Reframing Your ConflictMarch 7, 2018
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. That applies in marriage as well. Paul David Tripp challenges husbands and wives to reframe their conflict and identify where their treasure is misplaced.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. That applies in marriage as well. Paul David Tripp challenges husbands and wives to reframe their conflict and identify where their treasure is misplaced.
Reframing Your Conflict
Bob: It is right to want good things; isn’t it? Paul David Tripp says the problem comes when we want those good things too much.
Paul: A desire for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing. It’s completely normal to want to have a little control in your life, that your life would not be constantly chaotic. But you cannot live with somebody who has to have control all the time. The demand to have control all the time will crush your spouse and destroy your marriage.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 7th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are the good things you want in your marriage that you may want too much? We’ll hear today from Paul David Tripp. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. You know, I think it’s important—and we’re going to hear this today—I think it’s important for us to recognize that there may be tips, or techniques, or things we can do in marriage that will improve our relationship; but if we really want to get to the core, we have to get past the tips and get to what’s motivating us—what’s at our heart. That’s what’s really driving the quality of our marriage; isn’t it?
Dennis: You need to get on a treadmill / hook yourself up to a heart monitor—and I’m not talking about a physical heart—I’m talking about your spiritual heart.
Bob: So a spiritual treadmill; right?
Dennis: I’ve thought about this—if I could just create a way to monitor and measure people’s heart for God. Listen to what Solomon said in Proverbs, Chapter 4, verse 23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance.”
Another translation says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Our guest on the broadcast today is going to give a message that was taped at our Love Like You Mean It® cruise. He spoke about how what we treasure in our hearts really points out what’s important to us but also can determine where our life ends up.
Bob: This is our friend, Paul David Tripp. Many of our listeners know who he is—he’s an author and a speaker / has been on FamilyLife Today a number of times. He joined us a few weeks ago on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise and gave a great message—you’re going to hear it today and tomorrow. I just want our listeners to know, if you have any interest in being on our next Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, Valentine’s week of 2019—
Dennis: Think about it for a minute—
—you could celebrate ten years, twenty-five years, fifty years—find a reason—but join us on this cruise.
Bob: Well, here’s the thing—we have more than 70 percent of the cabins already booked for next year. We expect, in the next 30 days, the ship’s going to be full. I talked to our team—I said, “We have to let our FamilyLife Today listeners know about this so that they can join us if they want to.” You need to call—there’s a special offer on cabins. The remaining cabins are available until March 19th at a special rate. You can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get more information / to book your cabin for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise; or get information, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Voddie Baucham’s going to be with us, Julie Slattery, Ron Deal. We’re going to get a chance to see Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s new movie, which goes into production very soon. They’re going to bring it onboard the cruise and share it with us next year. Now is the time to secure your cabin and plan to be with us for the 2019 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
You’ll hear great messages onboard the cruise, like the one we’re going to hear today from our friend, Paul David Tripp, about what we treasure.
Paul: I want to pastor you for a moment. This is a holy moment. We’re here by divine appointment. I am so bold as to believe that this moment cannot be just a dissemination of marital information; but, by the power of the Spirit of God, lead to heart and life transformation.
I want to ask you to do two things. First—listen very carefully—I want you, right here / right now, to fire your inner lawyer. I can say that because I have an inner law firm. [Laughter] Open your heart to what God has to say to you.
I want to say something else—wives, if you would listen to me first. Don’t sit there and listen for your husband and say, “I am so glad I threatened this man onto this cruise, because the Lord knows this man needs what this man is saying right now.”
Ladies, how sad it would be if you self-righteously sat there and listened for your husbands and missed the good things that God has for you.
Men, don’t relax. [Laughter] Husbands, don’t listen for your wives. Don’t sit there and say, “Why does this man have to come all the way from Philadelphia to say all the things to her that I’ve said for years? [Laughter] Now watch, she’s going to listen to him. That makes me so mad.” Seriously, listen for you—open your heart and watch what God will do.
I think the best way to get into what we are going to examine is a little bit of my own story.
I was a very, very angry man. I didn’t know I was an angry man, but I was an angry man. Louella, my dear wife, knew that I was angry; my children knew I was angry, but I didn’t know I was an angry man. If you had characterized me that way, that would have hurt my feelings; because I did not think of myself that way at all. But I was in the midst of destroying my marriage, my life, and my ministry; and I did not know it.
Louella would very faithfully bring that anger before me. I want to say that she did it in extremely patient and godly ways. I would not listen / I would not hear. I would wrap my robes of righteousness around me, which I have none, and tell her what a great husband she had—remind her of the glory that is me. [Laughter] I would tell her that I thought her problem was discontent, and I would pray for her.
That helped her—[Laughter]—that’s a lie!
There was one moment where I got on a bit of a roll and I said these deeply humble things to Louella. I actually said this—this came out of my mouth: “Ninety-five percent of the women in our church would love to be married to a man like me.” [Laughter] How’s that for humility? Louella very quickly informed me she was in the five percent. [Laughter] It was a marital and moral disaster.
