Prov 11:24-25 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”
As I look over the broad spectrum of everyone I know, my family, my friends, and my large church family, I see in the majority of their lives, stresses, pressures and challenging circumstances facing them. These challenges range from financial situations to relational problems to infirmities and more. Not everyone faces these kinds of stresses but the majority of people I know do!
Whenever we face challenges such as these in our lives, we face pressure. Pressure is a good word for the kinds of challenges we are talking about. That’s what it feels like – like some outside force pressing down on us. You know what it’s like when you squeeze a toothpaste tube. Toothpaste comes out. You know what happens when you crack a nut with a nutcracker? It cracks and the nut comes out. When pressure is put on us, what is inside of us comes out. What comes out of us when we are under pressure is what is inside of us. That may be good or bad news!
Early on in my marriage with Renee, immaturity is what was in us. When pressure came, immaturity is what came out. We never knew how to respond correctly to pressure. We would only react. We both reacted in different ways but none of them were good. If you would have been watching us at times like that you would have easily thought, “they sure don’t love each other.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth. We loved each other very much. So why didn’t it seem like it or why didn’t we act like it? It had to do with what was in us.
When I was squeezed back then, all of the old man that had not yet been transformed would ooze out of me. The same with Renee. What came out of us was a horrible a combination – love and a whole lot of old man, that didn’t work well together. What do I mean by “old man?” We can get a better idea reading in Ephesians 4:22-25. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old man, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new man, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully…”
It wasn’t that Renee and I didn’t love each other. We just hadn’t let Jesus be formed in us enough to get rid of the old way of communicating – through our impulsive emotional responses. Did that work against us? Of course it did. What kept us together? Recognizing that WE DID love each other and that we needed God’s help in communicating better. We wanted our marriage not only to succeed, but also to be a blessed marriage of God.
You may be thinking how does today’s Fresh Manna verse – “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” – tie into all this? This verse says that when one man’s finances get tight, his tendency is to pull back and preserve what he has so he doesn’t run out. It says this some how doesn’t always work out and he ends up with little or nothing. Then it talks about the man who gives God’s way when finances get tight. He gives more liberally and somehow miraculously ends up with more. It says he and those he gives to end up refreshed.
The same thing can happen with fighting breaks out between two people. When communication is going lousy and a couple is verbally beating each other up, each will pull back and withdraw. Each person wants to fight for his or her position of being right. Neither wants to apologize and work toward forgiveness. If you want to learn God’s supernatural way of turning things around, then apply today’s verse in communication. Instead of withdrawing and defending the position of being right change direction and give love more liberally.
There were times when Renee and I had a fight. I knew the Word said, “be angry but sin not.” I knew the Word said, “Don’t let the sun go down in your anger lest bitterness set in.” I knew the Word said, “If you want forgiveness from God then you had to forgive.” I knew that the Word said that “where there was strife, there was every evil work of Satan.” In other words, I knew as the head of my house, I had to get us out of this mess no matter whose fault it was or we would be heading toward disaster. I did what today’s verse said, instead of fighting to win the fight or argument, I gave love more liberally. I asked Renee to forgive me and worked toward reconciliation. Even if she didn’t want to forgive right away, I just kept telling her I was sorry and how wonderful she was threw out the seeds of love liberally. “Honey, you were right, I was wrong.” “I love you so much; all I want to do is get this right between us and love you more.” I would just keep on this path. Love is hard to resist and pretty soon she’d soften. Then as today’s verse said, we’d both be refreshed. No one said it’s easy. Doing things wrong is hard work with a lousy result. Doing things right is hard work with a good result. Getting it right is better than horrible fighting and ending up in broken relationship!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt