After a recent spat with my dear, sweet husband I found myself in a snit. By all accounts, I am sure I was “right”. Aren’t we often in that place? In the past, God has shown me this question, “Is it better to be ‘right’ or in right relationship?” As you might imagine, I don’t really like rhetorical questions, questions asked when the answers are already known: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). When we are crossways with someone and we continue the argument, out loud, or silently at the kitchen sink, this is not peace. This is a snit. Even if voices aren’t raised. Even if harsh words aren’t spoken. Even if we are “right”.
So how do we get back to the good place, from the bad place? “Venting” makes it worse. Surely, replaying the scenario in our minds makes it worse. “Explaining” ourselves…again…for the fifteenth time…makes it worse. After all these years I see how right Jesus is. “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘˜An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matt 5:38-41). OK, there is no way I am talking about actual hitting in the marriage relationship. In fact, many theologians have weighed in on the slapping of the cheek and agreed that, whether figurative or literal, the slap on the right cheek alludes to a backhanded slap (with the right hand of the slapper), which was, and still is, considered a great insult. Such a slap is an “indignity” according to old Matthew Henry. Jesus tells us not to return insult for insult, not to retaliate in like manner when we are offended. He even goes one further; He says we must “go the extra mile” for the person who has offended us, do good to them…not for any benefit to us, but out of our love for Him. It is our offering to Him, because He is worthy of it.
When we choose the godly way over the worldly way, we glorify God: we accurately reflect His image to others, as a mirror reflects a face. It is just that too – a choice. It is not a process. So what I began to really comprehend was a stunner. How much better would we live if we began to see “faithfulness in marriage” to mean our faithfulness to God, rather than our faithfulness to another person? Stay with me here…God calls us to a different way than we would naturally go:
- Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph 5:1-2).
- If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1).
- Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matt 18:21-22).
- Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:12-14).
If we are faithful – meaning we honor our commitments – to God, then we are faithful to everyone else too. As I pondered my own sullen heart, I realized that my worst offense was not dishonoring my husband with my pettiness, it was dishonoring my LORD with my disobedience. Ouch! So I think I will never forget this argument, though I cannot remember right now what it was actually about…because, as always, the LORD was teaching me. He was teaching me that I must choose to be faithful to Him in all that I do, and say, and think. He was teaching me that, to be faithful to Him, is to be true to the call He has given us, to accurately reflect His image to others. It is not just the first step, in some ways it is the only step needed. You cannot be “right” with others unless you are right with God.
How about you? Been in a snit lately?
justAgirl…just like you