April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
In the series intro, we started out with the verse “Above all else, guard your heart because from it spring the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23. Guarding the heart of our marriage is massively important! In my personal life and in our marriage, I’ve noticed that certain words, attitudes, and actions can poke holes in my heart, until I’m more of a spiritual sieve than a useful vessel.
One of the quickest ways to shoot a bunch of holes in your marriage is to hang onto the “list.” Marriage, by definition, seems to expose the least polished parts of ourself and those rough edges often rub harshly against our spouse. When that happens, if we don’t forgive our spouse, the offense sits between us like a bag of garbage. And then the next offense comes along and we plop it down beside the previous one, until we have a garbage fence between us. Then there’s no real talking, there’s no meaningful connection, there’s just garbage and hurt.
The person who taught me a thorough, tangible definition of forgiveness was Pam Farrel. Until I met her, what I’d been taught about forgiveness was rather nebulous. I’d heard that forgiveness meant you never brought up the issue again; that if someone was sorry, they would never do it again; and that since love covered a multitude of sins if I had an issue with someone’s sin it was because I just wasn’t loving them good enough to “make it go away.” That notion of forgiveness wasn’t getting any traction in my heart or relationships. Scripture says, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Understanding a Biblical definition of forgiveness was a huge key to unlocking so much pain in my life. If you could use some marriage encouragement in this area, check out the Farrel’s book Love, Honor, and Forgive.
I believe this concept of forgiveness is so important that I am including a free download from my Bible study, My Reflection in His Eyes, to help you process some of the stored up pain that might be bumping around in your marriage. Click here for the free download.
Let's continue with some Scriptures....
But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB
Paul states that unforgiveness leaves us open to Satan’s schemes. Not something we want for our marriage (I mean seriously, my own issues and self-centeredness are quite enough to wrestle without inviting the enemy of our souls to have a field day!)
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15 NASB
Another rather shocking statement, this time made by Jesus. Forgiveness is a vertical act between us and our heavenly Father (reconciliation involves us and the other person) and if He sees that we hold onto bitterness and refuse to extend grace to others, there might not be as much of it for us. Now I’ve heard some theologians say that Jesus said this before He was crucified and so now there’s nothing that can stall or separate God’s forgiveness toward us, but do we really want to meet Jesus face to face one day, hearts all full of our right to be offended and our right to be angry instead of filled with the grace He spilled for us on the cross? I don’t want that. I don’t think you do either.
So let’s pray together for soft hearts. Let’s pray for our marriages to be guarded against bitterness and instead be places of grace.
You might also be blessed by the resource, Soul Sorting: Guided Journaling for Sorting through Emotional Clutter and Messy Memories.