The day Roger and Margaret were married they were given some good advice from an older friend who said, “Watch out for the small offences that will arise between you as you walk through your married life – It is the little foxes that spoil the vines. Maintain the sweetness of your relationship.” They listened to the advice but with the passing of time they forgot to heed it. The little offences compounded, and twenty years later their marriage was in dire straits.
Realising the seriousness of their situation, they sought marriage counselling. On a weekly basis they attended the counselling sessions but after two years they came to an impasse! Vehemently opposing each other’s approach to life, they stood their ground entrenched like religious zealots. Neither could be persuaded to budge, as each saw compromise as totally unacceptable, saying it would mean the loss of their individuality. Marital separation seemed imminent!
The counsellor did her best to make Roger and Margaret see the error of their ways, but in the end the expression on her face said it all – she was beaten. There was nowhere to go; she had used up all the resources and skills that her training had bestowed upon her, and had failed! It was then that she raised her eyes towards heaven and silently petitioned God for His wisdom.
Then she turned towards Roger and said, “You are a godly man Roger, and it is evident that you love the Lord. You clearly try to live your life like Jesus would. Am I right?” Roger acknowledged the truth of her comment with an acquiescent smile (perhaps tainted with a little religious pride). “Then Roger,” she said, “Do you want to be like Jesus in this as well?”
This struck Roger like a hammer blow. Of course he wanted to be like Jesus but up until now he hadn’t seen that the surrender of his rights could bring Christ-likeness into his heart. Suddenly, it wasn’t a matter of simply opposing Margaret anymore – it was clear to him that he was dishonouring God by proudly maintaining his position. He could not withstand the wisdom of her words, so there in the living room they all bowed their heads, and Roger surrendered his rights to God saying, “Use this for your glory Lord.”
They left the counsellor arm-in-arm, and had no need of marriage counselling again, as Roger learnt to sacrifice himself for his wife and his children, even as Jesus had yielded up His life.
It wasn’t an easy road. It was more of a marathon than a sprint, but the journey made him rely on Jesus for his daily sustenance, as without Him he would simply slide back into his old ways. He had to overlook offences, and deny his own preferences, but as he did, God’s grace was there to help him along his way.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9).
Excerpt from When Angry Hearts Forgive by Robert Warren – Used with permission