Summary: Forgiveness is essential to a healthy relationship (especially a marriage).

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[Read Ephesians 4:25-32. Ask the congregation to look for statements that can be applied to marriage.]


Sermon Title: Forgiving and Forgetting

When we are hurt or offended or wronged by someone, the intensity of our pain will be directly proportional to the closeness of our relationship with that person. For example, if I’m walking down the street and a total stranger yells an insult at me, I won’t be bothered too much. But if someone very close to me hurts me, it’s a much different story. The closer the relationship is, the deeper the hurt will be. There is no closer relationship than the relationship between a husband and a wife.

Someone once said, “Marriage is God’s way of keeping people from fighting with total strangers.” Obviously, that’s not why God invented marriage. But the reality is, husbands and wives can often hurt one another in many ways. Actually, this started with the very first marriage. In Genesis 3:12, Adam blamed his bride for his own decision, and men and women have been playing the blame game ever since. Often, we are not “kind and compassionate to one another.” And sometimes we react to unkindness (especially if it is severe) by refusing to forgive the offense.

Sermon Text: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

1. I should forgive since I WILL SOON need to be forgiven.

“…forgiving [continual] each other [both husband and wife]….”

C. S. Lewis said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”

What is forgiveness? In some ways, it’s easier to say what forgiveness is not than what it is. Often when we say we can’t or won’t forgive, we are actually talking about something other than biblical forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean…

• Approving of what someone else did.

• Pretending that evil never took place.

• Making excuses for other people’s bad behavior.

• Overlooking abuse.

• Denying that others tried to hurt you repeatedly.

• Letting others walk all over you.

• Refusing to press charges when a crime has been committed.

• Pretending that you were never hurt.

• You must restore the relationship to what it was before.

• You must tell the person that you have forgiven them.

• All negative consequences of sin are cancelled (example: confession of a crime).

In Luke 23:34 we find the greatest example of forgiveness in the entire Bible, probably in all of history. When Jesus hung on the cross, condemned to death by evil men who plotted to murder Him and who produced lying witnesses to convict Him, as He surveyed the howling mob assembled to cheer His suffering, Jesus the Son of God, the only truly innocent man who ever lived, in His dying moments uttered words that still ring across the centuries: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Those eleven words sweep away our shabby excuses. Many of us say, “If only the people who hurt me would show some remorse, some sorrow, then maybe I would forgive them.” But since that rarely happens, we use that as an excuse to continue in our bitterness, our anger, and our desire to get even.

Consider Jesus on the cross. No one seemed very sorry. Even as He said those words, the crowd laughed, mocked, cheered, and jeered. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him. They taunted Him. “If you are the King of Israel, come down from the cross and save yourself.” And yet He said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

2. I should forgive BECAUSE God forgave me.

God’s forgiveness is our MOTIVE.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).

“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13b-14).

“…the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

There’s a story that one night Martin Luther went to sleep troubled about his sin. In a dream he saw an angel standing by a blackboard, and at the top of the board was Luther’s name. The angel, chalk in hand, was listing all of Luther’s sins, and the list filled the blackboard. But suddenly in his dream he saw a pierced hand writing above the list these words: “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” As Luther gazed in amazement, the blood flowed from the wounded hand and washed the record clean (Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes, pp. 363-364).

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