#Write31Days – Post 7 – Dishonorable Agreement

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Have you ever found yourself arguing with your husband about something, and you feel like you are just going around in circles?  Or, perhaps, you feel like your opinions and feelings on the subject are being sucked to the bottom like a whirlpool in the ocean?  Have you spent years battling over the same subject, that now you don’t even bother to bring it up?  You may have even moved into the position of:  “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

I totally get it.  I really, truthfully do.  On certain subjects my husband and I could not have opinions that are further apart.  In fact, depending on the actual subject at hand, either one of us can be a dominating force.  It has taken us YEARS to find that place of compromise, or at least to feel as if we are both being heard.

I am also the type of person who will want to continue to hash out the discussion until I totally understand his decision.  If it doesn’t make sense to me, a simple “I said no” isn’t going to fly.  It’s not even that I am challenging his decision, but more that I want to understand the WHY behind it.  In some instances I am also looking to grasp the permanence of his decision.  It this a “no, forever” or a “no, not right now” response?

Recently, in a discussion group, a woman posed the question:

“How do I honor my husband when I don’t agree with him?”

You can honor your husband, and still disagree with him.  The honor lies in HOW you disagree with him.    Just as you can dishonor your husband when you agree with his decision, because HOW you are in agreement make a difference.

  • Don’t mumble under your breath, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask if there is any room for compromise, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t give him the silent treatment, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask if you can revisit the topic in a few months, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t withhold affection from him, that’s dishonorable.
  • Try to see his perspective and understand his reasoning, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t assume you know what he is thinking, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask for an explanation, and have a willingness to accept it, that’s honorable.

When we can be honorable toward our husband, even when we disagree, we are keeping the lines of communication open.

You want to buy a new potting bench for the patio, so you ask your husband.  He says no.  You ask why, and he responds that there isn’t room in the budget which is already being stretched tight.  Instead of pouting, you can ask questions like…

Can we afford a used one?  If so, what is my maximum budget?  —  Could we build one for less?  Would you help me? — If I sold off a few of my own things, would you be ok with me spending that money to buy it?  — Can we discuss it again after we get our tax return?

By asking these questions you are actually honoring your husband, despite disagreeing or being unhappy with his decision.   You are attempting to understand the situation a bit more, looking for compromise, and with a better attitude.

However, if you walk away from the discussion angry… pouting around the house, giving him the silent treatment for days or weeks, withholding affection until you get your way, calling up a friend or family member and berating your spouse, disrespecting him in front of the kids by blaming him for why they can’t have/do something, etc… you are not honoring your husband in the least.

This is not to say that we can’t be disappointed, not at all.  It’s ok to be disappointed or sad about his decision; it is not ok to punish him for it or to carry anger and bitterness towards him over it.  It’s not ok to manipulate him into getting your own way, or call others onto your team to pressure him to fold.

We also need to be aware of the bigger picture, to have a full understanding of his decisions or opinions.  He may have information you don’t, the timing of the conversation may be wrong, he could have simply had a bad day, or any number of other factors.

Look for solutions, look for compromise, or look to God to help you be content with the decision you don’t agree with.

Honorable Disagreement.  Dishonorable Agreement.

It’s your decision, your choice on how you respond.

On the big things… the life impacting decisions… I hold firm that if God wants us to move in that direction both spouses will share that same conviction, calling, or direction.  If there is disagreement, it is because the “call” is something one of you is feeling in the flesh, or it just isn’t time to take that step yet.

If you are having a hard time being honorable in disagreement, start in prayer.  Take a step back, and pray over it.  When you have tempered yourself, have a discussion to understand his perspective.  Then, before you respond, take some time to think his response through.  Do some research, come up with an alternative solution, develop a plan of action, and then make some time to talk about it again.

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AND THEY PARTED WAYS

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In Acts 15 we get a lovely glimpse into a group of believers, trying to figure out what to do with the message they have been entrusted to deliver to the world.  Leading up to this moment, we had people traveling in different directions, different routes sharing the gospel.  They were instructing new believers on what they need to do, in order to be saved.  There were discrepancies that would come up as the gentiles would ask them questions, each person answering from his own perspective and opinion.  They brought their issues to the Pharisees who would weigh in on the matters.  Finally a council of elders & apostles met to discuss this situation.

After some time and discussion and prayer, Peter would address the group and give a response of grace.  Peter ultimately points out that it would be foolish to put the same rules upon the gentiles that the Jews were unable to uphold.  Barnabas and Paul shared about the miracles they experienced in their times with the gentiles.  James affirmed that God had declared that the gentiles would be His, as well.  Then under James leading, and in accordance to the Holy Spirit, the drafted a letter that would clear up the matter.  It would be sent out to all the cities.  The matter was settled.

Now, some time later, Paul tells Barnabas that he thinks it would be a good idea to go back through the cities and follow up on the letter.  And then it happened, they had a disagreement.  They both agreed that they should go, but they disagreed on whom should go with them.  It was such a heated disagreement, that they actually parted ways.

Both men had the same goal in mind, however they were in disagreement about the manner in which to go about it.

Sound familiar?

If you have served in ministry, you may have experienced this.

If you work in a company, you may have experienced this.

Even in relationships, you may have experienced this.

The interesting thing here is that the scriptures don’t point out that either man was wrong.  Both of these men were fundamental leaders in the early church.  However, they were in such disagreement that they could no longer be in each others presence. Yet, they would continue from that departure, each doing the work that the Holy Spirit would lead them to do.  Both important parts of the body, same goals, but a different way to accomplish that goal.

