Communication Breakdown - Nate Heitzig
Start building the home of your future today. Smart Home. In our day and age, Satan has declared war on the family. That's why I think this series is so important, is we're talking about marriage, relationships, parenting. Satan has declared war on the family. Because God's plan is to build, strengthen, and protect the family, Satan's desire is to undermine, weaken, and destroy it.
And for years now-- really, for decades-- we have seen the slow chipping away of the American family, of family values. They've deteriorated and been destroyed over time. And now, in our day and age, we are seeing the disabling effect that it's having on society as a whole.
Over the past century, the divorce rate has increased 700%. And now, in our day and age, for every 1.8 marriages, there is one divorce. On a yearly basis, over a million children a year are involved in divorce cases.
I've heard it said that a family can survive without a nation, but a nation cannot survive without the family, and we're seeing that in our day and age, aren't we? You just have to turn on the news and look at "USA Today" and see how far our nation has fallen, the division in our nation. I think that is directly related to the breakdown of the family, to the breakdown of family values, the moral fiber of America.
And far too many people today end their marriages because they encounter some difficulties. We call it irreconcilable differences. Which when I hear that, I'm like, man, that's part of marriage-- differences. Differences is part of life. Conflict, resolution, communication this is part of life.
Irreconcilable differences just means we're too lazy to try to reconcile. We don't want to go through the effort, the pain, the work, the bending, the molding, the growing of getting over those difficulties, so we just say, oh, it's irreconcilable. Let's just end it. Let's just get a divorce.
Many people, Christians included, feel like if it doesn't work out, we should just terminate it. People have too casual of an attitude towards marriage today. If it doesn't work, don't try to fix it. Don't try to grow. Don't try to reconcile. Simply get a divorce. Give yourself a do over.
But marriage is something that in order to be good and fulfilling, it has to include effort. If you don't have to work for it, it's not going to be good. It requires effort-- and I'll say this-- effort on the part of both parties involved, an obedience to God and His word and a laying aside of this world's distorted and perverse concept of marriage.
The primary reason that God brought Eve to Adam was that he was incomplete. There was a void. There was a deep loneliness. God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him." And it says later on, "Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
They should be one flesh. That sounds so nice, doesn't it? It sounds so easy, that we just stand on an altar, we get on the stage one day, we say some vows, we consummate our relationship, our checkbook, our bank accounts are tied to one another. And now, we're one flesh. And now, we think the same way and we talk the same way and we just love each other and it's gum drops and lollipops until the day that we look each other in our eyes and we just breathe our last breath and we go to heaven together.
But it's not that easy, is it? It doesn't just happen with this boom. Oh man, now we're exactly the same. It takes a lifetime of pursuit to find out what oneness is all about. And I see is all the time in dating relationships. You probably do, too. You see this couple and they're dating and they just fight all the time, and there could not be two more different people.
And you're looking at this relationship, those of us who have been in it before, and saying, oh, man, this is a recipe for disaster. These people better figure out how to communicate or it's downhill from here. It's just going to be worse and worse and worse and worse.
And they say, oh, it's fine. Once we get married, everything will be better. Once we get married, it will all just work out. But it doesn't really work out unless we put work into it, does it? It requires work.
See, although on our marriage day, when we say our vows, when we say I do, when we combine our checkbooks, when we consummate our marriage-- although positionally we are one flesh, experientially and practically experiencing that oneness is the hard part. Learning to adapt. Learning to listen. Learning to bend, but not break.
And one of the key ingredients to knowing that oneness is communication. Communication is the most vital area in every marriage. Your marriage will either be made or it will be broken by communication, and we can't let anything or anyone cut that lifeline off. When this is ignored, it will have detrimental effects on your marriage.
By the way, this is important not just in a marriage relationship, but in any relationship. If you don't have strong communication, your relationships cannot survive.
Malachi 12:13 says, "The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, although she is your companion and wife." The word companion means one who you are united with in thoughts, goals, plans, and effort.
