Friday, March 12, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 26

Love is Responsible "When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." – Romans 2:1 HCSB

Today will be hard. But as you seek God’s strength and wisdom, you will be able to get through it. This day could be a milestone in your marriage if you allow it to be. So resolve to focus on what the Lord may be saying to you, and purpose to follow His leading.

Today is about personal responsibility. It’s something we all agree others should have, but we struggle to maintain it ourselves. Over the past few decades, there’s been a decline in personal responsibility. More and more, people seem less likely to acknowledge their own mistakes. We see it in politics. We see it in business. We see it in celebrity headlines.

But this is not just a problem with the rich and famous. To find an example of someone who has an excuse for every action, all we have to do is look in the mirror. We are so quick to justify our motives. So quick to deflect criticism. So quick to find fault – especially with our spouse, who is always the easiest one to blame.

We tend to believe that our views are correct, or at least much more correct than our mate’s. And we don’t believe that anybody, give our same set of circumstances, would act much differently than we have. As far as we’re concerned, we’re doing the best we can. And our spouse just ought to be glad we’re as good to them as we are.

But love doesn’t pass the blame so easily or justify selfish motives. Love is not nearly as concerned with its own performance as with other’s needs. When love takes responsibility for its actions, it’s not to prove how noble you’ve been but rather to admit how much further you have to go.

Love doesn’t make excuses. Love keeps working to make a difference – in you and in your marriage.

That’s why the next time you’re in an argument with your spouse, instead of working up your comebacks, stop and see if there’s something worth listening to in what your mate is saying. What might happen in your relationship if instead of passing blame, you first admitted your own wrongs? As the Scripture says, “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool” (Proverbs 17:10 NKJV).

Love is responsible and is willing to admit and correct its faults and errors up front. Are you taking responsibility for this person you chose for yourself as the love of your life? How deliberate are you about making sure your spouse’s needs are met? Or are you only concerned with your mate fulfilling yours? Love calls us to take responsibility for our partner in marriage. To love them. To honor them. To cherish them.

Are you taking responsibility for your own faults? Have you said or done things to your spouse – or to God – that are wrong? Love desires to have a right relationship with both God and your mate. Once that is right, the stage is set for other areas to fall into place.

A real heart of repentance may take a while to grow in you. Pride is very resistant to responsibility, but humility and honesty before God and your spouse is crucial for a healthy relationship.

This doesn’t mean you’re always wrong and your spouse is always right. This is not a demand that you become a doormat. But if there is something that’s not right between you and God, or you and your spouse, then that should be the first priority.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). However, “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confess your areas of sin first, then you’ll be on better ground to work things out with your spouse.

In order to walk with God and to keep His favor, you must stay clean before Him. That doesn’t mean you can never stumble but you confess it to God and ask for forgiveness when you do.

Can your spouse say that you have wronged or wounded them in any way and never made it right? Part of taking responsibility is admitting when you’ve failed and asking for forgiveness. It’s time to humble yourself, correct your offenses, and repair the damage. It’s an act of love. God wants there to be no unresolved issues between the two of you.

The problem is, to do it sincerely you must swallow your pride and seek forgiveness regardless of how your spouse responds. They should forgive you, but your responsibility does not lie with their decision. Admitting your mistakes is your responsibility. If they have wronged you, leave that for them to deal with at another time.

Ask God to show you where you have failed in your responsibility, then get it right with Him first. Once you’ve done that, you need to get right with your spouse. It may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it is crucial to taking the next step in your marriage and with God. If you are sincere, you may be surprised at the grace and strength God give you when you take this step.

Today’s Dare: Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. As for God’s forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your spouse. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your spouse for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept it by receiving it as counsel.

"Each one must examine his own work … in regard to himself alone." - Galatians 6:4

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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