Even When You Do Bad Things
By Janel Breitenstein
My son was 4 when I made a phone call I wished I didn’t have to make. Before I’d left, I’d totally blown my top. I was still focused on his error, so my apology hadn’t percolated to my still-steamed heart.
I picked up my cell—and will always remember his response.
“Mommy, I forgive you. And even when you do bad things, I still love you. And even when you do bad things, God still loves you.”
Now I felt really bad for yelling.
The power of this was in my 4-year-old son repeating the gospel back to me. He not only got it, he applied it. (Granted, that night after I caught him spitting on the bathroom mirror, he said, “I want to let you know that even when I do bad things, I still love you.”)
But honestly, this is what I want for our whole house—my marriage included: I want you to know that I completely forgive you, and that I believe God forgives you, too.
Forgiveness is a promise:
- not to dwell on the hurt.
- not to seek revenge, but rather pursue relationship and good for the other person (see 1 Peter 3:9).
- not to talk about this with someone who’s not part of the solution (a.k.a. gossip).
It is not:
- excusing or denying sin. Forgiveness calls sin wrong, and chooses to repair the relationship anyway. If you choose to overlook, make sure you can still make the above promises—and make sure it’s not a repeated issue in your marriage that needs to be addressed.
- sidestepping consequences. Trust may need to be rebuilt; accountability may need to be put in place.
- ignoring hurt and the need for restoration.
Conflict plays out the gospel all over again: laying down our lives and our rights in the midst of our spouse’s sin. We remember just how much we’ve been forgiven (check out Matthew 18:21-35), and choose to extend that to someone else.
Forgiveness rolls out the red carpet for us to witness the gospel again and again with those we love the most.
A happy marriage requires us to forgive each other often. Voddie Baucham explains that the only way to do that is to have a solid grasp of God's great forgiveness of us through Christ on FamilyLife Today®.
The good stuff: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Action points: The withholding of forgiveness can become an odd source of power in a marriage. What kind of freedom could you have if neither of you were holding a grudge over the other? Let a constant flow of giving and receiving forgiveness become your new normal.
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