Let me ask you, what does it take to be united to someone in thoughts, goals, plans, and effort? Communication. It takes communication. It takes, at time, conflict.
And it breaks my heart to see that many men and women don't really have a close friendship with their spouses. They live in the same house. They have sex together. They have an intimate relationship. But they don't have a friendship. They don't really like being around each other.
Look, when you go hang out with your guys, when you go running with your girlfriends, you should be thinking, man, I wish my spouse was here. Yeah, it's fun being with them, but my best friend, my confidant, the person who I really want to spend my time with, my spouse, I wish they were here. They should be your best friend. And it's unfortunate and unscriptural that too many of us aren't friends with our mates.
Paul tells us to "dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessel and being heirs together of the grace of life, lest your prayers be hindered." Whoa. To dwell means to be aligned to. To honor means to give maintenance to. And if we fail to do this well, it hinders our communication with God.
I want you to grasp this. If you don't listen to your husband, God's not listening to you. If you don't talk to your wife, God's not going to talk to you. If we have a breakdown in communication with our spouse, we will have a breakdown in communication with God. And so it's vitally important that we learn how to communicate to one another.
I read that a woman speaks an average of 50,000 words a day and a man speaks an average of 25,000 words a day, and it says that he uses 24,840 of those words at work, which means that guys, when we get home, we've got about 160 left, give or take a few.
What this means to me is that we need to shift our priorities. The things that we prize, we need to maybe give up a little bit, and the things that we don't value quite as much, we need to place a greater value on. Leaving father and mother also means giving other things a lesser priority-- your business, your career, your house, your hobbies, even your church work.
Many wives feel like their husband never listens to them, and many husbands are reluctant to open up and communicate, believing that they're going to be judged or nitpicked. Outwardly, everything might seem all right, but inwardly, there's a strain that is brewing that will ultimately erupt.
And many of us have had or are about to have a communication breakdown. And that's our title this morning-- communication breakdown. We need to learn how to communicate biblically. And today, we're going to be looking at Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 14 for what I believe is the quintessential blueprint for how we are to treat and communicate all who we encounter.
See, the verses here that we're going to be looking at in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians, they're not specifically about marriage. As a matter of fact, they're not really about marriage at all. They're really about communication in general-- how we communicate to and how we treat every single person that we come into contact with-- with each other, the person next to you, the person behind you, the person in front of you. It's about communication basics. But guess what? Your spouse is part of everyone. Your husband or your wife is your brother or sister in Christ.
And I'll say this. I wish that I would have known the things we're going to be talking about today, I wish I would have heard this message when I was 18, when I was 15. I wish I would have known these principles when I was much younger because it would have saved so many friendships and relationships that I've lost. It would have eliminated so much pain and heartache in my first few years of marriage if I would have known how to apply these things.
And so this is applicable to you, whether or not you are married, or even if you never planned to be married. This is applicable to your life. But this is especially important if you are married because if you can't communicate with your spouse properly, how do you think you're going be able to communicate to anyone properly? See, your husband or your wife who is supposed to be the closest relationship that you have, your closest earthly relationship, so if that's going to falter, other relationships will, as well.
In our text, we're going to learn how to prevent breakdown and also how to repair breakdown by looking at a list of communication don'ts and communication do's. And I'm going to make you a promise if you make a promise to me. If you promise to listen to this and apply this, if you promise to hear these words and take them to heart, I promise you that if you put these principles into practice in all of your relationships, you're going to see unhealthy conflict and communication issues all but disappear. I promise you. That will happen.
And that's why this weekend, we need to have receptive hearts to the word, like pliable, tilled up soil ready for the word to be planted into our hearts. Because if the soil is filled with roots of bitterness, then that seed will be choked out.
Maybe you're sitting here right now and you say, you know what, Nate? It's all good and great, but my spouse can't change. My communication can't get better. You don't know what our fights are like. You don't know the kind of things we've said to each other. There can't be any true growth. There can't be any true life in our relationship.
