Oh this is a tough episode. Jesus does not shy away from talking about marriage, divorce, adultery, revenge and other hard, hard topics. Nicole and Sharon study what He says together and offer comfort, hope and sober warnings as well for all of us as we work through difficulties in our relationships with others. Come prayerfully and listen and learn from Jesus' words on these tough subjects. Our prayer is that you will walk away renewed and determined to look to Him for relational help and healing no matter how messy your situation might be. We love you and so does the God who made you. May He bless all who listen to this episode today.
Speaker 1 (00:02):
Welcome friend. It’s time to hit pause on your busy day and enjoy the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. Let’s ponder God’s Word together and find the encouragement we need to work well and rest well. The Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 18 of the Sweet Selah moments podcast. Today’s episode is called When Relationships Hurt. This is a super hard one to talk about because relationships are all so unique. And when you are in a place of relational hurt, even thinking about it hurts, but Jesus did not shy away from talking to us about relationships when he gave his Sermon on the Mount. So we won’t shy away either. Sharon, why don’t you start us off on this one?
Oh, Nicole, I wanted to shy away from this one. I have walked through the pain of divorce with several friends and, you know, in some ways it’s almost worse than death because the hurt continues because the person is still there. And in fact, it is a death. It’s a death of dreams. It’s a death of the happily ever after you thought you were going to get, it’s a death of the oneness you shared. And every situation is so unique that the thought of talking about this was hard for me, but you are right. Jesus spoke about it. And if we are going to honor him and believe that his word is all useful for us, which it is, we’ve got to do this one. So here goes. In this next part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about adultery, marriage and divorce and loving your enemies, which, hmm, that might be related to the adultery, marriage and divorce part and taking revenge. Boy, all the messy, messy stuff that makes up human relationships and has been with us for ever. You know, it fascinates me that the same relationship struggles that Jesus talked about then, they’re still here today. Human nature and human interactions really haven’t changed. So, okay. Let’s start with just reading what Jesus says. If the Bible is truly God’s living word and we believe it is these words alone are able to teach, correct, and train us to lead better lives. May it be so for all of us, as we hear God’s words to us now. So we’re going to read by sections and Nicole, you get the adultery section.
Oh, fun. All right. So starting in Matthew chapter five, 17 through 30. Alright, I’m sorry, 27 through 30. You have heard the commandment that says you must not commit adultery. But I say anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye, even your good eye causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hands, even your stronger hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Teaching about divorce, Matthew five, 31 and 32. You have heard the law that says a man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce. But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
Teaching about vows, Matthew, verses 33 through 37. You have also heard that our ancestors were told you must not break your vows. You must carry out the vows you make to the Lord. But I say, do not make any vows, do not say by heaven because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say by the earth because the earth is his footstool. And do not say by Jerusalem for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say by my head for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, yes I will. Or no, I won’t anything beyond this is from the evil one.
Teaching about revenge, Matthew five 38 to 42. You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
Teaching about love for enemies, Matthew five 43 through 48. You have heard the law that says … Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just, and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.
Wow. Wow. Wow. You know, we’ve gone from, Jesus comforts those who mourn. God loves people who love peace to this. This is just so much about relationships here. And so much of it is counter intuitive. It really is. I mean, my first response to someone saying, I’m going to make you carry my pack for a mile is not to say no, no, no, allow me to carry it for two miles. Right?
I mean, it’s just upside down in so many ways. And yet it is how people know we’re different because the human tendencies are so different from what Jesus is portraying here. So I think what we’re going to have to do is find some themes. In fact, I know that because I’ve already found the theme for this podcast, cause there’s so much to cover.
And so we’re going to look at the themes one at a time. And really the number one theme I think is that God sees and judges our hearts, not just what we’re doing, but what creates what we’re doing, because it really starts in our heart and our mind. And then it flows forth into actions. The heart is where sin starts, whether it’s adultery or anger or desiring revenge, it starts with what we’re brooding on inside us. So, how Nicole, does one guard one’s thoughts? Have you got any tricks for us?
