Monday, 20 December 2010

Forgiving As God Does

In his book Marriage Matters, Winston Smith suggests that we should “embrace what Jesus has done for us and extend that in thought, word, and deed to others. This is the essence of forgiveness.

You are not forgiving the other person because they deserve it. You are doing it because you have been forgiven much. And if you need a more self-centered reason it is because if you withhold forgiveness it will eat at you like a cancer.

Smith goes on to say, “Think about forgiveness in terms of four basic decisions that reflect the way God forgives us.”

1. God decided to release us from the penalty of our sin. Just as God does not dwell on our sin or bring it to His mind, we are to refuse to dwell on how we have been wronged by our spouse.
2. God decided to sacrifice in order to forgive. God decided to absorb the cost of our sin. Repairing the relationship means accepting the wound and choosing to draw near to the one who has harmed you. God does not seek revenge or look for opportunities to pay us back, nor should we look for a way to get back.
3. God decided to accomplish good even through our sinfulness. God doesn’t just forgive our sins, he promises to use even our worst failures to do good in our lives and in our relationship with him. When we forgive our spouses we trust God will work for our good and the good of our marriage.
4. God decided to allow us to grow. God didn’t simply forgive us once and place us on eternal probation. He knows we will continue to battle with sin even as He helps us to grow. Likewise, it is important to remember that when we forgive our spouses they will not become perfect. Their failure will not be a once and done event. As we allow them to grow our ability to forgive also grows.
Forgiving means that we refuse to bring up the matter again in a harmful way. It means that we don’t gossip about the issue with friends and family. Your decision to forgive is a decision to do everything you can to keep the incident from standing between you and your spouse. Perhaps above all it is a conscious decision to trust that God is up to good.

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