Those are weeds of bitterness in your heart. And so right now, before we dive into the word, we need to ask the vine dresser to pull those weeds out of our lives and to give us tender, fertile soil for the word to be planted, because guess what? Those lies are Satan whispering to you. And so we need to ask the vine dresser to silence Satan so that we can be receptive to his word. Do you agree with that?
Let's open in prayer. Lord, we want to come before You right now and ask You to do some weeding. We have weeds in our lives, weeds that were put there by relationships, weeds that were put there by conversations and fights that we've had with our spouse. And Lord, we realize that we can't get to any true growth unless we first do some weeding.
So we ask right now that You would go through our hearts and you would pull out any weeds of bitterness so that we could hear these words, they would be planted in our hearts like a seed, and they would bring forth new life and new growth, not just in our relationships with our significant other, but our relationships with everybody-- our mothers, our fathers, our children, our friends, our coworkers. Lord, do a work in our lives so that we can communicate better and so that we can, in turn, communicate with You better. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
We'll turn to Ephesians chapter 4. We're going to read our text. Verse 25 to 32. And remember to mark your bibles, as well, to 1 Corinthians 13. We're going to read from there in a second, as well.
Verse 25 of Ephesians chapter 4 says, "Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
And now, turn the 1 Corinthians 13, and let's look at verses 4 through 7. It says, "Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but it rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things."
The first point we're going to look at is how to prevent breakdown. Preventing breakdown. And we see in our texts a list of don'ts. These are things that if we want communication to be effective in our relationships in life, we have to learn not to do certain things.
And number one is don't lie. Look at verse 25 of Ephesians 4. It says, "Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth." And we also see in 1 Corinthians, it talks about deceit, that we don't want to have deceit in our relationships. Now, obviously, this verse speaks of outright deception and lying in general, and that's because honesty is the first thing you need in your relationship because without it, there is nothing for your relationship to stand on.
If you start your relationship out with lies, when those lies get uncovered, there becomes a distrust in how the relationship started to begin with because you look at it and you say, man, my love for you, my desire for you was built on falsehood. It was built on things that aren't really there. And so if what you said isn't true, is my love for you valid at all? It begins to cause us to question the relationship.
Now, Satan is the father of lies, and if we begin to live a life of falsehood, we will soon forget what is really true or false. We'll being to have lies that cover lies that cover lies, and it becomes this very unstable foundation that nothing truly great can be built upon.
Psalm 101:7 says, "No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house. No one who utters lies shall continue in my presence." Revelation 21:8 says, "For the cowardly and unbelieving and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers, idolaters"-- man, I'm just going to let you know that's a bad list to be on-- "and liars will take their part in the lake of fire."
Now, lying includes more than just telling outright lies. The ESV version of this verse says that we should not speak falsehood-- says falsehood, not lying-- because falsehood includes a broader understanding of this. Falsehood includes exaggeration. Telling someone you always do this or you never do this or you are never going to change is an exaggeration. This is a form of falsehood.
Another big one is flattery, saying something nice when you don't really mean it. And I find in relationships, this happens most often when you want something or when you're trying to hide something. You want something. You say, oh, you look so beautiful today. You look so great. Oh, man, that shirt really brings out your eyes. You're just so awesome. Hey, by the way, do you mind if I get this?
And by the way, this isn't just the case in marriage relationships. This can be the case in all communication relationships. Your boss comes in. Oh, hey, boss. Have you been working out? You really-- you're looking strong. You're really looking good. And you don't really mean it. You just want what? A promotion. You want a raise. You want something.
Or when we're trying to hide something. Your spouse or someone in your life gets close to uncovering a truth you don't want them to see, and so you try to divert them by flattering them. Oh, you know what, honey, have I told you how much I love you? You know, I just think we should spend time just looking into each other's eyes? Let's leave this room and go out here on the porch and just gaze into each other's eyes and read scripture to each other. It's flattery. You're trying to hide something.