I was on a weekend, much like we’re enjoying. At the end of the weekend, my brother, Ted, said to me, “You know, Paul, we ought to make what we’ve heard this weekend practical to our own lives.” We were driving up the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania turnpike.
He said, “Why don’t you start?” I can never, ever forget this moment. I’ll celebrate this moment ten million years into eternity. Ted didn’t make statements; he began to ask me questions. As he was asking me questions, it was like God was ripping down curtains; and I was seeing myself with accuracy for the first time in many years. I was hearing myself with accuracy. I was broken and grieved—praise God / praise God.
It was so disjointing; it was so different from the concept I carried of myself. It was hard for me to imagine that that man was me, but it was. I’m going to say this—don’t defend yourself against the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Don’t run from the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit—run, run, run toward the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. You are not being condemned; you are being rescued.
I went home that night; and all I could think about was, “I want to talk with Louella.” I came in the house, rather seriously, asked her if we could sit down and talk.
I said to her, “I know for many years you’ve tried to talk to me about my anger; and I’ve been unwilling to listen / I’ve been unwilling to hear. I can honestly say, tonight, I want to hear what you have to say to me.” Louella teared up a little bit; and then she told me she loved me, which I thought was an act of amazing grace after what I had put her through. And then she talked for two hours. [Laughter]
And in those two hours, God began the process of a radical undoing and rebuilding of the heart of this man. The operative word there is “process.” I wasn’t zapped by lightning, but I had open eyes, and open ears, and, by God’s grace, an open heart. I saw that anger everywhere I looked for the next few months—it was very painful. There were times where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. But I want you to hear this—that pain was the pain of grace. God was making that anger like vomit in my mouth so I would never go back there again. Praise Him for His grace.
Now, I have come to understand, as I tell my story, that I’m not the only angry person in the room. There are angry men and women in this room. Reflect on how much conflict there is in our marriage. Reflect on how many days you’re able to go through without some kind of conflict interrupting the unity and the understanding love that is God’s purpose for you. Reflect on how little things become big things because it doesn’t take much for us to get irritated and angry and go places we should not go. Reflect on the fact that no one in this room has ever had a marriage that hasn’t disappointed them in some way.
I want to tell you something that you may have never thought of. My anger was about kingdoms.
You say: “What in the world are you talking about?! What sense does that make?” Well, hear what I’m about to say—marriage is war. What I’m talking about is all that tension, all that nastiness, all those awkward, uncomfortable moments, are really the fruit of a deeper war. It’s only when you understand and gain ground in that deeper war that you’ll ever gain ground in all of those things that hurt and disappoint us all. That deeper war is not fought between you and your husband or you and your wife. That deeper war—hear what I’m about to say—is fought on the turf of your heart. It’s fought for control of your soul. Listen carefully—marriage, this side of eternity, is always a war between the kingdom of self and the kingdom of God.
Turn, if you would, in your Bibles to Matthew 6, beginning with verse 19. Before we look at the Bible, I want to say something about the Bible. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but your Bible isn’t arranged by topic. That makes some of you mad. You wish it was arranged by topic and there’d be tabs on the end of the page so you could go to your topic of interest. Listen—the Bible isn’t arranged by topic because of divine editorial anger but because of divine intention. The Bible is essentially a grand redemptive story. Maybe the better way to say it—the Bible is a theologically annotated story / it’s a story with God’s essential, explanatory, and applicatory notes.
Now, here’s what this means—if all you do is go to the marriage passages to understand marriage, you will miss the vast majority of the things the Bible has to say about this profoundly important relationship of everyday life; because the Bible doesn’t work that way.
To the degree that every passage tells me something about God, and something about life in the fallen world, and something about the disaster of sin, and something about the glorious operation of grace—to that degree, every passage tells me something about everything in my life. Welcome to your Bible.
So we’re going to go to a passage that doesn’t mention marriage, but I am convinced you can’t properly understand the struggle of marriage without the wisdom of this passage. I’m going to read a rather lengthy passage:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to your span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, oh you of little faith?
Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
That tells you that verses 19 through 32 are elaborate unpacking, elaborate explaining, elaborate defining of the thoughts, motivations, and emotions—are you ready for this?—of another kingdom. Why would Jesus spend all this time talking about this other kingdom? Because He knows that there’s nothing more seductive, there’s nothing more attractive, there’s nothing more deceptive than the claustrophobic little kingdom of one—the kingdom of self.
You say, “Paul, I’m still not sure how this applies to marriage.” Well, let’s start with a helicopter view.
There are, in this passage, three treasure principles. If you’re taking notes, get these down. These will help you in, not just this area, but many areas of your life.
Here’s the first one: “Everyone lives for some kind of treasure.” We don’t live by instinct—we’re value-oriented, goal-oriented, purpose-oriented people. You are always after what you have named as important. You’re always after some kind of treasure.
