What’s the best gift you can give your spouse? Forgiveness. Grace.
I say this, because if we truly love our mates, then forgiveness and grace will follow. Not easily, but we’re required by God to give it our best. (not to mention those vows we meant with all our hearts…to love, honor and cherish each other through good times and bad till death do us part.)
After all, the outpouring of God’s ultimate love-gift to us resulted in our forgiveness…so never underestimate the power of grace.
Grace has been defined as getting what we don’t deserve. If you translate this into forgiveness…it’s automatic unconditional forgiveness–forgiving even when the other party hasn’t admitted guilt. (Look how the Amish so peaceably forgave what that gunman did to their daughters…)
Love and forgiveness go hand in hand. Look at 1 Corinthians 13…the love chapter. Some of the references to love are actually cloaked in grace:
- love is patient and kind (no matter what)
- love is not provoked
- love does not take into account a wrong suffered (are you keeping a list of how your spouse has hurt you? do you remind him/her what he/she said in the heat of anger long ago?)
- love bears all things, love endures all things
Ephesians 4:31-32 says,
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ Jesus also has forgiven you.”
Does your husband or wife hurt you daily? (I’m not talking physical abuse here). Does he or she fall short of your expectations of what marriage should be? Does your spouse make promises without follow-through? Do you feel taken for granted?
I don’t know about you, but I’d fail miserably if God asked the above questions about me, and how I’ve let Him down time and again during my time as His bride. If we as Christians with Israelite-tendencies are continually forgiven by God for the ways we continue to fail Him, how much more should we be able to forgive the person in our life who means everything to us?
But we feel justified in our bitterness. We want to withhold love and forgiveness (among other things); these things go against our nature. We rationalize our reaction. We might even ignore the fact that we’re at least a little bit responsible for whatever went down.
We’ve got to walk by the spirit. I read on someone’s blog (sorry, can’t remember whose) a quote by Oswald Chambers about obedience.
“Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. ‘I suppose I shall understand these things someday!’ You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already.”
And we know this for certain: Instead of deserved punishment, we received undeserved grace. And not only grace, but life eternal…seated in heavenly places with Christ. Amazing reward.