When you feel attacked, dismissed, or neglected by your spouse, how do you respond?
Do you pout, retaliate, step back, go to silence? Today I want to share with you how you can respond in a way that will bring life and healing when you're made to hurt you the most. Stay with us. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Well, in just a minute, Chip's going to wrap up his newest series, Keeping Love Alive, Volume 4. We hope you and your spouse have been encouraged by this series. And if you'd like to help strengthen another couple's marriage, take a minute after this message and share this series with them.
You can do that either through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s you'll find at livingontheedge.org. Thanks for spreading the word about how this teaching is impacting you. If you have a Bible, turn now to Romans chapter 12 verse 14 for part two of Chip's talk, A Christlike Relationship to Personal Attacks and Injustice. Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not. By the way, the word curse means to desire for someone to be lost eternally. And bless is the desire for them to not only be saved but to experience God's favor.
Do you realize how radical this is? Can you imagine being in the first century and your whole life you've been taught, love your neighbor, hate your enemy, and then this rabbi comes and starts, you know, like, really? And then he says, rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty in mind but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation. In context, he's still talking about how you treat people who are persecuting you or who are evil. I've got stories from here down my elbow of people who have taken this passage that literally and acted in those ways and seen the most dramatic breakthroughs because it's how the kingdom works. And then the second major command, that's verses 14 to 16.
Verse 17, you might underline the first word, never. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. And I might add, even to the one we're married to. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. And this is one of the keys, especially in our marital relationships. The word, this translation is respect, the word is consider. Take into account, it's sort of a stepping back, and you might write this down, this has helped me.
Everybody behaves in a way that makes sense to them. It's kind of examining things and realizing, he just said this, or he wounded me again, or there was this action, and not excusing any of it. But it's like stepping back and going, I can see at least how maybe in view of her background or his background and the circumstance and the wounds they have, how this could have happened and how I received it. I will tell you this, we had really, really big problems in our marriage.
And yes, we needed Christian counseling. But it wasn't until I heard my wife explain what it was like to grow up in her home. It wasn't until I heard, I'd seen her father, but I heard what she lived with. I remember in the counselor's office thinking, oh my gosh, it's amazing that she's even a nice person, let alone this loving person.
Because the interesting thing is when you judge someone and when you're harsh back and when you put up walls, guess what, it just, you know what, it's like you throw your bomb over the wall and they throw theirs back and what happens, right? When someone can have the grace, you know, I remember just looking at her with tears, I had no idea. I had no idea you lived through that. I can't fathom what it would be like to look into the mirror and say, I'm unloved, I'm unlovely, I'm ugly, I'm unlovable, and I'm unworthy of anyone ever loving me.
I guess that explains why you're not receiving my love so well. It was a journey. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. The second never, you might underline, never take your own revenge, that's paying back.
Beloved, but why? Leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, vengeance is mine. Basically, that's my job.
I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy's hungry, feed him. What? If he's thirsty, give him a drink.
Why? For in doing so, you'll keep burning coals on his head. By the way, I know some of you are thinking, great! You know, it's like a grenade right in their brain, finally we're getting someplace. I'm going to explain what that means in just a minute. And then the final command is, do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
And this is a practice. I was a Christian about two and a half years, growing in Christ, in college. We had a guy on our team who probably should have been playing Division I.
We were a school that gave scholarships, but we were kind of below the Division I. And he'd been through Vietnam, he had scars here and scars here. He had a vertical of about 44 inches, and he was 6'7", 6'8".
I mean, Jerry elbows over the rim. But he was also a drug dealer, had spent some time in prison. And between the drugs and the war, had really messed up his brain and his nervous system. So he's on our team, and Jerry, I don't know his background, all I can tell you is he hated Christians. And so he found out I was a Christian.
And he was very smart, very articulate, and he was an amazing artist. And he came as the reformed drug addict. And so Jerry's joy was to mess with me. And one day I was walking to my room, and the RA was across the hall, and the door was just open a little, and everybody was smoking dope.
And back then it was illegal, and I mean, smoke is coming out. And I just glanced, and Jerry glanced, and I got to my room. When I got to my room, I felt a hand behind me, and I turned around, and Jerry's about 6'8", and he grabbed underneath my neck, and he lifted me off the ground, and see if he was caught doing drugs, it was back to prison. And he brought me up here, and he looked at me, and he said, You say anything to anyone, by God I'll kill you. And I've killed a lot of people already, one more wouldn't matter. To say I was terrified, and I don't know, maybe some of you have had this, I didn't know the human heart could be so evil.
