Forgiveness is Costly

           FORGIVENESS IS COSTLY

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27-31

            Many people in any intense relational connection will not want to give forgiveness. Including a spouse. Why? When we forgive, it may incur a cost to that we do not want to pay. Yet, as a Christian, we should realize, and even welcome, that cost. Yes, this goes against our inclination and will, but, remember, the “retribution,” as in vengeance belongs to the Lord. We are to never forget the cost our Lord paid on our behalf. No cost we could ever incur could compare with the cost He paid for us. When we forgive, we will be refocusing our plans for our pain into God’s plan, and God’s ways. So, our pain is relieved, and our life can go on in a better direction!

We can live in harmony with each other in marriage with improved quality lives when we forgive.

Our relationship can grow, and we can become more loving and relational to each other and, especially, to God. When we understand that it does involve cost, we can gain the right mindset for forgiveness. We will realize from Scripture, not to base it on our feelings and desires, or seek to get even; but, to focus on what forgiveness really is. We can see it as what Christ gave us, as He was our example. John 3:16 is the example of what forgiveness costs our Lord.  His undeserved, painful death and separation from the Father was a substitution for what we deserved. This was our Lord’s suffering and cost. In comparison, the cost for us will be very minimal and limited, and we need to keep this in view, using it as our strength to get through it. Our cost is to live with the consequence of the evil that was brought to us. We then take the responsibility for the hurt brought on to us. Understanding this is hard, even for the mature Christian, and, virtually impossible for the non-Christian, since it goes against the common sense of society. In the eyes of the world, the suffering should be put upon the one who did the wrong. Yet, the Scriptural view has been a beacon, a witness to the supremacy of Christ and a wondrous marriage (Psalm 32).

We could normally avoid this form of suffering, but we are called to face it. When we avoid it our relationship with our spouse will not work and break down into dysfunction.

We need to accept the consequences of the wrong, like as a parent forgiving a child for breaking a valuable object. As the parent, they love the child more than the object. Thus, they bear the cost to either replace it, or suffer without it, and the child gets off free (well, with some sort of punishment). This is the cost of suffering. In the case of a marriage, our suffering is that we cannot have our revenge or right to be even, to have the last word so to speak. We feel robbed. Real forgiveness chooses to suffer. It is very hard to make that voluntary choice to take on the suffering, even when we do not deserve it; yet, we must make it so as to grow in our walk with our Lord, and to grow toward our full potential.

            Humanity owes a great deal to the Creator of the universe, and our willful disobedience to our Creator is a slap in His face. We owe a debt we could never conceive, or pay. Yet, most people live their lives as an insult to what Christ has done. And, Christ still pursues them with the ultimate love! Christ did not owe our debt, yet He paid it!

 Christ was the substitute for our punishment, which we deserved; so is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a substitution too, since it requires a penalty to be paid, and, the victim pays that penalty. Your marriage can be a faint reflection of what Christ has done for us! And an example of maturity and hope for others too. We may not understand the mystery behind this, but we can trust in our Lord, who will carry us through it. The relation between what Christ went through so that we could be forgiven, and the call for us to take on the responsibility for a sin we did not commit, will give us a deeper understanding into the character and nature of God. For this, we should mature to a deeper level, and be used in a greater way to further the cause of Christ. The result is that we take our response to evil and redirect it for good, and, even to a point, take the evil on ourselves. The result is that Satan is defeated and prevented from receiving a prize, the breakdown of our marriage, his reward that he craved to gain, from our refusal to forgive. This is why the cost accepted by our Lord is the greatest cost of all. We need to realize this, and respond accordingly to one another.

            Forgiveness is worth the agony we may go through, because, it will heal the wounds and relieve the pain. Perhaps a scar will remain. But, take it to heart, and recognize that scar as a badge of honor to help us grow and mature, to redirect our wrong path onto the right direction. Be the person who forgives. Be the first one who forgives! Do not be the person who refuses to!

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The Marrriage “Punish-her!”

