Magnifying Glass or Mirror

January 13, 2019

David Sorn

When conflict arises in your marriage, are you bringing a magnifying glass or a mirror? One of them will work, one of them will not.

Magnifying Glass or Mirror

January 13, 2019

David Sorn

When conflict arises in your marriage, are you bringing a magnifying glass or a mirror? One of them will work, one of them will not.


All right, we are in week 2 of the Happily EVEN After series on marriage.

I want to encourage you, like many of you already have, to commit to coming to all 4 weeks of this.

There’s no quick fix here. This is a process.

I want to re-enter this topic right where we left off last week.

We left off last week with the 3rd way to feel disappointed in your marriage…and that was “To believe that the REAL problem…is your spouse”

And we talked about how that’s the great “stalemate to marriage”

Nothing is ever going to change, unless we begin to SERVE them first.

Just like Christ did for us.


The challenge is…there seems to be no shortage of material for why your spouse should “get to work on changing,” am I right?

And this is what naturally happens in any marriage.

When you’re just dating, it’s easy to put your best foot forward.

But in marriage, you can’t keep up the act

Your spouse gets to know you as you TRULY are.

That same guy who seemed sooo handsome and romantic while you were dating.

Now could benefit from showering once in a while and putting the seat down.

It’s hard to hide you truly are, when you share the same bed.

My wife, after almost 15 years of marriage knows me so well…that she can tell if something’s wrong just by the way I’m lying in the bed at night.

For example, if I’m not moving all that much, or even just breathing in a different way…she’ll say, “What’s wrong??”

And I swear I’m not going, “hhhhuhhh…” Even the smallest difference, and she can notice it!

That’s amazing.

But that’s marriage…you can’t hide your feelings, you can’t hide your faults, you can’t hide much of anything.

I’ve heard it said that the next time you go to a wedding, just write in the card: “Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”

Marriage is “the great revealer.”

It’s, for many people, the main way in which God is going to reveal your faults and sinful heart to you.

And therefore, positively, it’s an incredible opportunity for you to GROW in Christ…


EXCEPT…there’s a big problem here.

We aren’t so interested in wanting to look at our weaknesses.

BUT…we do tend to be VERY interested in seeing our spouse’s weaknesses!

But one of the best ways to improve your marriage is to pick up a mirror, not a magnifying glass!


But unfortunately, when the arguments come, too many of us opt to pick up the magnifying glass instead of the mirror.

And we not only see the other person’s faults, but through the magnifying glass, we see them in DETAIL and they look…ENORMOUS

And so, we feel it is our DUTY…to share what we have discovered with our magnifying glass.

But before you do so…let me share you something you can learn, perhaps the only thing you can learn, from Reality TV J

You ever watched some show, especially if it has a married couple on it, and they’re arguing with each other, but as the viewer, you find yourself talking to your TV (which is futile, you know that, right?):

“Chill out…all he did was forget to take out the trash. She just got mad “one time…’ Chill out and just hold your tongue!”

Well, what’s happening is, you (as the viewer) are seeing both perspectives!

We typically fail to apply the same perspective and patience in marriage though

Conflict begins…we feel the tension of it…and we don’t like that feeling.

And so rather than allow the natural tension of marriage to serve as a mirror to us…so we can grow in Christ…

Instead, we attempt to eliminate the tension by pulling out a magnifying glass and holding it right up to our spouse’s issues.

Our idea is if, “We just explained to them how they need to fix A, B, and C, they are going to go, “Yes, what an absolutely incredible & accurate assessment of the problem by you! You are a genius. I will commence fixing those problems immediately. Thank you dear!”

Now if there is anyone is this room that that has ever worked for, would you just stand up right now, so we could applaud you as the only person in the world to successfully pull this off?

We laugh, but almost all of us in the room keep trying that exact magnifying glass strategy…multiple times a week.

That’s crazy!

Now, I’m not saying that every time an argument happens, that you just say, “Whoa, hold up, honey you did nothing wrong, let me grab my mirror and take a good hard look at how this was 100% my fault”

“No, I’m not saying that…but I AM saying that the truth is…the majority of the issues we face in marriage are “not problems to fix but tensions to manage”…tensions to learn how to live in.

These are things like:

They don’t clean up enough

They don’t appreciate me with their words enough

They can’t communicate their thoughts like I want

You didn’t marry the perfect person…there’s NO such thing.

There are going to be incompatibilities between you!

Something like 75% of the conflict we face in marriage, are the smaller things…the incompatibilities that generally irritate you about the other person

You’re a hard worker, they’re… “not as driven”

You’re an extrovert, they’re an introvert…

You’re a planner…they like to “go with the flow”

And on and on

But taking a magnifying glass to those issues won’t solve ANY of them.

Because honestly, a huge portion of them, you might never fix.

Constantly holding up the magnifying glass to the internal processer isn’t going to all of a sudden change them start sharing every feeling they have

If you keep bothering them about it, the person who hates to be “touchy-feely” isn’t going to start getting in bed every night and say, “Let’s cuddle”

No, they’re just going to keep saying, “Don’t touch me…I’m trying to sleep!”

