Walk worthy, . . . forbearing one another in love. Ephesians 4:1–2
Aren’t you glad that God’s Word is practical—addressing us exactly where we live in the messy moments of life? To forbear literally means to put up with someone. Forbearance is forgiving, gentle, patient, accommodating, and kind. The Lord is extremely forbearing with us. Over and over He has restrained His anger and extended mercy to us. If our homes are going to be happy places, we must learn to forbear one another. Practical godliness is God-likeness. The Lord is forbearing, and so must we be also.
What are some ways we can learn to put up with each other?
Overlook shortcomings. We should not obsess on the flaws in our family members. Instead we need to look beyond the immediate moment. We are in this for the long haul. We must never indulge the temptation to compare our spouses with others. Learning to overlook flaws is essential to our personal peace and contentment.
Magnify positives, and minimize weaknesses. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. No one is good at everything. We should focus on the positive qualities in others. We must learn to resize our field of focus. We must not allow ourselves to meditate on the defects in our family members. We must re-fuse to give ourselves mental air time for fretting over the faults in others. Mental criticism is just as deadly as verbal criticism. Instead, we should re-hearse the positive qualities of our family members and lift up prayers of thanksgiving for them. We should appreciate their gifts and assets, compliment their strengths, and brag on their achievements.
Don’t scrutinize motives. We don’t need to read between the lines every time something goes wrong. Human beings are complex. A family member may have reacted poorly to a situation, but at times we have probably reacted worse! We must give our family members the benefit of the doubt. We can choose to believe the best instead of the worst. We are not infallible; our ability to discern is imperfect. We must avoid the tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion in difficult moments.
Stop accusing, and start asking. Accusations harden the will, but questions convict the conscience. We must resist the urge to lambaste. Instead, we should gather our thoughts, select appropriate questions, avoid hasty judgments, gather facts, and inquire rather than interrogate.
Extend grace during times of pressure. Stress brings out the worst in people. Emotional hardships cause internal tensions. Physical illness lessens resilience. Financial hardships affect one’s spiritual equilibrium. Relational stresses at work weaken people’s internal filters (the ability to gracefully process difficulties in the power of the Spirit). Chronic stress depletes one’s inner resources. We must consider the extenuating circumstances of life and measure our responses accordingly.
Access grace to recover quickly. Poor reactions and bad actions call for an immediate change of mind. The moment we sense anger rising up in our hearts, we should humble ourselves immediately. The quicker we identify our wrong responses, the quicker we will recover. We must readily admit our departure from the Calvary road—the place of humble dependence. We must choose to deny our-selves and take up our crosses (see Luke 9:23). Dying to self is simply appropriating our crucifixion with Christ (see Rom. 6:6–13). Jesus not only died for us, He died as us. On the cross He absorbed our sins and their horrific penalty. He not only dealt with the fruit, He also dealt with the root.
“Self” is a descriptive word for our Adamic nature, or flesh. What is the flesh? Delete the “h” and spell “flesh” backward, and we discover what the flesh is all about: self. The flesh is self-centered, self-righteous (unrighteous), self-willed, self-directed, self-glorying, and self-pitying. As often as self attempts to reassert its sinister control, we must surrender our rights and identify with Christ. What rights must we surrender? Our right to be treated fairly. Our right to be bitter. Our right of revenge. We must appeal to our heavenly Father for grace in our time of need. We can access the grace He secured for taking our self-lives to the cross.
Choose humility. Pride always brings contention: “Only by pride cometh contention” (Prov. 13:10). What causes contention between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters? Pride. Humility, on the other hand, makes people easy to live with.
Lord, bend this proud and stiff-necked “I,”
Help me to bow the head and die.
That it may no longer be “I” that liveth,
But Christ that liveth in me.
Life is hard, so lighten up. We should indulge every opportunity to look on the sunny side.
- Are you magnifying the positives and minimizing the negatives in your family members?
- Take some moments now and thank God for the favorable qualities in your family members.
- Is any point of pride in your heart causing conflict in your home?
This chapter is taken from our book “Home Improvement- Keys To Building A Happy Home“. Click on the title to learn more about this book