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Don’t Build Offense

Week 17_Thumbnail_Dont Build Offense, Upon this rock blog, Gillette, Wyoming, New Life

Don't Build Offense

Are you easily annoyed? When I am in a bad mood, the smallest thing can set me off. When I am emotionally unhealthy, my response to the actions of others can be incredibly immature.
My wife has this habit of putting pills in her mouth then talking. I don’t know why. It’s like she waits until it’s time to take her pills to start a conversation. It drives me crazy because I hate the idea of tasting pills. I swallow them as fast as I can. The other day I was irritable because my sons were not behaving, and when my wife tried to tell me something with a mouth full of pills, I snapped…because apparently I think I don’t have any bad habits.
Those of you who are married, what is the thing you argue about most with your spouse? Most disagreements in relationships are never resolved. We just keep having them over and over. Why? Because most disagreements are based on pride. We think our way is better than their way. It could be something serious, or it could be something like:
  • You never put your clothes away.
  • Close your mouth when you chew.
  • Stop biting your fingernails.
  • You’re always late.


Jesus taught us to be patient with the flaws of others and focus on improving ourselves.
Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Sometimes I think the reason the speck in my wife’s eyes drives me crazy is because it’s made of the same stuff as the log in my eye. Maybe I recognize the speck because I’m self-conscious about the log. My goal shouldn’t be to get all the specks out of my wife’s eye. We don’t start a relationship with people to fix them. Christ teaches us how to serve our partners and our friends, to give more to them and expect less from them.
Pointing out little flaws in someone else is called nagging, and it’s prideful. Eventually, nagging turns into tension, then arguments, and ultimately, division. If you are frustrated by how someone communicates, spends money, spends time, or chews food with their mouth open, eventually you will either get over it, or build a fence between you and them. This happens in marriage all the time. Offenses build fences.
How hard is it to communicate when there is a fence between you and the person with whom you’re communicating? It’s not easy. You can shout back and forth or just text each other, but that won’t work for long. Eventually you’ll start chucking grenades over the fence. If you spend too much time yelling at someone you’re in a relationship with, find a way to remove the fence.
Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about how to make ourselves more like Christ in order to make our relationships better. Today, we’re going to look at some advice that Paul gave to the Ephesians about how to treat each other, and I think it will help us to remove some of these offenses. We’re going to look at two sections of the same chapter today:
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Let’s break that down.


If offenses are dividing your relationship:

Step 1: Be humble.
This is the step where we take inventory of our strengths and weaknesses. For married couples, this is where we admit that we rely on the strengths of our spouse to balance our weaknesses, and we allow our strengths to make up for our spouse’s weakness. I’m guessing there aren’t many perfect people reading this. So, let’s stop expecting our spouses to be good at everything. If it annoys you that your spouse isn’t very organized, it could be because you’ve been given the ability to be organized. Let your strengths make up for their weaknesses, and don’t let that frustrate you.
This is why I hate the way most Americans do weddings. We’ve turned it into an excuse to be selfish. We plan weddings with statements like: “Today is all about you.” As a result, young couples start their married life with a pile of debt. It’s a broken system. According to Scripture, when you get married you are signing up to sacrifice for someone else for the rest of your life. So why do we start it with a day that is all about getting everything we want? If you go into a marriage thinking about the things that a spouse will give you, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you want a healthy marriage, go into it thinking about the things that you can give to your spouse to make him or her a better person.
Step 2: Be gentle.
This isn’t really in our nature because comfort brings confidence. We get really comfortable in our relationships, and that confidence turns into forcefulness and bluntness. If you are in a relationship with someone long enough you get comfortable, and you say what’s on your mind to people you’re comfortable with. If you feel frustration, you vocalize frustration. As Christians, we are commanded to be gentle and slow to speak when we are frustrated.
Step 3: Be patient.
When Darci and I first moved to Wyoming, we traveled to Billings, Montana for a weekend trip. We left Billings pretty late at night because we couldn’t afford a hotel room, so Darci agreed to drive for the first shift. Knowing that Darci is terrible with directions, I navigated to Gillette on my iPhone so all she would have to do is follow Siri’s instructions. I quickly fell asleep, and because Darci is so kind, she turned off the volume on the phone so it wouldn’t wake me up. Unfortunately, that meant she could no longer hear Siri’s instructions. For hours my phone, on silent, told Darci to turn south, but she drove east. I woke up just in time to see a sign that said, “Welcome to North Dakota.”
If you are in a relationship with someone for any significant period of time, you will have many opportunities to demonstrate patience, and the Christian command is to make allowance for each other’s faults. When we do that, we create intimacy with the people with whom we show grace.
When I realize Darci has been doing something for me without telling me, I feel incredible gratitude. For me, there’s no better motivator to give more to Darci than when I realize she has been doing things for me that should be my responsibility.
We don’t realize the power our silence has. We underestimate the power of not sticking up for ourselves. I am not saying you should allow yourself to be abused, but in many cases you can make a larger impact if you don’t point out that you are doing more than your fair share.
And on the other side of the coin, pay attention to the good things your spouse is doing and assume they are doing more than you know about. We tend to think we do more than we actually do, and to think other people do less than they actually do. But even if they aren’t carrying their share of the weight, we choose to make allowances for each other’s faults.
Step 4: Be united.
When two people get married they become one person. The very nature of our creation shows that we were created to be united with people in a sacrificial way.
Later in Ephesians 4, Paul talks about bad relationship behaviors.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Most of this list has to do with how to react to being wronged. We often get bitter when something harmful is done to us, and in order to obey this command, we have to learn to forgive.
Step 5: Be free.
To be free, we must forgive. Our inability to forgive will hurt us much more than it will hurt the people we are mad at. Even when we think we deserve to be mad, forgiveness is the healthier option. It’s a sacrificial act that requires us to be courageously unfair and selflessly forward-thinking.
We also choose to be free of evil behavior. If there is something that has control of you, the best thing you can do is shine a light on it. Take intentional steps to remove temptation from your life. Do something that makes it harder to do those things that you know you shouldn’t do.
Step 6: Be kind.
We think of kindness in emotional terms, but kindness isn’t an emotional action. Kindness, by definition, is a sacrificial action. You can be kind to someone even if you don’t feel like it.
We are naturally good at critiquing people, building opinions of people, and judging people. Christians, can we become the people that others want to be in a relationship with?
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