Popular author and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman illustrates conscience as a five-gallon bucket strapped to our backs. Doing wrong against our spouse or anyone else is like pouring in a measure of liquid.
After a few mistakes, the burden we carry gets heavier. After a few more, heavier still. Eventually, our conscience becomes so full, so heavy to bear, that the contents spill out in unhelpful ways, on us and our spouse.
In Acts 24:16 of the King James Bible, the apostle Paul says of himself: “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”
The word “exercise” is the Greek word gymnaso, from which we get the English word, “gymnasium.” The word can also be translated as “discipline.”
Paul says, “I discipline myself.” To do what? “To have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men.”
According to Dr. Chapman, nothing is more fundamental to mental health, let alone spiritual health, than living with an empty conscience.
On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Building a Bridge to Forgiveness,” we’re airing a recorded talk by Dr. Chapman, who explains how easily walls of resentment can build between us and our loved ones, and why we can – and should – tear them down from our side through forgiveness.
Dr. Chapman describes three steps for getting the beam out of our eye and tear down the wall of resentment from our side:
- Identify our own failures.
- Confess those things to God. Confession agrees that a) certain behavior is wrong, b) Christ has paid the penalty, and c) forgiveness is appropriate and necessary.
- Confess to the other person.
When we take these steps, our spouse will hopefully forgive us in return. But even if they don’t, we’ve done the first and most important thing that Jesus taught – we’ve torn down the wall from our side.
For a library of helpful articles about forgiveness, explore our website.
If you’d like to speak with a counselor about conflict within your relationships, call Focus on the Family for a free consultation. Leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
If your marriage is in crisis, I want to remind you about Hope Restored. If you’re on the brink of divorce, these marriage intensives can go a long way toward facilitating healing between you and your spouse and bringing restoration to your relationship. The intensives take place in three locations: Branson, MO; Greenville, MI; and the WinShape Retreat Center in Rome, GA. The number for Hope Restored is 1-866-875-2915, or visit online.
Before I close, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Dr. Chapman and Jennifer Thomas’ book The Five Apology Languages: The Secret to Healthy Relationships and a CD of this broadcast as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, visit our website or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).