Friday, 24 February 2012

Unforgiveness and its Consequences

James MacDonald
Forgiveness means that you assume someone else’s debt. In other words the person who has injured you emotionally or physically “owes” you an apology. By accepting that apology you are forgiving them what they owe you, or their debt. Unforgiveness means that you do not accept their apology; you are not willing to assume the debt.

Regardless of whether or not the person who injured us realizes what they have done or not we must forgive them. James Macdonald offers five rationalizations why some people don’t forgive:
1. I can’t forgive this because it is too big. All the more reason to forgive, the bigger it is, the less you want to carry it.
2. Time will heal it. Time heals nothing. The pain is still in there.
3. I’ll forgive when they say they are sorry. Until then I will carry this burden forever. Clue - They are not coming.
4. I can’t forgive if I can’t forget. This is backwards. You can’t forget until you forgive. You keep looking at it when you don’t forgive.
5. If I forgive they will just do it again.

The fall out of unforgiveness is huge. Unforgiveness punishes everyone in its path. Unforgiveness cuts a path of destruction across your life. Unforgiveness affects your ability to witness to others since they will judge the reality of your faith and how it filters down to other people.
• Medically speaking unforgiveness mirrors anger in our system, and hormonally unforgiveness mirrors stress.
• Unforgiveness has been known to correlate with psychiatric disorders.
• There are a number of studies that show a correlation between the health of your body and unforgiveness. One such study indicated that when an individual spent as little as16 seconds dwelling on the past offense it resulted in an increase in blood pressure, an increased heart rate and an increase in muscle tension.
• The consequences are lasting. Matthew 6:15 says, “ But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you your sins.” And James 2:13 says that “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.”

Here’s the bottom line. When we find it difficult to forgive someone who has hurt us we need to focus on our own sins and how much God has forgiven us.

Ephesians 4:32 says, ”Forgive each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Luke 6:37 is even more direct, it says, “forgive and you will be forgiven.” That’s reason enough for me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

No Matter What

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
Barbara Rainey, wife of Dennis Rainey –President of Family Life, describes the early years of marriage with Dennis. Perhaps a more committed couple you won’t find but that doesn’t mean that there were not times of struggle. I can certainly relate to the “Mr. Fixit” scenario. My father didn’t know which end of a screw driver to use and everything I know about fixing anything came from him. This was definitely a source of irritation for my wife, whose father attempted to fix anything and everything.

It didn't take me long to realize that Dennis was not like my father.

My dad was an all-American "Mr. Fixit." He loved working around the house and the yard--making repairs, painting, tinkering on the car.

Dennis, on the other hand, declared early on in jest that "if you can't fix something with baling wire and duct tape, you should throw it away and get a new one." Working around the house was simply not his thing.

I remember the early days in our marriage. Dennis would be plopped in his easy chair in front of the television, and I would circle him like a vulture, trying to give him a gentle hint of how I felt he could better use his time.

Dennis and I have come a long way since then. He's still not Mr. Fixit, but he tries. And somewhere along the way he developed an enjoyment of gardening so that he could spend time with me.

Meanwhile, I've learned the importance of loving my husband unconditionally. I need to receive Dennis as a gift from God. And I need to remember that God is working in his life.

In our first month of marriage, Dennis took the initiative to make a small financial investment, and we lost money. At that point, I faced a choice of my own: Would I accept him, or would I make him feel like a further failure?

I realized God wanted to use this mistake to teach Dennis how to become dependent on Christ and be a better husband. I needed to let Him work in my husband's life.

At times like this, a wife learns that love is not all feelings. This is where you honor your wedding vows and say, "You are the man God gave me and I'm committed to you, no matter what."

A note to husbands, the lessons shared by Barbara Rainey apply to us as well. Perhaps your mother did certain things that you admired that your wife does not do well. Your response should be “You’re the woman God gave me and I’m committed to you no matter what.”

Monday, 20 February 2012

"The Marriage Killer: Nagging"

I have written on the topic of nagging before. You may recall that I suggested that nagging was not a spiritual gift. Well a recent article in that bastion of theological wisdom, the Wall Street Journal, has caused me to address this topic again.

The Journal goes on to say that nagging “is more common than adultery and potentially as toxic.” More often than not it is a characteristic behavior more common to women than men. The Journal article contends that we nag because, “we have a perception that we won’t get what we want from the other person, so we feel we need to keep asking in order to get it.” The husband cited in the article described his reaction to his wife’s nagging this way, “…my muscles would get tense, I would become silent, and my eyes would glaze over…” Let me summarize that for you – he felt disrespected.

Actually Scripture deals with this issue. Proverbs tells us that the husband would rather sleep on the roof or hear the constant drip of water than live with a contentious wife. (that’s a paraphrase). James four verses one and two tells us that the reason we nag is because we are not getting our own way. We want what we want when we want it. The reaction of the husband in this case is understandable because one of the things that men most need is respect. You may recall that in Ephesians five verse 33 God tells the wife that she is to respect her husband. Since God is so explicit we can only assume that (a) it is difficult for the wife to give her husband respect and (b) respect is something he desperately desires.

You may ask, “How did I arrive at those conclusions?” You did ask that didn’t you? First of all can you think of any command that God has given us that is easy to carry out?  I think not. Perhaps it goes back to the Garden and the curse given to Eve. One interpretation of the Hebrew word for “desire” found in Genesis 3:16 is that the woman will want to control her husband. Next you must come to the realization that God, whose vocabulary far exceeds any dictionary known to mankind, selected one word, i.e."respect". This is how God commands a wife to interface with her husband. That tells me that the Creator of the universe and designer of man is well aware that being respected is extremely important to man.