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Your Marriage: Paybacks or Bless Back?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
November 4, 2022 3:00 am

Your Marriage: Paybacks or Bless Back?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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November 4, 2022 3:00 am

Is resentment killing your marriage? Today on FamilyLife Today, hosts Dave and Ann Wilson discuss the corrosive cycle of bitterness and paybacks and how to deal.

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

When somebody hurts you, bless them. Do not repay insult with insult. On the contrary, he says, repay evil with blessings because you were called to inherit a blessing. It's like, you of all people have been called by God to inherit a blessing. Guess what?

You won't inherit that if you live like the culture lives. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Dave Wilson. And I'm Ann Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So here's a question for you. If you would look back on 41 years of incredible, blissful marriage to me. Yes, it was amazing.

It is amazing. Yeah, so here's the question now. OK. How many days, weeks, months, years maybe, do you think you carried some bitterness? Way too many.

I mean, when you add it up. I don't know. I think the first 10 years, I carried a lot. I think you carried bitterness. You just never talk about it.

You want to turn it back on me, don't you? Well, I'm just thinking about, I don't think you just verbalize it. I would verbalize it. I'm feeling bad about this and this.

And you need to do this. But you would just hold it in. And I did things all the time that hurt you. Yeah, and I didn't even know I was holding it in.

You didn't? I mean, I grew up in a family where there was bitterness. My mom and dad getting divorced when I was a little boy and alcohol and dad had girlfriends. And we never talked about it. The divorce happened. Did you just shut down your emotions?

Yeah, I think we shut down. And again, we said yesterday, as we started talking about this topic of bitterness, a root of bitterness in a marriage, I think I had a root of bitterness and I never dealt with it. So what I do, I bring that into our marriage. You know, like it's part of the luggage, the baggage that I brought in. I mean, we both brought in stuff.

Every marriage brings in stuff, but mine was deep. And sometimes I heard about what you felt about me when you were preaching. Oh, great. It was easier to tell somebody else than talk to you directly about it, which by the way. You're sad.

I mean, we're going to continue a conversation we started yesterday. Was I scary? I was probably scary to talk to you. No, it was just it was easier to do it that way because you weren't really dealing with it.

I didn't deal with it. And so to have an intimate conversation with you about hurt and how you felt hurt by me and how I've been hurt by you. And I think a lot of marriages live where we were living.

I do too. It's like superficial. If we asked our listeners like, have you dealt with bitterness in your marriage? I think a lot of them would say, yeah.

Oh, yeah. I know when I was recently preaching on this, there was a big response. And it wasn't because, oh, wow, that was an amazing message.

It was like, I'm dealing with that bitterness, a root of bitterness, hurt, payback. I mean, yesterday we started this conversation how God wants to reveal himself to the world. How? Through relationships, a marriage relationship, relationships in the church, who follows a Christ, living in unity in such a way that the world takes notice. Like, how can they be unified?

And they're drawn to that. Satan has a plan for marriages and a relationship is the opposite. It's disunity, it's destruction.

And how does that happen? He uses an offense, a little action or thing said that grows and causes division in a marriage or a family or a church. And it basically is his way of saying, there's no God. The people that love God can't even get along. They're no different. You know, they have different churches on every corner because they split up because they don't believe the same thing. So, I mean, the world looks at our disunity in marriage and in the church and says, I don't believe because they're no different than we are.

And yet God's really good plan is so much better. And so here's the thing, when we're heard or offended, we said it yesterday, an offense or somebody hurting you is an event. To stay offended is a choice. You can choose to hold onto that. And we talked about that previously. It's like, I can hold on to it. I can make you pay for that.

Or there's a better way. I think it'd be good even for our listeners to think through right now, is there any one that I'm holding this offense with or this bitterness toward? I'm thinking of women that I've talked to in their marriage. Yes, lots of abuse sexually, physical abuse. I'm thinking of these young women I recently talked to that have been raped.

And wow, some of those are really hard and it's hard to deal with that. So I think this conversation today is gonna be really needed and good. Yeah, we're not saying just forgive. We're saying, no, there's a process.

Yeah. That God wants to take you through to deal with the offense, to deal with the bitterness. Because He wants to set us free. Yeah, and it leads to freedom.

