Grace When Others Fail Us

Grace when others fail us

As I puttered around the kitchen, the radio preacher shared a hypothetical story.

In the context of teaching women to love their husbands from Titus 2, the speaker told of a man whose main conversations with his wife at home centered on her telling him what needed to be done around the house. Then when the man went to his workplace, his pretty young secretary built up his ego by pointing out how well he did his job, how capable he was, etc. Since the husband felt starved for attention and affirmation, he was ripe for at least an emotional and perhaps even a physical affair with his secretary—and it was all his wife’s fault.

Now, a sermon illustration by its nature is sometimes oversimplified. But this one stirred a few thoughts.

First of all, should women be careful how they speak to their husbands? Of course. When Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, our family members are our first neighbors. All the Bible says about speech being kind, gracious, and edifying needs to be applied at home before anywhere else. Sometimes we’re on our guard when we speak to others outside the home, but get careless within our own walls.

When the honeymoon is over and life gets busy, it’s easy to fall into utilitarian conversation and forget to talk just to enjoy each other. We need to remember to thank each other for the things that are done and not take each other for granted.

We need to treat our husbands respectfully (Ephesians 5:33). I cringe when I hear women talk to their husbands like children or give them a dressing down or ridicule or belittle them.

So yes, I agree, how we speak to our husbands is a big factor in how we show love to them. And building them up at home will help them be less susceptible to the flattery of others.

However . . .

A husband is not justified in seeking attention elsewhere if he feels he’s not getting enough at home.

When we stand before God some day to give an account of our lives, we’re not going to be able to point to anyone else and blame them for our sins.

God provides a way out of temptation. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God’s grace is sufficient for whatever He requires of us. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God has given us everything we need to live godly lives. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

The Bible warns us about flattery, particularly the dangers to men of a flattering woman.

“Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words” (Proverbs 2:16, NIV. Other translations say “smooth” words or “flattering” words).

With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.”

“And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:21-27).

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:3-4).

If one of my kids or grandkids or any other young person under my influence came to me with the situation in the sermon illustration and asked what to do, I’d advise two things.

First, at a relaxed time, talk to your spouse. Don’t accuse or act defensive, but just honestly state you’re feeling more like a handyman than a husband (or, if the situation is reversed, feeling more like a maid than a wife). Perhaps say, “I don’t know if you realize it, but all of our conversation lately is about stuff that needs to be done. I’d like to talk about more.”

Second, take the initiative. Talk to her as you want her to talk to you. Ask how her day was. Ask what she thinks about something in the news. Find out her “love language” and express it to her. Let her know you care about her beyond what she does for the home and family. In fact, this could possibly be the first or only step.

All of these principles—the fact that we’re responsible for our own reactions and can’t blame anyone else for our sin, that God provides a way out of temptation, that He gives grace to do right, that we need to guard against being led astray by flattery, that we can look for ways to rectify the problem rather than responding negatively—are true for men and women in multitudes of situations.

If we’re feeling unappreciated or uncared for, the first thing to do is go to God and ask Him what to do and how to respond. Even our dearest earthly loves will fail us sometimes. But He never will.

2 Corinthians 9:8 God's grace

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

18 thoughts on “Grace When Others Fail Us

  1. I like how you take a topic and make it practical, Barbara! In similar situations I always find it helpful too to remember that, when people fail us (whether our spouse, child, friend, etc), Jesus never will. I’ve gone to him so many times in times when I have felt “failed upon” by someone else. It’s such a comfort.

    • It is–there’s an old hymn which says “No One Understands Like Jesus.” And it helps to remember that I fail others, too. I hope to be used by Him to help and encourage, but also point people to lean on Him.

  2. Recognizing I may not be your majority audience Ms. Barbara, I would like to add that your inclusion of the “two-edged sword” language is most appropriate, for this type of temptation cuts both ways. Far too many times, I fine myself being “utilitarian” of those I share this life with. I also find myself withholding grace in favor or “holding them to a higher standard.” Wonderful wisdom shared ma’am. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, JD. Some utilitarian speech is necessary–What’s for dinner? When are you coming home? Did you check the mail? What time to do have to be there? But it’s not good when that’s our main conversation. Both with people and the Lord, we have to intentionally take time to really hear and interact.

  3. I like how you brought out the fact that each of us are responsible for our own choices and no one else can be blamed for our sin, but also reminded us that God’s grace gives us everything we need to resist temptation. Good word!

  4. Thank you for sharing with SSPS #252. I would like to invite you to be a part of the crew at SSPS, and thank you again for sharing such great content.

  5. I love your two suggestions at the end, Barbara. The second one, especially, involves dying to self and putting the other person’s interests ahead of our own. I don’t always like doing that, but I know it’s the best response. Such a comfort to remember that God never fails us.

    • That’s the hard part–dying to self and our own agendas and interests for another. But, as you said–it’s best for us and others. And it does help so much to know in others’ failures and our own that God never fails us.

  6. Thank you for the practical application of grace, Barbara when others fail us. I like to remind myself, that I fail God and others daily, and God’s grace is always there for me, how can I not then also extend the same grace to others who fail me?

  7. The timing of reading this was God appointed. I am heading out of town with my husband on Wednesday. So many nuggets of truth from all sides that I hope to put into practice. Thank you!

    I am featuring your article on my Grace & Truth | Featured Pinterest Board.

  8. Pingback: March Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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