YMJ016: The power of keeping short accounts as a Christian couple
The power of keeping short accounts as a Christian couple
HOSTS: Carey & Mindi Green
Resources from this episode
The Marriage Improvement Project – Couple’s Devotional.
Grab a copy for each of you and start improving your marriage one study (and conversation) at a time!
Scriptural instruction to get you aligned with God’s plan for marriage and keep you there.
We’ve all been around that couple that nobody likes to be around. Their demeanor, tone, and attitude toward each other are thick, tense, and on edge all the time. It’s clear just being near them that something between them is NOT right.
How did they get that way? What’s happened in their relationship? They haven’t learned how to keep short accounts.
On this episode you’ll hear…
- 2:33 Understanding the concept of keeping short accounts
- 4:47 The consequences of not keeping short accounts in a marriage
- 6:06 The challenge of addressing conflict in marriage
- 7:31 Approaching discussions about hurt or offense in a loving manner
- 9:12 Emphasizing the significance of reconciliation in relationships
- 10:30 Importance of reconciling and showing love in relationships
- 19:52 Forgiveness: Christ’s example and our call
- 21:06 Forgiving Without Depending on Emotions
TRANSCRIPT TO FOLLOW (not edited)
Welcome back, friends. This is Mindi Green. And I’m Carey.
We’re here once again with You and Me and Jesus, a podcast about Christian marriage.
Hey, I remember when I was, well, I guess when we were first married, I had a job in a bank and for a while I was a teller and then after that I was doing new accounts.
And part of the new accounts function at that time, this was late 80s, early 90s, was to help customers, clients who came in and had issues with their checking account for some reason or another.
And it wasn’t too uncommon back then.
[1:19] For someone to come in and the problem they had was that they had been bouncing checks and they didn’t understand why they were bouncing checks. They thought they had plenty of money in the bank, and so our best approach to help them would be to have them bring in all their bank statements, and their checkbook. Now many of you don’t even know what we’re talking about when we say a checkbook. We used to keep physical checkbooks where you kept records of deposits and withdrawals and had to do the math. You know now we do it on our phone or on an app or something but back then And it was all on paper.
[1:48] And so we’d have them bring all that in and we would walk through it with them trying to figure out what the problem was. And here is where the real problem happened.
There are many people who’d come in and it had been eight months, nine months, a year, and they hadn’t balanced their checkbook, which basically means just reconciling everything, making sure they had record of everything that had come through the bank and that the bank had record of everything they had written.
And so as you could imagine, if you go months without doing that, you’re going to lose track. something you forget or something the bank has incorrect or something, and there’s going to be problems.
And that’s usually what was the case in these circumstances.
Now, most of us don’t do our checkbooks that way anymore.
But that principle, I think, is a very helpful illustration for what we wanna address today.
Understanding the concept of keeping short accounts in marriage
[2:33] And that is what we might call keeping short accounts in your relationship as husband and wife.
So we wanna ask you, husband and wife, do you keep short accounts in your marriage?
Is your marriage checkbook, so to speak, at a balance?
Or is it at a negative balance?
And so what do you mean by that? I mean, keeping short accounts, what does that really mean in a marriage?
Yeah, we need to discover what does it mean to keep short accounts?
Yeah, so the way I think of it, and Mindy being a woman, you may think of it a little differently than I do, but I think of it as, Are there things that have happened between us?
That have affected our relationship in a negative direction.
[3:17] It could be an offense, could be some way we got crossways in a decision, and it just never has been properly dealt with.
And so it’s lingering. And as we all know, once a few of those start piling up, it’s easier for more to pile on top, and the whole thing gets exaggerated and problematic.
Right, just like that checkbook that was bouncing checks.
There could be tension that’s building and anger that’s building in the heart of the wife because she doesn’t feel understood by her husband.
So keeping short accounts is gonna help that husband discover that the wife has these feelings going on in her heart.
Yeah, absolutely, and on the husband’s side, he may have felt misunderstood or disrespected or something of that nature, and because they haven’t reconciled that between them, it’s building up in him.