I'm ashamed to say that. I had anger fantasies, I had rage inside my heart. So it's not going well, and there is a method to this story.
But I can't sleep at night, and now I don't know what it's like when you really get full blown ulcers, but I mean, it's my stomach, my heart, and I'm scared, and I'm angry, and I can't pray. And there was a leader of our campus ministry, and I said, What do I do? He goes, You really want help? I said, Yeah. He said, I'll tell you how God will intervene and change all this.
I said, Great. You know what he did? He read Romans chapter 12 verses 14 to 21. He said, Chip, the only freedom is for you to bless him, and don't take your revenge.
You don't have to feel it. Second, you need to pray for him every day. Oh, I've been praying.
Not that the earth would swallow him up. You need to pray that God would give him favor in basketball, that God would cause his art to go well, that God would bless his life. I want to kill him. I don't want to bless his life. He goes, Chip, obedience has nothing to do with your emotions. Choose to do it. I share this story because some of you, what I just shared and all that stuff, in your brains, you're thinking, There is no way in. I'm going to do that with my wife or some people that hurt me.
I'm not going there. And I'll tell you what, after practice, everyone laid their stuff down. I would take Jerry's stuff.
I'd lay a towel there. I'd put his stuff away. Always on road trips, it was like I would get his bag before he could say anything, and I'd put it on the bus for him.
What are you doing? He always called me Chip. And then at the meal, we'd always have a training table meal, and it'd be like, Get me this, get me that, get me that. Just always humiliating.
So instead, it was like, Hey, Jerry, can I get you? And I did it for a month, and did it for two months, and did it for three months, and I prayed for him every day, and he didn't change. But I did. Bitterness kind of went out of my soul. I didn't even know it, but other guys watching, a couple of guys on the team, came to Christ.
We got to the very end of the year in the tournament, and he's really big, and he always put his hand on me like this. Gee. And he said, There's only two people on this whole team I respect. They're all a bunch of phonies.
They're posers. I'm evil, and if there's a hell, I'm going there. And so the other person is you. I don't believe a thing that you believe about all this Jesus, but you're no fun. I've lost all joy in trying to put you down. And I would never want to be a Christian.
But if I ever did, I'd want to be one like you. Bless those who persecute you. Bless and curse not. Never take your own revenge. Leave room for the wrath of God. If your enemy's hungry, feed him. If your enemy's thirsty, give him a drink.
In so doing, you'll put burning coals on his head. It's a picture of the Middle East when someone was repenting. And if you were in a village, and you had recognized that you were wrong, you would build a fire and put a towel on your head, and then you would take the pan with the coals, and you would walk through the village, and you would walk through the village saying, I am burning out of my head the way I used to think I was wrong. See, the fact of the matter is people know when they're doing wrong, and when the oil of goodness they know they don't deserve, you know what it creates?
Shame. Do you know there's only one reason, according to Jesus, that anyone ever gets divorced? Jesus said, is it because of the hardness of your heart?
You see, the most dangerous thing that happens in your marriage is your heart gets hard. But when you forgive, here's your bad thinking. You think forgiving is taking them off the hook. Forgiveness is, what's it say? Vengeance is mine. You know what you do?
I could take Jerry. My part was to bless him and pray for him and do good. God, you're a just God.
I'm taking off my hook and my punching bag, and I'm putting him on your hook. You do what's right. You do what's just. You always want to see restoration. But if there isn't restoration, if there's a hard heart, the person that will bring about justice in his life will be you.
That's not my job. I can choose to bless and love him by your power, but people don't get off the hook. God is just. Question, is there someone you need to forgive, bless, or seek reconciliation?
Certainly, in our context, we're asking about our mate, but there may be some other people. What do you need to believe about God's character to help you overcome evil with good? You know what you need to believe? He's sovereign. He's in control.
He orchestrates things. Joseph, who was betrayed by his brothers, Joseph, who was sold into slavery, Joseph, who ends up in prison and then forgotten, he's got a 10-year journey of bad, bad, bad, bad, unfair, unfair, unfair, unfair, but there's a little line in Joseph's life that says, the Lord is with Joseph, and we can't find him whining or complaining. And when he gets to the end of his life and his father dies and his brothers think, now the other shoe's gonna drop. He's the most powerful man in Egypt except Pharaoh.
