The Beatitudes for Marriage: Part 3

The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5, HCSB

I remember being in our high school musical production of The Little Shop of Horrors.  I was Seymour.  I had such a good time!  If you aren’t familiar with this show/movie then let me quickly tell you about it.  This little nerd and geek of a guy named Seymore (I was perfect for the role) is in love with this young lady Audrey with whom he works.  She however always seems to be falling for the bad boys, including a dentist who slaps her around.  One day Seymore found a strange and interesting plant.  No one knows what species it is so he names it Audrey II.  It turns out that Audrey II is from outer space and craves human blood.  The shere size at which this thing grows is amazing and Seymore becomes very famous, and as attracted the eye of Audrey.  Against his better judgment Seymore feeds the dentist to the plant, and then Audrey gets eaten (though Seymore doesn’t feed her to it).  At any rate, toward the end of the play a song is sung by (what I like to call) the chiffon girls (the Ronnettes).  It goes like this:
“They say the meek shall inherit,
No, the book doesn’t lie;
It’s not a question of merit;
It’s not demand and supply.
They say the meek are gonna get it,
And you’re a meek little guy.
You know the meek are gonna get what comin’ to ’em
By and by.”

Seymour is seen as meek.  The chiffon girls and everyone else has seen Seymore as a pushover.  Everyone wants to take advantage of him, including the plant.  The girls simply are saying, his time will come.

The problem is that Seymour is not what Jesus meant when He used the word meek.  Yet so often that is the idea that we get.  Meek equal weak.  Meek means that the person is just a pushover.  In reality, Jesus meant something more.  That’s why I like the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s translation:  “The gentle are blessed.”  That is the true meaning of meek.  Meek equals gentle, not weak.

There is nothing that conveys weakness when meekness is mentioned.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  A truly meek person actually has the power to cause pain.  They have the power “to win.”  They restrain themselves.  They have self-control.  If you’ve ever play checkers with a child then you know that you could beat them hands down.  Do you?  Probably not.  You let them win a few times.  You put yourself in a position so that they can jump your piece.  You “accidentally” missed a move that could have given you three jumps.  You have the power, but you act meek.

It has been said that no one really knows a person until they live together for a while.  If you’ve been married for a while then you’ve probably gotten to know your spouse better than almost anyone else, with the exception perhaps of parents.  You know their fears, their quirks, their hurts.  At any time, you could bring up a fear of theirs and excoriate them with it.  In a sudden burst of anger, you could hit them right where it hurts.  You have the power in your hands (or in your head and heart), but what will you do with that power?

The argument goes, but if I don’t he will. . .  If I don’t, she’s going to. . .  Jesus took this beatitude out of Psalm 37: “But the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity,” (v. 11, HCSB).  The humble, the gentle.  The prideful person would go forward to show their power and cause as much damage to another person as was caused to them–more so even!  The humble will refrain.  Notice the “but” at the beginning of that verse.  The Psalmist is comparing the humble to someone else.  Let’s quickly look at whom he is referring:
Refrain from anger and give up your rage;
do not be agitated–it can only bring harm.

For evildoers will be destroyed,
but those who put their hope in the LORD
will inherit that land.
A little while, and the wicked
  person will be no more;
though you look for him, he will
  not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
and will enjoy abundant prosperity.
Psalm 37:8-11, HCSB

The Psalmist says to give up the anger and rage, to put hope in the LORD, and humble oneself.  He actually equates the hope in the LORD with being humble (or gentle as Jesus would say).  You have the power to hit where it hurts, but rather than seek revenge out of anger, you hope in the LORD, you trust Him to take care of matters for you.  His strength is perfect.  His justice is holy and right.

All too often, husbands and wives wound each other deeply because they have been wounded.  Jesus said that those who do not wound in return will inherit the earth.  There is an inheritance waiting for those who put their hope and trust in Jesus.  There is a better feeling and a better joy than what comes from hurting those who we are supposed to love.

The next time an argument breaks out between you and your spouse (or anyone else), don’t go there.  You could go there, but don’t.  Just because you are wounded doesn’t mean you must wound as well.  Entrust yourself to Jesus’ judgment.

The Beatitudes for Marriage: Part 2

Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4, HCSB

In the last blog I was showing how the first beatitude is important for marriage because it is the realization that we are all in the same boat: spiritually bankrupt.  That is the case with you and the case with your husband or with your wife.  We are made in the image of God and yet we are all marred.  We are all sinners and so we sin.  The absolute logical conclusion then is that our spouses will at some point in time sin against us, and we will sin against them.

