For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15 ESV
Forgiveness is an essential component of any thriving marriage. There’s just no way around it. If you’re married, and you want to make it to the finish line holding hands, then you’re going to need to get comfortable in this arena because your spouse is going to give you myriad of reasons to forgive them over the course of your lifetime together. But that’s hard. It just isn’t natural for our self-focused hearts to show grace in this way, day after day after day.
Living in a broken world, married to a broken person, means we’re going to get hurt. We have to know that if we are choosing to spend our lives with another broken person, we are going to get caught by their sin. We’re going to experience big hurts and little hurts, hurts that sting in the moment, and hurts that come a bit later, hurts that seem to pierce our hearts so deeply we can’t breathe, and hurts that happen over and over and over again. They all need to be forgiven if we’re going to keep pressing on. This forgiveness thing is going to be a rather constant battle for us. God knew that truth when He breathed out these verses. He knows our heart’s tendency to nurture and protect our wounds so He gave us multiple reminders about how to forgive.
When God reminds us in scripture about forgiveness, He almost always reminds us to consider the big picture, so this should be where we start. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We didn’t do anything to deserve that gift of forgiveness; He offered it freely to us. He didn’t look at our sin and decide this one was too big, or that one deserved the silent treatment. He didn’t lash out in anger at us, and He didn’t give up on us. He chose us.
Long before we could choose God, He chose us. He loved us with such a deep and unconditional love that He chose to sacrifice His only Son so that we could know this love. We didn’t do anything to earn it, we didn’t do anything to deserve it, yet He chose to lay down His life for us. He chose to forgive us long before we could even utter the words, “I’m sorry.”
So this is where we go when we’re struggling to forgive—start back at the beginning and remember you are a broken sinner who has been given this beautiful gift of grace without even knowing you should ask for it. Let God humble your heart to this truth. Meditate on His gift, and allow it to soften your heart toward your spouse. Then make the choice to forgive—not because they did anything to earn it or deserve it, but because you understand how desperately you needed forgiveness, and you know God calls you to give away the gift you have been given.
In any context, forgiveness always requires a choice. You don’t just get past it or let it go. The emotion—the hurt or the anger—may fade over time, but that’s not forgiveness. Authentic forgiveness flows out of a decision apart from emotions—in fact, forgiveness often happens in spite of painful feelings. Forgiveness is the choice to release someone from an obligation that resulted when they injured you.
Jesus wasn’t saying we get forgiven by forgiving in this passage. He was teaching that people who are forgiven by God become more forgiving people—not perfectly, not entirely, but increasingly because they understand the gift that was given to them. If you are struggling to become that person, perhaps it’s time to get alone with Him.and allow Him to remind you who you are.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