Their separating ways was a good thing, allowing the work of the Kingdom to be broadened.

There will be times in our life, in relationships or in service, where we are in disagreement.  Sometimes, that disagreement is something that needs to be reconciled and repaired.  However, there are occasions where that disagreement is a divine intervention, that calls both parties to separate ways.  Simply because their tasks are no longer to be completed together.  God may be ready to move us into new directions.  We can’t move toward new directions if we are digging our heels into our current location.

Acts 15: 39b -40

Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,  but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.

As they chose their traveling companions and left to strengthen the churches, they were praised and given well wishes by the believers.

The important thing here is not that that they departed ways, but how they departed ways.   We are not given any indication that they left with malice toward each other, or that their relationship was broken.  In fact, they were each praised by those who were seeing them off.  Throughout the scriptures we are told that we are to reconcile to each other and to God.  Reconciliation doesn’t necessarily mean going the same way.  It means we can go different directions with love, respect, blessing and hope for each other.

Lord, thank you for your word that continually teaches us through example on how we should treat each other in our relationships and our departures.  Each and every example in your word points us to Christ and our need for a savior. Thank you for your word that never fails.  Amen.

Suggested Reading:  Acts 15

SO RIGHT, I CAN’T BE WRONG

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just KNOW you are right.  Perhaps you have talked it over with a friend (or several), or even talked to yourself about it.  Maybe you sought wise counsel from your husband or even hunted through the Word to justify your side of things.  You have presented yourself as right, you have dug your heels down in the ground, and convinced yourself that the other person was in the wrong.

You have done such a good job in convincing everyone, including yourself, that you were so right…. and then it happened.

You found out you were, in fact, wrong.

Now what do you do?

You are probably feeling a bit shocked and overwhelmed, and uncertain of how to handle the next step.  Pride would want us to ignore it and sweep it under the carpet.  “What’s done, is done”, Pride whispers in your ear.  You could convince yourself that this is now a learning experience, and move forward vowing to never allow that to happen again.  After all, you learned your lesson.

But, is that enough?

What about that person you wronged?  The person you slandered.  The person you gossiped about.  The person you hurt.  The person who deserves to hear an apology.

Admitting we are wrong is tough.

Growing up my Grandmother was not one to apologize.  If she was wrong, she had reason to be wrong.  I remember, as a child, I was known to grab my grandmother’s sewing scissors for art projects.  I loved those scissors.  They were strong and sharp.   In fact, one of the first things I bought when I learned to sew was a pair of scissors just like hers.  One day, my grandmother was looking for her scissors and couldn’t find them.  She accused me of taking them, but I was diligent in my defense that I hadn’t.  I explained that I hadn’t even been in the closet, I didn’t bring any crafts with me that day, and I had no use for them.  She didn’t believe me.  Convinced I took them and was careless with them, I was grounded to the couch.  I would have to stay there until I was willing to admit that I took them, remembered where they were, and apologized.  Despite my tear stained cheeks, she was adamant she was right.  I was confined to the couch to “think about what I did”.

Several hours would pass, when my sister would arrive home (she lived with my grandmother).  As she came in the house, she handed my grandmother the scissors and apologized for not putting them back when she was done with them.  Of course, being a young child, I chimed in “I told you I didn’t take them.”.  My grandmother turned, looked me in the eye and said “If you hadn’t taken them in the past, I would have not had a reason to blame you.  You can get up from the couch.”.

No apology.  No admission of wrong.  Instead I was still to blame for simply giving her reason to suspect me.

This is probably where my desire for justice comes from.  I want the truth to be known, I want blame to fall where it should, I hate when someone is falsely accused or set up to take the fall, I want fairness, I want the same honesty from others as I am willing to give.  In those moments when justice is not being delivered, it takes me back to my childhood… sitting on that couch.

When we allow pride to take over our heart and mind, and convince ourselves that we are in the right… it can be nearly impossible to admit when we are wrong.   We brush it under the carpet, hoping that everyone will forget.  We try to fix it through buying back the relationship through gifts or doing good deeds.  Or, we walk away leaving it unsettled; letting the broken relation stay broken vs. swallow our pride to fix it.

It’s hard to apologize, because first it requires our full recognition that we did something wrong.  Pride will hinder us from true reconciliation.

Scripture tells us that if we have any argument with our brother, we are to leave our offering at the altar, find them and reconcile with them FIRST.  (Matthew 5:24)   How many times have you walked into church, put your tithing check in the offering basket and worshiped God… when your heart was still hard toward your brother or sister in Christ?

Scripture is not merely suggesting this is a good idea or wise decision.  No, in fact, God is telling us to do it before we can commune with him.  In other words, this issue has become sin & it stands between us and God.

Examine your relationships… is there hurt, unforgiveness, or unfinished business?  It’s time to do what God has commanded of us, to be a united body.  It begins with forgiveness.

Pray about it, first.  Ask God to reveal the areas in which you have sinned against your brother or sister.  Ask for God to strip away the anger and pride.  Ask Him to give you the strength you need to approach that person, and that they will have a softened heart & willingness to hear you.  Pray for reconciliation.

Then take the first step.  A simple email or text of “I’m sorry” can be just the kindling needed to get that fire started.  You may find that simple statement alone is sufficient, or that they have already forgiven you… and have been waiting for you to forgive yourself & be ready to heal the relationship.

Colossians 3:13   

Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.