By Tammy Skipper, Contributing Writer
When I was younger, I had a terrible temper. I remember being tangled up with my two-years-younger sister long after we had our own rooms. Our personalities were about as far apart as east and west and we always seemed to be focused on the things we did not have in common. When I see my own children push-push-pushing on each other’s buttons, I try to help them understand the importance of learning strategies to diffuse the argument.
I know they can learn to disagree in a way that is safe and healthy while they are still in our home. I also have to admit it is easier to expect it of them than it is from myself.
When I feel wronged or mistreated, my flesh needs no help in listing all the reasons my husband should apologize to me.
He should have known…
He should have said…
He should have done…
He should not have…
Thoughts like these only encourage that childhood temperament in me. I have to remember what is true because my heart can lie.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
If the Bible says I cannot trust my heart, what should I do? When my emotions threaten to boil over and spill out of my mouth as regrettable words, these are the verses I remember.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”
Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
My sins are as numerous as the grains of sand along the shores of our great oceans. Before I was even aware of that sin, God chose to forgive me by sending His son to die for me on a cross. His death paid the price for my sin.
That seems a gift worth infinite value and yet, He asks of me only this: forgive others like I forgave you. I recognize, in my own hot-tempered nature, how much easier this is to say than to actually practice. God paints a word picture in Matthew 18 of what my life resembles when I fail to forgive.
Peter asks, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
He proceeds to tell Peter about a servant who owed a great debt, was given a harsh sentence, then begged, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
His entire debt was forgiven! Have you experienced that before? It is freeing and joyous, but how did the servant respond?
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”
You can imagine how those around him reacted…“they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”
I think you can see where I’m going with this. I will have disagreements with my spouse. He will do things that stir anger in me. Occasionally, I will even let my temper get the best of me.
I can choose to forgive my husband for one reason: obedience to Christ.
Can you choose to obey and share the grace you’ve received with your spouse?
(Maybe you are reading about forgiveness while facing much more serious concerns than arguments over taking out the trash? Please read this today)