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 critical to our well-being. Hanging on to bitter feelings of unforgiveness is not only destructive to our eternal souls, it is damaging to our current state of mind. God didn’t design our brains to hold on to feeling of bitterness or unforgiveness—He designed us to let it go. So when we harbor the “unforgivable” sin in our heart, nursing it and bringing it up again and again, we are destroying the supernatural peace that can only come from Him. We are destroying the peace in our marriages.
If we’re struggling to find the harmony that exists in a marriage centered on Christ, we need to check our hearts for unforgiveness. Perhaps there is an unresolved issue that we need to let go, perhaps there’s bitterness growing from a betrayal, perhaps there’s resentment from a neglected apology. God’s peace cannot settle in where unforgiveness exists. If we’re not receiving the peace we’re asking for, we may need to confess our sin of unforgiveness.
Many of us struggle with unforgiveness because we’ve been raised in a culture of conditional love, and we take that brokenness into our marriages. I learned very early on to withhold my love if I was hurt. I used to believe that if someone hurt me, then I would punish them by withholding my friendship or attention. So when I entered marriage, that’s how I treated my husband. If he angered or hurt me because he failed to meet my expectations, I would withhold my attention, waiting for the apology…and even if I did get the apology, it was never enough.
I felt I had a right to hold on to the hurt because of the way I was offended, so I would replay the hurt over and over in my mind, reliving the pain, keeping the anger alive. What I didn’t understand while I was hitting that replay button was that I was playing right into the enemy’s hand. His plan is to destroy my peace, his plan is to divide my marriage. I didn’t capture my thinking as God call us to, but instead handed my thoughts over to the enemy, and in that, I handed over my peace.
Conditional love isn’t biblical. Forgiveness is biblical. Conditional love says I love you if you meet my demands. Forgiveness says I love you before me. It says I love you despite the fact that you’re a broken person, despite the fact that you hurt me. It says I will continue to love you and pursue you no matter what, because that’s how God loves me. It says I won’t let the enemy win in the marriage, it says I will choose peace.
Learning how to release people from the punishment of withholding our forgiveness is one of the greatest ways God has transformed my heart. It is where I find peace as I try to love as He loves me, unconditionally.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