Wow. I remember one of our pastors saying years ago, you can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from making a nest there. And I think that’s a really good reminder that we can’t control these thoughts as they come, but we can certainly control how long they hang around and get cozy in our minds. It’s really awful how dark our hearts are without God. There’s that verse in Jeremiah 17 nine, it says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it. We need to be ready for these sinful thoughts because they come so easily on their own. So when I catch myself in thoughts that I shouldn’t be dwelling on, I try to give it to God right away. I do that by saying a quick prayer, usually it’s Oh God, I’m sorry. That’s not pleasing to you. Please take it from me. And if I’m watching or doing something or in a place that’s causing me these thoughts or temptations, then I remove myself from that situation. I know myself and I don’t have the willpower to resist. So I flee.
Which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Good job. Good job.
Yeah. And I love that thought that, yes, thoughts come and you really can’t help that, but you don’t have to build a nest for them to kind of like live there in your brain. You know?
(laughing). Yeah, welcome come in.
No, no, no, no. I found the same thing that I have to, you know, consciously notice the thought and then turn it into a prayer or say a scripture verse. And somehow change that little whirlpool that my mind has got itself in where it’s going round and round about this thing that it should not be going round and round about. So it takes effort, but the Holy Spirit helps us do that. He says there’s no temptation too hard for us. And he’s he’s right there isn’t. So I often turn it into a positive prayer. Like if I’m angry with someone, I’ll say, Father, would you bless them and help them to love you more? You know, something like that. So it’s almost like I’m saying, so there, Satan.
So there. You tried. I’m just going to pray for them. So go ahead, tempt me again. I’ll pray for them again.
It’s like a counter attack. The thrust of the sword.
So, but we do have to guard our thoughts because God sees and judges our hearts. That’s number one. Number two, God expects us to do what we say we will do. If we say we’ll be faithful, we should be. If we make a commitment, we shouldn’t have to impress someone with, I swear on my mother’s Bible. I don’t think anybody says that anymore. But when I was a kid, that was the thing, the kids that never told the truth. So that you’re looking at them like, I do not believe a word you’re saying. No, no, I swear on my mother’s Bible. What? What is that?
But it was like, because they didn’t normally tell the truth they had to make this like super serious so you’d get that they really meant it.
And I think this is what Jesus is referring to. The kind of people that don’t normally tell the truth, have to sort of amp it up for you to believe them. But if we are truth-tellers, if our word is our bond, we just say yes. And they’re like, Oh, she said, yes. And that is enough. You know, that really is. So, you know, when we say we’re going to be faithful to our wedding vows and we say in sickness and in health, you know, for better or for worse, you know, that’s what we’re supposed to do. Now, there’s exceptions. We’ll talk about them. But right now we’re talking about that’s what we’re supposed to do. So Nicole, marriage? Has every moment of your marriage been Hallmark channel living?
If you’d said ‘yes’ I would have checked your temperature.
Right? Yeah. Seeing if I was telling the truth. Oh, we’ve had some really hard times in our marriage. And we’ve found that it’s not always these big, horrible events that take you out. It’s the daily life stuff that can kill your marriage slowly. Just be careful about those. We’ve had our share of both, the big and the small, but I remember one particularly hard time after the birth of our second daughter. Josh had just received a new longterm medical diagnosis that we found out could be pretty debilitating if we didn’t treat it right away. And the medication for it was just nasty stuff and he would take it and it would just knock him out for the day. He’d get sick to his stomach and he could not stay awake for anything. And I had this brand new newborn who was horribly colicky and she would scream for three hours straight. Right before bedtime she would throw up every feeding all over me. It was awful. And I had a two year old running around that I had to keep alive. So it was a really hard time. I wasn’t leaning into God as I should have during that time so I got overwhelmed and hopeless pretty fast. I withdrew from Josh and just tried to, you know, kind of survive on my own for awhile. It wasn’t really until we got pregnant with our third kiddo, nine months later…
That I was finally honest with him and started to communicate my feelings of unhappiness and resentment. And come to find out he had been feeling really bad about not being able to help me and not being able to be awake for it. But I’d been too busy in my own misery to reach out, to see how he was doing. And it was good to tell him my feelings, even if they weren’t necessarily right. It wasn’t his fault, poor drugged guy, I shouldn’t have been angry with him for that, but I felt them and they were real to me, but I found that by sharing my feelings with him, they lost their hold over me and God was able to get in there and remove that bitterness that had started to grow and kind of heal my heart.