Forgiveness Marriage b

“…forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

As a youth, I loved the comic book, ‘The Punisher,” where the superhero was a victim of a severe crime, and his wife and kids were inadvertently killed by the mob. So, he makes it his life’s crusade to affect revenge on all criminals who evade the law. This comic book character now has its own series on a TV subscription service now. Why? This theme is appealing; the criminals deserve the Punisher’s revenge, especially since the law is unable to deal with them because of bribes, cutbacks, and apathy. This pleases our human nature. Payback! Revenge! Justice! Now, put this into a marriage situation, when we get hurt and feel there is no justice what do we do? We “punish her” or him! However, this is not what we are called to do. Revenge is not for us to take. Justice is what God is about in His perfect timing and judgment, and revenge only serves to hurt the offender and the victim. God does not want us to rely on our human nature; rather, to rely on Him.

So, how do we fix our breakdowns and injustices in marriage? God calls us to forgiveness, and it is to be is continual.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3b-4

For the Hebrew, seventy times seven meant infinity, not just 490, because 490 has a limit. For Christ, there is no point beyond which our accumulation of sins becomes unforgivable. So, when we are hurt by our spouse, our response is to forgive, as there is no cap, or limit, or expiration to forgive. (Now keep in mind this does not apply to abuse. If there is abuse, get out and get help!) As followers of Christ, neither the intensity of, nor the number of wrongs should have an impact on us. If we were to place a limit, then our effect of building relationships would have a chain attached to it, instead of having a chain reaction to grow. With a limit, you cannot grow. We must have the realization and the capacity to understand how much we have been forgiven by Christ in order to forgive each other; this is crucial to the Christian experience.

Forgiveness is the only human force that can stop the disintegration of marriage relationship breakdowns.

As our Lord continues to give us grace and forgiveness, we are to do the same with each other. If not, we show ourselves to be extremely selfish filled with ingratitude and pride. While we are called to practice continual forgiveness!

Out of mistakes we make, or our spouse may cause us, comes our pain, hurt, and resentment. This resentment escalates into animosity, then cause fighting and augmentations and then builds into bitterness, until it destroys your relationship and causes a divorce. This is why forgiveness is so essential. This is why our Lord calls us to forgive. If you have been hurt, or you have hurt, and we all have; then, open your eyes and realize that it is the call of the Christian to dispel these conflicts. Without forgiveness, our growth and maturity with Christ, and our harmony and being “at home” at home, cannot be built.

God’s forgiveness is not some cheap markdown or bargain; His cost was immeasurable.

Paul, in Colossians 3:13, tells us to forgive freely, as Christ has forgiven us. We must be willing to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. We must be willing to bear the cost, just as our Lord did. Forgiveness demands a substitution. So, how could we ever back away from forgiving each other? If we do, it is a bigger insult to our Lord than for the non-Christian to turn his or her back on His grace-because we know better. Remember, knowledge brings responsibility.

So, stop the pride and madness, drop to your knees and ask the Lord’s forgiveness first. Then, go to your spouse in sincerity and truth and ask them to forgive you. But, it does not stop there. You must also stop the silent treatment, the button pushing, the game playing, the bad words, the controlling and whatever rotten fruit comes from the mind of a person who is hurting and or is self-focused and not Christ focused. Place your spouse and family in the position as your true loved ones and follow 1 Corinthians 13. Men are to cherish and protect. Women are to respect, and both remember kindness!

Ten Ways to Improve your Relational Skills with your Spouse

hands marriage

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

  1. BE Kind.There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting!
  2. SMILE Often. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile.
  3. NAME Use. The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of one’s own name! So, be thoughtful with how you call your spouse.
  4. BE Helpful. Share the load, do not rely just on your spouse to do it all, help out more than you are helped!
  5. BE Cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do were a genuine pleasure! If it is right and good, it really should be.
  6. BE Interested. Empathy means involvement! Ask, how your day is and then listen with interest.
  7. BE Generous with praise and cautious with criticism! Do not nag, do not prey upon your loved ones.
  8. BE Considerate with feelings. Feel your spouse’s plight. It will be appreciated.
  9. BE Thoughtful of their opinions. There are three sides to a controversy, yours,’ your spouse and the truth! Do not assume, listen and be open to the real truth.
  10. GIVE Service. What counts most in life is who we are in Christ and then what we do for others! So, be there for one another.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:43-45

