Matthew 5:21-26 II Dehumanizing Your Wife

21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,”[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 ‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Dehumanizing Your Wife

According to Dr. Lehman of Evanston we all do it.  When we feel threatened we break off emotional connection with those around us.  I weighed myself this morning and found that over January I have gained a lot of weight.  I am about 10 pounds heavier than I was before Christmas.  My immediate reaction was to look for others to blame.  I could see myself pulling in two directions.  My first thought was that it was my wife’s fault for drawing us into a mode where exercise is not important.  I knew that I could have independently decided to exercise.  However, it was in putting her first that had been my downfall.  Notice how self-righteous this is.  I had been passively waiting for her to do her exercise first, which she had done late at night and I won’t exercise just before bedtime.  I had ‘selflessly’ been exercising with Daryl instead of exercising by myself.  My extra weight was Daryl’s fault too.  My wife and son had ceased to be people but had become obstacles.

Of course, the extra food that I had eaten didn’t immediately come to mind.  I have developed a bad habit of clearing up my children’s plate when they are done.  I have also been eating too much caramel shortcake and other desserts.  I have responded to the cold weather by not taking the children outside to exercise.  The desserts are others’ fault for bringing them, not my fault for eating them.  The lack of exercise in cold weather is the fault of the people of Illinois for not being like the active people of Minnesota.  I think I was one or two steps from dehumanizing the world and blaming them all for my lack of fitness.

The story ends well.  My wife and I talked about it in the car on the way to work.  The passage from yesterday came to mind.  The writing of Dr. Lehman came to mind.  I realised I was triggered by fears and that I did not accept that I had the resources in Christ to take responsibility for my own behaviour.

Questions

  1. How do those who are closest to us push more of our ‘buttons’?
  2. How would taking responsibility for having buttons pushed be too painful for some who blame others?
  3. How do some people think problems are raised by getting relational rather than solved?
  4. Why do you think hostages of terrorists are advised to strike up a conversation?
  5. Why was basic training for Vietnam so racist (e.g. calling Vietnamese ‘Gooks)?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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