Are you having a tough time, at the moment, trying to forgive your spouse of some hurtful offense, or maybe a string of conflicts that have continued unresolved in your marriage? Forgiveness is one very important key to resolving these conflicts. But, do you know why you should forgive and how to actually do it? If you will apply the principles you are about to learn, your relationship can be restored to experience the oneness and companionship you once knew. Let’s begin by looking at why you must forgive.
Why should you forgive?
1. Because it is God’s command. This is an essential place to begin in your thinking. Many couples think that somehow forgiveness is merely an option they have available to them; something they can take or leave. However, this is not the case. The Word of God declares that you must forgive any and all who offend you. This command would, of course, include your spouse. Jesus said, “… if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…”(Mark 11:25). Paul the Apostle also declared this imperative when he commanded the believers at Colosse to forgive. He encouraged them to bear with one another and forgive one another,“…if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13 underline added). Therefore, it is clear that forgiveness is not an option, but a definite command and responsibility for every believer who has been offended. You must forgive, even as Christ forgave you. This is your calling as a Christian.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Ultimately, forgiveness is an expression of your love for the Lord; an act of obedience to God because you desire to please Him above all others, even yourself. Please Him now by obeying His command to forgive.
2. Unless you forgive, you have no right to ask God to forgive you. In the Lord’s prayer Jesus made it clear that you must forgive just as you expect God to forgive you. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Jesus assumed that we would make the connection that if we were going to ask for His forgiveness we would naturally forgive others in the same manner. In fact, Jesus made it clear that “if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). You may think this is a harsh statement by Jesus, but it reveals just how much importance He places on your obedience to forgive others.
Therefore, you have no right to ask for His forgiveness or to expect to be forgiven if you are refusing to forgive your spouse. You must see the very real consequences of your refusal to forgive and see also how God views these actions if you are ever to change.
3. Unless you forgive, you will be the real loser. What do you lose when you refuse to forgive? First, you lose the fellowship and closeness in your own relationship with the Lord. As we saw from the previous point, when you choose not to forgive, God refuses to forgive you. This creates an immediate distance between you and the Father due to your disobedience. Within a very short time you will begin to sense a dryness within your spirit. This is God’s chastening hand seeking to bring you back to Himself. Unforgiveness simply robs you of the peace and joy God intends for your life. Many times the only person you are hurting by your unforgiveness is yourself. This is a simple equation: you can’t be happy and be unforgiving at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. Solomon noted this truth when he declared, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh” (Proverbs 11:17). Are you troubling your own flesh because you are refusing to forgive? If you want to be happy in your own life, you must be merciful and forgive your spouse just as you want to be forgiven.
Second, unforgiveness robs you of the oneness in your relationship with your spouse. You can’t be in love and have the real intimacy you desire while at the same time holding resentment. The Apostle Peter revealed the means of how two people were to find the oneness needed for a real relationship. He said, “be of one mind, having compassion one for another” (1 Peter 3:8). If you refuse to show compassion and forgiveness toward one another, the oneness you long for will never be found.