Summary: Discover how biblical forgiveness restores hope for marriage.
This morning we continue with our third message in the series: Restoring Hope for Marriage. No one I know goes into marriage planning to fail or to be miserable. Most go into marriage with great hopes and dreams. But over time, misunderstandings, selfishness, unmet expectations, violation of trust and careless words create a series of hurts that diminishes the hopes and fractures the dreams.
Tim Jackson, a licensed counselor in Michigan, noted, “If we’ve lived and loved long enough, we all know the pain of a broken relationship.”
A couple of weeks ago, I read a storybook to Esther. It was about a bunny that moved into a snail’s house. The bunny didn’t know the house belonged to the snail. Every time the bunny broke something in the house, the next morning, the vase or the plate would be repaired. The snail, named Gluey, glued the pieces back together overnight, but the bunny credited the house with magic.
There is no magic to mending relationships. Mending relationships can be complicated and messy, emotionally draining and without guarantee of success. Yet, God gives us the glue for fractured and broken relationships. He calls this glue “forgiveness.” But like God’s design for marriage and true love, forgiveness is often misunderstood and suffers from malpractice.
Some believe forgiveness minimizes the wrong done against a person. Others equate forgiveness with forgetting or restoring trust automatically. A college girl came to me and said her boyfriend hit her, and she is having a hard time forgiving him. By forgiving him, she meant deleting the hurtful event from her mind and trusting him again. To forget the event and trust someone who is untrustworthy is not forgiveness but foolishness.
Our text is Luke 17:1-6. From the words of Jesus, we will discover the true understanding and practice of biblical forgiveness.
Jesus tells his disciples that people will sin, and that includes his disciples. Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven. If you cut a Christian he will bleed. Christians get angry. They will lie. A wise old lady once told me, “Pastor, be careful. Just because they hold a Bible in their hands and smile, doesn’t mean they are good.”
After Jesus’ sober introduction regarding the sinfulness of mankind, Jesus gives the remedy of forgiveness for sins against one another. He provides a four-step process for the practice of forgiveness. We will look at forgiveness in the context of the marriage relationship.
First, forgiveness is prompted by sin. “If your brother sins….” The process of forgiveness can begin right after someone sins against you.
When I counsel couples before marriage, we look at what the Bible teaches about mankind, that we are sinful. Mankind is selfish, rebellious and manipulative. And the sooner the couple accepts this truth about each other, the clearer they can understand and accept one another.
Early on as the pastor of this church, the Elders had a saying, “We’ve been married longer than you’ve been alive.” Now they didn’t say this to put me in my place. They love me more than I could understand. Anyway, all three of our Elders have been married about 40 years or more.