Another form of falsehood is making excuses, not owning up to the truth. Here's a big one-- making bargains that you don't intend to keep. Verse 25 says that we are to speak truth. Can we make that agreement, to speak truth, to be a church that speaks truth to one another?
Now, I want to clarify. Truthfulness does not demand telling everything we know and think without the regard for its impact. Some of you are feeling really guilty right now. We shouldn't share ill feelings, bitterness, and dislike for others in the name of truth.
Have you ever said or have you ever heard someone say to you, when we get in a fight and we spout a series of incredibly hurtful and hateful things, and then, someone says, well, I was just being honest. If you don't like it, you just don't like the truth. It's not my fault. There's a few snickers because maybe you said that this morning on the way into church.
I've got a son. He's awesome. His name's Seth. Seth is incredibly honest to a fault. There's times when Seth will get told to do something or he'll get disciplined and he'll come crying and he'll say, dad, I'm sorry. I was thinking bad things about you. I was just thinking right now, when you told me to go to my room, that I hate you.
And I've got to explain to him, Seth, when you think something, it's not a sin, but when you verbalize it, when you act upon it, then, it becomes a sin. And so if you think that, next time, don't tell me. Because the second you told me, it now passed the place of thought and it went into the place of action.
And some couples need to learn this. We think that I've got to be honest with my spouse. I've got to let them know. You know what? I just really don't like you right now. OK, maybe hold that inside next time. Maybe stop yourself from vocalizing that.
You know, when you see things like that, it just makes me never want to have sex with you. Maybe hold that inside next time. Maybe don't vocalize that to your spouse. Because it's one thing to feel something. It's another thing to say something.
That's not what this verse means. Our concern as Christians should be for God to deal with our feelings, for God to remove them, not use them to destroy or tear down someone else in the name of truth. We have to be honest with our mate. We have to bear our hearts. Yet, we must always speak the truth in love, asking each other, "Is there anything wrong?", "Have I offended you?", and always answering in both truth and love.
That means when your spouse says, "Hey, is there something wrong?" don't say "No, I'm fine," and then later on, unload on them. It means when they ask you, "Hey, is there anything wrong?", say, "Yeah, you offended me, but I know that if I respond right now, it's not going to come across the way that it should, so give me a minute to process my thoughts, and then, let's have a conversation." Speaking the truth in love. Tempering ourselves. Being angry. Yes, be angry. But don't sin
And this leads us to our next point, our next don't in preventing breakdown. While we don't want to purposefully share things for the purpose of hurting someone, even if it's true, we also don't want to avoid conflict. So don't avoid conflict, but don't use conflict as a weapon.
Look at verse 26. It says, "Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath." See, there is both a righteous and an unrighteous anger. It's OK to get angry. It's OK to get mad. It's OK to get frustrated. But we have to temper that frustration with patience.
See, oftentimes, we're not mad enough about the right things. We shouldn't avoid conflict. We shouldn't try to brush everything under the rug. It's OK to fight. Conflict is actually healthy. Conflict in fighting can lead to greater intimacy, to shared goals, to mutual respect and honor.
And I see your faces right now. You're like, what kind of fights are you getting into? Because I've never had those. All of my fights lead of yelling and screaming and crying. See, conflict can be healthy, but when it leads to bursts of anger, bursts of temper, ranting and raving, screaming and yelling, it becomes a very destructive force. So how you respond to anger, how you respond to conflict is important.
Proverbs 18:19 speaks of when we as humans can hit someone below the belt. We can hit that secret button. We can do irreparable damage. And it says this. "A brother offended"-- or a wife or a husband-- "is harder to be one than a strong city." Come on. Who can feel me on that?
When you say that thing to your spouse that you know is really going to hurt them, how hard does it become to get past that? How much more work do you have to do after that point to win them over? It's harder to win over than Jericho. Man, it's hard to break down those walls once you've put them up in your spouse's life. So we have to be careful. There's nothing wrong with conflict, but there are rules. Be angry, but don't sin.
Understand this-- no one can wound you like your mate, and no one can wound your mate like you. And those statements are really tied together because when you hurt your mate, you need to understand you're hurting yourself. After all, the Bible says you're one flesh. That means that when you purpose to hurt your mate, it's self-destructive. You are hurting yourself. You're purposing to hurt yourself. It's sadomasochistic. It doesn't make sense.
Has anyone ever been in a fight where you said something you knew you shouldn't have said, but it felt really, really good to say it? Come on. Anyone ever been there? I know you. Come on. You guys are liars, too.
I've done it. I maybe do it too much. And you think, oh, this is really going to get them. I'll hold this card in my back pocket till the very end, and then, bam. I'll bring it out and I'll win that fight, and it's going to feel so good. They're going to know they've lost. They're going to know they don't have anything else to say because I had this card in my back pocket.
Hey, how well does that wind up working out for you? You're laughing because you've done it this week. It winds up hurting you, doesn't it? Often, the damage done to yourself is far worse than the damage done to the other person.
Come on, guys. Let's bring this into reality. Am I right? Winning the fight isn't worth being celibate for a month. It's not. When you bring out that card and you think you're going to win, it hurts you way worse than it hurts them. We need to temper our anger.
Verse 26 says, "Be angry and don't sin." After you lose your temper and let off steam and feel better, what about the casualties? It continues and it says, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath. Don't give place to the devil." Literally, stop giving an occasion and opportunity to Satan is what it means.
When you refuse to settle conflict in a godly manner, you are allowing Satan to speak lies to the other person. You are becoming a microphone and a megaphone for Satan into your spouse's life. Is that what you want to be, a microphone for Satan into your spouse's life?
No, I want to be a microphone of God. I want to build my spouse up, not tear them down. I want to make them confident in who God created them to be, not unconfident and feel like they're on shaky ground and that there's no place for them to stand. We need to be megaphones for grace and truth in our spouse's life, not destruction and bitterness. See, as those lies fester in your spouse's life, they will take root and they will spread into bitterness and destruction.
I read of a husband and a wife who decided to put Ephesians 4:26 into practice, and so they made an agreement and they said, we're never going to go to bed angry at each other. We're going to stay up. We're going to have a conversation. We're never going to go to bed. We're never going to be mad at each other. 30 years later, someone asked, well, how did that work out for you? And the man replied, very well, but sometimes, it was a little rough sitting up all night.
Isn't it funny that conflict always seems to arrive at the worst time, especially at night? Does this ever happen to anybody, that a huge fight won't break out? A day will go by. Everything seems good. And then, at the last minute, right before you go to bed, boom, it just blows up. That ever happen to anybody?
This happens to me all the time. I shouldn't say that. This happens to me frequently, where I'll think we had a great day. I'll think that everything's OK, there's nothing wrong, and I'll turn over and I'll go to sleep, and then right as I'm falling asleep, I'll hear my wife just say something.
And she's like, do you even love me? Or she'll say, do you even care? Or it's always some kind of like a nondisclosure comment that you're not really sure what it's about, but you know, oh man, if I don't deal with this now, there's going to be problems.
But then, your flesh is like, but I really don't want to talk about it. So you can like pretend that you're sleeping and that you didn't hear it, or you can turn over and say, what does that mean? Does that ever happen anybody, where a conflict seems to arrive at the worst moment?
Look, it's important to understand when the right time is to bring up conflict. We need to be honest with one another. We need to be honest about what's going on in our lives. Deal with it before you go to bed, but preferably, at the right place and the right time. Not in front of friends and the kids. Don't air your dirty laundry publicly.
Know when the right time is to call a truce and hold off until you're at a more appropriate battlefield. Know when it's OK to say, hey, this isn't over, but this isn't the right time. Let's talk about this here in a minute. And wait till the right time. Don't let the sun go down doesn't mean before you leave the restaurant or before you get out of the car.