No matter how much you keep pretending your magnifying glass is a magic wand that’s going to change them into the perfect person, it’s never going to happen.

Now, let me say, there are some serious things that you need to confront head on (alcoholism, pornography, major anger issues, etc.)

This is the “other 25%” of problems we face in marriage.

For those, the process is a little different than just “drop the magnifying glass, pick up the mirror”

Next week, you need to come back, because we’re going to talk through strategies for conflict and communication.

And we’ll spend a little time talking through how to handle the bigger issues…the other 25%

But for 75% of the irritations and weekly conflict we face, we need a DIFFERENT STRATEGY!

A Biblical one.

Are you up for trying something different?

The magnifying glass is not how LOVE is supposed to work, and I want to show you that Scripturally.

Last week, we referenced the Apostle Paul’s take on love ever-so-briefly, and I want to actually break down his thoughts this week.

People are used to hearing his famous words on love at weddings and such, and they are indeed beautiful poetry.

But I’m not so sure that we ever think all that hard about what the words ACTUALLY are saying…and what they mean for our lives…and our marriages.

And so I want us to do that today.

(Page 932)

(Renovation App)

Let’s take a look at a section of his words from 1 Corinthians 13

Just 2 verses, but there is a lot there.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5) – NIV

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

There are a number of things that jumped out at me when I studied that list.

One of the things that I did…that helped me better understand what Paul was saying about love… was to write his words down in list form, and then also contrast them with their antonym…the opposite word.

(SHOW “Love is” LIST)


Patient – Impatient

Kind – Mean

Content – Envious

Modest – Boastful

Humble – Proud

Honoring – Dishonoring

Selfless – Selfish

Self-Controlled – Easily Angered

Forgiving – Record Keeping

Let’s look at this…

In the “Mirror Column,” you have all the words that Paul describes as “Love” or, in some cases, the opposites of the words he described as not loving.

He says, “Love is patient, it’s kind.”

But then he says, “It’s not envious, boastful, or proud”

So then what is it?

It’s Content. It’s modest.. It’s humble.

But look to the Magnifying Glass column…especially the bolded words.

Is not the opposite of love described so well by the act of bringing the magnifying glass to your spouse’s issues?

Rather than be patient with their faults…we impatiently point them out.

Rather than be kind in speaking the truth, we do so mean-spiritedly

We’re not just letting them know they didn’t do the dishes…we want them to FEEL that they didn’t do the dishes!

In a similar way, we’re easily angered with their shortcomings.

The last one on there is perhaps the most telling…

Paul says “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (it forgives), but the magnifying glass is the memorization of wrongs…sometimes with records detailing back decades.

But that’s is the opposite of our God and His love…who says:

(Hebrews 8:12) – NIV

For I will forgive their wickedness,

and will remember their sins no more.”

And I just want to tell you, right now, you can’t improve your marriage with a magnifying glass.

It won’t work because it’s not love…

We just saw in that chart, the magnifying glass, is in fact, the opposite of love.

And therefore, the art of improving your marriage starts with your ability to drop the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror.

I was talking with someone this week about this topic, and she mentioned to me that when she got married, she quickly learned that her husband put his dirty clothes in literally every area of the house other than their clothes hamper.

She said this incredibly frustrated her every single week for the first year of their marriage.

She brought it up to him multiples times.

She tried bringing up kindly

She tried…not so kindly.

She reminded him, she guilted him, she even threatened to not wash his clothes unless they were in the clothes hamper…

…but nothing changed his actions.

But then she told me that she came to realize the truth of what we’ve been talking about today

It wasn’t a battle worth fighting.

No matter how hard she tried, he was never going to turn into a person who neatly put his clothes in the hamper every morning.

And so she picked up the mirror…saw her high standard for how “things are supposed to be,” and she drooped it.

She dropped the magnifying glass.

And she told me, “You know what, it’s brought me peace, and it’s brought peace to our marriage…I have even peace doing that chore.”

Because now I see it as an opportunity to serve him

As I’m sure there are hundreds of ways that he does a similar thing, and puts up with me, and serves me

There are too many people out there that want to classify their marriage as a failure because the view from their magnifying glass has overwhelmed them by the other person’s faults.

They maybe even begin to believe the LIE that says, “Maybe there’s someone else out there who would have been a better fit for me.”

But listen, that’s not how marriage works…

The world likes to tell you that you have this perfect soulmate fit out there…

But listen, you’re incompatible…with EVERYONE!

Gary Thomas says it this way, and I LOVE this:

“A good marriage is not something you find; it’s something you work for.” - Gary Thomas


But to work on it, we need to look in the mirror!

But the problem is…so many of us can’t handle the pressure of the mirror…so we keep reaching for the magnifying glass.

But why?

What’s keeping up from wanting to pick up the mirror?

