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Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Marriage Wreckers... Part Two - Unkindness

In this series "The Marriage Wreckers" I am taking the verses from 1Cor 13: 4-13 and turning the positive of God's Word around to the negative and seeing how it affects our lives in the context of marriage. In the last post, Part One - Impatience, I talked about the sin of impatience. This post I will move onto the next part of verse four and take a good look at unkindness.

1Cor 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Here is how the dictionary defines unkindness:


Lacking kindness; inconsiderate or unsympathetic.
2. Harsh; severe; cruel:

Love is patient and kind... Kindness in love is like the sweetness to honey. It is an essential part of what makes it so delicious. But what happens when we say we love someone but the characteristic of kindness looks more like unkindness? Can we really then declare that we love them?

Unkindness, just like impatience, is a sin. It is an offense to God and to the person we have chosen to spend the rest of our lives with. Lack of kindness often occurs when we have lost our patience and decide to take matters into our own hands and react to a certain situation. Patience, or long suffering, results in kindness. Impatience, or being short tempered, results in unkindness. Kindness is a fruit of the spirit that God desires for each one of us. Every spouse needs a dose of it every day.

Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.

We have all been around someone who is unkind. And I am certain each one of us has a story or two of a time when we were unkind to our spouse. I remember a time in my marriage only a few short years ago where I said and did some pretty unkind things towards my wife. Not only did I reap the shame and guilt from my ungodly behaviors, but the level of trust was lessened and her and I had to spend a bit more time breaking through barriers that would have not been placed there had my actions and heart displayed kindness rather than being harsh and cruel. Unkindness is more than an action and behavior. Often times it becomes a way of life and the detriment is far reaching. Not only is the spouse affected, but the kids and other family members are seriously affected as well.

When we look at the definition of unkindness it can be quite sobering. Words such as harsh, cruel, and unsympathetic come to mind. On your wedding day did the thought run through your mind, "Geez, I think I want to live a harsh, cruel, and unsympathetic life with this person for the rest of my life?" I think not!

So how do we break the cycle of unkindness in our marriage and learn how to live in the fruit of kindness? The first step I have found is to remember that kindness is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(emphasis added)

There is no man or woman on this planet capable of mustering up true Biblical kindness. Oh sure we can act nice to one another for a bit, but when we begin to lose our patience that unkind spirit flows right back like the waters of the Niagara and we soon find ourselves going down the same old waterfall.

Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

So to have a marriage that is filled with patience and kindness it doesn't start with going to a marriage counselor, it begins with each spouse making a conscious decision to walk in the Spirit of God. Walking in the Spirit, as stated in Gal 5:16 means that we are intentional in listening to what God is saying to us every moment of the day and responding to each situation as He would direct us. It doesn't mean going to a church service on Sunday and living selfishly the rest of the week. It requires that we dive into the deep end of God's word and swim around daily until you have made it such a part of your life that gratifying your sinful desires is as foreign to you as learning a new language.

It is possible for the Christian to grieve the Holy Spirit. Earlier I shared a verse from Ephesians telling us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving. Just before that, verses 29-31 instruct us to take those qualities of one who walks in the spirit a little bit farther. Not only the do's, but a lot of the do not's as well... And right in the middle of it all Paul tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit in our life.

Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

When we act this way, and I am saying in this post especially toward our spouse, we grieve the heart of God. Bitterness, anger, filthy speech, bitterness, unkindness, and the like are all byproducts of waking in the flesh and not in the Spirit. All born again believer's possess the power to walk in the Spirit. (Eph 1:13; 2Cor1:21-22) It isn't something that is for the special or super Christians... It is for you and for me. In order to hear the Spirit, we need to be tuned into the right frequency. That is where reading the Word and prayer come into play. Walking in the Spirit means that our life is tuned into the things of God and we spend time daily listening to Him.

I encourage you today to begin walking in the Spirit as to not gratify the desires of your flesh. In this case, unkindness. I am certain that if you make kindness one of the key building blocks in the foundation of your marriage, your marriage will be much stronger and able to withstand the attacks that come at it. Being married can be tough! So let's make things just a bit easier on us and sow seeds kindness toward one another and reap the harvest of our marriages rather than tearing down one another and reaping the detriments.

Here are some practical ways we can start showing kindness toward our spouse:
  • Speak words of encouragement
  • Listen intently and patiently
  • Forgive one another quickly
  • Love without conditions
  • Do something out of the norm to show appreciation
  • Give of yourself to your spouse
  • Put the needs of your spouse before your own
Blessings to you as you walk in the Spirit of kindness toward your spouse, and those you encounter each day.

image courtesy of http://www.heartlight.org/

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