Seek Counsel…Carefully

“It’s hard to keep a secret in the king’s court,” so it wouldn’t be long before some of Israel’s not so friendly neighbors would learn of Nehemiah’s return and “they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites (Nehemiah 2:10).” When Nehemiah reached Jerusalem he rested for three days and he listened to the rumors going about concerning his mission; so he wisely set out under the cover of darkness to begin his inspection of Jerusalem’s walls and gates.  He took with him only a few loyal companions and only a single mount in an effort not to draw attention to himself and the purpose of his trip (2:11-12).

When a couple is having marital problems, no matter how hard they may try, the news leaks out. The reaction is usually as divergent as “I really don’t care,” to “I have to find out more, I know I can help them.”  In reality the first reaction is probably the most helpful since the last thing you need are prying eyes, tongues that delight in rumor and more advice.  In fact, it has always amazed me the amount of advice that is freely available, once you are in trouble.  Where were they when you really needed them, before things reached the crisis stage?  The fact is that you do need help when you are in trouble; the challenge is in knowing where to go and who to listen to.

There is one common theme that repeats itself throughout both Ezra’s account of the rebuilding of the altar and temple and Nehemiah’s efforts to repair and rebuild the city gates and walls.  In both narratives the Israelites received offers of assistance from most all of their neighbors, but in each case the offers were rejected.  Instead, the help came from within the family of God and both Ezra and Nehemiah carefully list’s their names for all to read.  The help came only from those who shared their vision of restoration and had as their ultimate goal, giving glory of God.

When you are struggling to sort things out between yourself and your spouse, often it is helpful to seek the counsel of others in order get everything back into perspective and a clear picture of what must be done.  But only seek and accept the counsel of those who share your vision for restoration and those who are sharing with you the Wisdom of God, for His glory…not theirs and not yours or your spouses.  Restoring your relationship with your husband or wife can only be accomplished if you give God the glory and ask nothing for yourself other than the peace and satisfaction that comes as a result.  Restoration comes when all selfishness and pride has been laid at the Savior’s feet and you replace it with the selflessness that Christ modeled for us on the cross.

The mental picture of Nehemiah setting out at dusk to inspect the damage, quietly and with little or no fanfare is also an example of how we should approach the initial stages of rebuilding a marriage. Inspection and introspection will be required in order to know what needs to be done, but the shouting, crying and whining about your spouse to others will accomplish nothing. More than likely, there is more than a little of “woe is me” or “look at poor me” in it.  Seeking sympathy may make you feel good for a time, but it is only temporary and will eventually become just one more stumbling block in the rebuilding process because it encourages us to feel sorry for ourselves, instead of feeling sorry for what we have done wrong.  “But I have done nothing wrong to deserve what he (or she) has done to me…I deserve the sympathy of others.”  I have never seen or heard of a marriage conflict where there was only one party at fault.  The guilt may not be equal but there is usually plenty of it to go around.  But if you think you are that rare individual, where you are completely without fault or guilt, think again, you are not.  If you were so perfect, you wouldn’t be in the trouble you currently find yourself in.  We are as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 

I have heard some say, “I don’t understand how we got into such a mess, we have both accepted Christ as our Savior, and it just doesn’t make sense.”  A Christian friend of mine told me over thirty years ago something that has stuck with me to this day, when as a new Christian I said to him something similar.  He told me, “Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t make you anything special in this world, only in the next.  You surely aren’t perfect and you’re still a sinner, but now you’re a sinner saved by grace.”  This is the reality of our Christian walk, because sometimes it is more like a stumble rather than a walk with God.  It’s for that reason God joined you together in marriage in the first place, for Adam needed Eve and Eve needed Adam, so that they would not be alone.  There is no better expression of this mutual need and the benefits that are enjoyed in marriage, than what is written for us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can pick him up.  But, pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Tool # 281  Marriage is a cord of three, not two, you, your spouse and the Lord your God.

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