Wednesday, August 18, 2004
The idea of teamwork in marriage isn't really that tough. For example, my wife prepares a meal and I clear the table and rinse the dishes. Now, I'm known as the mad cleaning man around our house. I might clean your plate while you're still in mid-bite, you know? I like to get my job done. Now, I've had some people say to me over the years, "Oh, leave the dishes. Don't worry about them now. Come on into the living room with us. The dishes will wait." I have never known the dishes to rinse themselves or put themselves away. In fact, it is a wise discipline to rinse a dirty dish immediately.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "The Longer it Waits, the Harder it Gets."
Our word today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 26. "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Here's the biblical clock on strained relationships. That clock runs out at sundown every day. Remember those old westerns where the marshal might say, "You better be out of here by sundown." Well, that's what we're supposed to be saying to any anger, or resentment or conflict that comes up. "Get out of here by sundown."
Now, there's a good reason for this. It's like those food remnants on our dirty dishes. If you deal with them right away, they're soft. They're easy to remove. Just rinse the plate, and the food falls right off. If you wait, it turns hard so you have to scrape and work, and it's tough to remove it because it's stuck. Maybe that's why we call unresolved anger "hard feelings." Anger turns hard very quickly, and that gives the devil an opportunity to enter your marriage, or a parent-child relationship, or a friendship, a church. At the core of every marriage break-up there's probably been an issue that was once a small one, but it was not dealt with immediately. At the core of a broken parent-child relationship, a hurting friendship, a divided church, there are people who didn't clean up their anger when it first appeared, when it was still small and relatively soft, so it's led to a terrible outcome. The devil found his place.
Maybe there's a strained relationship in your life right now. Maybe there have been too many sunsets and bad feelings toward someone. It will never be smaller than it is right now. It's probably bigger than it used to be, but this is the smallest it will ever be. This issue will never be easier to address than right now, no matter how hard that might seem to you. It's only going to get harder. It's only going to get more costly, and you'll only turn darker inside.
Today is always your best opportunity to go to that person and do whatever it takes to repair things. If you need to, apologize. Confront if you need to, pray together, and talk it through with them. You say, "Well, that's going to be tough." Not as tough as not doing it. You just cannot afford that hard spot in your heart that develops from the anger that you stuff inside, and you let it grow instead of letting it go.
See, anger never stays the same size. Bitterness never stays the same size. They always, always grow. Take it from a veteran dish rinser. There is nothing to gain in waiting to get to it, because the longer you wait, the harder it gets.