So it's interesting, we talk about this at the weekend to remember. There's a passage in 1 Peter where Peter is writing to a church, okay? So he's writing about unity. He wants the church to be unified. He's sort of coaching them and mentoring them of what that looks like. And there's this passage tucked away in 1 Peter 3, where, oh my goodness, you want a vision and really a game plan for how unity takes place?

Here it is, 1 Peter 3.8. He says, finally, all of you be like-minded. There you go.

Yeah. Be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Oh, if we would apply that.

I mean, we can stop right there. Like-minded, sympathetic, love one another, compassionate. Those qualities should be indicative of a Christian marriage, of a Christian church.

Yeah. I say that with tongue in cheek, because often that's not what people see, but he's like, this is what it could look like. And then he says this. And it's almost like, if you want that, like-minded, love one another, compassion and humility, if you want that in your marriage, if you want that in your church, if you want that in God's really, really good plan for relationships, you got to do something.

And here it is. He jumps down to the very next verse, verse nine, he says in first Peter 3, he says, do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

That right there is a totally unique way to live. It's so hard. It's so hard. I mean, it's almost like who can do that when somebody hurts you or does evil to you, don't repay back evil, which we talked about earlier. It's like, man, when somebody hurts us, someone hurt them back. When somebody gets us, we want to get revenge.

He's saying, no, no, no, no. When somebody hurts you, bless them. Do not repay insult with insult. On the contrary, he says, repay evil with blessings because you were called to inherit a blessing. It's like, you of all people have been called by God to inherit a blessing.

Guess what? Don't inherit that if you live like the culture lives. How's the culture live? Man, the culture is like, man, somebody hurts you, get them back. He's saying, no, if you're a Christ father, somebody hurts you, bless them back, which sounds sort of ridiculous. Oh, it's so hard. I was thinking, I recently heard this interview with a pastor who was getting a lot of critique and someone asked him, what do you do with this critique that you're getting? He said, I pray that God will bless them.

And I'm like, what, what? He said, yeah, really, I just pray. And I think that even when our marriages, think about that, your husbands totally hurt you. What are you gonna do for him? I'm gonna pray that God will bless him. It's so contrary to our sin nature. Yeah, and I honestly think he can't do it without the power of God. Without the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a supernatural power required when you've been hurt. I mean, Peter goes on in verse 10.

He gets very practical. For whoever would love life and see good days. And that's- We all want that.

We all want to love life and see good days. They must keep their tongue from evil, their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good.

They must seek peace and pursue it. Wow. And again, part of me is like, you read that and you go, can't do that. That's impossible.

That's just like, la, la, la, who in the world? And you can't. You can't apart from Christ.

It's impossible. And yeah, what would our marriages look like if we did that? What would our churches look like if we did that?

People would be flocking to the church and they would be looking at our marriages thinking, I want that. And so I think as we sort of look at this passage in first Peter, I think he lays out two ways to live. And I think every person, every one of us has to choose, how am I gonna live? There's two ways to live. He calls one of them payback. When somebody hurts you, you pay them back. And he calls the other one, bless back. And so here's what I call, when I was preaching on this, I called the first way to live the close fist of revenge or the close fist of bitterness.

We hold onto it. And that's what I would call payback. He's like, they deserve to be paid back. He says, do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. He says, don't do this, but this is natural to our DNA. When someone hurts you, we wanna hurt them back. In fact, we live in a culture, am I right?

We live in a world that celebrates people that do a great job paying people back. That's true. You go to movies.

What do you mean? Oh yeah. I mean, you go to movies and when the villain gets what he deserves, he's hurt people, he's made victims and then- That's called justice. Yeah, somebody stands up and he gets payback. I mean, you stand up. I was thinking of all the great movies we've been to. One of your favorite, Gladiator.

I love that. When Russell Crowe finally gets justice, you stand up in the movie theater, right? I mean, Denzel Washington in the Equalizer movies.

I mean, there's the title, it's Equalizer. We're gonna equal this thing up. I literally stood up. I'm not celebrating that I went to this movie, but man, when he gets the people back and it's pretty vicious, you stand up and you're like, yes. The person that deserved payback, got it.

Here's another great one. Top five movie in my mind, Mean Girls. This is the truth. Come on, I love Mean Girls. Every time it's on the TV. I put it back up.

