“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!