All of the families here, he'll probably kill all of us. Joseph says, as for you, you meant evil against me, but God, are you ready for this, meant it. That means God had a part. When people do evil things against you, he's got the bigger play. God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. God got me in Egypt, then he got me in prison, then he got me connected with the baker and the other guy, then got me promoted, and then, by the way, then God got me a wife and some sons, and he gave me wisdom, and you know what? Yeah, you meant it for evil.
You have to believe that. Romans 8, 28, we often quote, but we forget 29. And we know that in circle all things, a tough marriage, wounds, struggles, anger, infidelity, alcoholism, deployments. In all things, God works for the good, but not for everyone. For those who love him, who've been called according to his purpose, for those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. God will use every adversity, and his agenda is not that your life is smooth. His agenda is make you like Jesus, and he will use the betrayal, the injustice, the difficulties, all the things that you go through if you stay in the game. And by that, I mean you don't get bitter.
By that, I mean it's like I don't get it. This isn't fair. Emotionally, I'm really angry. I'm super ticked off. It shouldn't be this way, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I'm going to keep living your way instead of the world's way.
And it's so counterintuitive, and people will think I'm a fool. The second thing you have to believe about God is his mercy. Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or my sister who sins against me or my wife or my husband? Up to seven times?
And Peter's going like, wow, I must be a superstar to go up to seven. Jesus answered, I tell you not seven times, but 77 times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servant, and I want you to read something.
This is the most profound parable in all of Scripture because here's what God's asking you to do. You have to forgive your mate. You have to forgive if it was your parents. You have to forgive whoever did you in. Literally, dear God, will you bring to mind anyone that I need to forgive, that I harbor ill or resentment?
And it might be from 10 years, 20 years, or last week. And forgiveness is an act of the will. I choose to release them, point in time. And then forgiveness is a process, forgiving. You forgive, and then forgiving is a process. And the process is you bless them. If there's any way to do something nice or kind to them, even if it has to be anonymous, and then you pray for them.
I was betrayed by a staff member. I prayed for him every year for two years. I never took the Lord's Supper where I didn't ask God to bless his life. Now, my early prayers were, God, will you show him where he's wrong? Would you cause his life to cave in and repent and come back and tell me he's sorry for all the terrible things he did?
That never happened. But I can tell you, after two years of praying for him and blessing him and doing good things, I heard something good about him, and I was shocked. My heart rejoiced.
I could actually be happy that something good happened to him. Forgive point of time. Forgiving a journey. Forgiven when you can come to the point where you're not.
Why would you ever feel that? Jesus said, for this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to sell accounts with his slaves. I'm in Matthew 18.
You can see it in your notes. And when he began to settle them, one owed him 10,000 talents was brought to him. But since he didn't have the means to repay, the master commanded that he be sold along with his wife and his children. So the slave fell to the ground, prostrated himself before him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything. And the master of the slave felt compassion, empathy. And he released him, and he forgave him the debt. You don't have to pay it.
It's done. Jesus wants them to understand it would be impossible for anyone to repay that master. But he went out and found one of his own slaves who owed him 100 denarii, and he seized him, and he began to choke him, saying, Pay back what you owe me. So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you. But he was unwilling, and he went and threw him into prison until he would pay him back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their master all that had happened. And then summoning him, his master said to him, You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave in the same way that I had mercy on you? Now listen to Jesus meek and mild.
And his master moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he would repay him all that was owed. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. Some of us pray the Lord's Prayer fairly regularly. Father, forgive us our sins.
Then take a rocket scientist to figure out what that means. Father, forgive us our sins as we forgive those. Resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness are like cancers that eat away at our soul and destroy our love. We must forgive our mates as Jesus has forgiven us. Forgiveness does not mean that the consequences of behavior or reconciliation or things don't need to have a structure and a plan to repair things.
It doesn't mean that you don't need to go get help, see a counselor, get on a good path, all the rest. But you don't go from square one until you give to your mate what Jesus has given to you. And here's the deal. We all want justice for the other person, but we all want mercy from God, right? I don't want justice.