You will stop and watch it. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but when the plastics get what they deserve, you're just like cheering. I mean, and again, why is that? Cause it's in our DNA. We've told this story at the Family Life Weekend to remember, marriage getaway.

And by the way, if you haven't signed up for one of those, you need to go. This is the first place I ever heard this taught, this bless back instead of payback. Me too. I never heard it anywhere else right out of this passage, but we always tell the story, which I guess is true. I don't know the facts about Winston Churchill and a woman in his parliament named Lady Astor. They didn't like each other.

They really were at each other all the time. And so the story somewhat has gained a lot of momentum is that they were seated beside each other at a dinner party. And Lady Astor, again, she doesn't like this guy. She turns to Churchill and says, Sir Winston Churchill, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your drink. And he's a pretty quick witted guy.

He turns to her and said, and if you were my wife, I'd drink it. And the thing is, you need to tell that story from the stage, people cheer, they clap. And you're like, the only thing they're gonna remember from this whole talk is that moment. But what is it in us that likes to hear stories like that? Well, somebody paid back somebody that deserved it. Well, it's different too when it's evil. When somebody pays back evil, I think that that justice part in us resonates. Yeah, and there should be some justice. And when someone's hurt you, there is payback that should be rendered out, but we think it's on us.

We're gonna find out later, it's really not on us. Vengeance isn't mine, it's the Lord's. Share the story about your mom. I think you've shared it before, but when your parents got divorced. Yeah, I mean, it's interesting. You think that when you get somebody back, it feels good.

And it does for a moment, but it doesn't last. I didn't know this till I was probably in college, maybe even later, that when my mom and dad divorced, again, I'm a little boy, I'm six, seven years old, so I didn't know any of the details. My sister, who's 10 years older, told me this years later. She said, do you know what happened with the house? Now, I remember the house. We lived in a gated community outside New York. My dad was an airline pilot flying out of New York. And so he actually built our house in this exclusive million dollar neighborhood.

I've been back there since. And he was also a contractor. Yeah, so he built it himself.

It was this mansion. And so here's what my sister told me. Do you know that dad left with his girlfriend, months later calls mom and says, sell the house, we'll split the profit.

So my mom is so hurt, she sells the house for $67,000. Wow. Wow. To get my dad back. Because money was his guide.

Yeah. And I remember, we moved to Ohio and I grew up sort of always in need of money. You guys were pretty poor. Never knowing we could have had money.

Wow. And yet my mom carried that to her grave. She didn't even show up at my dad's funeral because she was still carrying that offense, that hurt, that evil. So she was paying back evil with evil. And for a moment, payback feels good.

It just doesn't last. And you may think that this person doesn't deserve to be forgiven or blessed in any way. Yeah, and the truth is the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it gets. And I carried a grudge against my dad almost my whole life. So here's the amazing thing.

That was a huge offense in my life with my dad, divorce. And there's people that don't carry that big of an offense. But I think here's the thing. I think little offenses do the same thing.

We carry them. I remember one time being in a meeting where a fellow guy that was a good friend of mine that I trust said something about my work that was very demeaning in front of a lot of people, that basically everything I'd done in this certain area of my work was just worthless. And I can tell you where I was sitting, where he was sitting, where others were sitting, the moment he said it, it was just a little comment. And yet as I went home, I told you about it.

I lay in bed for weeks and months rehearsing that moment in my head. And that little offense became a root of bitterness. I was mad. I was rude. For sure.

And I carried it. And I think that's what we do. Your spouse does one little thing and it may not be big. It may not be like my dad walking out of our family.

So that was huge. It could be little, but the same thing happens. A root of bitterness gets in there. So we sort of want to pay back.

Well, let me add this. I feel like this is more typical. And maybe some of you have heard this story and it was in our book and with vertical marriage, the curriculum. My son and I got in an argument for four school and I overreacted as I usually do. And then we got in the car and I said, hey, I'm really sorry. I overreacted. I think I grounded him for like a month. And I said, I'm not going to ground you for a month. That was ridiculous. And I'm sorry about that.

What are you feeling about it? And he didn't talk to me. And then I got mad like, come on, we need to talk and resolve this. And we got to the school, I said, don't get out of the car until we at least talk about this.

Did I hurt you? And he looked at me, he opened the car door and he went into the school. And I was so upset because I hate things being unresolved. But he got home and I had prayed on the way home. Lord, I don't know what to do.

