It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 5:1
My husband and I were driving home from dinner with friends and suddenly found ourselves bickering over nothing of importance. Our wonderful day together had been spoiled by a fight that could have been avoided. We finished our drive home in tense silence.
By the time we got home, we both realized how silly our argument had been. Still hurt and angry, it was hard to know where to start. My husband broke the silence by apologizing for his part and I quickly followed as I recognized my part. It should have ended there, but I couldn’t stop apologizing and saying how sorry I was. Even the next morning, the first words out of my mouth were another apology about how wrong I had been. That’s when he asked me to stop.
I probably would have kept apologizing all through the next day if he had not stopped me. It was hard for me to accept his forgiveness. I continued to want to make it up to him and do things for him to show him how very sorry I was. In fact, I often find myself doing that with God, too.
I carry shame and guilt over sins I have already confessed. I hold onto the guilt and work to make it up to God. I live as if I am really, really sorry, then He will forgive me. Or, if I do something for someone else today, then maybe I will make myself right before God. However, that is not what the Lord has for us. Christ has set us free. Not free to do whatever we please, but free from the penalty of sin. In fact, we have freedom from having to earn His love and earn His forgiveness. He has already paid the price and he has already forgiven us of our vices and shortfalls.
Actions in keeping with repentance are appropriate! But my extra apologies and all the things I do to try to make myself right with my husband are not about him. They are all about me and my attempt to improve my “standing” in his eyes. And they are simply mistaken. So the challenge becomes: even as we accept God’s invitation of forgiveness and freedom, when we apologize to our spouses and they grant us forgiveness, we must learn to trust their graciousness and in live in the relational freedom they offer to us.
1. In what circumstances do you feel it is a challenge to accept your spouse’s forgiveness?
2. What makes it difficult for you to forgive yourself?
A STEP CLOSER:
None of us are immune from wounding our spouse’s heart. As two sinful people, couples are going to have plenty of opportunities to both apologize and forgive. Are there any old wounds that are creating relational distance between the two of you? Is there an apology that needs to be made or forgiveness that needs to be offered? If so, take these moments to take care of these issues now. Discuss together a workable plan for moving toward a more grace- and trust-filled, forgiving relationship. Close in a time of prayer together.