by Pastor Tim Burt
As I look over the broad spectrum of everyone I know—my family, my friends, and church family, I see in a great deal of their lives, stresses, pressures and challenging circumstances facing them. These challenges range from financial pressures to relational problems to infirmities and more. It seems as though most people have some type of stressful situation creating pressure in their life.
Whenever people face challenges, they face pressure. Pressure can make us feel like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed. When you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, toothpaste comes out. When you crack a nut with a nutcracker, the nut comes out. When pressure is put on us, what’s inside of us comes out. 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 had 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? Why didn’t we act like it? It had to do with what was in us.
When we were squeezed back then, all of the old man—the person and personality we were before receiving Christ into our lives that had not yet been transformed by God’s Word, would ooze out of us. What do I mean by old man? We can get a better idea reading in Ephesians 4:22-25 NIV. “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…”
Renee and I had obviously not allowed God to do this work in us at that point in our lives. Consequently, when we were under pressure, what came out of us was a horrible combination of selfishness and immaturity. 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 or the constant pressures of life would destroy us and our marriage. We wanted our marriage not only to succeed, but also to thrive and be a blessed marriage of God.
There was a particular verse of scripture that helped us reapproach and transform our thinking on what to do when we felt pressures. It was Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV which says, “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.”
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. This verse reveals that this doesn’t always work out and he ends up with little or nothing. Then it talks about the man who gives God’s way—generously, when finances get tight. He gives more liberally and yet somehow miraculously ends up with more. And it says that he, and those he gives to, end up refreshed. That is God’s plan to supernaturally thrive under pressure!
The same thing can happen when 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. Then the mental tallying of wrongs begin. Mental defensive arguments proving the other wrong get rehearsed in your mind over and over. Before long, neither wants to apologize and work toward forgiveness. That leads to the dead end of failure! If you want to learn God’s supernatural way of turning things around, then apply this wisdom of generous giving from God in how you deal with each other. Instead of withdrawing and defending the position of being right, change direction and give love more liberally! “One man gives freely, yet gains even more…”
There were times when Renee and I were under pressure. We felt squeezed and snapped at each other far too much. When we did, I knew I had to lay down my pride and get us out of this mess no matter whose fault it was or we would continue to head toward disaster. I began to practice the wisdom of giving liberally by giving Renee love more liberally. I’d ask Renee to forgive me even when I didn’t feel I was wrong. I’d work toward the goal of reconciliation. Even if she didn’t want to forgive right away, I just kept telling her I was sorry and how how much I loved her. I scattered 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.
None of what I’m sharing is easy. Your pride is more stubborn than you could imagine. Laying down your pride to reconcile can feel impossibly hard and unfair to yourself. I promise you if you take this route, you’ll hear the words This isn’t fair screaming in your mind! But, adding the pressure of fighting to the ongoing pressures of life is worse and always has horrible results! Doing things right is hard work with the potential for great results! Renee and I paid the price to work hard swallowing our pride and continually forgiving and moving forward. Over time we learned to communicate better and bridal our tongue from saying stupid things! I can’t tell you how many times I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me saying, Don’t say it! It took far too long but I eventually learned to yield that voice! We prayed to God asking Him to help transform us and leave selfishness and immaturity behind. We practiced loving each other with liberal godly love. And when we were under pressure, we ramped God’s wisdom of giving increased liberal love to each other, recognizing the devil’s devices of creating pressures to get us to fight!
No matter what the pressures are in your life, you can crack and break under pressure, or you can let that pressure squeeze the liberal love of God from you—something that most won’t expect. The result is awesome and you end up being supernaturally transformed into the Christ-like person you want to be! As I said, either way is hard work. Make the choice that will take you to the place you want to end up! Choose to work hard at overlooking offense, but when it does stick, giving liberal forgiveness and love for the great result and blessing God has promised you again and again!
John 13:34 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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