Know when the right time is to hold off. When your spouse asks you, "Hey, is there anything wrong?" be honest. Don't say, "No, everything is fine." Be honest. Have that conversation. Know when the right time, know when the right place is. Because guess what? 2 o'clock in the morning when you're both tired isn't the right time to have that conversation. Have it earlier.
1 Corinthians 34 gives us another view, and it says that love is patient in our text in 1 Corinthians. Love is patient. That is, love is long tempered. This word is common in the New Testament, and it's used almost exclusively, of being patient with people. See, love's patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of over and over and over.
Maybe you feel like your spouse takes advantage of you all the time, that they inconvenience you all the time. Remember, Stephen's last words were those of patient forgiveness when he said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." This is the opposite of us. Lord, enact your vengeance upon them. Lord, they hurt me. Hurt them worse.
I read a bumper sticker that said, "Don't get mad, get even." How many of us have had that sinful attitude towards the person that we're called to love, wishing pain upon the people that we're supposed to protect? I challenge you with the opposite. Get mad. Get angry. Get frustrated. But deal with that anger in a healthy way. Don't avoid conflict, but don't use conflict as a weapon.
The third don't we see is don't be selfish. Don't lie. Don't avoid conflict, but don't use conflict as a weapon. And the third is don't be selfish. Look at verse 28 of Ephesians chapter 4. It says, "Let him who stole steal no longer." And we see later on, in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, it says, "Love does not envy. It does not insist on its own way."
Don't be selfish. This verse deals with stealing, but the core sin that's rooted is jealousy and selfishness, and marriage cannot survive if selfishness exists within it. See, the basic principle of marriage is about relinquishing your rights to another person. It's about giving up what you want for what they want.
And I see this happen all the time when people come into my office for counseling. They say, well, if she just respected me more and said nice things to me, then I'd love her more. And she says, well, if he just loved me more and met my needs more, then I wouldn't say mean things to him and I wouldn't tear him down. And it's this he said, she said, and what happens is they both end up having a miserable life because neither one of their needs are getting met and they both hate each other.
I always encourage couples, wake up every morning and say, how can I be the best husband that God has created me to be today? Wake up and say, how can I be the best wife that God has called me to be today? How can I outlove my spouse? How can I meet my spouse's needs? And guess what? If both of you do this, you're both going to get your needs met, and you're going to have a healthy, functional relationship that's built on selflessness, not selfishness.
Don't look at your spouse and say, they need to be better. Look at yourself and say, I need to be better. So I'm going to grow. I'm going to change. And I'll let God deal with them in the right time and the right place. Love doesn't take. Love gives.
But the great barrier to this is self. See, we often forget about our mate's needs, desires, and wants because we think first and foremost of ourselves. Case in point, when you look at a photo that you're in, who do you look at first? Yourself. Looking out for number one. Making sure I look good. How's my hair look?
James 4:1 says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is it not yourself and pleasures that wage war in your members? Satan said all that a man has, he will give for his life." Conflicts and communication breakdown in the home are the result of people who are motivated and directed by selfish desires, rather than spiritual ones.
See, marriage is a lot like a mirror. It reflects. It gives back a reflection to you of yourself. If you don't like the way you look, don't blame the mirror. Blame the Cheetos. Go to the gym. Don't blame the mirror. It's not the mirror's fault you don't like what you see.
If you don't like the way your marriage is, if you don't like the way your marriage looks, don't blame your spouse. They're simply giving you a reflection of yourself. Blame yourself. Fix yourself. Fix. Grow. Bend. Change. Mold. And then, trust that God will do the same in their life.
The love that Jesus spoke of is a love that turns the other cheek. Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself. Matthew 5:38 to 39 says, "You have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you not to resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to your left also." Love doesn't react to the wrongs of others. It allows others to wrong itself.