Love and Serve in Marriage

 

Marriage Happy Sign Married Love

“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him….” John 13:4-5 

All too often in marriage, we start off fine, but something happens. We get disappointed or hurt, then we stop. We stop being loving. We stop placing the other first. We stop putting in the effort. We stop the excitement and anticipation. We stop helping. We allow our disappointments to consume us and move away from what God has for us to what we can do to make it worse. What is left, is costing on what we may have had, without refueling or repairing, until it all starts to come apart and fail. What we need is a reboot!

The end of Ephesians 5 gives us a picture of walking in healthy relationships that seems like foolish, archaic and abusive to a worldly perspective.  Yet, provides a great reboot to any marriage. We have to have a chain of authority to keep structure and order, or you will have chaos and dysfunction. We have to see the importance of love and respect. How to love and how to esteem each other. This also helps us look to God and accept His authority over all and our lives.  Consider that, everyone is in submission, even the president of the United States is supposed to be held to account by the people and Congress and the Supreme Court. Within God’s plan is a structure and call to help us make it work, and work well. Below is an application of this structure that will improve your marriage, no matter how good or bad you may be doing.

Here is a great way to vastly improve any home or marriage situation. First, read Ephesians chapter four and five. Then be in prayer, Lord, how can I push my pride and hurt away and place you more in my life? Lord, how can I be more like you in my marriage and family?

Now consider these time-honored relationship treasures:

  • As Christ served us, see how you can be the biggest servant in your home? Remember, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe did, how about you (John 13:1-17)?
  • As Christ loved us, see how you can be the biggest “lover” in your home? (Mark 10:45; John 15:12; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 5:25)?

In marriage, it is not about what can I get out of it, it is about what can I put into it! This is the true Christian model, by Christ’s example. It is not about focusing on my hurts or past experiences, or what they have done or do not do; rather, it is about surrendering my pride and forgive and move forward. Then we can step up and be the person who loves and serves, even when we do not feel like it or think they deserve it. As, none of us deserve Christ’s grace; Yet, we received it anyway. That is why it is grace undeserved. Have grace for your spouse! The more we love and serve the better chance they will catch it too.

Questions to help you realign yourself up to God’s call in marriage:

  1. What does unconditional love mean to you? Can you give an example? Have you ever felt or experienced it? Have you ever given it?
  2. How is my attitude about serving? Does it line up to Christ?
  3. Is Christ leading my family, or am I seeking to lead Him?
  4. God created something special in your family, what can you do to rekindle into a great relationship that glorifies our Lord?

Remember, real love is Sacrificial!

© 2017, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. www.thisismarriage.org

How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PIII

cherish

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27

For us to be successful in life, in our relationship to God and with our spouses, we must respond to Christ with gratitude and love; then, we must be respectful and submit to one another. The key to a successful and vibrant marriage is the wife and husband respecting and loving each other, because our relationship is bound to our Lord.  We are not just the participants of the church, we are the church and we model it to the world, and we must show that our Gospel and love is real and sincere.  And the Christian marriage is a prime platform for the Gospels illustration! Love and respect are the two essential ways we can improve our relationship; this is the “marriage secret” to a happy and content marriage.  The husband cherishes his wife, regardless of his feelings, so she feels secure and valued, while the wife respects her husband, even when he does not deserve it.

In this way, both have an authentic mutual affection and admiration for one another. Which builds upon each other for the betterment and prevents and solves most ills.

Let’s look at the husband’s call, as it does apply to both. He is asked to do something greater, to love their wives, to be passionate and committed about their care and personhood, not just rely on feelings. To take the initiative to lead and to listen.  In ancient times, marriage contracts would advocate the husband to make his wife submit with absolute obedience.  Paul’s assertion to his churches and readers “to love,” and because of love to “submit,” was very radical.  To Paul, love was a duty.  To truly love someone was considered weak by the macho mindsets of the times as well as with many people today. Yet, love is not weak; it is building the strength of a relationship and the bond of a family by creating a mutual partnership (Amos 3:3; Mark 12:38; 1 Cor. 7:3-4; 13; 11:8-9)!

