It’s easier to do the right thing when our spouse does the right thing.
We can usually respond correctly in those circumstances, can’t we? It’s not rocket science, it’s it’s just human nature. You be good to me and I’ll be good to you.
What about when your husband or wife isn’t being good to you . . . isn’t doing what is right?
Much, much tougher.
And, if we’re honest, we often cut ourselves a little slack when this happens, listening to the voice that says, “I’m justified in responding the way I did because of what he/she did.”
It is justice, of a kind . . . but not the biblical kind. It may feel right in the moment, to our flesh. Sin always initially feels right to our flesh. But . . .
God doesn’t draw such distinctions and make provisional allowances for our sin based on the difficult time we are having with our spouse. Instead, He says, “Be holy as I am holy.”
All the time, Lord?
Even when that person I’m married to does things that make me really angry?
Even when I am passed over?
When I feel uncared for and unloved?
Our flesh could never respond with a resolute “yes” to these questions. There’s just too much at stake, humanly speaking.
And what follows for wives from a prolonged experience in a loveless relationship?
A dry, lonely place.
But, even there, God wants your faithfulness.
And, it’s not just wives.
Many husbands write to me, telling of the empty, solitary life they lead with their sinful spouse. And, still, from them, too, God wants faithfulness when being faithful comes at a serious cost to the flesh.
In the quietness of the lonely hour, God’s message is unchanged, “Be holy as I am holy.”
It’s easy to love someone who is loving toward you. This is the point Jesus was making in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:46 – even “publicans” (the worst sort of person in 1st Century Jewish society) do that.
God’s call to true believers (Christian couples!) is not for faithfulness only when things are going well but in the hard times every couple eventually faces. The mettle of our faith is revealed – is proven out – in the crucible of difficult relationships.
Someone else’s sin (your spouse’s, for instance) does not prevent you and me from walking in holiness before God.
What Holiness Doesn’t Mean
Being holy does not mean not becoming angry. The Word says, “Be angry but don’t sin.” Ephesians 4:26
Being holy does not mean looking the other way in the face of ongoing sin. If you have a spouse who is walking in sin, apply the steps outlined in Matthew 18.
Being holy does not mean denying who you are and stuffing your feelings until you’re ready to explode. Involve others – Godly, older mentors who can shine biblical light on the path before you.
Being holy does not mean continuing to live in physically abusive circumstances. Get out and away ASAP.
But, being holy does mean not responding in sin when you are sinned against. And, you can do it because the Spirit of God indwells you, has empowered you and because sin doesn’t have dominion over you. Galatians 5:16 says if you walk in the Spirit you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.
Romans 6 says, . . .Consider your selves dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. . . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you . . . Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.
You are not a servant of sin. You are not under it’s dominion. You don’t have to do it’s bidding.
You are the servant of righteousness – even (especially) in life’s most challenging moments. God has given us the Spirit, the power, and the authority to say “no” to our impulse to respond in sin.
Will you embrace who you are in Christ and God’s call on your life to “Be holy as I am holy”— in this moment, during this day, in this pilgrimage He has not only called you to walk but is walking with you, right now?
Godliness in the face of being wronged in marriage is a powerful testimony – the testimony God desires for your life.
Matthew Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matthew and his beautiful bride of 21 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here: MatthewLJacobson.com or find Matthew on facebook.