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 in Marriage PIV

spouseforgiveIsaiah tells us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9

Ask yourself this question: How do I handle forgiveness?

How do you respond when your spouse forgives you?  What do you do with opportunities that our Lord has for you?

To get forgiveness to work, we must realize the generosity of Grace, and being in Christ, which we do not deserve. Our Lord does not want us to forgive begrudgingly, because, He did not forgive us with conditions, or with strings attached. A Christian that does not forgive is like a small child who refuses to share a game ball that he/she received as a gift. Thus, the child will not be able to play with that ball as it was designed to be used. That child will not be using it to its full potential, nor will there by any fun with it. When we do not forgive in marriage, we distort the relationship. We are like the child who, unable to play a game because they refuse to share the ball, cries that they is alone and nobody will play with them, or, cries because they are not having any fun. Can you see this connection in your home?

Without forgiveness, we forfeit our relationship with who is to be most important to us, and, we are unable to ‘play’ our marriage correctly and lovingly. We just end up cheating ourselves out of our potential, and the best plan that Christ has for us.

Yes, Forgiveness is Hard

True forgiveness is one of the hardest things to accomplish in the human experience, even for the mature Christian. This is why most marriages are struggling. As we get hurt and we then become the hurters, we become a self-imprisoned victim of the escalation of that hurt that could have been stopped by just, I forgive you, and then letting it go!

Forgiveness is our mandate, and call, in life, in church, and in marriage. Yes, this is hard because it demands a surrender of our ‘perceived’ right to get even. Forgiveness even causes upset for the person who was wronged, the victim. Because we feel that the suffering, from our perspective and reasoning, should belong to the other person in the wrong. So, it is natural to consider this unfair. And, yes, it is unfair; as it was unfair for our Lord to go through what He did to forgive us!

But, once the forgiveness is given and received, the hurt can stop and relationship can continue and prosper.

Forgiveness is hard, because we can easily avoid it; we can walk the other way, and execute revenge. Take our hurts and turn them into weapons of hurt. And, it would be considered justified in the eyes of our friends, our relatives, and, especially of society. We could even receive some kind of honor for coming up with a good scheme of revenge.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”

This passage is telling us that our way of thinking is wrong. If God is the Creator of all things, including Truth, and He is all knowing, and He is all-powerful, then, His ways are better than ours. We may not be able to recognize this, because our perspective is limited, as is our knowledge and insight as well as our foresight that this is a better plan.

When we look to Christ, consider that He is governed by righteousness; whereas, desires and emotions drive us. God has a moral and virtuous purpose; our purpose is self-seeking. He wants the escalation of hurt to stop that is why there is forgiveness.

God’s primary purpose in marriage is to create an environment to grow spiritually, emotionally, relationally to one another and to Him. So, to bring us out of our self-destructive and self-seeking nature, and into the reclamation of redemption in Him; this is the work of Christ. This is the work of His forgiveness to us that He wants us to play forward with our spouse and others.

So next time you have trouble forgiving, remember that God’s thoughts are beyond our comprehension and imagination; therefore, we should rely on Him, and not on ourselves.

(For ongoing hurt, any abuse or dysfunction, please see a qualified counselor. If you feel you are in danger, get out, contact the police.)