple of weeks ago and broke her hip. I’m staying with her for a while and just got her home from rehab yesterday. Please keep her in your prayers, not just for her healing, but for her to come to know the Lord.

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust

 

Over the last two weeks in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households” and “Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil,” we have been looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We, also, looked at how to evaluate whether or not to address any particular situation and how to respond when you ex isn’t willing to work on issues. Last week we talked about ways to live in peace and solve problems. Today and next week, we’ll discuss how to help your children and step-children adjust to blended family life and some of the issues that may need to be addressed.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

The Challenge for All Families

 

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied:

37 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22.37-39 NLT).

This can be challenging in all families as people live with one another day after day, seeing each other in the best and worst of circumstances. It’s especially challenging as we seek to blend two families into one.

Yet, no where is it more important that we, especially parents, live out these commands. We won’t do it perfectly, but we can do it humbly and imperfectly, by relying on God’s grace. Doing so is important to our children’s view of Christianity.

 

Loving Though They Didn’t Choose

 

While their parents chose a partner, children are called to love people with whom they didn’t choose to live. In the process, their hearts are exposed as they’re forced to share, submit to parental authority, to give, and to love. And while all families face change from time to time, children in a blended families often face sudden and drastic change.

Some of the changes might be:

  • Birth order
  • Position of priority with the biological parent
  • The need to share a room
  • Moving
  • A change of school
  • A change of neighbors
  • Loss of contact with extended family

And we could add many more.

 

Two Major Pitfalls

 

Parents in blended families can easily fall into one or both of two major pitfalls.

The first is to get focused merely on outward behavior without addressing the heart. Parents may come up with a rule for everything. The focus becomes all about complying with those house rules. Of course, some rules are OK, but focusing on compliance without dealing with heart issues creates little pharisees, at best.

Children learn to live in that economy. They learn how to get what they want by keeping the rules and, often, learn to manipulate by showing the right amount of penitence over bad behavior. Then when they’re out from under their parents’ authority, they begin to live out of the thoughts and motives that were in their hearts all along. They go away to collage or leave home and quit doing what’s right.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil - Last week in "Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households," we began looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We looked at how to evaluate whether or not to make an issue out of any situation and began talking about how to respond when you ex isn't willing to work on issues. This week we'll discuss more ways we can seek to live in peace and solve problems.

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil

 

Last week in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households,” we began looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We looked at how to evaluate whether or not to address any situation and began talking about how to respond when you ex isn’t willing to work on issues. This week we’ll discuss more ways we can seek to live in peace and solve problems.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

Last week I left off with the question, “What if, after all your planning and attempts to handle a particular situation wisely and well, your ex is not willing to work with you or solve the problem?”

I said your first reaction might be to return evil for evil or at least to withhold any good. I encouraged you to remember that is not a God-honoring option (Rom. 12.17-21), that God will not allow you to be in any situation that you cannot handle in a righteous way (1 Cor. 10.13), and that He promises to use every situation for your good and His glory by helping us become more like Christ (Rom. 8.28-29).

Now let’s look at that Romans 12 passage again:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This passage instructs us to do all that we can to live at peace with others. There’s no exception for former spouses. It also says that we are not to seek revenge or return evil for evil. And unless an ex or the new spouse is doing something illegal (in which case we need to involve the proper authorities), we are to overcome evil with good.

Returning evil with evil comes naturally and returning evil with good feels awkward, at first. And there are, usually, well-meaning friends and family members telling us to do the opposite. But this is an opportunity to determine to live in ways that are pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5.9), rather than ourselves or others.

What are some ways we can overcome evil with good?

 

Returning Evil with Good

 

Ways to return evil with good:

  • Take your children shopping to buy Christmas or birthday gifts for your ex and his or her spouse.
  • Be flexible with visitation.
  • Allow him or her to have the children for a holiday or another special day.
  • Acknowledge them and, possibly, sit with them at events in which your children participate.
  • Invite them to your child’s birthday celebration, graduation party, or other special event.
  • Send cookies or some other treat when the children visit.
  • Speak well of them to others.
  • Meet a need (send a meal when someone is sick, etc.).
  • Buy birthday or special occasion gifts for your children’s step-siblings.
  • Pray for them.

Brainstorm other ideas and share them in the comments section.

 

As Much as It Depends on You

 

Notice verse 18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We are to do our part and leave the results with God. We’re not to quit because our efforts aren’t appreciated, fret about it, or expect something in return.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm (Ps. 27.7-8).

When we do something only to get a certain result, our motives are wrong. Our desire should be to please God (2 Cor. 5.9), not to get our ex-spouse to change. Things may change, but if that’s our primary motivation, we’ll quit if we don’t get the result we desire.

We, also, need to have a biblical view of success. We’re successful when we obey God. If we’re right with God in our attitudes and actions we can have peace and joy whether or not our circumstances change.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn. 10.9-11).

A note of caution: While we should apply these principles, we always need to remember that our current spouse is our priority. Don’t pour time and energy into your relationship with your ex that rightfully belongs to your spouse and be careful to include him or her in your plans to overcome evil with good.

 

Prepare for Life in a Sin-Cursed World

 

We live in a sin-cursed world and we need to know that people will sin against us.

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.14-17).

So we need to prepare for it. My husband told me once that every day as he prays, he chooses in advance to forgive anyone who sins against him. We need to plan to forgive and extend grace to others whether or not they deserve it. It’s the way God deals with us. We, also, need to plan how to overcome evil with good. Even when we know we should, it won’t just happen.

One of the hardest times to do it is when we believe our children are being hurt by the other parent’s inconsiderate or sinful behavior. For example, it’s your ex’s week-end to have the kids, but he or she never shows up.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households + LINKUP

 

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Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households

 

If you missed last week’s post on the importance of seeking forgiveness for your part in any conflict, I would encourage you to read it. It’s so important that we do our part to live at peace with everyone, including our ex-spouses.

This week in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households,” we’ll look at how to deal with the different rules and expectations between your house and that of your ex. We’ll also talk about how God can use it all for good.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

Different Rules & Expectations

 

Struggles over different rules and expectations from one household to another are some of the biggest and most frequent problems blended families and single divorced families face. If you’ve been divorced for any length of time, you’ve probably faced challenges in this area.

While parents may feel very strongly about their own rules, differences are not necessarily sinful, or even wrong, they are just different. If something is clearly immoral or illegal, you should involve the proper authorities. Otherwise, you should seek to accept one another’s differences.

Surprisingly, children can adjust to differing sets of rules. And since Philippians 2.3-4 says that we are to prefer others rather than ourselves, it’s wrong to insist that our rules be followed at the other parent’s home.

 

So on a practical level, how do you deal with differences in a God-honoring way?

 

Suppose you ask you son to turn off the TV and do his homework and he responds, “Dad lets me watch TV first.” You can just gently and firmly say, “That’s at dad’s house, now turn off the TV and do your homework.” No commentary needed.

Your ability to do it in a way that glorifies God will depend on your thinking. If you immediately think, “I can’t believe my ex is that irresponsible!” or “Why doesn’t he respect my rules?” it will show up in your attitude both with your son and your ex.

1 Corinthians 13.7 says, “love believes all things.” It might be better translated “love believes the best.” You can choose to believe the best about your ex. Watching TV first doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about your son’s homework, it just means he’s handling things differently.

We also have to learn to recognize the difference between our rules and God’s commandments. While you may think doing homework first is wiser, it’s your rule, not God’s commandment.  Continue reading