I consider Psalm 133:1 a “life verse” because I hold onto it for dear life. There is nothing in me that naturally wants to be in unity with others. In my flesh, I typically want to control others and make them obey me. Without God as my guide, I do not want to submit one to another — I want others to submit to me. End of story. All you need to do is say, “Yes, ma’am,” and we’re good to go.
I have to include C.S. Lewis’ brilliant remarks about pride from his classic, Mere Christianity, because he makes me squirm, and I want you to squirm too:
“According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind….
“The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Now what you want to get clear is the Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”
Ouch! There looms Romans 12:15, also stepping on my toes, making me squirm some more, recommending that we “live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited.” (NIV)
Part of the problem with the concept of unity is that it requires humility, and when humility is in short supply, unity is hard to muster. My husband often says to me, “Mindy, unity does not mean that I must come into line with you, nor does it mean that you must come into line with me. It means that we both need to come into line with God.”
When my husband and I pray through difficult issues in family and married life, we intentionally seek a “third way,” which is our way of asking God for another solution that is neither “Greg’s way” nor “Mindy’s way,” but a “third way” that comes straight from the heart of Father. We trust that our good, good Abba knows all and sees all and has far better ideas than either of us ever could.
I was writing to a friend recently who is facing a life-altering decision for their family. She asked my advice because she and her husband see the situation quite differently. I urged her to maintain unity with her husband throughout the discussion, debate, and prayer.
I have noticed that when my husband and I are pondering big decisions, I can tend to over-complicate issues and become influenced either by other people or by my own hyper-spiritual ideas. I have a tendency to think that I am more spiritual than my husband because he is not as expressive as I.
I have to guard unity with my husband because that unity is a protection for my mind and emotions. When our foundation of togetherness with one another and with God is gone, we are on shaky ground. If you are not married, this is between you and the Lord and those discerning and loving people He has placed in your life to give you wise counsel.
The most important part of any big decision is keeping our hearts open toward one another and open before The Lord. After research and conversation with others, we must step back from other’s opinions and our own opinion and ask God to show us His heart on the matter.
When I talk about unity, I am referring to a deep respect and love for our husband or for those others who have a covenant relationship to cover us. We do not have to agree with them all the time. We have freedom to speak up, and to be honest about our opinions, but we should not turn our hearts away or close down our mind to others whom the Lord has placed in our lives to give us counsel.
At the end of the day, we have to be willing to hear God and obey His instructions. We can interview others and find worthy examples from their lives. We can find godly mature women and men who contradict one another, even using scripture! That is why we must seek God’s face for ourselves and maintain unity with those whom the Lord has placed us into covenant relationship.
I am encouraged by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 13:11: “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)
If you’re feeling convicted about your attitudes to others, maybe squirming a bit as you see how pride or rebellion dominates your life, take comfort from Charles Spurgeon’s words:
“When I really came to know the Lord Jesus Christ, I discovered that He loved sinners. Before I made that discovery, I thought He loved only the good and the righteous. But when I read His Word, I found that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. I thought, for a long while, that He wanted my good works and I had none to bring to Him. But, as I read His Word, I found that He gave Himself for our sins, not for our righteousnesses. Then I understood, as I read His Word, that whoever believed in Him would not be condemned. I believed in Him and I knew at once, from His Word, that I was not condemned—that He had died for me and that my sins were all pardoned! And, let me tell you, I never repented before as I repented then!”
Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today we are invited to turn, to repent, to be cleansed, and to be restored to life in all its fullness. We don’t have to fix ourselves up first. Repentance places us in God’s capable hands. Come on, be brave, join us on our knees and see what God can do.