...Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7, ESV, emphasis mine)Beware the roadblocks of pride that keep us from traveling with our spouses in a God-glorifying direction. We must stop pointing the finger in accusation and start probing our hearts in self-examination.
…a common tendency we all have: we often want to fix our marriage problems by “fixing” our spouses. Later in this book we’ll examine more closely what to do when love requires that we address the sin of our spouses. But in marriage that’s not the place to begin. Scripture does not give me permission to make the sins of my spouse my first priority. I need to slow down, exercise the humility of self-suspicion, and inspect my own heart first. (65-66)
This is just what Jesus taught us:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite (we need to hear that...and let it sink in!), first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, ESV, emphasis mine)Harvey draws out a humorous, but wise implication when he writes:
If you have a beam sticking out of your eye and you try to remove a speck from your wife’s eye, “Just approaching her brings pain.” (66)
We all have conflict in our marriages. And almost always do both sides contribute sin to those conflicts. Harvey encourages us to use our imaginations:
What would happen if you evaluated that conflict in light of [Mt 7:3-5], and your spouse did too?
What if, to you, the log (not the speck) was yours…and to your spouse the log (not the speck) was his or hers? Would one of you be wrong? Would that be a misapplication of this passage? I don’t think so. I think it’s exactly what is supposed to happen!
Jesus is not concerned here with which of you is more at fault in a particular instance. His emphasis is your focus…. In light of who we are compared to God, and because of the reality of remaining sin, it is nothing more than basic integrity to consider our sin before we consider the sin of our spouse. To do otherwise lacks integrity. It’s hypocritical. (66-67)
Have you ever noticed how we are prone to make extremely confident assertions and judgments regarding our spouse’s sin, motives, and contributions to our problems?
Have you also noticed that, strangely, we are SO non-committal and excusing and uncertain when we speak of our own sin, motives, and contributions (if we admit them at all!). Have you ever said anything like this:
- “Well, I might have…
- “I probably could have…
- “I guess I could have…(and there's usually a big "but" somewhere following soon after!)
- “I probably didn’t…
Can I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there good reason for me to be a bit suspicious of myself?
- Do I think it would make sense to humbly suspect and honestly inspect myself before I suspect and inspect my spouse?
- Have I ever considered the possibility that my assessment of my wife’s/husband’s motives (heart) and reasons (thinking) was/is less than perfectly accurate?
- Have I ever considered the possibility that the “uncertainty” of my self-assessments and my squishy confessions were/are really guilt-evasion -- not (oh-so) humble concessions for the sake of the peace?
If we get the truth here, it will help us guard against driving into the ditch (or "up the off-ramp") of pride and self-righteousness.
…avoid the off-ramp of self-righteousness. Integrity calls you to suspect and inspect your motives. Are you really doing this to bless, encourage, and help your spouse? Or do you actually have a strong interest in chalking up a few points for the home team? Do you hope to be proven right? To be vindicated? To emerge as spiritually superior? Who are you intending to serve—your spouse or yourself?
Amen. God help us.So if you find yourself on a speck hunt in your marriage, it’s probably because your suspicions are misdirected and you’re inspecting the wrong spouse. Marriages flourish when both partners learn to stay on the narrow road of integrity. I want to suspect and inspect my own heart first. That is where I will discover, not only the most obvious sin, but the only sin I can directly change. (68)