And so something I think that’s important for us to just kind of observe at this point is when we allow things to go unresolved and not be reconciled, additional offense or hurt or slight.
Compounds the one before, and we begin making conclusions about that other person based on all this stuff we feel, which may or may not be true.
[4:32] And most of the time, it’s not true, it gets exaggerated. And so we start saying, she’s always controlling, or he’s always treating me badly, or whatever, because it’s how it feels to us at the moment.
And the problem, most of the time, is we haven’t kept short accounts.
The consequences of not keeping short accounts in a marriage
[4:47] We haven’t dealt with things as they’ve gone along.
So let’s go to some scripture to give us some encouragement as to why this is a good thing to do in our relationships.
Yeah, and we have two scriptural passages here that are kind of general in nature.
They’re written to Christians in general, but you being a Christian man and a Christian woman are Christians, so this applies to your marriage for sure.
The first is in Matthew chapter 18, beginning in verse 15, and it says, if your brother or your sister sins against you. So this is where there’s some kind of an offense that’s happened.
Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, etc., etc. So there’s this process that Matthew 18 lays out for how believers within a church should deal with conflict and sin against each other. Obviously, this applies to marriage. We should learn how to deal with things between ourselves.
And in this passage, you get the idea that it’s not a good thing to stuff your hurts.
If you’re offended by your spouse, don’t stuff it and let it fester and grow in your heart.
[5:59] Go to your husband, go to your wife if you’ve been offended and lovingly talk to them about it.
The challenge of addressing conflict in marriage
[6:06] Absolutely. And I think just for the sake of being real, we need to recognize this is not an easy thing to do. We tend to avoid conflict as human beings, at least 80% of us probably do. There’s a weird 15 to 20% who really like conflict, and we can talk about that on another episode. But we tend to avoid conflict. We don’t want to get into those conversations.
But here we have scripture commanding us. This is what you have to do to have healthy relationships within the church, between Christians.
Yeah, think of it as a wound in your marriage that needs to be cleaned out so it can heal.
And a good way to approach your spouse who’s offended you is come to them in love, ask the Lord to give you the right attitude towards them, the attitude of love, and you’re thinking the best of them.
So you could go to your husband and say, you know, the other day when you said this, I.
[7:03] It hurt me. I’m sure you didn’t mean to hurt me, but it hurt me the way you said it.
Or it hurt me because it seemed like you didn’t understand. And I know you want to understand me, so that’s why I wanted to bring it to your attention.” Right away, they’re feeling encouraged because you’re believing the best about them. That could help them to not become defensive, and it would hopefully cause them to be more open to be willing to work it out with you and not to respond in defensiveness.
Approaching discussions about hurt or offense in a loving manner
[7:31] Yeah, I can attest to the fact that when you come to me with some way that I’ve hurt you, which is unavoidable, it seems, in marriage, it’s going to happen.
[7:40] And when you believe the best of me in a situation similar to what you described, it makes all the difference in the world.
It helps me to know that you’re not coming with this condemning, critical attitude, and you’re just going to hammer me for something I did wrong, but rather you believe my motive toward you is good, but I made a mistake and you want to make me aware of it because what’s not said in that is you’re assuming I don’t want to make that mistake again. And so you’re trying to help me in that respect. Let’s look at the second passage. This one also is in the book of Matthew, and it’s a little bit different sort of a thing. It says, is if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you, okay, so pause.
This is not when your brother’s offended you. This is when you realize your brother’s offended by you.
So say you’re walking through the room and you feel a cold shoulder or you feel a tension or you feel something’s not right between us. This is what this verse is talking about.
And it says, if you notice that or you remember that, leave your gift there before the altar and go.
First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.
So Jesus is telling us here that our giving of tithes, our act of worship is not as important, as reconciling things with a Christian brother or sister.
[9:05] If we could just get that to soak into our hearts, God so much wants us to reconcile.
Emphasizing the significance of reconciliation in relationships
[9:12] He wants us to clean out the wounds that are in our souls and talk about the offenses.
So this is so very important for us as husband and wife to learn because we need to be able to teach our children, and the body of Christ needs to know how to do this.
