Love Filter

How does God view a verbal or emotional abuser?

…As seen through filter of God’s love

by Del Hungerford

We think that we have the right to point out someone else’s faults. Yes, there are times when things need to be said. However, people often don’t prayerfully consider when to say something, and when NOT to say something. When things are said at the wrong time or with the wrong tone or attitude, it’s not taken as a kind action. We rarely realize how our words and actions can often be very judgmental. God did not give us the right to judge people. He gave us a right to judge sin. It’s sad to say that many people can’t tell the difference when delivering corrective words.

Ponder for a moment on how Jesus talked with those around him. With the exception of the hard hearted people that he met, his response was to give words of strength, comfort and encouragement. When a Christian comes to you concerning your marital situation with a judgmental attitude, his/her words are not “ordered” of the Lord. When and if you do need correction, the proper approach is always through love. When love is not a part of the equation, God is not part of it; even if proper scriptures are used. Satan quoted scripture and Jesus told him to “get behind me satan!” (Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8). It’s all about the attitude, even if the words are right. When someone says, “I’m telling you this because I love you…” we often feel worse after their words. Why? Because the message wasn’t delivered through the “love filter” and it came across as a judgment.

In a marital situation, it takes TWO people to make the marriage work. You cannot make up for what your husband does or doesn’t do. Since you don’t have control over the will of your husband, all you can do is work on what God has YOU do. If your husband chooses not to follow God and treat you like the Word instructs, that is not your problem. You cannot take the blame for his actions. I spent the entire six years of my marriage listening to my husband blame all our troubles on the fact that I wasn’t in God’s will. He never took the responsibility for any of it. It was always my fault.

In my own situation, in personal counseling with our pastor, we worked on how I could make my relationship with my husband better. I tried to do everything that God told me to do… I treated him with respect (well… most of the time). I tried not to do the things to him that he did to me. But after awhile, it simply wore me down to the point that I couldn’t function. I had to take a serious look at the real problem. That’s what our separation was all about.

Because I believe that my husband dealt with mental illness issues, I knew the chances of getting back together were slim. I had to wrestle with all the guilt that came with that. Here I was… a Christian woman who couldn’t even keep my marriage together! What would that look like? Once I got over all the fear and guilt (which neither is from God), I was able to make the decision not to go back into the abusive marriage.

I knew that my actions and reactions affected both of us.  I’m not perfect and did some pretty stupid things. However, I did the best I could. I know how words affect those around us. Words create life or death. There are many places in scripture that talk about this. Read “The Tongue The Creative Force” by Charles Capps. It can be purchased from several sources including: www.amazon.com,  www.ministryhelps.com,  and www.christianbook.com. This book transformed the way I talk with people. We are all human and say things we regret. Reading this book helped me cope a lot better with the abuse. Because I learned to become aware of MY OWN words, it helped me see the words that my husband was saying, were abusive.

Abuse is NOT from God. He expects us to treat each other in love. The best example of this should be in marriage. When abuse happens in marriage, nothing God has designed for that marriage will ever work. Worse yet… if kids are in the home, they are getting a very poor example of how a Christ-like marriage should function. For further discussion and study on how we are to treat each other, check out the article “The Character of God.” I wrote this as a result of people telling me that I was in sin leaving my husband. If you want more about divorce in an abusive situation, read the article “Abuse: Grounds for Divorce?”

The key here is to understand that when people do come to you because they see sin in your life, HOW are they coming to you? If they are truly led of the spirit of God, even the most difficult things can be said in love. When they are not, they come across as judgments. Think of “What Would Jesus Do?” and judge what is said to you by that. I’ve spoken with many women who are so afraid to leave their situations because their pastor says, “You can’t leave your husband! You out of the will of God.” Or another popular phrase is “I think you’re overreacting.” Either way, when the big “D” (divorce) is mentioned, hackles on pastors go up and they immediately start spewing the Word of God as a form of showing you your error. Remember… the devil knew the Word of God, too. But, HE used it as a negative weapon.

If you leave the pastor’s office feeling more frustrated than when you went in, it’s time to find someone who will listen…