I have no idea what to do with this. And God gave me this picture of a little stick figure girl and a little stick figure guy. And then I had put a brick, this brick between us. When he got home, he was laughing. When he saw that on his desk, he said, mom, what are you trying to be an artist?

What are you doing? And I said, that's me, that's you. That brick is the fight we had this morning. And we haven't resolved it. And he said, I'm not mad about the brick. I said, I'm not mad about it either. But as you said, Dave, it's this little brick of bitterness. And it was no big deal. It wasn't that big of a deal.

But I told him like, CJ, I see all these people. They have a fight that goes unresolved. And then they, and I took my pencil and I did another brick. And then I did another little offense or brick and another little offense. And if those are never dealt with, those little offenses, they become a wall, like a huge wall. And so I told him like, I don't ever want us to have this wall that we can't even talk because of these little offenses that have gone unresolved, those little roots of bitterness.

And I love it because he was a teenager and he's like, so how do we get rid of the brick, you know? But that's what I mean. And then we talked about resolution and how we never want to create walls between us because of that root of bitterness. It can form a wall. Yeah, I mean, I was just thinking when you said that, I said a little offense with another little offense becomes a fence. Yes. You get it? Yeah, a fence or a wall.

Or a wall. Yeah. And again, if you don't handle it right, your DNA, our sin nature is gonna be payback.

Yep. Hurt you back, evil for evil. But Peter says, no, there's a better way. I call the second way to live the open hand of grace, which is bless back. You know, it's like you can close your fist, the fist of the revenge and hold on.

I think this is almost impossible for us to open our hand and let go of that offense, let go of that hurt. And again, I'm not saying it's just like, oh, I pray a little prayer and it's poof, it's gone. No, this is hard work. I mean, when you get married, when you do relationships, it is hard work. Because it happens all the time. Yeah, I think a lot of people never do the work.

Me too. It's like, there's anything I want to say to a listener today is do the work. It's really hard work to bless back someone that's hurt you, someone that's offended you. It's easy to hold onto that revenge, that bitterness and close your fist over that. And I'm telling you, it'll destroy your soul. You will not find what Peter said, a blessing in your life and you won't be a blessing to others. But if you allow God to do spiritual surgery and say, okay, God, I am hurt. This hurt deeply, I need to give it to you.

And I need to have you walk me to a place where I can actually bless back rather than pay back, where I can be a blessing to a person or a group of people. But especially in your marriage, to my spouse when I felt like they've hurt me, that is supernatural and you can't do it apart from Christ. And I know, we said yesterday that the way that unity is built, the tactic that God uses is forgiveness. We who have been forgiven, forgiving others, who just like we didn't deserve forgiveness from Christ for our sin, they don't deserve forgiveness. And yet God enables us to forgive them. And I'm not saying you let them off the hook.

I'm not saying you don't have a conversation. I'm not saying that there aren't things you have to work through in a relationship, but forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. You may never reconcile this relationship, but you can still forgive someone. And Jesus says, it's mine to avenge.

The payback is mine. God is the one that will repay them for what they've done to you, but we, bless back. Do you remember Lisa Turkers when she was here and she was talking about being in a counselor's office trying to forgive her husband. And she was talking about how she wrote all the offenses on a piece of paper.

And the counselor had her put them on the floor and then he gave her a little piece of red felt. And he had her, they talked about the gospel and the blood of Christ of how his death on the cross has given us the ability now to forgive because it has covered us. And because of that, we too can have the power to forgive. And then she covered each one of those offenses with that blood that it's really that felt, but it's like the blood of Christ. I thought that was powerful. That's doing the work.

Yeah. And again, it isn't, you walk in a counselor's office and an hour later it's all gone, but it's the beginning of God, I need your power. I need you to meet me right here because I can't let go of this. It was hurtful, it's still hurtful. I'm bitter, there's a root of bitterness. When I started a journey to forgive my dad, I thought it would take a week. It took close to five years and God did spiritual surgery. And it was like a daily journey to forgive my dad. And you know what, when I forgave him, I actually spoke the words to him, he did not respond well. He said, what do you forgive me for? I did nothing wrong. And it was like, oh wow, it has really nothing to do with the other person. It has to do with my own heart.

And I can tell you this, when I stood behind his casket at his funeral and because I'm the pastor in the family, I officiated my own dad's funeral, I thought, I am free. I will say you are a different man. It changed me.

