And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away … I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery. Matthew 5: 29,32
During one of the especially difficult times in my marriage, Matthew 5 was the Gospel reading for that Sunday. As I listened to the beginning of the Gospel, I thought, “This is a sign from God. My husband and his behavior bring out a sinful part of me I don’t like. He causes me to sin – to hold grudges, to lie, to be selfish. Clearly God is telling me that, although divorce, like losing a hand, is not ideal, I should separate from my husband.”
Seconds later, though, the rest of the reading came, admonishing divorce. Then I thought, “Wait, what, God? You’re sending me mixed signals here!”
Months later, I was reflecting on this seeming mixed message and finally started to understand what God was trying to tell me. I should not cut my husband off because my husband does not cause the sinful way I respond to him.
Now, that doesn’t mean I now think that my husband’s inappropriate behavior – the lying, the blaming, the criticism, and so on – is any less inappropriate. Still, he is not responsible for the way I respond to his behavior, I am. When his behavior leads me to sin, what I need to cut off are things like my pride, my desire for revenge, my cowardice, or my fear of conflict. I must choose to make the loving response, not the sinful one.
I realize that someday, for my safety and the safety of our children, it might be necessary to separate from my alcoholic husband. For me to leave him because I don’t like who I am around him, though, would be a mistake. Ultimately, I decide who I am around him.
Have you ever focused on the wrong cause of your sins or other problems in your life? What helped you get to the real root of the problem?
Copyright 2018 Monica Portogallo