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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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Introduction:

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).

b. As Jesus continued His sermon, He addressed the need to love even our enemies. He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:44-45; 48).

1. Luke’s version of the same instruction ends with, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36)

c. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, we discover the Lord’s Prayer, which includes: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt. 6:12).

d. After finishing that prayer, Jesus felt the need to emphasize and clarify the importance of forgiveness, and Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt. 6:14-15).

e. If that statement of Jesus doesn’t get our attention, then I don’t know what will.

2. I can picture the apostle Peter contemplating those words for a period of time.

3. Perhaps, in part, it was those words that caused Peter to later approach Jesus with this question: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Mt. 18:21)

a. Perhaps Peter thought that Jesus was going to be really impressed with him, for the rabbis taught that you must forgive a person 3 times – Peter was doubling it and adding one!

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