God will help us in our marriage to grow and mature and help each other become more like Christ. Martha Peace in The Excellent Wife calls it “Mutual Sanctification” or admonishment by others. Husbands and wives need to learn how to receive and give reproof. Basically telling someone what they are doing wrong with the intent to bring them back to a right relationship with God.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15 ESV.
Martha tells us the Right Way to Respond to Reproof:
I bet you thought I was going to teach you the way to handle his sin, didn’t you?! We need to know how to handle ours first and foremost!
1. Take the time to think about what you have been told. Don’t go off the deep end! Yes, being reproofed is humiliating. Yes, being reproofed is painful. Yes, being reproofed tends to get our defenses up BUT Think Right, Godly Thoughts! “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Proverbs 15:28 ESV.
2. Search the Word to determine what the sin is and how to “put it off”. The first thing we have to do is go to the Word to see what the sin is. We can’t change anything we don’t understand. “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV.
3. Ask your husband to give you some specific examples of how you could have better responded. Specifics are important! We have to be exact in our understanding of where our sin lies. “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” Proverbs 14:8 ESV.
4. Confess your sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 ESV. Amen!
5. Show the fruit of repentance. Stop doing the sin and start doing the right thing. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 ESV.
6. Do not justify or defend yourself. This will only turn into an argument. It’s our selfish desires coming into play… just don’t. “I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.” Micah 7:9 ESV.
We should listen and learn from the reproof. We should be thinking, “What does God want me to learn and understand about this?”
We should be grateful that our husband loves us enough to reproof us, to correct us, to help us walk more like Jesus. We should not shut down or be angry. One thing I’ve come to understand is when Hubs reproofs me, after I’ve done the steps, is to let him know just how grateful I am that he did tell me about my sin. In some ways, it brings us closer, because our ultimate goal is have the kind of marriage God wants us to have.
Once you know a reproof is valid, then listen! Let your husband know that you understand the sin. Let your husband you know how to correct the sin. Let him know that you confessed the sin to God. I know you probably don’t want to be humble at this point but it’s way to show your husband that you heard him, that you understand and you are willing to walk closer with God.
Our ultimate goal is glorify God in all we do, giving up ourselves to follow Him. This is painful and humiliating at times, but it will help us to produce the good fruit in our lives. It’s growing and maturing as a Christian, which is what we want each day!