How weird would it be to walk to your neighbor’s house with a letter of his that you had read, and begin telling him what the letter said he needed to do? Not much good is coming from that conversation.
Everyone recognizes doing such a thing is just wrong . . . everyone except many Christian couples when it comes to what the Bible says their spouse should be doing. Reading the “mail” sent to our husband or wife and then recounting to him/her the ways in which he/she isn’t measuring up is often taken as perfectly normal but has the same result as reading your neighbor’s mail. Let the fireworks begin!
We can’t change our spouses but that fact won’t keep many of us from trying, will it?
If he was only more loving. . . If she would just stop being so disrespectful . . . etc., etc.
We know where he/she is messing up because we’ve read it in the Bible. We’ve read our spouse’s mail. We’ve read what the Bible tells our wife/husband to do. And who can argue with what God says about how married men and women are to live? The directives in the Bible are perfectly clear (easy to ignore!) but impossible to misunderstand.
We know what our spouse should be doing . . . isn’t doing . . . and we’re getting a little tired (a lot tired . . . angry, even!) of those failures and how he/she isn’t changing. So we keep reading our spouse’s “mail” and reminding her/him of what it says – because that is working so well, right?
Husband: The husband is the head of the wife . . . it says so, right hear in 1 Corinthians 11:3. That means I’m in charge!
Wife: God says you’re supposed to love me like Jesus loved the Church. Read Ephesians 5 and tell me you’re doing what it says.
Husband: You have to respect me because the Bible commands you to in that same Ephesians passage you use to beat me over the head.
Wife, Husband, Wife, etc., etc., . . .
It’s time to stop reading each other’s mail. Changing your spouse isn’t your job. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job and **NEWS FLASH** He’s much better at it than you!
We forget that God has far more to do in us than through us. The more we think about our spouse’s shortcomings, the less we’re able to see and correct our own shortcomings and failures.
The more we focus on how our spouse needs to change, the more we are forgetting the Scripture that warns against such a perspective. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus asks a question, “ . . . why focus on the speck in your brother’s (wife’s/husband’s) eye, but ignore the beam in your own eye? How will you say to your brother, ‘Let me pull out the speck from your eye when a beam is in your own? You hypocrite, first remove the beam from your own eye; and then you will see clearly to remove the spec from your brother’s eye.”
There may be a time in marriage when it is appropriate to point out to our spouse a Scripture that calls for specific change in a given area but that time follows, it doesn’t precede, the work of the Holy Spirit in our own life.
The irony is that, when we begin to focus on the “mail” sent to us – on those passages of Scripture that speak directly to how we are to change, grow, and mature, things often begin to change in our spouses.
Your spouse doesn’t want you reading his/her mail from God and focusing on what it says he/she must do any more than my neighbor wants me to read his mail and tell him what it says.
Are you staying in love with the woman/man you married? Focusing on his/her faults and shortcomings isn’t your best approach! What proactive steps are you taking to live out that reality?
Whether your a husband or a wife, focus on the “mail” God sent to you – on those passages of Scripture that speak directly to how you are supposed to live with your life partner and you have begun the process of transformation to the marriage you desire. If you could use a little help with the process, check out these short, straightforward books designed specifically for that purpose.
May God bless you as you focus where He wants it . . . on those things found in Scripture that are directed at you – on the “mail” God intended specifically for you to read and to obey.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).