Have you ever groaned after reading a passage of Scripture? I’m not talking about the Holy Spirit groans that are mentioned in Romans 8. I’m referring to the groans some of us utter when reading about, oh, submission, for example. The first time I remember reading that a “gentle and quiet spirit” is what God considers beautiful, I asked Him, “what do you mean, ‘gentle and quiet’??” (And I am still learning. 🙂 ) I probably groaned the time I realized that the answer to my sinus headaches might not be immediate healing, but trusting in His sufficient grace. (Though I’m very grateful that He did heal me!) But even though God sets high standards for His children, He also lovingly and graciously provides what we need to obey Him. (And, He mercifully forgives and restores us every single time we fall short and repent.)
Mile-High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain, NC; public domain photo by Ken Thomas
So maybe I should leave more of the groaning to the Holy Spirit. 🙂
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Has a friend ever been telling you about a heated disagreement she had with someone else—perhaps her husband, mom, or a co-worker—and then presented the other person’s side of the story? Expounded on the valid points on both sides? Explained the other person’s perspective? Yeah, it hasn’t happened to me either. Come to think of it, I never tell a story that way myself. The way I usually tell the story, I was perfectly reasonable, rational, and justified, and the other person … wasn’t. Of course if you heard that other person’s side, I was probably the unreasonable one. Because we would each be assuming the worst of the others’ intentions, while viewing ourselves in terms of our best intentions. However, it’s supposed to be the other way around. We are supposed to take a more critical view of our own motivations while being more generous in our assessment of others.
~~Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)~~
As I discussed in a previous post, it is important to examine ourselves to discover those deep motivations. How we handle money is often a reflection of unresolved issues in our own hearts. Those issues can also unfairly color how we view our spouse’s financial behavior. You may consider your husband’s spending irresponsible, when really he just isn’t worried about money and is confident that God will provide. Or, it might feel like your budget-conscious husband is trying to control you, while he is trying to be a faithful steward and avoid unnecessary financial grief. Sure, there are wasteful spenders and stingy hoarders. If you truly believe that one of these applies to your husband, humbly pray for him instead of judging him. But if your husband is neither miserly nor reckless, and you’re just at different points on the saving-spending spectrum (still pray without judgment), here are two things that may help alleviate some of the financial tension in your relationship:
- Give the benefit of the doubt.
When we examine ourselves, we may discover some fear at the root of our intense budgeting, or some discontent behind our liberal spending. But we are not in the place to assume someone else’s—even a spouse’s—motivations. So don’t always assume that your frugal husband doesn’t trust you or is trying to control you. Or if you are the more frugal one, don’t assume that your spouse doesn’t care about your family’s financial future when he’s willing to spend more money than you are. Give your spouse as much grace as you would like to receive after going slightly over budget at the store. Look for good motives behind your husband’s careful eye on the finances, instead of sinister ones.
- Seek the blessing in the difference.
I have confessed to making a stinky face or two about my husband’s purchases. But there are many blessings in being married to someone who does not pinch pennies. Just three days ago, I discovered that I had ordered the wrong homeschool tests and essentially wasted $75. I was upset about it, but my husband was gracious. Without hesitation, he told me to go ahead and order another set of tests. In fact, he never makes me feel badly when I make a mistake that costs us money. And whenever we discuss a donation or financial gift, his number is always higher than mine, often significantly. It S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S me, let me tell you! But God always works it out!! Furthermore, my husband trusts me to make decisions without him when necessary. (Sometimes he even gives me a c’mon-you-know-you-don’t-need-to-check-with-me face when I check with him.) We are both involved in the finances, he just doesn’t delight in the details the way I do. So even though poring over a spreadsheet together is not his idea of a good time (It is mine!), there is no way that I would trade my generous, trusting husband for a spreadsheet-porer. (Of course, if you are married a spreadsheet-porer, you should thank God for what you have!)
So, great news! God did not make a mistake in giving you a husband who spends or saves more than you. In fact, we can learn about God’s grace through our differences with our husbands, if we are willing to open our eyes.
Thanks for stopping by,
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my newfound respect for Nehemiah of the Old Testament. He was bold, prayerful, and even a little crazy (can I say that?) in his pursuit of righteousness. But someone I’ve always loved from the Bible—or at least since I started reading it—is the apostle Paul. Maybe it’s because he, like I, started out being religious, only to be overwhelmed by the discovery that God’s grace made him righteous (and not his works). Anyway, Paul had plenty of reason to hide, or hide from, his past. He had been, to put it bluntly, a murderer. And when he wasn’t the one killing Christ’s followers, Paul was pursuing them, beating them, or encouraging others to murder them. If anyone should be considered disqualified from service to the Lord, it was Paul. But one of the things I admire about Paul is that he didn’t have any problem telling people what a bad guy he had been before God got a hold of him. That wretched past was part of his testimony. And because of what he had done, Paul knew as well as anyone possibly can that there is no evil that is deeper than the depth of God’s grace. So rather than focus on his past failures, Paul looked forward, to Jesus.
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Do you ever feel unqualified to serve God? What truths from Scripture set you straight?
Several years ago, I suffered from excruciating sinus headaches. The feeling, as I described it then, was like a screwdriver drilling into my ear canals. During one bout of headaches, I remembered that there is a passage in the Bible about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” I searched for the passage to find out how the situation was resolved.
~~Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:8-9a)~~
To be honest, I was disappointed by this “resolution.” I didn’t want grace! I wanted the headaches to go away!! What I didn’t really understand at the time, but am learning more and more, is that God’s purposes in our suffering (in Paul’s case, to keep him from exalting himself) are often different from ours (usually, for the suffering to end). Not that we shouldn’t pray for that (Jesus did on the night before His crucifixion) or confront someone who has hurt us (see Matthew 18:15). If it’s a financial trial, it doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t do anything to improve our situation. It’s just that God’s blessings are even richer than healed headaches and fixed finances. So rich, that it’s possible to have joy while we hope or wait for those things.
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Has the Bible ever taught you something you didn’t want to know? 🙂
It is pretty inspiring to consider that the Creator of the universe, from the tiniest insect to infinitely massive galaxies, considers me His workmanship. Then, in between keeping the planets in orbit and showing the birds where to migrate every year (on top of giving me eternal life!), He has made plans for me. What more reason do I need to serve Him faithfully?
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What verses amaze you and remind you of God’s power, and His care?