Love or cherisheth is the verb for love (Greek: agapete) designates a continuous routine of a devoted care action all of the time, not just when we feel like it.

Love is “symbiotic” as in mutually loving toward each other to build and improve each one’s relationship.  Here, a man loves a woman; she then submits because of his love.  This submission is a love in itself that becomes as “one flesh” (Eph. 2:4-7; 5:21-32; 1 John 4:7-21).

However, submission is misunderstood when it is viewed as abuse or subjection. In context, it is what God has for us, His fullness, His love that must be received and played forward to one another.  As a family and as a church.  God’s perfect plan, even in a corrupt culture, was always oneness and intimacy that were based on commitment and obedience.  Christ restores our true intimacy (Gen. 2:19-25; 1 Tim. 2:13-14).

We are to walk as people who are wise in the ways of the Lord and who are also on guard to the ways of the world.  We are to be careful how we live, so we treat our lives and others with love, dignity, and respect, especially our loved ones.

We must not to be careless with what is precious, people who are God’s precious children.  We are to make the most of our lives, and the opportunities He gives us.  To waste it away, and to treat others with disrespect or abuse is what a fool does; so, let us not be fools!   When we understand what the Lord wants us to do—and, by the way, this is not hard—we will do better in life.  It is not hard because what God is concerned with is our character.  We form our character from understanding, and putting into practice this fullness. Then, we will have healthy families in a healthy church.

 

How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PII

Eph 4 26

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

This is a reminder of our position in Christ, a result of our redemption that should be exhibited in our new life in Christ.  In Christ, our old nature has died and now we are clothed in His new nature and life.  We also become more Christ-like in character and attitude as we grow and mature in Him. Therefore, we can understand God’s truths and apply them to our lives without excuse. In so doing, our marriages will become more triumphant not only to one another and our families, then also to the glory of our Lord (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 1:3; Phil. 3:10-20; 2:1-101 John 3:2).

Let’s look at this keyword, Anger.  It centers around all that most people do that can come out bad, a word steeped in emotion and unhinged response. Whereas a Christian, we have a higher calling with it. The emotion in of itself is not bad, as it can be used for good motivations too. Even Jesus got rightly angry in Matthew 24. Our call, in life and here marriage, is do not hold on to anger, or it will fester and become unjust. Then all is will do is bring us unpleasantness and bitterness.  When this happens, we must seek to break the bonds that destroy others and us. Our beliefs must affect our behaviors; our language must affect and reflect our faith.  If not, our faith and thinking are skewed or even absent (Psalm 4:4; Isa. 63:10; Hos. 7:6; Eph. 4:31; James 1:19-20; 3:9-10).

What counters anger is the Fruit of the Spirit, in this case in this passage, being kind and compassionate or having tender mercies.  This is a Fruit produces a readiness to respond with righteousness and thoughtful consideration beyond how people treat us or how they may or may not deserve it (Matt. 11:29-30; Rom. 2:1-4; 12:9-21; 2 Cor. 6:6; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 Tim. 3:4; 1 John 3:16-23).

So, when we are caring, we hold back the emotion and the escalation of it. Our empathy of another person outside of basic selfish nature will be the brakes that slow down anger.

This will come about when we see our spouse in the light of who they are in Christ, not who they are in our irritation.

It is to recognize, emotionally identify with, and interact with those who are hurting, and helping them by gathering with others with the abilities and resources to help them (Job 29:13; Isa. 40:11; Matt. 9:36; 14:14; Mark 1:41; Luke 6:36; 10:25-37; 19:4; Rom. 12:1-2; James 5:11; 1 Peter 3:8). But how can I do this? This passage gives us the clue, know that God forgave you.  We are to extend the forgiveness to others, to our spouse, because Christ had forgiven us. (John 6:37, 44, 65;13:1; 15:16; Rom. 5:1-8; Eph. 1:4-5; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:21-22; 2:10; 3:1-14; 1 John 4:9-11)!