Let’s look deeper at the WORD…

Take a look again at our chart from 1 Corinthians 13

(SHOW “Love is” LIST #2)


Patient – Impatient

Kind – Mean

Content – Envious

Modest – Boastful

Humble – Proud

Honoring – Dishonoring

Selfless – Selfish

Self-Controlled – Easily Angered

Forgiving – Record Keeping

There’s another clear obstacle to love here…to dropping the magnifying glass and picking up the mirror.

And it’s PRIDE.

Look at the bolded words this time.

They are all about pride.

When tensions arise, instead of coming in humility, most of us come shaking our magnifying glass in pride.

Our self-preservation (which is the selfishness bolded up there) is so strong, that we can’t bear to look in the mirror…and so our pride causes us to deflect and blame

How many of you enjoy looking in the actual mirror???


We don’t want to see the truth.

But is it the truth???


And you can’t change until you acknowledge it

Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve been a runner (10-20 miles a week), but almost every year, I tend injure myself somehow, and so my weight goes back and forth and back and forth.

And I will tell you, I will never weigh myself when I’m not running…not working out.

I don’t want to know.

I don’t want to know the truth.

But that’s ridiculous.

It’s pride. It’s fear.

And you can’t grow when you’re hiding from the truth.

You can’t grow your marriage when you’re pride is causing you to hide behind the magnifying glass, so you don’t have to look at your own stuff!

I do less and less counseling as we’ve gotten bigger and bigger as a church, and we have more and more people MUCH more qualified than me to do that, but I gotta tell you, I’ve sat in too many meetings with couples where the wife says, “He’s crazy!” And then the husband, before even acknowledging her claim, says, “No! She’s crazy!”

And I say, “No….You’re BOTH crazy!”

This is why you don’t want me doing your counseling J

But I can’t help them unless someone is willing to humble themselves and look in the mirror!

Let me tell you something: Love, can not show itself through pride. EVER.

Love, shows itself through humility.

Love, looks like what Jesus instructed us to do in Luke this summer…

Do you remember when I held the huge plank out of my eye??

What are we supposed to do as Christ-followers?

We HUMBLE ourselves, and take the plank out of our own eye…FIRST.

And if we can’t do that in marriage, our PRIDE will be the thing that truly destroys our marriages

Gary Thomas says it this way:

“Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.” – Gary Thomas

The biggest risks to your marriage are not the incompatibilities, not the blow-ups, not even the big screw-ups.

The biggest risk to your marriage are the things that YOU refuse to work on.

Everything else God can fix.

And so when you have conflict, when the arguments begin, and tensions rise, one of the first things I want you to start asking yourself, internally, is, “Which tool am I bringing to this fight?”

A magnifying glass or a mirror?

Let me show you how bringing a mirror changes things.

I’ve been thinking about this stuff non-stop lately ( this better be making me a better husband too, or I’m just one big hypocrite)

Earlier this week, I got upset at Lindsey about something that I determined was too messy in our house (in reality, it probably wasn’t…I just have my “neat freak” issues.

And as we started to argue, and I started to get upset, it hit me, “I’m bringing a magnifying glass” (“Why didn’t you??)

That’s not love.

Love doesn’t keep record of wrongs like this.

Love is much more patient.

Love is not this prideful…refusing to look at my own issues

And so I should have just apologized right then and there.

But I’m too sinful for that, so I didn’t.

BUT…30 minutes later…I looked in the mirror (I thought through my own stuff), and then I was able to say to Lindsey:

“Listen, I’ve just been stressed out lately, and I think when I’m stressed out, I just try and get control of what I can get control of… (thanks for being my therapist for a second)…and so I get crazy with cleaning stuff up

And then…we moved on from it, and it was great!

Now, I just gave you an example of myself looking in the mirror and apologizing, but I got to tell you that my wife is 5 times better at apologizing than I am…I’m still working on that pride… J

And one of the things I’ve learned from her humility…is that apologies are the “great disarmer”

When one person looks in the mirror, comes back and admits their part in it…and they apologize…

In my experience, then the other person is 20 times more likely to start talking about where they screwed up…and what they could improve…

TWENTY TIMES more likely to start working through the issues…then they would have been if the magnifying glasses stayed out.

Apologies are the great disarmer.

The mirror causes couples to put their weapons down.

But magnifying glasses cause you to put your weapons up.

What’s the Scripture say?

Love is not proud, it’s humble.

Love drops the magnifying glass

I mean, think about it…

Jesus, who is LOVE incarnate, could have kept the magnifying glass on us – seeing how unworthy we are to have a relationship with him because of our long list of sins.

But he dropped the magnifying glass, and picked up the cross instead.

He chose to love us, he chose humility over pride…he chose to keep no record of our wrongs.

That’s what we’re called to do in marriage.

To drop the magnifying glass

To sit in front of the mirror…

And let God grow us into people who look more like Him…

So we can love more like Him.

Do you believe He can do that through you?

I do.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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