The next thing we see-- so we see a list of don'ts, but then, in any relationship, there's times when the breakdown has happened. Maybe you didn't prevent breakdown the right way. Maybe you did the things you shouldn't do. And now, you're left in a place where your relationship, your communication is broke down.
The next thing we see is repairing breakdown. These verses give us a list of do's, things that we can do to repair our communication. See, communication isn't just about what you don't say. It's about what you do say.
Why? Because love is active, not abstract. Love doesn't just talk, it walks. Love is fully love only when it acts. Love doesn't just make you feel something. It makes you do something. Love is a verb.
1 Corinthians 3:18. "My little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth." Our goal should be to demonstrate this kind of love. Number one, do speak kindness. Look at verse 28. It continues where we left off in Ephesians 4. It says, "Let him labor, working with his hands what is good."
Now, a principle applies here, and that is this. Use your hands, use your words for good, not evil. It's not enough to just not criticize. You need to build up. Some people say, well, if you only knew what I think and don't say. I'm doing pretty good. If you only knew the things that I could say that I don't say. I'm doing all right. They've got it pretty good because I could say a lot more.
Hey, congratulations. You win spouse of the year for not saying things that nobody should ever say. Give yourself a gold star and realize that you're still getting an F if you're not in turn saying good things. When's the last time you said "I love you" or "you're beautiful" or "thank you so much for what you do and the sacrifices you make for this family"? Saying these things not to get something, but simply to say them.
Proverbs 31 says that her husband praises her. It says that she speaks words of kindness. In our other text, in 1 Corinthians 13:4, it says, "love is patient," then it continues on and it says, "love is kind." If patience will take anything from others, kindness will give anything to others.
Or framing it in light of what Jesus said, Matthew 5:40. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak, also." Do they deserve the cloak? No, they're thieves. They took the tunic. They don't deserve the cloak. But give it to them freely out of kindness.
When your spouse takes something from you, when they harm you, when they hurt you, don't respond by hurting them. Respond with love and kindness and see how that works for once. If patience has its tunic taken away, kindness will give its cloak away. Kindness is active goodwill. It not only feels generous, it is generous. It not only desires change. It works for it.
If love is only learned, but not lived, it is a lie. If your love is not lived, it's a lie. Patience tempers anger and prevents you from saying something you'll regret. That's good. But kindness says that it's not enough to just not say bad things. You have to say good things.
So let me ask you, what do you say to encourage your spouse? This is a truth that's so fundamental to marriage that it's often forgotten, and it made me realize something. The first thing we often forget is the most simple thing. Let me ask you this, what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place, with your significant other in the first place?
Was it I knew I loved him when he stopped calling me names and stopped telling me that I was just like my mom? That's when I knew I loved him. Was it I knew I loved her because she never demeans me or tells me I'm pathetic? That's how I knew I loved her.
No, it wasn't the lack of hatred. It was the presence of kindness. It wasn't the lack of bad things said. It was the presence of kind things said. Don't become so comfortable in your marriage that you forget to compliment your mate. My dad has always said that if God's love has flowed into our lives, it ought to flow out of our lives.
By the way, pro tip. One of the best ways, if you're wondering, man, how can I get my spouse to say sorry-- one of the best ways to lead your spouse to repentance after a big fight is with words of kindness. It's hard, but it's effective. It's amazing what a kind word can do in breaking down walls and leading to forgiveness.
God is our supreme model in this. Romans 2:4 says, "Do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" Kindness leads to repentance. If you want to know how you can get your spouse to say sorry, be kind. I promise you, it will break down the walls. It will break down the barriers. And you're going to see active change.
Number two, do trust each other. Look at verse 7 of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. It says, "Love believes all things." That is to say, love believes the very best of every person. It is not suspicious. It's not cynical. If a loved one is accused of something wrong, love will consider them innocent until proven guilty. You'll stick up for them, not say things like, I knew you couldn't change.