Yeah. That is so true. When we keep things hidden, they fester.
They really do. It’s like mold that’s allowed to grow in a dark closet. It needs to be open to the light and the sunshine, you know. So you’re right. It loses its power when you speak it. So that’s so neat.
Yeah, it worked.
Well. My marriage hasn’t always been Hallmark worthy either.
No. I know, big shock there too. Two sinners married to each other.
Funny how it’s not perfect. So Ray and I’ve been married for almost 41 years now. And back when I was the mom of two preschoolers, Ray was getting his PhD and he had a different reason for not being there for me. You know, Josh couldn’t because of being drugged, basically, poor baby.
Right. I know.
Ray was the opposite of drugged. He was like wired all the time cause he was teaching full time at West Point, which is a huge responsibility to teach these cadets at the college level. And he had a Colonel that really wanted him to finish his dissertation. So he was writing his dissertation at night and it was just really hard and I’d signed up for it. I’m like, no, I can handle it, go do your dissertation. I’m strong. But I wasn’t. And I started being so frustrated that everything was falling to me. It was hard.
It was just hard. And I could remember washing dishes one day and looking at another father who was not getting his dissertation playing with his children in the yard and feeling that you know, that resentment and that bitterness, really coming in. And I even said to God firmly, and with a bit of an edge, Lord, I am not staying in this marriage because I am happy. I am not.
I mean, that was the truth. And I let it out instead of trying to act like it wasn’t there.
I am only staying because it’s right. So there. And that is the only reason I stayed was because it was right. I was not happy. And at that point I couldn’t see the future. And of course you project negatively. I’m always going to have a husband who will always be too busy and will never spend any time with me or the children.
You know, that’s where your mind goes and where Satan is happily pushing your mind to go, you know?
Oh yes, this is my life forever.
This is it forever, until I’m 97! You’ll never notice me. You know? So, I needed to do the same thing. I needed to turn my bitter thoughts into a prayer. And I prayed the same prayer cause I didn’t have the energy to make up new ones. I was just so tired. I just prayed Lord help Ray to love you and us more and more. That was it. Every time a thought came, which I’d say was about 50 to 70 times a day…
Sounds about right.
Yes. I would pray that prayer. That’s the other thing you can’t pray at once and be like, I’m done. No, you have to fight the thoughts with prayer. So I did, I fought the thoughts with prayer and the same thing Ray felt terrible about those years, Nicole, we both regretted a decision we made that meant that family life was not what it ought to have been. And I can remember one time talking to him, you know, the time he had with me I’d lecture him on why he was doing such a bad time of having time with me. So that was helpful. Made him really eager to spend more time with me. I can remember lecturing him on it and him saying, I know I’m failing. I am failing in every area of my life. I’m failing as a professor, I’m failing at writing a dissertation. I’m failing as a husband, I’m failing as a child and the misery on his face. And I thought, Lord, what have I done to him? What have I done? I am not a safe place for Ray. He’s my punching bag when he finally stops. It was a very bad time in our marriage in conclusion. That was a long way to tell you that. So, but happy ending here.
Amazingly he has found time to spend with his children. He taught volleyball with Mary and spent time there. He and Kathryn, whenever she visits, they go thrift shopping together. I hate thrift shopping with a loathing passion. They love it. They come back with their finds. They enjoy each other’s company. They’re buds.
Yeah. That’s so good.
And my children have a stable home to come back to. And only by God’s grace, only by God’s grace and the decision to stay because it was right not because I was happy. So, so keeping your word is an important thing. And if you, listener, are going through a hard time with your marriage, I just encourage you. It may look like it’s going to be terrible forever. But if you keep praying and leaning in, you may be surprised like I was how sweet and good it is to look back on 40 years with the man who stuck with me, bless him, as well as the other way round.
But okay. I do want to say a word to the many out there that are listening, who are divorced. We see you too. We see your hurt and your pain. And I, I can’t imagine the gut wrench it was to see your happily ever after go up in smoke. We’re not judging you here. God knows. And God sees and guess what? No matter what God loves you. If there was wrong in your divorce, he is able to forgive completely. If there was no other way in your divorce, God saw that too. Here’s the important thing. Move forward staying close to him. And treasure marriage as a gift from God where the vows ought to be kept, whether that happened in your case or not. I think we all agree that that’s best. And now I have a word to the woman who is only staying because it’s right.
