“…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!