I read several things to grow to be like Jesus in my marriage. I will never stop having to learn this side of heaven. I know that, but it does become wearisome, especially when I fail, fail to love, submit, respect, do…. this list can be long. I was recently encouraged when I read a blog on marriage by Gary Thomas (pastor and author of Sacred Marriage).
Mr. Thomas began his blog by describing the climate of Israel- HOT, ARID, HUMID… he equated it to living in Houston TX; it’s not too different than living here in Dallas in the summer time. We all agree, we are grateful when we walk into air conditioning! Mr. Thomas’ next step was to introduce a verse Solomon repeated in Prov. 21:9 & 25:24. Ladies if you’re like me, you probably don’t like these verses… better to live in a corner of a house TOP, then to share a house with a contentious woman. -a house ‘top’, that would mean outside in the climate of Israel…Dallas Summer… that would be better—ouch!
This is a verse I truly do not like reading at all. I used to think God (many years ago) was a little sexist for putting that verse in His word. There are several things that have been taught me through the years concerning this verse… the power and influence of a wife and mother to set the tone of home. Yes, we do have power and influence, and for that we are responsible, but we are not responsible for other’s behavior. How unbecoming it is to be argumentative, quarrelsome, synonyms include combative, confrontational—really, how Un-Christlike it is; the example we are setting, displaying to our family or other’s as image bearers of Christ… The verse is often a discouraging verse.
So why was I encouraged? Mr. Thomas reminded his readers the Proverbs were not written only to women but also to ‘my son, my sons’. Mr. Thomas suggests that if Solomon were writing this to young men desirous of a wife, of course he wouldn’t encourage them to look for a non-contentious ‘man’. He then proceeded that as people we all can develop the ugly, un-Christlike habit of being argumentative, quarrelsome, combative or confrontational. How or why it is manifested may be different depending on your gender, but it is wrong, not pleasant to be around no matter who is being contentious.
Does your spouse, family, friends have to cringe around you if a certain tag word is muttered... forced to ‘listen’ to you rant and ‘discourse’ about what is right, wrong… in the world, in your marriage… Does your spouse constantly feel like they’re never able to measure up to your standards—can’t clean the house to your perfection, doesn’t buy the right brand at the grocery store, folds the towels wrong, doesn’t appreciate you, what you do…and they have to hear you continually correcting them? Sound familiar? What are we to do?
Prov. 18:21 is clear, The tongue (men’s or women’s) has the power of life and death. Col. 3:19 exhorts husbands to never be harsh with your wife. Wives, do we make our husbands at times wish they lived elsewhere? Puritan John Owen said, ‘kill sin or it will kill you’. We need to kill our contentious spirits or they can or will kill our marriages says Gary Thomas. He goes further to state, ‘fighting sin with sin doesn’t conquer sin; it multiplies sin’. Mr. Thomas says, ‘we need to preach the gospel to ourselves. Remember how much God loves us, accepts us and how much He forgives us; when we meditate on His wisdom, power and wonder, the negative opinion of a fallen human being – even our spouse- doesn’t define us’. But we need also to ask ourselves—are you being argumentative, quarrelsome, confrontational, combative—do you have to win? Are you poisoning your marriage, your spouse whom you promised to God to love, honor, and cherish?
Romans 8:13 tells us, "For, if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." Col. 3:5 tells us, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (italics mine)." When we are contentious, we are worshiping ourselves above worshiping God. We must be pleased above pleasing God.
God is offering us repentance and forgiveness, new mercies each day to reflect His glory. Praise be to God!