The dictionary gives us more than one definition of the word charity. Most of think of charity as “the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.” There is another definition that I would like to use as we apply “charity” to marriage and relationships. Charity is a “kindness and tolerance in judging others.” Now that brings charity right into the middle of our marriages and relationships. I have known people that their ‘life work’ was judging others. They were critical of other people. They found fault in almost every aspect of others. There was no grace - only critical judgment. Needless to say their list of close friends was short - very short. Critically judging others ruins relationships. Critically judging your spouse will ruin your marriage.
Your spouse is a gift from God and you have the opportunity to embrace that gift. Your spouse will be or is different than you in many ways. It is your choice whether you see that as a plus or a minus. The choice you make will set the course of your marriage. If you choose to be critical and judgmental of your spouse, your marriage will never be what God intended it to be. You may not divorce but you will have a wounded spouse and a miserable marriage. On the other hand, if you give grace to your spouse and are patient and kind, you are building a marriage that you both can cherish.
I think we all can be guilty of judging others. Usually that judgment is critical but it does not have to be. If my wife says or does something that I do not agree with or do not like, I have judged those words or that action. Now I have a choice. How will I respond? Will I be critical? If I am, then what does that do to her and what does it do to my marriage? If I respond in a critical way over and over, what will be that result? But what if I show kindness and choose not to be critical? What if I look at the situation from her viewpoint? What if I embrace and accept what she said or did? The answer is really simple. I have loved her. I have shown her grace. I have extended charity.
Which path will you take with your spouse the next time you judge them? Will you take the path of being critical or the path of charity? One path brings death to the marriage and the other path brings life. It is your choice. What will you do?