Second principle—a powerful principle this is: “The thing that is your treasure will control your heart.” Oh my goodness! Now, you only understand that if you understand what heart means. Here’s a definition: “The heart is the causal core of your personhood,” “The heart is the causal core of your personhood.” It’s the steering wheel; it’s a directional system, being the seat of your emotions, the seat of your will, [and] the seat of your thinking.
That principle is very important. The thing that is your treasure will control your heart. Here’s what he’s saying: “Your treasure will control the thing that controls everything else in your life.”
Third principle: “What controls your heart will control your words and behavior.” No one can serve two—master is a term of control—what controls your heart will control your words and your behavior. You could argue—I think this passage is arguing this—if you apply this to marriage—oh man, fasten your seatbelts. Everything you do and everything you say in your marriage, whether you realize it or not, is your attempt to get out of your marriage what is valuable to you. Everything you do and everything you say in your marriage is your attempt to get out of your marriage what is important to you.
“What is your functional treasure?”
If I would watch, wife, the last six weeks of your words and behavior in your marriage—if I’d watch the moments where you’re ripping angry, if I’d watch the moments where you’re joyful, if I’d watch the days where you say, “That was a horrible day,”—what would I conclude you’re living for in your marriage?
Husbands, if I would watch the last six weeks of the video of your marriage, what would I conclude—in those happy moments, and mad moments, and sad moments, and frustrated moments—is the thing that you’re living for in your marriage? Your words and behavior in your marriage are your attempt to get what’s valuable out of your marriage.
Now, let’s get a little closer to marriage. Hear this principle: “A desire”—that’s what treasure is getting at—“for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.” It’s not wrong to want a little control in your life; nobody wants unmitigated chaos.
But you can’t live with a person who has to have control all the time. If you demand control all the time, you will crush the heart of your spouse and you will destroy your marriage.
It’s not wrong to want to be right. You’re a rational human being—you want to know that you’re correct. That gives peace to your heart / that’s part of how you’ve been wired by God. But a person who has to always be right will destroy the intimacy and closeness of the people that are around them; because they will communicate: “I don’t care about you. What I care about is being right.”
It’s not wrong to want beautiful material things around you. God’s given you eyes and ears to see beauty and put you in a world that’s full of beauty.
But—you listen—if your heart is ruled by the desire for material things, you’ll spend so much time gaining, maintaining, and enjoying, you’ll have little time for the more important things in life.
Husbands and wives, what good thing has become a ruling thing and is harming your marriage?
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to our friend, Paul David Tripp, talking about how what we treasure determines what we live for and what we live for determines what our relationships look like.
Dennis: And Bob, after this message was over, Barbara and I just sat down with each other and we said, “This first point—everyone lives for some kind of treasure,”—I asked Barbara / I said, “So, what do you think I’m living for?” We had a good conversation. It was very, very honest, and instructive, and wasn’t critical—
—it was positive. But I think that’d make a great question over the dinner table tonight for every married couple to ask one another—or maybe some private time, when you get a chance to talk—“What are you living for? What is it that you truly treasure in your heart?” Because if you treasure that, that’s going to be where you reward is.
Bob: Well, and all of us would say—I think that we want to treasure noble things / we want to be about the right thing. We know what the Sunday school answer is to what we treasure.
Dennis: That’s well-said.
Bob: But if we pull back and ask: “Okay; what does our life reflect? What are the passions that drive us?” This is where we have to get honest and say: “You know, too many times during my day, I am pursuing something other than God’s glory. I’m pursuing something that’s more self-satisfying than that.”
Dennis: Well, Bob, let me conclude by re-reading a passage that Paul David Tripp included in his message. It’s the words of Jesus Christ, from the Sermon on the Mount—Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This is one of the things we love about the opportunity to be onboard with listeners for a week on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise; because we get a chance to really soak in solid, biblical teaching. It’s a great environment—we’re having fun / we’re relaxed. It’s amazing to see how, in that environment, God works in marriage relationships.
I talked to somebody who shared with me that they were on the cruise last year. They said, “Our marriage was not in a good spot when we came; and that week, God used it powerfully in our lives.” There were some breakthroughs, and they were back to celebrate what God had done the previous year.
Maybe you have a special event coming up in your marriage—a tenth anniversary / twenty-fifth anniversary—something along those lines. Plan to join us, Valentine’s week of 2019, as we go to Honduras, to Belize, and to Key West. We have a great lineup of speakers and artists. Voddie Baucham is going to be with us; Dr. Julie Slattery is going to join us; Colton Dixon will be onboard—it’s going to be a great event.
But we only have about 30 percent of the cabins still available. We expect this is going to sell out in the next 30 days. We have some special rates that are available until March 19th. Now is the right time for you to call for more information—1-800-FL-TODAY.
You can also get information, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; but if you want to register, you need to call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Tomorrow, we’re going to hear Part Two of Paul David Tripp’s message on how what we treasure in our hearts affects the quality of our marriages. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch. He got some help from our friend, Mark Ramey. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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