Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
There is no mistake that the instruction to forgive is found buried deep in a passage that tells us to first put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Once we have spent time considering how to put these specific traits on our hearts, and we’ve allowed the Spirit to do the work in our hearts necessary to exhibit these traits in our marriages, only then are we able to do the work of stepping into their messes and bearing with them. Here is where we need the power to forgive the most. When we see their struggle, when we understand their weakness and their temptation, we need to forgive.
Because we have already developed compassionate hearts for their struggle, because we have looked for ways to be kind and help them, because we have humbled our pride and put their needs first, because we have chosen to be patient and wait on God’s timing, our hearts have grown soft toward our spouses. We understand the root of their struggle because we’ve taken the time to get to know their hurts. We see how their past experiences are informing their current behaviors and decisions, and instead of condemning, our desire is to love them through their struggles.
I think the problem is that many of us know we are supposed to forgive our spouses when they hurt us, so we jump right over those traits we are supposed to put on, and we try to move directly from hurt to forgiveness. Though it may seem shorter, this path is incredibly difficult. We can’t forgive until we see our spouse’s heart the way God sees them, and we can’t see their heart until we take the time to invest in knowing them deeply.
We are called to forgive as God forgives us. God can forgive us because He knows our hurts and our experiences. He can forgive us because He has seen every painful experience in our lives that leads us toward the temptations we struggle against. He can forgive us because He is compassionate toward us, He is kind, and He loves us despite our brokenness. If we choose to do the same in our marriages, we will know the restorative power of forgiveness.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