I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before but Ephesians 4 has been a great resource for my marriage and, no, I didn’t mean Ephesians 5, I mean Ephesians 4. I know that Ephesians 5 speaks specifically to husbands and wives about marriage and that Ephesians 4 isn’t specifically about marriage but the lessons in Ephesians 4 have been very applicable to my marriage and I’m guessing your’s as well.
Ephesians 4:25-32 (NIV):
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Notice that the scripture doesn’t call anger a sin, it says, “in your anger do not sin.” Anger is an emotion and, depending on how mature you are, an emotion that can be controlled. I have at times allowed my emotions to control me and my responses instead of me controlling them.
For too long I was giving the devil a foothold in my marriage instead of speaking truthfully with my wife about what was hurting me. Now, while I wasn’t talking bad about my spouse there were times when I would think some bad things about her choosing to believe the worst instead of speaking what would have been helpful for building up our marriage according to its needs. Sometimes the things we need to say to our spouse are hard things to say to someone we love and are difficult things to hear from someone we love but that doesn’t change the fact that they need to be said. We either say the difficult things or we give the devil a foothold in our marriage through our negative emotions toward our spouse.
Now I know some of you have been deeply hurt by your spouse. However, unless you’re married to a stubborn, immature, selfish, jerk that’s abusive, in which case you need to get safe and get help, you should probably apply this scripture to your marriage or risk grieving the Holy Spirit of God. If the hurt remains unresolved it will turn into bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice. I’ve seen it happen in marriages. People that used to be in love have nothing but malicious things to say about one another. How did things get that way? They allowed the negative emotions to build walls between them. They went to bed angry. They chose to believe the worst instead of speaking truthfully to their spouse.
This scripture ends at a very good place, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It reminds us that kindness leads to repentance, and that forgiving is a Christlike quality that we need from others as much as we need to show it. It’s amazing, the more grace I show my wife the more grace I receive from her.
I hope and pray that you are married to a good-willed spouse and that the application of this scripture to your marital relationship helps heal any hurts in your marriage.