How to I apply this passage?

Realize that God loves you and accepts you more powerfully, passionately, purposefully, and deeply than you could ever fathom!

You are secure.  God “guarantees” you with a clear, powerful, loving, impacting, and lasting relationship with Him.  When you are in Christ, God is pleased with you!  Now see your spouse in this light of how God sees them. You have no need to fear; you are both people of deep value and worth before our Lord!  You are both forgiven because of Christ and His righteousness that covers you, not because of your deeds or performance.  You are unique and complete in Him; and because of this, you are each a special person whom God loves and will use to further impact His kingdom.   He does this for all of who are His.

How do we do this in a life of hardship, setbacks, busyness, and uncertainty?

Simply by allowing the Word–Christ’s presence–to dwell in us, and learn His instruction, so the peace of Christ will rule in our hearts and minds and translate into our actions.

It is all about our spiritual growth impacting us so it impacts those around us positively and in love.  Get in His Word more and commune with Him by prayer. And a good fellowship is also crucial. The key is to know that Christ is sufficient, so we can trust in Him–trust in Him alone (Read all of Eph. 4)!

Take an inventory of your life, thinking, behaviors, then go through All of Ephesians 4, look at the key words, and ask:

  • What do I need to put off?
  • What do I need to put on?
  • How do I do that?
  • How do I fail in this area?
  • How can I do this better?

 

How does your marriage compare to God’s call? PI

marriage God_s call eph 4 29

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25

If someone wrote a one-sentence summary of your marriage, what would it say? How does it compare to God’s call in Ephesians 4?

In our marriage, we must carefully and passionately listen to our Lord’s instructions and not our desires, so we live in and for Him and not in the ways of the world lest we think like people who love to sin.  If we are of the world–thinking as people who are “ok” with sin–dark thoughts will be ours.  Dark thoughts become our dark behaviors.  This way of life leads only to chaos, life’s upsets, and regrets with all the consequences and none of the perks.  This is life apart from God.  This is life away from God.  People who think and act in darkness have hardened their hearts; they are convicted.  They do not seek God as their eyes are turned only on “pleasures” and desires; they become filled with things like greed and immorality, and they lose real compassion and kindness.

This is not how and why our Lord came to set us free!  Christ, Our Savior, did not die and rise so that we would just sin more!

We have been given a gift that transforms our lives; let us act like it with His Truth and not the world’s wicked ways or our own self-centered motivations.  We can, by His empowerment, remove our old lives of sin and replace our mindset and actions with His principles that give us a better, more fulfilling life.  This is akin to removing filthy rotten rags and putting on the finest clothes.

Wearing our finest clothes, here means wearing the love and gratitude we have for Christ, creates better attitudes and character.  Crates a better marriage and a more content purposeful life. This demonstrates to others who we are in Christ–holy people created and called by a Holy God.  This holy life strives to be and is free from dysfunction, deceit, and depression.  In this, we can treat each other as well as others with respect and practice our faith with fruitfulness and character.  We can control our thoughts, words, and behaviors so we do not let our anger get out of control or fester.

We can keep ourselves from lying, stealing, fighting, irritation, being mean or bitter, all that we would be useful and productive not just for our marriage but also for the Kingdom, and not bow to the devil’s ways.

The Church must share these precepts and us build our relationships and family’s us, to help one another, work as a community in love, so we do not hurt the Holy Spirit.  We can forgive and move on and be the people we are called to be, as we are sealed by Christ’s redemption (Eph. 4:17-32)!

Our redemption also gives us an understanding, to think, and to have a desire for real Truth. Then a desire to have a healthier communication and mutual respect and love. Because this is Christ’s Truth in the action of our application. We are to think about Christ and consider what we have in Him to experience our new lives.  Then we will have transformed marriages, that are moving away from bitterness and dysfunction. Yes, we can sin and live as we please, we can ignore our spouse and be mean and live as we were never married, but what will that get us?  Paul emphatically fights this heinous notion.

