Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others
Published on: 02-01-2020
Have you ever tried making orange juice without oranges, or apple pie without apples? That’s what it looks like when we attempt to build a durable and wholesome marriage and family without kindness and compassion as essential ingredients.
While it’s true that honesty is one of the most important components of a strong and healthy marriage and family, it’s equally significant to grasp how to best communicate the truth for positive results. Any comedian can say the first thing that comes to mind. Cautious, careful, and emotionally intelligent persons, however, edit their thoughts to affirm, nurture, and protect the feelings of those they claim to value greatly.
Everyone arrives at adulthood with emotional baggage. We are products of our families of origin. We are who we are, to be sure, because of the interactions—positive and negative—we engaged in or were privy to while growing up within our families. As a result, we are all wounded to some extent, and it doesn’t take much for us to be incredibly hurt if someone targets the weak or vulnerable areas of our lives.
Our marriage relationships, as well as the interactions in our respective families, are meant to help us grow in as healthy a manner as possible: emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, even financially. To achieve this objective, we must follow this counsel: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
Neither women nor men should use hurtful words when they speak to their spouses or other family members. Although speaking the truth is important and should not be avoided, care ought to be exercised to communicate kindly and with compassion. A good rule of thumb is to think about how you would like people to communicate with you before uttering a word. Essentially, employing the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV).
Speaking the truth means much more than simply being honest. It means deliberately employing kindness and compassion in all of our inter- actions. It is creating an environment of warmth and good feelings that is fertile ground for building relationships that will stand the test of time.
In marriage and family we must resist the urge to keep it real, as invariably advocated by the fashionable urban preference of disclosing unvarnished truth. After all, it isn’t very wise to practice being boorish, crude, ill-mannered, or offensive. Rather the wise man counsels: “A soft answer turns away wrath. But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
If you have been hurt by something your spouse or another family member has said to you, rather than harboring feelings of anger, resentment, and hurt, ask God to give you the right spirit to confront the situation with kindness, compassion, and patience. Rather than accusing the other person by employing you messages such as “You are a terrible person,” to begin the conversation, use I messages instead, such as “I feel hurt when you refer to me in those words” to convey and own your feelings.
Our prayer is that every marriage and family will take this message to heart, and by employing kindness and compassion in all their interactions, build strong marriages and families for the kingdom of God.