FreezingOne night in the early years of our marriage, Corlette and I had such an intense disagreement that we went to bed unreconciled. Yes, we broke the command not to let the sun go down on our anger.

As we lay there facing away from each other, a bizarre contest developed. Without either one of us saying a word, we tacitly agreed that “he who moves first is weak.” I was not going to move until Corlette did. She was just as determined not to budge until I did. So we lay there like two frozen bodies.

I was soon more frozen than I anticipated.

I had been so distracted by my anger when I crawled into bed that I had not pulled the covers over me. It was wintertime, and we usually slept with our bedroom window open, so the room was soon icy cold.

As was I. But I was so caught up in my stubborn pride that I refused to reach down to pull up the covers. Yes, I was really that stupid.

After a few minutes, I began to tremble. Corlette felt it through the mattress and slowly turned her head (so I could not tell she was moving!) to see what was going on. She understood my predicament in a moment: her silly, stubborn husband had backed himself into a corner and needed help to get out.

Giving up her desire to win the ridiculous contest of wills, Corlette made the first move. She reached down and gently pulled the covers over my shoulders.

Her loving gesture was so entirely undeserved that it melted my heart. I finally saw how wrong I had been, both in our earlier argument and in my juvenile response. As my anger and pride dissolved, I was able to turn to Corlette and experience the joy and freedom that come from making peace.

And so I experienced one of the most powerful relational principles in Scripture, as it was “amplified” by my wife’s wisdom:

“‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. [And if your foolish husband is freezing, cover him with your blanket.] In doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).

This is the ultimate weapon in any relational struggle: deliberate, focused, undeserved love. It is the essence of the gospel and the key to restoring relationships shattered by sin.

How about you? Have you backed yourself into a corner by refusing to admit where you were wrong? Then find freedom today by humbling yourself and confessing your contribution to the problem (Prov. 28:13).

Or perhaps someone you know has backed herself into a corner through stubborn pride. If so, ask God to help you discern a need she has that you can meet with an undeserved act of kindness. In doing so, you’ll be walking in the steps of Jesus:

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  • Why is it so difficult to be kind to someone who has wronged you? What desires in your heart do you need to ask God to take away in order for you to love as he loves?
  • How do Luke 6:27–28 and 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 reinforce Romans 12:20-21?
  • What are some of the needs another person could have that you might be in a position to meet?
  • There are times when another person’s deepest need is to come to grips with the fact that he or she has been wrong and has hurt other people. If God calls you to be the one to confront that person, how should you do so? (see Gal. 6:1-2; 2Tim. 2:24-25; 1Pet. 3:15)

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© 2014 Ken Sande

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