Now, when your spouse messes up, when your spouse fails, when someone in your life doesn't do what they're supposed to do, instead, say, I know you can do better. Let me help you. Let me be a part of the change in your life. What can I do better to help you do better? It believes all things. It has hope. It doesn't discourage.
And the third-- and I think this is the most important not only in repairing breakdown, but in preventing breakdown, as well-- it's do guard against bitterness. Guard against bitterness. Ephesians 4:31 continues by saying, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you."
See, the danger is that communication breakdown can lead to bitterness. Whether you've already experienced communication breakdown, you have bitterness in your heart, or whether you're leading to communication breakdown, it will lead to bitterness.
Bitterness is defined as a settled hostility that poisons the whole mind. If we fail to communicate properly, bitterness and resentment will settle in. It will poison our mind. It will cause us to think ill of our spouse. And it will spread and it will fester until it destroys.
We need to empower one another, not demean one another. We need to amplify love and silence bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 says, "Look to yourself diligently, lest any man fall from the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness spring up and trouble you." The Greek word for bitterness springing up gives the idea of cutting, pricking, and puncturing. It speaks of a thorn in a garden. It speaks of a continuous, tortuous pain that you inflict upon yourself and others.
Roots of bitterness grow in gardens left unattended, and each day, they go a little deeper and a little harder to pull out. Some people think that because they don't fight, everything is fine, but the reason they don't fight is because they hate each other so much that they just don't talk to each other ever. And they think, well, we're not fighting anymore, so something must be getting better, but in reality, this bitterness is just going deeper and deeper each day.
So I want to close by giving you two things and asking a question. How do we keep ourselves from growing bitter? Maybe you're bitter already, or maybe you see yourself becoming bitter, or you just want to guard yourself from getting bitter in the future. Well, 1 Corinthians 13:7 tells us that "love endures all things. Love refuses to give up. It refuses to surrender. It refuses to stop believing or hoping. Love will simply not stop loving."
And there's two things you can do-- two practical things that you can do-- to defeat bitterness and to endure all things. And if you do these things on a daily basis, you're going to see your bitterness diminish and your love grow. And that is consider and compare.
Consider. Consider the people in your life through the eyes of Jesus. As Jesus lay dying, his concern was for the murderers rather than himself. He said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."
Let me ask you this. How can you expect to receive forgiveness if you refuse to give it? How can we expect those who are in the darkness to see the light? You wouldn't get mad at a blind person for bumping into you, would you?
So when your spouse messes up, when your spouse fails, when your spouse fails to see the areas in their lives that need to change and grow, don't get mad at them. Look at them. Consider them through the eyes of Jesus with patience and kindness and grace. Allow yourself to be taken advantage of over and over again, just like Jesus did.
And then, number two. Once you've considered them, compare them. Now, that's usually a bad thing, right? We don't want to compare people. But I challenge you to compare them to yourself.
Think about the sins that you've committed, not just outwardly like you can see in your spouse, but also inwardly. The things you thought about them. The things you've wanted to do. The words you've said in your mind. Look at your sins, outward and inward, and you'll realize that your list outweighs theirs.
If I were to offer you $1 for every sin that you could point out for anyone in the world both outwardly and inwardly, who would you choose? Yourself. If you were a good investor, you'd choose yourself because you know the most about yourself than anyone else.
The point is that as you compare your spiritual bank account to the world's, you realize that you're more spiritually bankrupt than anyone else. You realize, like Paul, that you're the chief of sinners. And as you realize that you're worse that anyone, it becomes much easier to love and forgive anyone.
If there is one thing that should clearly characterize marriage, it is love. So I challenge you today. Go home. On the car ride home, at lunch, ask your spouse this question-- do you feel loved? Do you feel loved? Before God, admit your sin, and to your mate, apologize for what you've done wrong.
And then both of you agree in prayer that you want God to transform your marriage and you're going to start to do certain things to help that happen. May God help each and every one of us to be loving Christians, to have loving marriages, and for this to be a loving church. Do you agree to that challenge?
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/gift. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.