How many times have we heard of conflicts in churches that haven’t been resolved.
[9:34] So, we’re wanting you listeners to see the importance God puts on this.
I mean, think about it. He came to the earth and sent his son to reconcile us to the heavenly father.
So reconciliation is huge. Reconciliation is at the heart of being a Christian.
And that’s why Jesus is giving these kinds of commands to his people.
[9:56] He wants us to become well-versed and very practiced at doing what he has done between each other. And we have these complimentary sort of verses that Jesus says, they will know you’re my disciples by your love for one another. Well, how are they going to notice your love? Well, it’s because you’re not always at each other’s throats. You’re not always bickering here.
You’re working hard to keep things reconciled. That’s very different than what happens in the world and people will notice. Right. Because in essence, you and your spouse, you’ve kissed and made up. You’re back on track of feeling the love again.
Keeping short accounts is one of the most vital ways Christian couples stay unified and one. If you don't develop this practice, you're creating years of agony for yourselves.
Importance of reconciling and showing love in relationships
[10:30] Yeah. And isn’t that a wonderful thing for the world to see the love between a husband and wife. So ask yourself, are y’all good at reconciling?
Mindy’s Texan came out there for a minute, the y’all. Yeah. We need to have this be a regular habit, a daily habit. You and your husband might need to sit down once a week, every night, whatever it is you need to do to ask each other, have I offended you? Have I hurt you in a way that I don’t know about? Please tell me, I wanna work it out. I wanna care for you in that way. Yeah, I think that’s so important. And it’s probably worth saying that if you ask, be willing to hear the answer. Don’t get defensive the minute they come back and say, well, yes, actually, when you did this, you don’t need to explain it. You don’t need to justify it.
You don’t need to try and help them see, well, that really wasn’t an offense because of ABC.
[11:26] No, you asked, they’re telling you, make your apologies.
[11:31] Shortcut all that big, long, painful conversation that could happen if you get defensive by just being humble and apologizing and reassuring the other person of how you really feel and what you really intend to be, your attitude toward them and those kinds of things.
And then purpose to make the changes so that you won’t do it again.
And of course, if you do it again, there is forgiveness, but work really hard in the Lord’s strength, to not hurt your spouse in that way again.
So let’s ask the question, what if a couple does not keep short accounts? What’s going to happen?
[12:08] I think of it kind of as a hill of garbage that just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and the smell of it becomes worse. And by smell, that’s just a way to help us visualize what we’re talking about. But it takes the form of tension between the two of them. I mean, we’ve all been around couples who you can just hear it in the tone of voice they use toward each other. They’re not good things going on between those two people because there’s just this thick tension between them all the time.
[12:38] Yeah, they haven’t kept short accounts, so it’s built up and it’s this huge mess.
What do they do? They go to a counselor.
And many times counselors will help them, but if they don’t get into that habit of keeping short accounts after they’re done with their counseling, it’s just gonna build up again.
We can’t tell you how many times we have done marriage counseling, really all that it is is the husband says some things that the wife has done, we talk it through, we help her to see where she was wrong, and so she apologizes.
BF. And then the husband forgives her, and they’re reconciled in that area, and then we go to the next thing.
CN. Right, and then the wife tells her hurts, the husband, oh wow, I didn’t even know I hurt you there, I didn’t know. So then they talk about it, they work it out, they reconcile, there’s forgiveness there. And it’s a beautiful thing, but this is something that every husband and wife can do all on their own, in their own homes.
It doesn’t need to build up to be this huge, ugly thing where they’re desperate and now we’ve got to get a counselor to help us work it through. God tells us to do it on our own. If we’re offended, Go. If we think someone else is offended, go.
[13:53] It may sound to some who are listening that this is an ideal scenario that we’re painting.
We do recognize that there are couples who have allowed things to build up and now, the tension and the hurt and the anger is so heavy and so powerful that for them to sort through that pile of garbage on their own and reconcile thing after thing after thing by themselves is going to be virtually impossible. But the reason it is is because they’ve let it pile up one after another after another. So if you find yourself in that place, yes, go find some godly counsel. Go find a mature married couple at your church who can help you walk through some things, but don’t just leave it.
