There’s a right and a wrong way to play games, but one place where games need to be outlawed, is within our relationships. When we talk, when we fight, when there’s tension or a decision to be made… playing games can be devastating for a relationship, because game playing is a way to gain some form of advantage over their partner and two people have really lost because you can’t have a winner and a loser on the same team. The earliest relational game we find in the bible is right at the beginning – the ‘blame game’. Adam and Eve are created and live in this incredible garden. God told Adam and Eve to enjoy everything he had created, but just don’t eat from that tree in the middle of the garden, but they ate from it. Genesis 3:11 [God asked] ‘Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The Adam said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” – he doesn’t just blame Eve, he blames God!  You put her here with me, I was fine until she came along and the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Adam and Eve’s initial response was to blame. To dodge the bullet – they were playing the blame game!  We don’t easily own up to our faults, it’s tough to admit when we’re wrong, so instead, we look for a scapegoat. Yet taking responsibility for our actions grows us. Admitting when we’re wrong enables us to move forward. Humbling ourselves before others is actually a strength.

Some people play memory games in relationships, by bringing up past failings of their partner. The memory game reminds our partners that whatever we do, we’ll always have to relive and re-pay for our past mistakes, a relationship like that just can’t move forward and we don’t grow. In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6 the bible talks about love and states that love… “keeps no record of wrongs.” It then continues to state that “love … rejoices with the truth.Lying can also be a damaging game played within marriage. Some people have found out that their partner hasn’t been telling the entire truth, they’ve been missing certain parts of information out or just blatantly lying and the trust that’s broken can have serious ramifications. Some people just can’t stay together when they find out their partner has been lying to them such as separation and divorce, then both lose. Some people play catch phrase, it sounds like this… ‘do you think she’s good looking?’ Don’t do it to each other! Don’t put him in that situation! Another catch phrase is just answering with ‘good’ or ‘fine’ or ‘ok’ when you really don’t mean good, fine or ok. Communicating is really hard when you don’t say what you mean then they get angry for them not knowing what you meant! Then there’s family feud… it’s best to keep your families out of any conflicts that the two of you are having and not try to bolster up your side by putting their family down. Some people play monopoly in their marriages and relationships, by trying to monopolise each other in some way or other.  Whether it be unhealthy spending in your relationship, or limiting her spending so much that she’s dependent on coming to you to plead for grocery money each week!

What’s the antidote to game playing in relationships? Well we need to stop playing fair… when someone does something wrong to you, what does fair look like? It looks like them paying a fair and just punishment for the wrong that they’ve caused you! However if this is playing fair then we need to play un-fair. God allowed us who love him forgiveness and Colossians 3:12-13 asks us to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Jesus is calling us to forgive our partners when they do something wrong. Our primary, base level reaction in life and especially in relationships, is to respond in the way that Jesus has responded to us. And when that forgiveness permeates into our lives we start living like that.  When we live like the Gospel is real and central to our lives, then conflict in marriages becomes far easier to see a way out of.  Arguments start to shift and there’s hope that comes back in as trust and confidence is built again. That’s not the way for us, we need to learn to stay on the same team, remember that deep down, your partner is good, do to her or do to him what they might not yet be able to do for you in forgiving be the first to reach out for peace and you’ll find hope, because you’ll be displaying the kind of character that lives in the heart of God and it’s the only way for our marriages to be healthy and thrive!

Find the full sermon here: Love Sex Marriage: Playing Un-fair

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