STEP 2 - DEAL WITH ANGER

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)

The principle is, deal with anger appropriately. Be angry, but don't sin. Philip says, “If you are angry, be sure that it's not out of wounded pride or a bad temper. Never go to bed angry. Don't give the devil that sort of a foot hold.” See, most of us have learned not to deal with our anger. We stuff it, we leak it, and it oozes out and sabotages our relationships.

Anger is one of the most destructive emotions in the world, but God has positive uses for it, at times. The command is to be angry, but not let the sun go down on it-don't let it turn to bitterness and sin; deal with it in a way that doesn't harm your mate or your relationship.

At one time in our marriage, Theresa was upset because I was often late for dinner. Under control, she said, “Honey, I feel very hurt and angry when I spend hours preparing a meal to communicate how much I love you, and you repeatedly come home late and miss it, you're communicating to me that you must not love me.” I got the message and changed.

STEP 3 - BE DILIGENT

“Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

Be willing to work hard on your relationships. That's what Theresa and I have decided. We try to schedule things on our calendar that will enrich our marriage. For instance, we try to block off at least fifteen minutes a day to simply connect, catch up, and talk. We also try to get out on a date once a week. And, I believe it's important for you and your spouse to get away on an overnight trip two or three times a year.

It's tempting to steal from the time that our marriages deserve, even pouring it into our kids, our work, our hobbies, our homes, and such. But God says, “Don't do that.” Work hard on your relationships. Be diligent. Don't take shortcuts, because there's no product without the process.

STEP 4 - KEEP IT POSITIVE

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

The word “unwholesome” is a picture of spoiled meat or fruit. That's what unwholesome talk is-ugly, smelly, good-for-nothing. Don't wound with your words. Speak at the right time, in the right way, and allow God to use your words to help others.

In your relationships, use words that build up, not break down. That means no labeling, no yelling, no screaming, and no unwholesome words; no saying, “You're just like your mother.” “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1: 19). Please, write that verse down, memorize it, and ask God to help you learn to think before you speak.

STEP 5 - BE QUICK TO FORGIVE “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

What's wrong with being the first to say you're sorry? That's God's way. Be kind to one another, be understanding, be quick to forgive. That's where real maturity and love show themselves. Let's put it this way-do we want God to wait until we get our act together to forgive us? No! In the same way, Christ has forgiven you, so you should be quick to forgive others.

FATHER, HELP US

As you consider what Ephesians has to say about communication, pray that God will give you courage, grace, and an attitude of excitement as you commit as a couple to put into practice the things we've reviewed. Until next time, keep pressin' ahead!

Excerpted from EdgeNotes, the bi-monthly newsletter of Living on the Edge; based on the series To Have and To Hold. Used with permission. Copyright 2005 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved.
About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.