New Living Translation (NLT)
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
When a husband or wife says “I’m done” its usually followed by a long dissertation of failures & sins their spouse has committed against them. Their anger and accusations makes it evident that their love has died. Why?
Why do so many couples find themselves at this crossroads?
Why do so many choose divorce as their only solution to the problem?
Because, when we are offended, it’s much easier to dwell on the other person’s faults instead of choosing to forgive. Over time, our dwelling grows into bitterness and resentment and completely chokes out the love that used to be in its place.
I’ve been at that crossroads. And I was tempted to take what I thought would have been the “easy” way out, but I chose not to. Why? God intervened and I obeyed….by choosing to forgive.
Doug and I have many opportunities to sit and listen to other couples’ dissertations and our heart breaks at the wounds that have been inflicted on each spouse year after year of their marriage. Occasionally, we meet with a couple that have built a fortress around their heart, in order to protect themselves from further wounds. After we have given them the opportunity to spill all of their anger, hurt, frustration & unmet expectations, we ask the crucial question: “are you willing to forgive them for ________?” their initial response is usually “no.” At this point, it is almost impossible to crack the mortar that they’ve allowed the enemy to build around their soul. But, if we can see even an ounce of willingness behind that wall to break free from the bondage it holds them in…. we will put on our safety goggles & sledgehammers and help begin the painstaking process of disassembling that wall with the truth of God’s love and the power of His forgiveness! Deconstructing is a difficult, but amazing process to witness, as the Holy Spirit removes the bricks of unforgiveness one by one. After the debris is cleared, perspectives are radically changed and in their place are hearts that were willing to forgive faults, because they themselves have experienced- perhaps for the first time- the depth of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. It’s not that these couples aren’t “saved” and attending church, they are. In fact most of them are doing all the “right” things. The only problem is, they haven’t had a truly genuine, intimate relationship with their Creator…and until they do, the bricks of unforgiveness will continue to build a fortress, keeping their spouse- and ultimately, God at bay.
I’ve heard it said that the enemy’s primary objective is to keep us from salvation through Jesus Christ. If he looses on that account, his next plan of attack is to keep us from fulfilling God’s destiny for our lives. There is no greater evidence of this ploy than in the countless numbers of marriages that sever their vows made to each other and to God because the enemy has convinced them that their spouse is the enemy- and doesn’t deserve their forgiveness.
As I mentioned before, I was one of those spouses at a crossroads- until God intervened. It happened on an ordinary day….walking through my house, grumbling about all the ways my husband had sinned against me and failed to fulfill his godly roles as husband and father. The Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks and whispered “I died for him too…I love him & forgive him, just as I have you.”
A wall. A sledgehammer. Forgiveness. Flying debris. Love prospered.
If you truly want to change your marriage- don’t buy a self-help book. Read THE book and discover how Jesus forgave. Then ask Him to forgive you for all your faults. After the reality of His love and sacrifice washes over you, you will be compelled to extend that same grace to your spouse. And when you do, love WILL prosper.
But, if you find that you are stuck behind an impenetrable wall and are not able to forgive-don’t give up! Ask a trusted mentor for help. They, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can help you demolish it.