We should be a refuge for our spouses to come and share anything in their lives. The Bible says that Jesus was a friend of sinners—a friend of sinners.
Hebrews 4:16 says that because of Jesus we can come boldly before the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace. Because of God’s mercy, not only does He know what you are going through but He also knows the struggles you’re going through and why you do what you do. God doesn’t just see what you do, He sees why you do what you do.
One time when I was counseling, I became frustrated with a man who was doing things in the church that were very unhealthy. As I talked with him, though I was kind, I didn’t feel a lot of mercy for him, because of what he was doing. The, in the middle of our conversation, he stopped, looked at me and said, “Pastor Jimmy, I’ve had 13 step-fathers.”
I said, “Excuse me?”
“Between the time I was born and the time I was 18 years old, my mother was married 13 times,” he explained. “Since then, I’ve lost count of all her husbands. Many of those men abused me. A few of them were quite kind to me, but I have been through a lot. I just wanted you to know that before we continued talking.”
My attitude instantly changed.
The Bible says that Jesus is merciful. Not only does He know what you are doing, but He also knows your entire history. He knows the pain you’ve been through, the truths you were not taught as a child, as well as the lies you were taught to believe. He knows the rejection and the heartache. His hand is a good one to take hold of. He’s been through all of our temptations, and He went through them without sinning. The Bible tells us that He freely offers us mercy.
He also offers us grace. Grace is a gift—it means having all the free help you need.
We should give grace to our spouses and give whatever support they need to succeed. We need to be thrones of grace for our spouses—providing a place where they can run with their struggles and their mistakes without fear of rejection and judgment.
I have a golfing buddy whose personality if very cut-and-dried in the way he expresses himself. He’s “prophetic,” and therefore he bluntly tells it just the way he sees it. This especially shows up on the golf course. My golfing partner, Tom, and I play golf with this man and another friend. I always try to take every opportunity to encourage my partner with such words as, “Hey, that was a great shot. You might want to keep your left arm extended a little more. It’ll make your next shot even better.” My prophetic friend never encourages his partner. One day, his partner turned to him and addressed the issue.
“Why don’t you ever encourage me the way Jimmy encourages Tom?”
My friend paused for a moment, said, “Okay,” and then offered this uplifting exhortation: “Try to stop playing so bad.”
We all laughed because it’s just his personality. But it’s a tough personality to live with.
If you’re living with someone who doesn’t give you a lot of grace, someone who simply is not a very gracious person, ask the Lord, in love, to show you how to bring that relational atmosphere to his or her attention. If you tend to be the one who is judgmental, frank or blunt—ask the Holy Spirit to impart some of His personality to you. His personality is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, which is known in the Bible as the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22).
The Holy Spirit will loan you His personality at any moment of any day. He’s the great mediator (and moderator) of all personality quirks and flaws.