Forgiveness In a Marriage
October 21, 2021
Mark 11:25, ESV
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
When I look at the vast majority of marriages, I can see that one thing is true, they almost all start out with the intention and desire of being successful. I don’t believe anyone enters a marriage relationship believing that it is going to end in divorce. After the wedding is over and life starts as a husband and wife the reality of the work it takes to make a marriage work starts to set in. The truth is that no matter how wonderful the dating time was or how beautiful the wedding ceremony was, the man and women who have just gotten married are still just humans. Human beings all sin and make mistakes. At some point in the relationship both the man and the women are going to make a mistake. They are going to hurt each other and do things that unkind, uncaring, and painful. This is the reality of sin in all our lives.
I believe that one of the most important words for a marriage is this, forgiveness. No matter how much two people love each other, if unforgiveness is allowed in the relationship, that love is eventually going to die. The Bible tells us that perfect love drives out all fear, and apart of Jesus, none of us while in this sinful world is capable of loving perfectly. What does this look like? A husband takes advantage of the kindness of his wife and is then ungrateful for the way that she helped him. A wife makes what she believes is an innocent joke about a mistake that her husband has made. Both of these may seem trivial but when the person who has been wronged holds onto that hurt it begins a chain reaction that can have long lasting and devastating impacts on the relationship. That hurt, if buried, will eventually grow and the pain will start to generate animosity, which will lead to bitterness, and that bitterness will eventually turn into anger and hatred. Once anger and hatred start to set in, the love that was once so strong and bright will start to fade and eventually, it will go out.
At this point, there are two angles that we need to approach this from. First, we need to look at the perspective from the one who had done wrong. When we realize that we have hurt our spouse, we need to react with repentance. This is not a time to argue our point of view or try to prove that we were right. When our spouse has been hurt by our actions we must come with sincere repentance. Repentance is not simply saying that we are sorry, true repentance means that we acknowledge what we have done, we ask for forgiveness for our actions, and then we move forward working to never do it again. This is what true repentance looks like. The second perspective is that of the one who has been hurt. When our spouse has done something which hurts us, we have a choice to make. We can choose to forgive, or we can choose to hold on to the hurt. Forgiveness is entirely under our decision to either give it or withhold it. When we were still sinners, Christ chose to come to die for our sins. When Christ hung on the cross and was being hurt mocked by us, he asked His Father to forgive us because we didn’t know what we were doing. He extended forgiveness even in the most hurtful of situation and He also told us that if we do not forgive others of the sins they have committed against us, then our Father in heaven will not forgive us of our sins. Forgiveness is a serious topic!
You may be reading this and ask the question, what about in the case of marital infidelity, physical abuse, or emotional abuse? These are situations in which it is very possible that a husband or wife needs to seek help and leave. Leaving and seeking helping does not mean however that we cannot also forgive. Unforgiveness can not only destroy a marriage relationship, but it can also destroy our lives. Unforgiveness is like a cancer in our hearts that will bring us to a very dark place.
As we come to a close, I want to ask a few questions of you. Is there any way in which you have hurt your spouse or maybe are hurting them right now? If so, are you willing to go to your spouse and repent? Are there anyways in which your spouse has hurt you? Are you willing to extend genuine forgiveness to them? Are you, just as Christ did, willing to forgive them even if they have not repented? These can be difficult questions to answer and difficult actions to take. But, when we are willing both forgive and ask for forgiveness it can transform marriages and even our own lives.