OCTOBER 1

Acid Relief

Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; . . . forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you. COLOSSIANS 3:12-13

A number of years ago, there was a person in my life who had hurt and wronged me, and every time his name came up, my stomach did a sort of little twist. I thought the problem was that this person never recognized how deeply he had hurt me. He never apologized. But the real problem was that I hadn't forgiven him. No matter what he had or hadn't done, God's expectation was for me to forgive him regardless.

Forgiveness is not conditional. It is a command of God—"just as the Lord forgave you." This means you stop blaming. You stop pouring on guilt, and you stop referring to the offense as a trump card to win an argument.

You may not feel like forgiving. But by an act of your will, you need to operate out of a spiritual mandate: To forgive a friend—or a spouse—means giving up the right to punish that person.

For some offenses, there may always be a twinge of pain involved that never goes away. But when you say, "I can't forgive you," what you're really saying is, "I choose not to forgive you. I'm hurt so deeply, I can't move to forgiveness." In some cases you may need to seek out a wise counselor to help you deal with your pain. But if you ever want your stomach to stop churning, you have to obey.

Marriage was designed by God to be the union of two forgivers who have been forgiven.

DISCUSS

Now would be a good time to put this principle into practice. Whatever it is, whatever it was, look your spouse in the eyes and tell him or her, "I forgive you."

PRAY

Our Lord knows this isn't easy. How well He remembers the cross. Lean on Him today, letting Him help you take this beyond words and into action. As you pray, open your hand as a symbol of releasing the punishment, and then take your spouse's hands in yours to signify your forgiveness.

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