We have no right to sin deliberately thinking, I am already forgiven so it is OK to sin (Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2)!

What can you learn from Ephesians 4 for your marriage?

In prayer, for the next forty days, read a few verses from Ephesians 4 each day, so you have read the chapter at least ten times. What is God telling you? Seek what you can do to put into practice the Christ-centered life?

 

Be Successful in your Marriage

The solution to a great marriage is the willingness to live life as one who has encountered Christ and play it forward as an encourager to our family!

successful marriage

If you want to be successful in your marriage, you need to “get it”–know and work on real love, cherishing and respecting.  By this, we create the happy home that glorifies and serves God.  Our desires and pleasures are not God’s priority for our lives; God is our priority, and we are to follow His lead into your marriages!

Yes, God wants us to be joyful, happy, and content; however, being happy means focusing on Him and not on our circumstances.

To have a successful marriage, you must be aware of what you are getting into and prepare for it. The most important guarantee for it to work is to follow His principles from His Word, not what you think, want, or have experienced.  Remember, God designed marriage and us. He knows best (Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:21-27; James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:5)!

How will this book help me if I am not a Christian?  The tips and principles in my book are called ‘precepts’–timeless Truth.  These precepts are in the Bible; the Bible is  God’s Truth.  The precepts are found in real research—scientific truth.  The precepts are shown to be effective far beyond counseling—societal and cultural truth.

If one of you does not embrace any of which we have talked about so far, you will have an extreme strain on your relationship, and you face the odds of a 50% divorce rate. Of the marriages that are left, from my experiences in counseling and research, most are miserable!  Please, please consider how important it is to get your act together; you have already said, “I do!”

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25

The real authenticity of our Lord, will enable us to build a real authenticity of love and respect, that will in turn build a “Wondrous Marriage!”

 

 

God desires us to be transformed agents of His Work and Word!

 

Forgiveness is Complete

forgiveness

Matthew 18:27 tells us, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 

 

Forgiveness is actually canceling a debt. It is as if someone owes you one thousand dollars, and he or she cannot pay you back; you forgive the debt, never expecting to receive the money back.

The amount owed to you is no longer owed or expected.  You give up your right to seek the repayment of that debt. Forgiveness is bankruptcy; once filed, the creditor may not retrieve the debt, and it is wiped out. We need to see the cancellation of the debt as a write-off, and not some form of embezzlement. When we forgive, we forget; that is, we are no longer to even have the desire for restitution, pay back, or punishment.

There is a man, at a church where I was once on staff, who I admire greatly for exhibiting forgiveness in an instance that I do not think I could ever have done it; yet, with Christ, I should be able to, because all things are possible with Christ. His wife was murdered, indiscriminately, by a drive-by shooter in the Pasadena area a few years ago; she died in his arms. He realized that for him to go on with his life and faith, he needed to forgive that person. And, he did. Now, he did not tell the police to let the shooter go; forgiveness is not necessarily a release of the obligation, especially when a crime is committed. Rather, we, as Christians, are released from our personal desire for retribution. This form of forgiveness even prevents us from those “polite” sly remarks and glances; our revenge is repudiated…divorced from our desire to get even.

Forgiveness is so rare in our society. For it to become a powerful witnessing tool, it must be complete.

Forgiveness does not make light of the wrong, nor should it give a license to others to take advantage of us, but, they may. Yet, it is well worth it! Out of the completeness of forgiveness will come the forgetting. Then, out of the forgetting, will come the healing. The healing we get from forgiveness will close the wounds we receive; it will allow us to go on with life. It will prevent our sufferings and setbacks from becoming our identity and obsession. For, without forgiveness, we give in to the bitterness that will consume and take us over, that it may give us a purpose for existing, but not for living. If we just try to forget, then agonize over it, we will get nowhere; but, through the process of surrender (Galatians 2:20-21) will come the forgetting. Forgetting is a process, and we can not expect it to come right away.

