What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder (James 4:1-2).
Expect the Obvious – A right understanding of the doctrines of man and sin will bring your expectations down to a reasonable level. There are no authentic, righteous people in the world today, not without Christ’s alien righteousness. We all are sinners. No one has escaped the curse of Adam. If you are surprised by your spouse’s sin, you have forgotten the obvious: your spouse is not perfect. I am not making a case to sin more, and I’m not making light of sin, but I am stating the obvious, as John said, if you say you don’t sin, you’re a liar (1 John 1:7-10).
Be Suspicious – You should permit humble “biblical suspicion” when you are suspicious of yourself. Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5 that if you perceive the log is in your eye, you are in the right place to engage another imperfect person. Self-deception or stubbornness will keep you from seeing that big log in your eye, which will keep you from responding to your marital strife correctly. A person who is humbly self-suspicious is a person who can see clearly.
Remember Who You Were – You put Jesus on Adam’s tree. Because of your sin, the Father executed His Son on a cross. Because of your sin, the Son willingly chose to die on that cross. Your crime against the Lord of the universe makes you the biggest sinner that you know. All of the things done to you do not compare to what you did to Sovereign God. Even at the end of his life, Paul understood this as he labeled himself the foremost sinner (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
Ask Questions – Do not charge into conflict-making statements. Ask questions. Be suspicious of your assumptions by realizing you’re working with insufficient data. More times than not, it will be better for you to ask more questions before stating your opinion. It’s easy to have a high perspective of your views and your rightness, keeping you from asking well-thought-out questions.
Little to Die Over – Think about your past arguments. How many were so crucial that it warranted you to sin against God and your spouse? I remember as a kid getting into an argument with my four brothers over a Snickers Bar. We were a poor family, and on that day, we had only one candy bar. One brother measured the candy with a ruler and did not divide the five parts equally. An argument ensued. Sadly, many of my arguments have not evolved much beyond the trivialities of sharing a candy bar.
Perhaps you are currently in disagreement with your spouse. If so, based on the five tips, here are a few reflective questions:
James said you sinfully argue because there are warring desires inside of you. As you reflect on the tips and questions, how do you need to change to be a more effective redemptive communicator?
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).