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Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part... Part Four - Forgiveness

In my last post regarding marriage, Till Death Do Us Part... Part Three, I highlighted what I felt were the five key elements to keeping a marriage in tact and fruitful.

Forgive - Love - Trust - Endure Hardship - Submit

Forgiveness is the first key to unlocking a healthy and happy marriage. One of the problems I discovered shortly after writing Part Three was that all five keys to a healthy and happy marriage involved doing something. Bearing fruit so to speak. Forgiving one another, loving one another, trusting each others motives, enduring, and submitting to the needs of each other. Action, action, action. So my conflict came when I asked myself the question, "what happens when we don't feel like springing into action in our marriage and it takes too darn much effort to keep on doing?"

In this posting I want to work on tackling this question and deal with the first key; forgiveness. Jesus tells us in the book of John to abide in him. A branch can not bear fruit unless it abides in the vine.

Joh 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (esv)

Bearing the fruit of forgiveness in a marriage can only be accomplished when we abide in Jesus. There is no amount of willpower that can sustain us while we are going through difficult times in our marriage like being in Christ can. The New Believer's Bible Glossary defines it this way. "Abide - To remain consistently in fellowship with God by maintaining a close relationship with Jesus Christ." Therefore, for us to "do" all the things we need to do to keep our marriage healthy and happy, we need to first be one who abides. To abide in Jesus means that we need to know him. We need to spend time in His Word daily learning what it means to be like Him. A disciple is one who follows the ways of his teacher and since Jesus is our teacher we need to know everything we can about His character. In order to forgive like Jesus we need to be like Jesus.

Php 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

But sometimes forgiveness is quite difficult. What happens when a spouse has done something so terrible that forgiveness doesn't seem possible? Philippians 4:13 tells us we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. Not some, or a few, but all things...even forgiveness. As challenging as it may be, forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the receiver. One of the things we should remember is that we too have offended and need to be forgiven. All too often we get caught up in the fact that our spouse has done something to hurt us all the while we may be doing things to hurt them as well.

Luke states it so well, Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

Forgiveness can be kind of tricky however. It doesn't mean that a person subjects themselves to neglect or abuse, nor does it mean that we are a door mat and allow our spouse to take advantage of our forgiving heart by walking all over us. What it does mean is that we lead like Jesus in our marriage and take the first step towards reconciliation when there has been offenses one to another. And a special message to men... Be the first one to reconcile in your marriage! If Jesus came down to your house and wanted to have a conversation with you and your wife regarding your marriage, I believe it would start somewhat like when God came to Adam and Eve in the garden. Remember what he said? It was something like this, "Adam, where are you?" (Gen 3:9)

So here it is in a nutshell. Abide in Christ daily so we can learn to be like Him so that we can forgive our spouse and when we are offended try to be the first to reconcile... whew!

Lord please forgive me when I offend my spouse. Forgiveness is about changing my heart so I pray Lord that I will be quick to forgive and that you will give me the time, energy, and wisdom to seek you daily. I want to be more like you.

1 comment:

dl1966 said...

Keith, Nice entry, I especially liked the "Adam where are you?" point.