Preparing for a time when you will need to forgive your spouse will make your marriage stronger in the present.
People are going to hurt you. Your spouse is going to hurt you. God expects you to forgive, but you don’t see how you can. While the pain is still raw, you don’t want to forgive. You feel offended and bitter, and you’re unable even think about forgiveness. As time goes on, pride takes over and makes you believe that you are entitled to the anger. You decide that you deserve to be angry, and you’ll never let it go. The closer you are to someone, the deeper the wounds. That makes forgiveness even more difficult.
When you hold onto the anger and resentment you have for someone, you’re also unintentionally holding onto the thing that they did that hurt you. You relive the pain of the issue over and over again by picking at the wound that needs to heal for you to recover from the damage that occurred.
There is something you can do to make forgiving your spouse a little bit easier. Instead of waiting for them to hurt you and you struggle to forgive, prepare yourself for its inevitability. Try to create a mindset of forgiveness based on Biblical principles before you need it.
You need to make a decision to forgive your spouse, instead of letting yourself be carried away by your feelings. Making that decision before you actually need to forgive will stop you from reacting on pure emotion. Instead, you will remember the commitment you made to forgive and hopefully attack the problem with a more forgiving heart. Here are some Ideas to put into your mindset about other people to create a mindset of forgiveness.
Jesus Expects You to Forgive
Truth: “Jesus expects me to extend to others the same forgiveness He gives to me.”
Forgiveness is mentioned 105 times in the Bible. Jesus told us to love our neighbors, our enemies, and even those who don’t live by God’s words. If he expects us to forgive all those others, how much more does He expect you to forgive your spouse, the person with whom you are supposed to share one flesh?
These verses show some of Jesus’ heart for forgiveness:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:37
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
No One is Perfect
Truth: “I am not perfect, yet Christ forgives me. I must remember that no one else is perfect either.”
Everyone has weaknesses and issues. We all struggle with sin on a daily basis, and since God says that no sin is worse than any other sin, we need to remember that our sins are just as bad as everyone else’s. When someone hurts you, whether intentionally or not, realize that they are just trying their best and try to have some understanding of their struggles.
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
How Christ Sees Others
Truth: Jesus loves everyone and is willing to forgive them, so If I am to be like Christ, I will be ready too.
We know that Jesus loves everyone. We sang about it when we were little in Sunday school. Let songs like “Jesus loves the little children” sink into your adult mind and believe that with the simple faith of a child. If we put into perspective that He died even for those who would commit the worst sin of all, rejecting his sacrifice, we will be able to forgive sins against us more quickly.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Unforgiveness Only Hurts You
Truth: “Jesus wants me to produce righteousness, so I will forgive my spouse and strive toward righteousness.”
God has a job, or a purpose, for everyone. When you let anger toward another person, you limit what God can do through you. Hate has no place in the lives of God’s children. It just creates inner turmoil and causes you to lose focus. You can’t do your best work for God when you are feeling that way. Conversely, forgiveness gives you peace and creates it in your relationship.
Not forgiving can also cause deeper emotional issues and health issues that cause you to stop living the life God gave you to the fullest. He knows what is best for us, and forgiving others is an important part of that list.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
Christ Forgave You
Truth: “I know true forgiveness. Therefore I will forgive others.”
We’re all sinners with a propensity toward sin every day. Think of all the things that you have done in your life that Christ has forgiven you for. You probably have quite a list. So do I. So does everyone. Jesus’ forgiveness came at a high price, yet he always stands by waiting to forgive you. Your forgiveness of those who wronged you may very well feel like it comes with a price too, but you must be ready to forgive your spouse as Jesus was to forgive you.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25
When you decide to love and forgive your spouse at all times, you demonstrate the meaning of this quote:
“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” -Bryant H. McGill
Even if you are already harboring a grudge against your spouse or someone else in your life, working on ingraining these statements of truth into your thought habits will bring you to a point where you can forgive. Don’t however, learn them today and forget them tomorrow because you and I both know there is another conflict coming somewhere down the road. Decide that you are not going to let a spirit of unforgiveness control your emotions and actions.
How are you feeling about your spouse today? Is there something you are holding on to that you need to let go of so you can have peace in your life and bring your very best to the work of God?
Are you interested in creating a new mindset for your marriage that includes forgiveness, as well as other important attitudes to help your marriage succeed? Download our 7 Mindsets Workbook to learn more!