Totally changed you. It will change you, it will change your marriage. And again, if you don't deal with it and you hold on to it, your marriage will suffer. Your kids will suffer. Cause one of the things I didn't realize in the journey was as I'm going on a journey to bless back my dad, to forgive my dad, who really, I don't think deserved it, but it didn't matter. God will take care of the payment. I need to take care of allowing God to enable me to forgive. I didn't never thought about this till later. What I'm doing, this process I'm going through is gonna affect my boys.

Yeah, for sure. My legacy. If I don't deal with this, guess what I'm gonna pass on? Bitterness, a root of bitterness will be part of the Wilson legacy. But if I can allow God to do a spiritual surgery in my heart and I can forgive my dad and others, you, you forgiving me, if God can do that in me, it changes my legacy and it'll change your legacy.

I think it's critical. If you're listening today and you're like, there's been some bitterness that has got a root in me and it's grown and maybe small and maybe big, I would just say, today's the day to say, Jesus, I need your help. I need you to, I need you to do a work in me and I'm willing to take the journey with you. Let's pray for them. Yeah, pray for them. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson on Family Life Today.

Be sure to stick around for Ann's prayer in just a second. But first, we've got the president of Family Life, David Robbins here with us. We talk a lot about what's happening with family life stateside. There's quite a bit going on with family life all over the globe too.

I come on at the end of these and I sincerely thank you often for giving the family life, for fueling ministry to more families and reaching more people and helping people take the next step toward growth and the relationships that matter most to them. But often what you don't hear about is what family life is doing globally and how God is mobilizing couples around the world to build marriage and family ministries in their corner of the world. Just a month ago, Meg and I were in Bogota, Columbia, gathering with 250 other leaders of family life in Latin America.

It was a blast to see what these people were trusting God for and the impact they were having in their country. And I just recently heard from a couple in Egypt who has started Family Life Egypt. The story goes back 16 years ago when this couple, Warren and Anne, were living in Qatar and they were ministered to by someone who was leading a family life ministry as they eventually moved back in 2017 to Egypt. God had put on their heart, what if you started family life here? Slowly but surely over the last few years, our team has synced up with them and they have officially launched Family Life Egypt.

You can go to and check out the website they've put together. They are trusting God in some amazing ways. When we say in our mission statement, we're hoping to effectively develop godly families who changed the world one home at a time. We really are believing God to raise up couples like Warren and Anne and resourcing them so that they can extend the mission into their nation toward every home, getting the chance to grow in a relationship with Jesus and to grow into a godly home.

Yeah, that's so good. Thanks, David, for reminding us of how God is using this ministry both locally and globally. Would you consider partnering with us at Family Life to help continue the advancement of the gospel to every corner of the earth? When you do, we'd love to send you a copy of Jessica Thompson's book, How God Loves Us, 40 Days to Discovering His Character in the Fruit of the Spirit. It's our thanks to you when you partner financially with us today.

You can give online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Okay, here's Anne with a prayer for anyone struggling to forgive someone. Lord, I'm just thinking of those listeners that maybe do have that root of bitterness, even listening, they're resonating. Like, yes, I have felt that, I've gone through that. Whether it be something really big and hard, or maybe it's just the everyday things that we've been holding on to. Father, right now, we just hand those to you.

As an act of our will, we may not feel like it because the person doesn't maybe deserve to be forgiven. But Father, will you do, as Dave said, that spiritual surgery on our hearts? Will you begin a work? Will you reveal it to us? Will you show us in your word how to resolve that? But thank you, God, that the thing that has resolved it is your death on the cross and the resurrection of your body, because as a result of that, we now have new life and we have your spirit living within us. And you, God, give us the ability to forgive, to let go, to get rid of bitterness. But first, God, we just lay it before you and we ask you to help us. Help us to bless people when we may not feel like it. Lord, will you begin that surgery now? We thank you in Jesus' name, amen.

Oh, God, we thank you in Jesus' name, amen. Cards declining, bills coming up, feeling trapped in your finances? Well, stay tuned because next week on Family Life Today, David A. Wilson talked with Bob and Linda Latik about how to get to a better spot financially. That's next week. On behalf of David A. Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 00:26:36 / 2022-11-09 00:34:12 / 8

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