Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections by the Rev. Devon Davoux Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald columnist, writes that an old friend told him that 90 percent of marriage makes him glad he is alive but 10 percent of it makes him want to say "kill me now." He said that the trick is to get through the 10 percent by trusting the 90 percent.

Perhaps you have been in the predicament of the man whose marriage was falling apart. He would watch his marriage video in reverse so he could see himself leaving the church as a free man. Another man said he had married his wife because of her looks, but not the looks she had been giving him lately. One woman said she married Mr. Right, but after she was married she had not realized that his middle name was "always."

Let's face it � there is conflict in relationships � why is that? God has made no two people the same, we are all very different. Some people like to spend, others like to save, one likes it clean, the other is messy, one's rigid, the other is spontaneous, and the list goes on. We are different.

If we are being honest we are also self-centered. Most of us look at things from our point of view � it is my checkbook, my car, my office, those are your friends, your table, your fault. We are also imperfect. Romans 3:23 says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (NIV)

It really boils down to this � success in marriage is the ability to manage the conflict. More precisely it is the way you are able to handle and resolve conflict. Unresolved anger will erode the joy, intimacy, and communication in a marriage.

There are four major categories that produce anger in a marriage � money, sex, communication and children. This is the umbrella that brings most conflict but most of the issues that bring major conflict are not the big things, but rather the little things.

The little thingscan eventually cause a major explosion and ultimately lead to divorce.

Here is a list of 11 common problems:

* Toothpaste tube squeezed incorrectly.

* Towels left on the floor.

* Hair clogging sinks or showers.

* Checks that did not get logged in the register.

* Claiming total control of the TV remote.

* Junk left in the car.

* Empty salt shakers.

* Empty milk container put back in the fridge.

Pretty dumb list, yet, if left unresolved, anger can build.

It is important to remember we are going to deal with lots of issues in life � when beginning our marriage, when you have kids, new jobs, etc. Some conflict will be resolved and others will be continuous � finances will be an issue, how to raise children or address problems, or with in-laws � you will always be working through conflict.

If we don't learn to resolve our anger, it will affect our ability to give love, and to receive love.

The Apostle Paul gives some great advice on forgiveness in Ephesians 4:25-32. First, he writes we are to forgive frankly. Verse 25 says "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor." It says to put away lying, speak truthfully.

In marriage we sometimes want to candy coat what has been done, cover it up, or lessen it. We say things like "well it wasn't that big of a deal." Instead of saying he spent $100 on that golf club because you know she will be upset, he says he spent $50.

Forgiveness does not mean we ignore what has been done, rather we need to be frank about the wrong. For healing to take place it is important to lay out offenses specifically.

Second, we are to forgive frequently. Verse 26 says "In your anger do not sin." Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." It uses "do not" to express an absolute denial of going to bed angry. Deal with today's problems today.

Make today's issues always today's problem. Don't extend the offense. Bed time is the checkpoint. Settle problems one day at a time.

Third, forgive freely. Verse 32 says "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Sometimes we apply conditions to our forgiveness. "I will forgive you if ?" Forgive fully, just as God has forgiven you through Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness cost the son of God death on the cross for our sins. Don't rehearse the other's sins, but forgive them fully. Often we are unable to do this on our own, that is why we need to put our faith and trust in Christ and he will give you the strength.

Last forgive finally, once and for all. One lady was speaking to younger women about marriage. Before she was married she said she wrote a list of 10 things she would always forgive her husband for when married. After she was married, when he would do something dumb, she would tell him, "you're lucky that one is on the list." The women were dying to know what was on the list and asked her for it.

When they asked her for the list, she said "You know I never got around to making that list." When my husband did something irritating I would just say "You are lucky that is on my list." Don't keep lists in marriages.

Remember Jesus Christ paid an incredible price for the forgiveness of our sins so we could be at peace with God and have assurance of our salvation. Why don't you make him your Lord today? God bless.

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