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!

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!

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!

 

Forgiveness in Marriage PIII

Forgiveness in Marriage

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” Matthew 18:26-27

This passage in Matthew, chapter eighteen, is a story of a forgiving king and a wicked servant. The king forgave this servant’s enormous debt, which is a parallel to our enormous debt of sin that we held until Christ forgave us. And this can also apply to the storehouse of hurts, wrongs, misses and the such, we may hold and horde and then harbor ourselves to, that we feel our spouse has done to us. This servant represents the believer, who, after experiencing the forgiveness of God, did harbor bitterness to another, and then refused to forgive his fellow Christian (or a non-Christian) for a much, much smaller debt.  The king became furious, and handed the servant over to be tortured.

What does this have to do with marriage? Everything! A stern warning not to harbor wrongs or they will consume us and hurt yourself, our spouse, our family and leave us in a dysfunctional and bitter life.

The Bible is telling us that if we refuse to forgive one another, and continue to harbor bitterness, we can be tortured, too. What is a greater destroyer or a better torture to have than being bitter and wallow in it so we are inept to be and do anything of worth?

My personal experience is when I have refused to forgive people in the past or my spouse, I have become consumed with feelings of guilt and shame, and this is a torture I can do without. I feel much better, and sleep much better with an attitude of forgiveness; I cannot think well or sleep well with an attitude of bitterness. I can grow in my relationship with Christ, build my family or enjoy my life with unforgiveness left out and about.

Why would a Christian marriage want to go through life with feelings of bitterness, which consume us with misery and unrest, instead of giving it to the Lord, and receiving forgiveness and rest?

How can we go through our marriage life and experience, and rationalize our bad actions and deeds, only to face our Lord later in the judgment? By what point are we to do, by what feeling is we to base, by what hope do we have? Even when we are in the right? When we have the knowledge of God’s mercy, then we have the responsibility of acting with mercy toward our wife, husband and one another (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God calls Christians to operate in the parameters of forgiveness, love, and mercy.  And, when we have not forgiven, we will have a heart filled with suffering and torment.  How can we receive Christ’s forgiveness, and claim Christ as our Savior, when we are unable to forgive one another?  When we have a forgiving attitude, then we will have a heart at rest and in peace!

Let us take our marriage vision from God’s Word and heed from Matthew, chapter 18. We can see what God requires of us, and our appropriate response.  We,  must extend ourselves to one another with love, and that which flows out of love-forgiveness!  Which is a key component to make a marriage last a lifetime and build a legacy for generations.

            Ephesians 4:29-32 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”   

John 13:34-35 tells us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. 

            We are to love and forgive one another-period!  No strings attached! Unless there is abuse or abandonment. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world!  

We should be clear on this.  A healthy marriage is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sin nature, and embraces each other with love and respect, and what flows out of that is forgiveness. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt.

We are called to model kindness, love, empathy, compassion-and, out of these, will flow a forgiveness for a content home. Yes, this is hard, but the result of not forgiving, even when we are in the right, is a torture no child of God should endure. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. Because, an unforgiving attitude, and its ugly rotten fruits, will chock us off from His wonders!

Forgiveness in Marriage PI

forgiven

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus is working while we are waiting, and even in anguish. We can best practice forgiveness to our spouse by realizing how much we have been forgiven. We can then be imitators of that forgiveness when we feel wronged willfully or unknowingly that cause us setbacks or harm.

How and why? The magnitude of forgiveness from our Lord for what we have done can never measure up to anything others could do to us. When we put forgiveness into practice, we will be free from the bondage of bitterness and pain that imprisons us, disconnecting us from life and its wonders, which God has provided for us.

            I was watching one of those reality shows recently where a bunch of young people were put into a nice beach house to live and work together. The show is about the drama and strife each one causes the other, and how they “do not” work it out. After all, if they were a big happy family, it would not make good TV, so I am told by a friend in that business. One young woman, in her early twenties, kept making the statement, “I refuse to forgive anyone for anything.” So, in the episode I watched, the attention was centered on how she was alienating everyone in the house. The result was that she ended up alone, hated by the others. She would make a big deal if someone took her cookie, or gave her an objectionable look. She was a very sad and pathetic person, whose self-imposed code of conduct, created out of pride, made it impossible for her to make friends or cooperate with anyone in her life. She could not see that she was the problem; she refused to take any responsibility. In her interviews, she blamed everyone else for her problems. The sad fact is that this is typical behavior amongst many marriages today, even Christians in the church!

As human beings, we are prone to make mistakes, either intentionally or unintentionally. We all have hurt people, and we have all been hurt; we are all in the same boat. So, when we refuse to forgive one another, especially our spouse and loved ones, it is like escaping the disaster of the sinking of the Titanic in a lifeboat, only to poke holes in the very lifeboat that saved us. Our escape from the sinking ship is our redemption, which we did not deserve. Since everyone else in the lifeboat needs the cross too, why try to sink one another? All you will accomplish is to sink yourself and your marriage.

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 young woman is like many in marriage, she refused to forgive, and built an impenetrable wall that caused bitterness and isolation as she wallowed in her troubles, blaming everyone else for them. She would not allow forgiveness to break down the wall, allowing for the building of life and relationships.

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

This is why it 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-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.