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One summer many years ago when we still lived in California, my sister who lived in Michigan, and I planned a camping trip together in Colorado. We both drove approximately 18 hours, meeting halfway in Estes Park located in the picturesque Rocky Mountains. We had the most wonderful trip. The scenery was magnificent.  The hikes were stunning. The summer thunderstorms with their pounding rain and icy hail were exhilarating and refreshing. The star studded night sky shone brilliantly, and the cool crisp mountain air was invigorating. I loved every minute of our trip and literally dreaded traveling back to the stifling hot, grime covered desert and smog filled atmosphere of our Los Angelas suburban home.

As is common in the mountains, each afternoon the clouds would build over our little campsite emptying their contents in the form of a torrential downpour. The last afternoon of our vacation, the rain was holding off and wasn’t expected until later in the evening. My sister and I were set to enjoy one last night together chatting by the campfire. We planned to get up before dawn the next morning, load up our supplies and drive home.

Our husbands, however, were forming an entirely different plan. The coming storms drew their attention, and they didn’t relish the thought of sleeping through a soggy night of thunderstorms or packing our waterlogged camping gear in the dark the next morning. Conferring together, they decided it would be best to pack up immediately and head out while everything was still dry.

I was appalled to put it mildly! How could they rob us of our last night together? How could my husband make me leave the beauty of the mountains to descend back into our dismal city existence a night early? But he was resolute in his decision and none of my pleading had any effect on his determination. Distraught, dejected, defeated, and heartbroken, I stumbled into the tent and crumpled into a sobbing heap in absolute frustration and disappointment, while he proceeded to dismantle the tent around me. 

In that moment, I wrongly assumed my marriage should be about me. I was more concerned with getting what I wanted than I was about pleasing God and bringing Him glory in my response to my husband. I wanted my own way so badly I was unwilling to see the logical reason in my husband’s decision. His consideration of the situation was well thought through, and even wise. Making an 18-hour trip home with soaking camping gear crammed into the back of the van and six pairs of shoes tracking mud into the car before daylight would have been a mess—not to mention the extra time it would have taken to pack up the wet supplies.

I could, however, see none of these reasons as significant enough to overthrow my selfish desire. Thus, I sinfully responded to my husband, essentially throwing an adult temper tantrum because I wasn’t getting my own way. Because, in that moment, I had a wrong view of myself, my husband, God, and my role in marriage, I viewed my desires and preferences as being most important. In my mind they were more important than my husband’s wise decision, and they were also more important than God’s will laid out for me in Scripture. Because I valued my desires and preferences over my husband’s God-given leadership, and because I valued getting what I wanted above God’s glory, I was willing to act sinfully. My sinful response was rooted in proud selfishness, which revealed my high opinion of myself and my preference. What was the result of my arrogant view of myself and my desires? Conflict in my marriage.

In my self-absorption that day, I lost sight of what was most important—bringing God glory through obedience to His Word. Because God’s glory and my husband’s best interest were not my goal, I disobeyed many principles from Scripture. Look at the following verses that I failed to consider in my sinful outburst.

  • James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

The word selfish ambition is defined as “self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means” (Thayer’s lexicon.) My heart was filled with selfish ambition meaning there was selfishness and self-promoting in my heart, which resulted in disorder and disunity in our marriage in that situation. My sinful response drove a wedge in my relationship with my husband. I was not helpful in packing up, and in my sin, I was displaying a terrible example to my children.

  • James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

Pleasures refers to a strong desire for pleasure. What was my desire? Another night with my sister. Another night in beautiful Colorado. Another night before I had to go back to the city.

Was it a sinful desire to want to stay in the mountains? No. The problem was I respond sinfully when my desire wasn’t fulfilled.

  • Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Selfishness here is the same word as selfish ambition in James 3. Empty conceit means to have undue elation of mind. My attitude and actions entirely stemmed from selfishness and empty conceit rather than from a desire to bring God glory or to love my husband.

  • Eph 5:22 Wives, [be subject] to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Because my heart was selfish, seeking to fulfill my own desire for pleasure, I was unwilling to come under my husband’s wise judgment and God-given leadership. Instead, in that scenario, I rebelled against the role God had given my husband to lead our family, and I rebelled against the role God had given me to follow his leadership.

  • 1Co 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

In my sinful response I was unable to encourage my kids to follow my example because I wasn’t following Christ. Instead, I was teaching them that when you don’t get what you want, it is acceptable to lose your self-control, to get angry, to cry, and feel sorry for yourself.

We often don’t realize the little things—the little areas of sin—are our biggest nemeses. It’s the little areas of sin that erode our marriages and our parenting and ultimately our homes. It’s the little things—like impatience when your husband doesn’t help you with the dishes when he can see they need to be done. It’s discontentment with the role God has given you, which includes waking up through the night with kiddos when your husband gets to sleep. It’s jealousy that he gets to go to work, and you must stay home to change diapers and clean toddler messes/or homeschool difficult children/or care of aging parents. It’s grumbling and complaining because he doesn’t prioritize Spiritual leadership in the home the way you think he should. It’s being unthankful for the husband God has given you because you compare him to other men. It’s the bitterness that has grown in your heart toward areas of sin in his life such as—laziness, anger, or complacency.

These “little” sins are rooted in pride. In the same way that my sinful response to leaving the camping trip was rooted in not getting my own way, these little things spring from the same underlying sin. They are born in pride and coddled in selfishness. When these things become habitual patterns, a way of life, we will eventually destroy our homes—meaning our marriages, and families. Our only right response is humble repentance, seeking to put off the old habits of sin, reminding ourselves of what Scripture teaches, and asking God to help us practice obedience to Scripture.


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