Summary: God wills that we are grace-filled people and God will help us to offer grace and forgiveness in marriage.

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A. Once upon a time there was a husband who sinned against his wife, but he apologized and she forgave him.

1. However, from time to time, the wife reminded the husband of his past indiscretion.

2. Finally, one day the husband asked his wife, “Honey, why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was ‘forgive and forget.’ ”

3. “It is,” the wife said, “I just don't want you to forget that I've forgiven and forgotten.”

4. Actually, forgiveness in marriage is not something to joke about.

B. In his book Lee: The Last Years, Charles Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house.

1. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union Artillery fire.

2. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss.

3. After a brief silence, Lee wisely said: “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.”

4. It is best to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, and allow bitterness to take root and poison the rest of our lives.

C. This is the third lesson in our Marriage Matters Series.

1. So far in the series, we have discussed the fact that marriage ain’t easy, and the fact that marriage belongs to God.

2. God’s plan for a man and a woman is a perfect plan, and it works best when we allow God to shape us into His image, and when we follow God’s example and follow God’s commands.

3. In today’s sermon, we want to discuss the blessing of a grace-filled marriage.

4. Perhaps no command of God for marriage is more important and more impactful than God’s command to forgive as God’ forgives.

5. Forgiveness is a key to a healthy soul and healthy relationships, especially the marriage relationship.

D. But let’s admit it, right at the start: forgiveness is not easy for us, right?

1. Most of us would rather sit on a judgment seat than a mercy seat.

2. If someone has done us wrong, especially someone as close to us as a spouse, there is a part of us that would rather watch them squirm in misery than smile in relief.

3. But what we must come to grips with is the fact that our God is a merciful God and He expects that we will be a merciful people.

4. Let’s also recognize that nothing good ever results from being unforgiving.

a. No matter how much a person nurses a grudge, it doesn’t get better.

5. Ultimately, withholding forgiveness is not a right or privilege – it is sin!

a. Withholding forgiveness destroys our relationship with God and with others.

I. God Wills that We Become Grace-Filled People

A. We don’t have to search our Bibles very long or hard to conclude that God wills that we become grace-filled people.

1. Let’s start with Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount.

a. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes which include this one: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7).

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