[14:34] Right, don’t leave it. And we encourage you strongly to find a godly counselor, not a psychologist or psychiatrist who has their degree but is not a believer, because the Holy Spirit is our main counselor and he’s the one who’s going to guide us to the heart of the Lord, and we don’t want to be counseled by people who are controlled by worldly thinking.
BF. Yeah, absolutely. One thing I think it’s worth bringing out is in that situation we read about in Matthew 5, where it says if you’re making a gift at the altar and you remember your brother has something against you, the feeling I have reading that is the minute you become aware, do something about it. Earlier we recommended make a habit of every evening talking to it or every other evening or whatever. Well, that’s a good plan, but what if it’s not your night to talk and you realize there’s something going on between you? Don’t wait for the night you’ve assigned for this. Address it, bring it up. Try to do so humbly and with a heart really to bring about healing in that situation. That’s very good. It makes me think of the verse that talks about not letting the sun go down on your anger. Yeah. It’s so very important for or married couples.
And our children need to see that we do that because they need to learn how to work out their differences amongst their friends and their siblings.
[15:59] So let’s end up with an assignment for this issue of keeping short accounts.
Maybe we should have a graded set of assignments.
If you find that you don’t have lots of trash piled up, but you’ve also not been regularly keeping things clear between you, then this first assignment is for you.
We want you to schedule a time together, put it on both your calendars, when you can sit down and talk about the state of your relationship right now.
Are there any things between us?
[16:31] Have I hurt you? Have you hurt me? Is there anything you’re thinking about me that’s negative that I need to know about so I can change, vice versa? Those kinds of questions.
And again, be ready to hear the answers. Be ready to make confession and offer repentance when needed. But start there. Start just by trying to clear the air between you and get a mutual understanding of where you’re at as a couple. And if you are in that first scenario, be sure you continue to make a habit out of keeping short accounts with each other. And let’s say if you’re a couple that there is tension that has built up and you are struggling some or you are struggling a lot, we would encourage you to do the same thing and find a time to get together and sit down and talk about where have you been hurt, where have you offended your spouse, and maybe.
[17:26] Just decide together to work through one at a time. It might even be helpful to list it.
CB Yeah, each of you write your own list maybe.
MG Yeah, and then just humbly be with each other and before the Lord, ask the Lord to help you to work it out, to give you wisdom of how to do that, and then start talking it through and receiving the correction from your spouse and humbly apologizing and then the other person forgives and thank each other for that and then go on to to the next one.
And something I want to encourage you, husband and wife both, and maybe more the wife would deal with this, is if you’re still feeling hurt, but your husband has said he’s sorry, Make yourself move on.
Just because you’re still feeling hurt, it doesn’t mean it’s not resolved.
Those feelings will fade away. Remind yourself the facts that your husband apologized. He’s sorry he hurt you. So move on. Don’t keep holding it against him just because you feel bad.
Yeah, it’s kind of like a boiling pot on the stove. You can turn off the heat, but it doesn’t immediately stop bubbling. Yeah.
Your emotions are very much the same way. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that’s very good. And I would say too, at risk of sounding like a broken record, receive what your spouse says to you. Nothing will send this process sideways, faster than getting defensive or attacking in response or accusing.
[18:53] Well, I did that because you did this. And if you would do this, then I would, that goes nowhere. That just gets everybody on edge once again, and you make no progress.
Right. Another thing that could come up when y’all are talking about hurts, especially when it’s a really deep hurt. And let’s give an example, a wife, you’re hearing our advice and our counsel and keeping short accounts. And so you want to do that. But there’s something that is really deep and you haven’t talked to your husband about it. Let’s say you do bring it up to him and he, apologizes, but you’re kind of feeling like it’s not a good enough apology or he doesn’t go as deep as your feelings are.
And so it feels unsatisfactory. And maybe you’re feeling like you’re not ready to forgive, because you’re just so upset with it. You’re so hurt.
I want to encourage you right now that I don’t think it’s okay to say, I’m not ready to forgive.