This week we hit the second beatitude.  Jesus said that those who mourn are happy.  He didn’t say that they will be blessed later, but that they are blessed at this moment.  At best that’s paradoxical.  Yet here is the crux of the matter: our mourning is over our own sin.  Remember what the David wrote in Psalm 51?

Against You–You alone–I have sinned
and done this evil in Your sight.
So You are right when You passed sentence;
you are blameless when You judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:4-5, HCSB

This is a man who is mourning over his own sin.  King David had lusted after a woman, committed adultery with her, had her husband killed after finding out she was pregnant, and then married her, hoping no one would figure it out.  When the prophet Nathan confronted him, David was faced with how awful his sin really was.  He immediately repented (turned away from his sins and turned toward God and holiness).

Mourning is not merely a psychological or emotional experience that makes people feel better.  It is a communion with the living, loving God who responds to the mourner with an objective reality–the reality of divine forgiveness.
~John MacArthur, Jr.

Perhaps you have not committed adultery or murdered anyone, but your sin against your spouse (whether losing your temper unjustly or watching porn or squirming your way out of doing the dishes on your night) has been against a holy God as well.  Just because you or I do not consider the sin to be that serious, does not mean that God doesn’t.  It is He who has legistated the law, and it is He who executes the law, and it is He who judges when the law has been broken.  Any breaking of the law is “a big deal” with God.  It may also be a bigger deal to your spouse than you realize.

It is time to take a deeper look at your actions and your motives.  Have you acted justly and purely?  Have you treated your spouse fairly and lovingly or with respect?  If not, (and I would say we all have to say no at some point), then you need to repent.  There needs to be a period of mourning.  Yes, mourning.  Imagine how you would feel if you accidentally hurt your spouse physically, so badly that it landed them in the hospital.  Would you feel horrified and guilty?  Would you tell them that you are sorry for their pain and their being laid up in the hospital for a few days?  There are sins against your spouse that you may have committed that have actually wounded them deeply, wounded them to the core.  Like a trouper they won’t let you know, but the pain is there.  It’s time to mourn and repent.

John MacArthur wrote:
There are. . .legitimate sorrows that are common to all mankind and for which reasonable mourning is appropriate.  To express these sorrows and to cry over them opens an escape valve that keeps our feelings from festering and poisoning our emotions and our whole life.  It provides the way for healing, just as washing out a wound helps prevent infection (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7; Moody Press, p. 155.).

Granted, Dr. MacArthur rightly pointed out that this type of mourning was not what Jesus was referring to, the same result will happen, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.  As he continued:
Godly mourning brings God’s forgiveness, which brings God’s happiness.  Mourning is not merely a psychological or emotional experience that makes people feel better.  It is a communion with the living, loving God who responds to the mourner with an objective reality–the reality of divine forgiveness, (ibid, p. 158).

Just because you or I do not consider the sin to be that serious, does not mean that God doesn’t.

To live in a state of mourning actually brings blessings.  By being in a state of mourning, I simply mean that the moment you realize you are in sin let the pain of such a reality bring you repentance.  Repent to your spouse and repent to God.  Seek after your spouses forgiveness immediately.  Don’t think that it will pass by and nothing will come of it.  Sin always has a consequence.  Deal with it the moment you know you are in sin.

Recently, I snapped at my wife.  My mind was focused on something I considered important and she was asking me if I was going to take our son to his class.  I snapped that I was.  My tone was harsh.  As I was dropping off my son, my mind recounted the very short conversation.  I had to repent.  I had to apologize.  I immediately called her and did so.  This allows healing to happen sooner than later.  It begins healing the spouses heart, your own heart, and the relationship.  No wonder those who mourn are blessed.  They receive comfort of knowing they are forgiven!

Let us mourn our sins, but let us forgive the sins of our spouses.

Just a quick note about that forgiveness.  We are commanded to forgive.  That’s easier said than done.  That doesn’t mean that we can skip this part of marriage.  Remember what Paul wrote: “[Love] does not keep a record of wrongs,” (1 Corinthians 13:5d, HCSB).  If you love, you must forgive.  Reconciliation can come later.  The rebuilding of trust takes time, but forgiveness must come quickly.  I once heard some great advice, though I cannot recall who said it.  It is often said that the key to a good marriage is communication, but that’s not true.  The key to a good marriage is forgiveness.  Let us mourn our sins, but let us forgive the sins of our spouses.