This video segment is one of six presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar. There will be four more seminars in this series covering the subjects: foundations, finances, decision making, and intimacy. As those presentations are ready they will be posted on this blog.
NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at email@example.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).
Plumb Lines: These are the “sticky” statements that capture the core messages of this chapter.
- We never forgive more than we’ve been forgiven.
- Unforgiveness is the choice to define your spouse by his/her faults.
- Forgiveness is not a method to be learned as much as a truth to be lived.
- The possibility of a lasting, happy marriage can be measured by a couple’s willingness to forgive.
Memorize: Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV), “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, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:
- “Let” – We do have control over whether we choose to forgive; we can’t control the consequences of our choice.
- “All” – God’s will is that we free ourselves from bitterness by Christ’s payment for our sin and the sin against us.
- “Put away” – A difficult commitment of forgiveness is to quit entertaining ourselves with painful memories.
- “Be kind” – We often get caught trying to force the fruit (forgiveness) instead of planting the seed (kindness).
- “As God in Christ” – We are following in Christ’s footsteps of forgiveness not pioneering new territory.
“Counseling techniques cannot help people forgive any more than a physician can heal a person’s body. Counseling techniques, like a physician’s tool, are merely structures through which God sometimes sovereignly acts (p. 120).” Everett Worthington in “Helping People Forgive” in Caring for People God’s Way
“We need to forgive sin and forbear strangeness, and sometimes you won’t even agree on which is which (p. 53).” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage
“Their marriage rusted into brokenness by the daily rain of the little drops of unforgiveness (p. 90)….The harvest of forgiveness is the kind of marriage everyone wants (p. 97)… Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection. When we forgive one another daily, we do not look at one another through the lens of our worst failures and biggest weaknesses (p. 98).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?
“You’ll likely find practicing forgiveness in marriage difficult. This is because the more intimate you are with someone, the more power he or she has to wound you deeply (p. 182)…. Fear, anger, bitterness, hopelessness, and even numbness can impede forgiveness. Emotions that keep us tied to past wounds, they rob forgiveness of its life-giving power (p. 185).” Winston Smith in Marriage Matters
“Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again (p. 106).” C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
“As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think: as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think (p. 124).” C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory
“You see, God never intended our bodies to hold up under the weight of unresolved conflict and bitterness (p. 67)…. Forgiveness is not so much about us as it is about Him. Every opportunity you encounter to practice forgiveness is an opportunity to draw attention to the God who so delights to show mercy and to pardon sinners that He gave His only Son to make it possible (p. 214).” Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Forgiveness