My response is my responsibility
Last month my wife and I finished “Love and Respect,” a married couples study, for the second time. Not that we didn’t get it the first time but it was so good that we wanted a refresher course. I think everyone has a need for refresher courses.
Our daily routine can get so busy we can forget the basics of how to live every area of our life according to how God wants us to. I know I have taken several studies a second time over the last 12 years, and I will probably do some a third or fourth time. Maybe I’m just a slow learner.
Love and Respect is an excellent book and even better group study. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs hits the responsibilities in marriage right on the head. He perfectly understands and explains the difference between men and women, pink and blue as he calls it.
The last class Emerson said something that was like turning on a light for me, and a lot of others in the study. He said “We have to get to a place where we can say, ‘My response to my spouse is my responsibility.'” My wife doesn’t cause me to be the way that I am; she reveals the way that I am. When my reactions to her are unloving, bitter, spiteful or unkind it reveals that I’ve still got issues.
When Emerson puts it that way it’s kind of hard for me to blame my wife for the way I am, or respond. I know some people that would respond to a statement like that with, “You don’t know what she/he has done to me. You don’t know .”
Then I brought what he said outside of the marriage relationship and looked at it in general as to how we are called to live. In God’s eyes it is insignificant what our spouse, friend, family member or co-worker has done. What He cares about is, how we respond. I am responsible for me, my actions, my response. If there is a lack of God’s love in my character and soul, I have to own up to it.
Jesus, as always, is the greatest example. He was treated badly. They mocked Him, spread rumors about Him, told blatant lies about Him, and hated Him. Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)
I also know that my wife is not ill-willed. She does care about me. Therefore if I am responding to something that I feel is unloving, then my perception is wrong. And still, I am responsible for my response.
The Bible says, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others.” (1Peter 3:10-11)
It doesn’t say it’s easy to live with our spouse, friends, family or co-workers. It says that we have to work hard at it. Knowing that God tells us to work hard at living in peace and knowing that our response is our responsibility may overwhelm us but Jesus did come that we may have a Helper.
This holiday season we will have many opportunities to respond to situations that seem unloving, unfair, unbelievable and frustrating. Our choice is how we respond. Let the love of God pour out on others. If we say we have His mercy, His compassion, His forgiveness, His love and His kindness than we should show it to our spouse, friend, family member or co-worker.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. (James 3:18)