Summary: A classic sermon from Adrian Rogers about resolving conflicts in relationships, particularly in marriage.
Take your Bibles and find James chapter 1, would you please, and when you’ve found it look up here. In a moment we’re going to begin reading in verse 19. One Lord, one love - achieving intimacy in marriage: that is not easy. Why is it? Well, we’re different, male and female. We’ve been talking about the differences. We are wired differently - emotionally, psychologically. We are different physically, but then besides that we come from different backgrounds, different family expectations and traditions and things that we’ve learned from childhood. Then you add to that the temperamental differences. We have different temperaments, and then add to that the old sinful nature. Amen? They put that in a mix, and that says we are to live, in spite of all of that, we are to live intimately, and boys and girls are different in many ways, and every individual boy and every individual girl is very different.
When I first started liking Joyce, we were just grade-school sweethearts. We, well, actually, we weren’t sweethearts when we first met. As a matter of fact, when I first met her she tried to hit me with a palm frond off of a palm tree. I made up my mind I’m gonna change that, and she’ll get me for telling this afterward, but I remember sitting looking there across at Joyce. She sat a few desks up from me, and I was watching her, and I thought she was about the prettiest thing that I’d ever seen, and I still do, and I walked by her desk and dropped a love note, and she still has that love note. That’s in the archives, that love note I dropped by her desk in the sixth grade. But we’re different, and the longer we live together the more I realize just how different we are, but I began to recognize the difference one day when we had gone to a carnival, and there was a huge Ferris wheel, and I talked Joyce into taking a ride on the Ferris wheel, and the Ferris wheel went around halfway and stopped with our gondola at the very top, and we were just sitting there. So I thought it would be jolly fun to rock it back and forth some. I discovered a very real difference between Joyce and Adrian at that time, and those differences are very real, but they’re what helped put, what helps to put a dynamic and a wonderful tension in marriage, but nonetheless, there are differences in my home and in your home, in my marriage and your marriage, that need to be resolved.
Now, thank God, God has told us how to do that, and, incidentally, the title of the message today is “How To Fight Fair.” How to fight fair. Husbands and wives fight. Is that a surprise to you? They do. I mean, in the best of marriages, they fight. I’m not talking about physical fights; most of them are verbal and emotional. But husbands and wives, in the best of marriages, they have some very strong differences and very real contentions. And the difference in marriages is primarily how you resolve those differences.
Now where are you going to go to find out how to resolve those differences? Well, of course, no better place to go than the Word of God. It was God Who made male and female. It is God Who ordained marriage. It is God Who teaches us how to dwell together as heirs of the grace of life. I don’t know two more wonderful verses than the two we’re going to look at right now in James chapter 1 and verse 19. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” [that is, slow to get angry] “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
Now three rules. We’re talking about how to fight fair. Please listen. Write these down. First of all, the Bible says we are to be swift to hear. Now just put this down: we need to tune in to our mate, to tune in. Most husbands and many wives need to learn to listen. Now what’s the importance of listening? Why does God say to tune in? Well, when you listen to your mate, it will encourage your mate to talk. Is that bad, or is that good? Well, it’s good, because when you encourage your mate to talk, your mate will express himself or herself. When your mate talks, then you will understand an individual, because you can’t understand them until they express themselves, and when you come to true understanding, then you’ll come to true intimacy. Now therefore you must learn to listen, to encourage your mate - husband or wife - to express themselves. The reason that many of us don’t listen is that we’re so full of ego and defensiveness. We’re afraid to listen. We’re afraid we may learn some things about ourselves that we don’t want to hear, or we may assume that we already know what our mate is going to say, so we just tune them out or maybe finish the sentence for them, or most of the time we’re preparing what we’re going to say as a response, so we’re not really listening, and so we need to learn how to listen.