Do you remember the first time you struggled to forgive someone?
The earliest memory I have involves my grandmother. I was probably eight or nine at the time, and my grandparents had just taken my brother and me to the mountains for some good ‘ol Dollywood fun! (If you know, you know!)
The unforgettable bubble
While getting ready in the hotel one day, I was chewing a piece of Double Bubble Bubblegum. My grandmother and I were standing in front of the bathroom mirror and, as she was doing my hair, I blew the largest bubble I thought I had ever blown in my life!
As the bubble continued to grow, I started to see less and less of my reflection in the mirror.
Now, this was the kind of bubble that bubblegum dreams are made of for a child! Unfortunately, however, it ended all too soon, because my grandmother decided it would be funny to pop it.
And when it popped, it ended up all over my face and my hair!
I was so angry at my grandmother that I cried. As I grieved the sudden loss of the bubble of my dreams, she couldn’t stop laughing!
When she finally apologized, I found it very, very hard to forgive her.
Now, my bubblegum story might be a little dramatic, but it taught me a timeless truth:
Our sin nature makes it incredibly difficult to forgive those who hurt or offend us…even over something as simple as a bubble.
Forgiveness in marriage
I was especially reminded of this when I got married six years ago. If marriage has taught me one thing, it’s just how selfish to the core I truly am.
Even when things are my fault, I find myself expecting my husband to apologize first. Perhaps you can relate.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be like this. I want to die to myself and pick up my cross daily so that I can view my spouse–and everything for that matter–through the lens of Christ and eternity.
Because when we do so, our pride takes a backseat and things like forgiveness become easier to extend. Because when we do so, our marriages become healthier and more Christ-centered.
The beauty and power of forgiveness in marriage
If you often find yourself struggling to apologize or forgive, specifically in your marriage, here are three biblical truths to remember and rejoice in:
- Forgiveness is biblical. In Matthew 18, we see Peter ask Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sinned against him. Jesus responds, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22, ESV). Have you ever done the math on that? It’s a whopping 490 times! But the point here is that we should never stop forgiving. In fact, Jesus makes it quite clear that unless we forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. (Matt. 6:14-15, Mk. 11:25)
- Forgiveness is freedom. It’s true! When we don’t choose the path to forgiveness, resentment builds toward our spouse. When we choose to forgive, we surrender the pride, hurt, and offense to God and invite Him into the change we desire to see take place. We choose refinement over resentment–holiness over hardness of heart–and what a beautiful thing that is.
- Christ provides the power to forgive. Christ paid the ultimate price for the penalty of sin by dying so we wouldn’t have to. He, quite literally, took His last breath on the cross with us in mind. His very death is what paved the way for our forgiveness, an opportunity for a relationship with Him, and the gift to dwell with Him in eternity. Praise God!
Will forgiveness always be easy? No. It will hurt, and it will take work. But this I can promise you: it will always be worth it.
May our marriages be a reflection of this holy and sanctifying truth. May our marriages be a living display of Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (ESV). May our marriages grow us closer together and, most importantly, closer to the One who first forgave us.
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