Forgiveness: Christ’s Example and Our Call
[19:52] We need to realize that Christ, who is our Savior and our God, who is perfect, came down to earth and forgave us of all of our sins, little and big, even before we committed any of them.
And we don’t deserve that.
There’s nothing that we can do to make up for our sins, but Christ forgave us.
He offered forgiveness even before we asked for it.
And so because Christ did that for us, we need to always be willing to forgive.
[20:24] If you find yourself in that situation where you don’t feel ready to forgive, I would encourage you to speak the truth to your husband or your wife and say, thank you for apologizing.
I do forgive you.
And then in your heart say, Lord, help me to forgive them. It’s really hard.
I don’t want to forgive them because I’m so mad at them.
But with your words, speak the truth and depend on the Lord to help you to carry it out in in your heart.
[20:54] I just don’t think it is a good thing for us to say, no, I’ll forgive you when I’m ready.
Because what does that mean? We’re depending on our emotions.
Our emotions are determining when it’s time to forgive.
Forgiving Without Depending on Emotions
[21:06] And a biblical passage that really drives us home powerfully is later in this same chapter, Matthew 18, where Peter asks Jesus, how often can my brother sin against me and I forgive him?
Seven times, Peter, I think, thinks he’s being generous. And Jesus says to him, not seven times, 77 times.
I mean, he’s really driving it home. And then Jesus tells the story.
He says, there was a king who wished to settle up the accounts.
Here we are, accounts again, with his servants.
And he brought in one who owed him a ton of money. And the servant begged him, please forgive me, I will pay it back.
And if you look at the monetary amounts it uses, it’s an outrageous amount that he never could pay back.
And we know what that represents. It represents our debt to God.
And the master has pity on him and forgives all the debt.
Go forward in the story, that same servant goes out, meets a fellow servant who owes him a very small amount.
[22:08] And he says, pay me what you owe me. The fellow servant pleads with him just like he pled with the master.
And he says, no, I’m not gonna forgive you. And he throws him in jail for not paying the debt.
And when the master hears about it, Jesus says the master was furious with him, and brought him in and said, I forgave you this huge debt.
Couldn’t you have had mercy and forgiven this very small debt?
He says, because you didn’t, and I want to read this because it’s kind of hard to believe that Jesus even says this.
He says, in anger, his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt.
So the comparison between what Jesus has done to forgive us and the vastness of our offense against him, compared to any offense toward us is just like the Grand Canyon compared to a mud puddle.
Yeah. We have no right ever to say I won’t forgive you or I’m not ready to forgive you.
If someone repents, forgiveness is to be offered. Yes, so go into these conversations asking the Lord to help you forgive when your spouse apologizes, because you wanna please your father.
You don’t wanna make him angry because you’re unwilling to forgive a teeny tiny thing when Christ died on the cross for all of the sins of the world.
[23:30] And so there’s our two different assignments, one for if you’re just getting started with this and there’s not a lot of tension, another for those who there is a lot of tension and you need to start just systematically working through it. And let me just say another quick reality check.
There may be some who are listening to us who these two don’t even scratch the surface, these two scenarios. You may have very real betrayal and long-standing hurts and wounds and differences between you that are not so easily dealt with in one conversation or a handful of conversations, but you have to start somewhere. And so that may be a situation where you need to find that godly counsel to help you walk through it together. And if one or the other isn’t repentant yet, isn’t ready to be confessing things, then you’re going to have to work through that with that godly counsel and just move in the right direction. I guess that’s what I’m saying to you. Do what you can on your part to move in the right direction and trust the Lord to honor what you’re doing. Mindy, let’s wrap up with prayer. Would you pray for us?
Father, I ask for these couples who are listening, these husbands and wives, that You will give them Your humility and that You will help them to lovingly and honestly work through these offenses that they have with their spouse, to be willing to forgive and to be willing to confess. And I just pray, Lord, that You will strengthen them and encourage them through Your Holy Spirit, and that You will bring unity and the feeling of love between these husbands and wives after they have their reconciliation. Just thank You, Father, for Your great work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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