Oh, friend, get godly counseling from someone you trust. From someone that is for you and for your husband. Pray for your husband, faithfully and often. Stay in the word, stay in the Bible. Ask God to show you his way and his best for you. I can state unequivocally today to you that I am glad I stayed. Glad I learned to love even when I felt no love in return from a burned out guy. I’m glad because I have no regrets and glad because I learned to lean on God during those years, finding my happiness in him, which is where we’re all supposed to be finding our happiness anyway.
And Ray and I just got through one of our happiest summers ever.
COVID-19 has kept us close to home, walking, talking, enjoying each other’s company. It’s been wonderful. I love him so much. And I’m so thankful he stuck with me through my complaining years. The contentment of a long marriage is amazing. So don’t give up. However, my last point, this is like my own mini sermon, which I hope is helpful. It’s not as helpful as Jesus is but I hope it’s helpful. If you and your children are suffering abuse friend, leave. Hear me. Leave for their sake, for your sake and actually for your husband’s sake. To allow and tolerate abuse is to keep allowing him to debase himself in ways that dishonor God. You want better for him than that. Pray for him, love him and leave until he is able to get help and act honorably toward you and the kids. Do this as much for his sake as your own. This is not the way God wants your husband to be. Don’t let him to continue to sin in this way. There.
I said all the things that I was trying to avoid by not having this podcast, but I feel they’re important and I hope they bless. I hope they bless. So let’s move on to number three.
I’m so done with two.
Two was heavy.
It was heavy. Okay. Number three, God asks from us a supernatural kind of love. As we’ve seen from love your enemy. Turn that other cheek to be hit, metaphorically speaking, as I tell people to leave if they’re abused.
It’s quite frankly impossible without his help. So Nicole, your turn, when you read this passage, this says, if someone sues you and takes your shirt, give him your coat as well. What do you think about that? Talk to me.
I think it’d be such a surprise to them for that to happen. For us to turn around and give more than what was required of us to someone that is suing and asking for, you know, recompense for a wrong done to them. What a surprise for us to give above and beyond that, because that’s not what we would naturally do. So that would totally show that we are something different. We are God’s children and he’s asked more of us.
Yes, that you must be perfect cause I am perfect.
And that’s pretty much perfect to go, ‘no, no, did you need my shirt that badly’?
Oh honey, take my coat.
That is not our natural response at all. At least for me it’s not.
Oh my goodness, it’s not for me either. To love perfectly like God who died for sinners like us when we didn’t even notice him or do anything to bless him or earn it, is hard. It’s just hard. And yet to live a life of love, like that is radical. So different. So unique in its contentment that no bitterness can be there and bitterness hurts.
It really does.
That’s a nasty one.
And as you know, that’s the kind of love that changes the world and draws people to Jesus. That love. The not grasping after our own needs, but then wanting to love others. So Nicole, have you ever had an experience like that where you’ve been able to turn the other cheek? I mean, I know we can both list times when we haven’t. But can we find the few rare times when maybe we have?
There’s a much longer list of those I haven’t… a bit of a spitfire. But yeah, we’re talking about difficult and hurtful relationships and I had a friendship go awry and that person was saying some pretty hurtful and untrue things about me and to me. And it was really hard not to do the same and to try to justify myself or go behind and undo the things that were said to people. But praise God, I had some very wise counsel that told me at the time to just be silent and pray and they just kept encouraging me in that to wait it out and that God would work it out and reveal the truth and he did. And I’m so grateful. It has become a great learning experience for me and I have such peace about it because I was able to turn the cheek with Jesus’ help. And I didn’t keep fueling the fire by acting in kind.
Oh, this is so good. So good. So good.
And then the thing is, and I’ve learned this in arguing with Ray, you know, I might be right.
You know, it could happen. But if I respond angrily, I’ve created a situation where now he’s justified in being mad because of my madness at what he said. You know, you just escalate everything.
So good. Thank God. And I know it was God, because the natural response is if someone’s saying things that aren’t true, it’s not, Oh, that’s fine. You know, it really isn’t. So that’s sweet. That’s sweet.
Yeah, it was good.
