Helping a spouse overcome sin is a privilege and challenge, with many pitfalls. One of those pitfalls is your willingness to “handle their truth” without becoming angry. Can you be trusted with the disappointing truth about your spouse?
Megan’s husband, Jeff, is a huge disappointment to her. He doesn’t lead her well and doesn’t seem to want to change. Megan wants a God-honoring marriage more than almost anything else in life.
She has talked to Jeff about her concerns a few times over the years, but nothing really changed. Anyone who discerns Megan carefully can tell she is a discouraged lady. Her displeasure in Jeff is understandable; she has an unmet, God-given desire to be loved and well-cared for by her husband.
Megan regularly confides in her girlfriends, rehearsing all of Jeff’s failures to them. They don’t know how to steward this information well, and they have a hard time liking Jeff.
Is your husband’s reputation safe in your mouth?
I’m not talking here about your God-given call to bring soul care (Galatians 6:1-2) to your husband, who is also your brother in Christ. You are called by God to speak kindly and respectfully to your husband about his sin, and lovingly to help him change. I’m talking about slandering him to others.
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. – 1 Timothy 3:11 (ESV)
The Greek word for “slanderer” here is diabolos (Matthew 4:1). Megan is an unwitting image-bearer, but not of her Lord. She is saved, but, like Jeff and every other believer this side of glory, she is not entirely sanctified. Unfortunately, it is always easier to see the sin of people around us than it is to see our own (Matthew 7:3).
Can you be trusted?
The heart of her husband trusts in her. – Proverbs 31:11 (ESV)
The tenderness of this verse is breathtaking. It intimates that our husbands are more fragile than we probably know. This kind of trust cannot happen if your husband–and everyone around you–is more aware of your disappointment than your love and respect for him. Will you ask the LORD and a godly, mature friend to help you be someone your husband’s heart can trust (Hebrews 3:13)?
Jeff needs to change
No doubt about that. And Megan can help or hinder him in this process. She can be his accuser or follow the example of our Lord (Romans 2:4). She must remember she can’t change Jeff herself; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. She must learn to be content to plant and water, trusting God to provide the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).
It is possible that even if Megan does this well, God will never change Jeff. Should Jeff never change, Megan will need her friends to help her keep her focus on the LORD and, by the Spirit, model Christ toward Jeff and others (Romans 5:8). It will be a hard road for her–a call to die to herself in the worship of her King (Matthew 16:24). She will need a lot of love and support.
The LORD may never give Megan the earthly husband she wants, but He would delight to grant her the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4). He will make her trustworthy, even if her husband never recognizes this in her.
What a pleasure. What a privilege. May it be so, for Megan, and for me.
Also published on Medium.