James 4:1-9 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4 You adulterers![a] Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?[b] 6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”[c]
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
When Doug & I were first married a little over 17 years ago we already had a year and a half worth of practice in quarreling. While we were engaged, we had several “heated discussions”- let’s just be honest here- they were knock down drag out fights. Doug has always been a gentleman in the quarreling department; he has never, ever raised his hand against me, but buddy, I knew by the tone in his voice and the sharpness in his eyes when he had had enough. I wish I could say I displayed as much self-control as he did, but I can’t. In the early days of our marriage, I would scream, yell, cuss, slam doors, throw things (I even threw my wedding ring at him on 1 occasion) and if none of those things deemed me the winner, I would leave. I’d get in my red firebird and hit the road. Back then we had no cell phones- so he had no way of getting in touch with me to see if I was ok. I liked it that way- in my mind, the more he suffered, the better, because I was right, and he was wrong.
I was so deceived……
I had NO idea how wrong I was.
Thankfully, fights like that haven’t occurred in our home in over a decade.
So what changed?
No, it wasn’t time. Time doesn’t heals all wounds- or any wounds for that matter. Just ask someone who is grieving or someone who is unhappy in their marriage. Time heals nothing.
It was Jesus.
And it was a husband and wife that were both willing to humble themselves before Him.
Here’s the deal: at any moment of any day, we are either living by the Spirit, knowing the truth, or we are being deceived by the enemy and believing his lies. When a conflict arises, we either pick up the ammunition in our arsenal of hurts from the past or we surrender ourselves to the voice of the Holy Spirit and do as He says. We either choose to protect our “rights,” & attempt to keep ourselves from being hurt again, or we choose to submit to truth. That doesn’t mean we have to agree about everything- it just means that we choose to love & refuse to wage war against the other person.
In order to reduce the cases of ammunition in the arsenal of our past hurts, we must be willing to humble ourselves before our Creator. In doing so, the Holy Spirit can show us how and why they were placed there and how to safely defuse them, thus preventing their further use. I have had multiple occasions to put this into practice. In fact, I had another one this morning regarding last nights quarrel with my husband! During my morning devotion time, I asked the Lord to show me why I overreacted so strongly towards Doug last night about something, which seemed, on the surface to be so stupid and insignificant. He was faithful to reveal the place where I had been hurt by someone else in my past, and as a result, was reacting to it now, in my present. As with many of us, I have been severely wounded by a few people in authority over me. In order to prevent further abuse or hurt, I began many years ago to try to control everyone around me- including my husband. And when that didn’t work, I would lash out verbally or physically until I could defeat him. Instead of being able to resolve our conflicts in a healthy way, I would severely wound him.
The only way to break this vicious cycle was to ask the lord what the hurts were & who they were from. Then I had to choose to forgive them. Since this revelation, I have spent countless hours in prayer forgiving those that have unintentionally added to my arsenal. Occasionally, though, a traitor can still sneak in under the radar and begin to restock my ammunition…just as he did last night. The result was explosive… as a simple miscommunication and misunderstanding left me feeling unappreciated and disrespected. Sadly, when Doug tried to help me work through my feelings, the more I felt the desire to reload and let him have it!
This morning, as I began searching the scriptures for the reasons why I overacted last night, the Holy Spirit sent me to James 4. After I read the first 9 verses, I prayed and asked the Lord to reveal the areas in which the enemy had set up camp and thus began his assault on my husband, through me. My Father, was, of course, faithful to reveal the culprits- and my unforgiveness towards a few people in my past. After I forgave, God, in His magnificent power, annihilated the enemy with 1 shot. Then He held me in His arms and comforted me as I realized how I had once again seen and treated my husband as the enemy. After my sob fest, I called my husband to apologize and he, very graciously, was quick to forgive.
Oneness has been restored.
I pray that the next time a quarrel emerges between us that I will choose to make love- not war (rest assured………. I won’t be blogging about THAT!)