We must be patient, let the process unfold, and embrace the forgiveness that Christ has given us. That man, who forgave his wife’s killer, took many agonizing months to do so. But, in the end, he and his remaining family were able to get on with their lives, and honor his wife’s memory by living life. Had he remained in bitterness, not only would his kids have become dysfunctional, but a total breakdown of that family would have occurred, and his wife’s memory would have been framed in bitterness, and not life! Forgiveness has to be complete; if not, it will not work, and you will not make it!

 

Be Careful with Blame

the-blame-game

“The man said, the woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the LORD God said to the woman, what is this you have done? The woman said, the serpent deceived me, and I ate…” Gen 3:12-13

As soon as humanity sinned, we quickly refused to take responsibility and then commenced to blame others. This is one of the effects of our sin nature, the rejection of accountability for our actions. This is the attitude, which is so popular today from young people to Presidents. This is also the favorite ammunition for fights in marriage and the way in which most people handle difficult situations and guilt, which is to deflect and blame others.

“My spouse always blames me for the problems in our marriage!” “My spouse just keeps pushing my buttons.” My spouse will not own up to what they did and blames me.”

We do this “deflection” for three primary reasons:

First, we do not want to live with guilt.

Second, we do not want to suffer the consequences of our actions.

Third, we do not want to conflict.

Blaming others is classically called “blame shifting,” which acts like a shield to deflect. It is also like an escape mechanism, similar to an ejection seat, which avoids the consequences by bailing out. However, this is not as effective as most people think, unless you are actually in a fighter jet going down. Freeing the burden of guilt by escaping only puts it off until later. While in the meantime, it grows and spreads out of control, and continues to gnaw away at our conscience and works to destabilize your marriage. So, we accumulate this as ammo in our disagreements that escalates in confrontation and turns into battle, husband against wife.

So, this defense mechanism is actually self-destructive and only makes matters worse. 

While seeking to avoid hurt or fighting, we bring it more. Look at it like an old fashioned scale. As one side of the scale becomes increasingly loaded with the weight of guilt from inaction or misaction. The guilt ridden person just shifts the responsibility to the other side of the scale. And we all do this by blaming, and in marriage, we use this to argue and fight.

There is just one problem with this (okay a lot more problems), the act of blaming instead of taking the responsibility for one’s own actions flies in the face of the Gospel.

It is unjust and serves only to increase the problems we incur in our relationships. And the irony is, this mostly occurs in families that dislike conflict. Then the blaming becomes a habit and then a pattern of dysfunctional behavior that is an endless loop of a hopeless cycle.

In spite of Adam and Eve’s blame shifting, God held them accountable and they suffered the consequences of their disobedience. “To Adam he said, because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, you must not eat of it, Cursed is the ground because of you.” Gen 3:17

God not only held Adam responsible for his action, He also held him responsible for listening to the voice of his wife (the influence of others!) instead of listening to the voice of God. His excuse only served to increase his personal responsibility and guilt. We must learn that God does not allow us to avoid the consequences of our actions by blaming others or not taking responsibility in our marriage. In fact, we are held responsible for blaming. We may think we can get away with it, but make no mistake, if we fail to hold each other accountable for our actions, you can be sure that God will hold us responsible.

        “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:12-13

       The precepts of God, will enable you to have a magnificent marriage. So, what can I do to stop the blame cycle?

Read these passages: http://www.openbible.info/topics/blaming_others

Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!

  1. Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!
  2. Try to be mindful of how and why you blame. Then realize when you do, all you are doing is escalating, when you could be resolving conflict.
  3. Do not keep score! In marriage you are not two lawyers battling it out in a courtroom, so you need to keep track of what is said, build your case and use what is said against the other. In marriage, we let it go.
  4. We stop blaming when we replace the bad habit with a good one. Learn to be a better communicator by listening. We best do this by closing our mouth and opening our ears.
  5. Seek to be apologetic to rebuild respect, practice real heartfelt love.
  6. Take the responsibility and make it better, even if your spouse will not.
  7. In a fight? Remember to walk it off. Let it go, pray and make a point to redress when emotions are not escalated.

If you are having trouble with this, see a qualified pastor or counselor to guide you through it.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” Ephesians 4:26