Well, I have a story too. It’s called the passport office incident.
Oh, it has a name?
It has a name. We were getting ready to go to Germany, Ray and me and the girls. And we had to get our passports even for the little girls. And there was a very long line at the passport office and a very angry woman at the end of the line doing passport things. And I mean, she was mad. She was vicious. She’d say you didn’t fill this out in your form. Can you not read? Oh, I mean like that bad. You know how you’re supposed to be courteous if you’re the person in charge?
No courtesy, none, none.
And then she’d tap her hands and then she’d say, you know what? Back of the line, we got a line here, you know? So just, you could feel everybody was so mad at her because anger begets anger. I was mad at her. I hadn’t even got there yet. I was already mad at her, you know, because she was being mean. She was being so mean. Oh, mean! So anyways, but my girls are watching and you know, I’m trying to teach them godly ways. And so I thought, you know what, I’m going to try to turn the other cheek here and be kind to her. So when she was really brusque with me and stepped up and scolded me for something, I don’t even remember this something I said. And I was really scared to say it, because I was scared to say anything to people that are angry.
You know. There was a room full of people that would be watching how she responded to me. But I said, you must be having a terrible day. Oh, just like that. And she started to, you know, give the short response and then she kind of collapsed.
New Speaker (25:49):
Oh my goodness.
She said, I am. I said, I am so sorry. I’m so sorry. I said, it must be so frustrating to have this long line and have people unhappy with you. And I don’t know what’s going on in your personal life, but I’m so sorry.
Everything changed, everything changed. And I came super close to not doing that. Let me tell ya.
She just needed some compassion. Wow.
She just needed some compassion. And when we realize that so much anger comes from a place of hurt. If we can look past it to the real person who’s, who’s fighting back defensively because something has wounded them. Sometimes, I mean, I like telling this story because it has a happy ending, she did not bite my head off, but sometimes it makes a difference.
We just changed the narrative.
Wow. So diffuse that anger.
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a Jesus thing to do. He looks at the heart. He really, really does. So here’s the three big points from this passage, but probably you all are going to want to go read it again and again and again, because
We will be doing that too.
It’s challenging and it does help us with hurt relationships. So first of all, we need to guard our hearts. It’s where sin begins. God cares about what’s in our heart to the degree that he notices that even if we don’t like act on adultery, but we’re thinking about it he cares about that. And it’s wrong. Even when it stays in our heart. So that’s number one. Number two, we are to live with integrity. If we say we’re going to do it, we should do it. Yes should be yes. No should be no. We should be people of our word. And number three, we need to live a life of God’s kind of love. God’s kind of love is unmerited and undeserved love poured out because we can’t help ourselves, knowing how much the unloved need Jesus.
Okay. We need to pray. Let’s pray. Father, so much of what you said in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is hard for us. It confuses us Lord. It humbles us because we can’t get there. And yet I love that you’ve said it. I love that you’ve shown us how we ought to be. Lord, would you please help me and Nicole and every podcast listener to learn from you, how to undo hurts in relationships. To live well with unlovely people. To get our love from you and to expect that everybody else on the planet will hurt us at times because they’re not you. Jesus, we can’t do it without you. Thank you. Thank you for your help with this. Thank you for your mercy on us when we fail at doing this, we look to you. Lord, help us to love like you do. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray and by his power alone. Amen.
Well, that was a lot to digest today wasn’t it? Please remember that we are not trained counselors or Bible experts. We are Nicole and Sharon, followers of Jesus and lovers of his Word. If anything said today was confusing or felt wrong to you check it out with your own study of the Bible and with your pastors, okay? And we know every relationship is different and unique. So bring your heart’s hurts to the one who understands them best and meet us here next week for episode 19. It’s called Just Who Am I Trying to Please? It’s going to be another lively discussion I am sure. You can find our podcast @sweetselah.org/podcast. And you can donate @sweetselah.org/donate. We love looking at God’s word and sharing it with you. We would love to hear from you anytime and we’d be honored to pray for you. So write us, review us, follow us and share us and come back next week as well. God bless you with wisdom this week in all your amazing and difficult relationships.
Speaker 1 (29:56):
We are so glad you stopped for awhile with us. The Sweet Selah Moments podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for joining us.
You can download and print the transcript here.