But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Most people who are married have turned to their spouse and said, “You don’t act this way around anyone else” or “You don’t treat anyone else this way.” Occasionally it is meant as a compliment, but more often than not these statements are meant to infer, “I am getting a raw deal.” There are many explanations for this phenomenon, but in this post we will examine one explanation with two faces—the absence of humility.
Face One: Refusal to Live in My Weaknesses
Have you noticed that we spend the majority of our day operating in areas of specialized training, well-practiced skills, and personal interests? Then we come home. When we get home we are asked to do a wide variety of tasks, many of which we have no particular passion for or interest in. It is these tasks that we do to love and serve those we know best, while those we are least committed to get our fine tuned excellence.
The response we too often give is to draw back from, neglect, or grumble about these tasks that are not our strength. We may call it insecurity, but it is more often a form of pride. “If I cannot do it with excellence and receive affirmation, then I will not do it at all or with much effort,” is our logic. “I get to operate in my strength all day long and know how to succeed in that world. If I am not sure that I will be a success, then I will not try.”
It takes great humility and the heart of a servant to live in the area of my weakness for the love and welfare of another. When we are willing to live in our weakness for the benefit of others, God rewards this humility with more grace. This grace is realized when we resist the pride (“I should be good at whatever I do”) and take joy in imperfect (yet growing) service.
Face Two: Refusal to Accept My Spouse’s Weaknesses
There is humility in action. Then there is humility in expectation and evaluation. We move from the paralysis of fear rooted in an expectation of personal excellence to the mantra, “Haven’t I already told you that” or “How many times have you done that and still not gotten it right?”
The pride has mutated. The pride now says, “I would have been able to do that, so you should be able to do that.” Whereas before pride was holding me up to a level of elevated expectation, now pride raises my ability or expectation as the standard for you to meet. In both cases, the absent effort or harsh tone is rooted in “I should” or “I could” (pride).
Patience is rooted in humility. Patience accepts that imperfection, error, inefficiency, and incompleteness are not beneath me. That is humility. When we extend this form of humility to our spouse (and children) we are incarnating the grace of God. God rewards this dispositional obedience (yes, obedience to God can be as much attitude as activity) with more grace.
When we put these two faces of humility into practice we experience a home where the atmosphere is marked by the grace of God and we experience the redemptive joy God intended in a Christian marriage and family.