God, forgive me, and he does. And here's the moment. You have this equation, and it's this simple. This is what you did for me. Unless I want to get from you what I want them to get from me, then I don't deserve to have your mercy. And this isn't like the first time we've come on this issue and many others. I have to give what you've given to me.
And it was only that logic that allowed me to forgive. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And the message you just heard, a Christ-like relationship to personal attacks and injustice, is from our newest series, Keeping Love Alive, Volume 4.
Well, Chip will be back to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. We've all seen those stories of couples who've been married five, six, or even seven decades. So what's their secret? How did they make it?
And better yet, how can they make it? And better yet, how can we build those types of lasting bonds? Through the newest installment of our Keeping Love Alive series, Chip's identifying four relationships great marriages have in common. Learn why these connections are so critical and how you and your spouse can better prioritize them in your marriage, starting today.
If you missed any part of this series, catch up via the Chip Ingram app or at livingontheedge.org. Hey, I'll be right back in just a minute with some final thoughts about today's message. But I really want to emphasize to you that of all the things that have broken my heart in ministry over the years, it's watching really good people, even very godly people, allow things to enter into their relationship and destroy their marriage. Either they live in parallel lives together or it actually ends in divorce. And I long to see God restore marriages in Christian homes that are rich and deep, where you have a best friend, you have a soul mate, where there's genuine passion in every area of your life. And so I've written a book called Marriage That Works, and it's God's design. It's what he actually says from Scripture about how a marriage can be rich and deep and the romance can come back and the feelings can return and the commitment can be the foundation of all that works.
It's more than reading a book. We want to see a marriage transformed. Thanks, Chip. To order a copy of Marriage That Works, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003. This book will help you better understand God's model for marriage, the roles of husbands and wives, and what it really means to be one with your spouse. Again, to get your hands on Chip's book, Marriage That Works, call 888-333-6003 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org.
App listeners tap special offers. Well, Chip, as we wrap up this message, talk to those couples out there who aren't just dealing with an isolated incident of wrongdoing, but who are stuck in a cycle of hurt, maybe bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. How can they get out of this pattern and restore their relationship? Well, Dave, that is a super important question, and you're addressing lots of people. Teresa and I just met with a great couple, love God, and they've hit one of these spots, and just the cycle of bitterness, resentment, what he said, she said, some external issues with family members, and the cycle goes on and on.
And we met with them, and you could just see, they both shut down. And, you know, there's some theology here, so you have to grasp the sovereignty of God that he can use this for good so you don't bail out, and the mercy of God that you just, whether you feel like it or not, you have to forgive your mate. But forgiving them doesn't mean you put up with the same things and that behaviors don't need to change and that you don't need help. When you're really stuck, as I told this couple, we met with them, I just said, you're not going to get unstuck on your own.
You're both really smart people. You both really do love God. But you're in a cycle now that you just, when you actually try and talk, you hurt each other more and more. There is a time to get outside help, and that's with a great pastor or a great Christian counselor, an older couple that really loves God, and you just go, as Teresa and I did many years ago, and say, you know, we can't figure this out. We love each other, we're committed to God, committed to each other, but we just keep hurting one another. And so if you're in that situation, can I encourage you, get help.
Don't procrastinate. Take the initiative. If your mate won't go to counseling, then go by yourself. Go to your pastor or go to a great Christian counselor because when you deal with your issues, when you begin to change, every marriage is a system. And when you begin acting and responding differently, it changes the dynamic, and what you'll begin to see is change in the relationship. Let me encourage you to just to begin to read and to begin to get some good things in your mind. Maybe listen to this whole series all over again and ask God to change you.
The turning point in my marriage came when I realized I could not change my wife, and the only one that I could change was me. And I just said to the Lord, divorce is not an option, so whatever you need to do in me, do it in me. And that began the change, and let me encourage you to do the same. Great word, Chip.
Thanks. Well, before we close, I want to thank each of you who make this program possible through your generous giving. 100% of your gifts go directly to the ministry to help Christians live like Christians. Now, if you found this teaching helpful but you aren't yet on the team, would you consider doing that today? To send a gift, go to livingontheedge.org or text DONATE to 74141.
It's that easy. Text the word DONATE to 74141 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap Donate. And let me thank you in advance for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, I'm Dave Druey, saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge. ...
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