I'm learning that the power of the Cross and the power of the Spirit are ideas that are difficult to articulate with language - spoken or written. They are concepts that are best defined by experience. Like, I know it when I see it. Which makes sense because "... the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." (1 Cor. 4:20). I seem to see the Cross and the Spirit most clearly in relationships. And . . . since the main relationship in my life is my marriage, it seems to be full of my most vibrant examples.
In all of our marriages, there are two sinners involved. Whether I want to face it or not, my husband is a sinner. He is going to sin against me. And . . . I am going to sin against him. God says it is true ("no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law" Romans 3:20a. and "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 (emphasis added)). It's going to be different in every relationship, how sin manifests itself. But it is going to exist. No way around it. Life on earth will be full of struggle.
For example, the other morning I was really frustrated with Eric. Why? Well, um, I'm not really sure now. That's just how important this incredibly pressing matter was - I can't remember it just four days later. But, anyway, I was laying in bed getting more and more frustrated as he was sleeping soundly next to me at 4:30am, completely ignorant of my brewing resentment. Poor guy - he was totally helpless as I lay there building my case.
Oh, I know Proverbs 19:13 ". . . and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping." And, I remembered Proverbs 21:9 "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." But, my thought process was . . . if I don't wake Eric up and
Now - even if I decided not to wake Eric up at o'dark-thirty to
Oh. The games wives play. Whew - I have some issues going on in my heart. You think? A good old fashioned example of my sinful nature rearing its ugly head.
But the cross of Christ offers so much hope. I can leave my husband's sin against me at the cross. And, I can leave my sin against him at the Cross. The Cross can solve any division in my marriage. Jesus paid the penalty for both of our sin at the Cross. To hold on to bitterness or resentment, to bring up the other's sin again and again, to keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5) is to attempt to exact a penalty out of each other. Which is ridiculous. The entire penalty was paid over 2,000 years ago.
And, the Cross reminds me that I'm just as much of a sinner as Eric is. I needed, and continue to need, that Cross for my salvation just as much as Eric does. Jesus forgave the depths of my sin. The deep, dark sinful condition of my heart that no one but Jesus can even begin to fathom. How can I deny Eric the forgiveness that Jesus gives to me without condition? (Check out Matthew 18:21-35)
I'm not saying that we should just sweep everything under the rug and immediately "forgive and forget." There are issues and hurts to be worked through in order for our relationship to grow, mature and move forward. And, as wives we do have a role of lovingly and prayerfully helping our husbands become more like Jesus by encouraging them to follow Him better. Which sometimes means helping them to see how sin is manifesting itself in their lives. (Here's some good stuff on our role as wives - I will just put the link here instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.)
But, I must leave the justice to Jesus. God proved that He doesn't take sin lightly when He sent His son to die a horrendous death on the cross. And, loving, godly discipline is God's to handle in each of our lives.
My role is to be the wife that God called me to be. God wants me to build my husband up. Proverbs 14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." And, Eric is an amazing guy. Why would I want to tear him down??? I can bring life to my home by my words. Proverbs 18:21: "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
And, this is where the Power of the Spirit enters the scene. When Jesus died on the Cross and rose again, Jesus enabled His Spirit to indwell me and to empower me to do the things He has called me to. I'm not left to my own power. Thank goodness. Because really - if we stop to think about it - what wife REALLY wants to tear down her husband (and therefore, her house) and who wants to bring DEATH by her tongue. And what wife really wants her husband to prefer to live on a corner of the roof??
So, as I laid in bed the other morning I prayed. (Woo hoo!! Thank you Jesus!) And, I wasn't quarrelsome. Only by the Power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to trust God and do it His way. I trusted that my role is to build up and bring life. And as I prayed, God showed me that what I was frustrated with was really more about me than about Eric. It was good. And, it gave us a much more enjoyable day. All because of Jesus.
Funny. I'd been pondering this idea of the Power of the Cross and the Power of the Spirit. I had asked the Lord to make it real to me, to help me understand it more fully. And, He did. He gave me a tangible example in my own life of the way that the Cross and the Spirit work together. And kept my hubs off of the rooftop for another night. Ha!
If you are desiring to read some more along these lines there are two encouraging, biblical posts on the Mars Hill Church blog. Here and Here.