Building an Intimate Marriage: Grace & Forgiveness

Marriage is hard work. The reality that we’re broken people becomes very apparent when we share our lives with someone else. We bring our unique personalities into the marriage, but we also bring our selfish nature.

Frustration, friction, disagreements–they are all certain to show up, but the way we react to these issues and obstacles shapes not only our character, but the strength and the intimacy of our marriage.

As much as we lead with love toward our spouse, we must also lead with grace and forgiveness.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Forgiveness lies at the heart of marriage. Two people living together, day by day, stumbling over each other’s beings, are bound to cause pain, sometimes innocently, sometimes not. And if forgiveness is not given to cleanse the marriage soul, condemnation hovers over the relationship. Resentment piles on top of resentment until we blame our partners not just for their wrongdoing, but also for our failure to forgive them.

This is a red-light danger zone. Human forgiveness was never designed to be given on a grand scale. Forgiveness in marriage can only heal when the focus is on what our spouses do, not on who they are. Partners forgive best for specific acts. Trying to forgive carte blanche is silly. Nobody can do it but God.

We overload the circuits of forgiveness when we try to forgive our partner for not being the sort of partner we want him or her to be. There are other means for coping with this: courage, empathy, patience, hope. But for mere human beings, forgiveness in the grand manner must be left for God. For it is God’s forgiveness that empowers our ability to forgive the relatively small things–which is no minor miracle in itself.

When we forgive a partner, we are revealing God’s love to him or her, free from condemnation. Human forgiveness magnifies divine forgiveness. A truly intimate marriage can be built upon a strong foundation of grace and forgiveness.

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13 Comments

  • Mike Williams says:

    Very timely message for my wife and me. Thank you very much. We attended your seminar at Champions Forest Baptist Church a few months ago and not only enjoyed it but took away from it a sense that we were on the right track.

  • Keptbygrace says:

    “Forgiveness in marriage can only heal when the focus is on what our spouses do, not on who they are. Partners forgive best for specific acts. Trying to forgive carte blanche is silly. Nobody can do it but God.”

    This is accurate. When my spouse offends me and I respond to the offense as if it is a reflection of his total person, then it is a struggle to forgive. When I realize that like me, he is a sinner who needs the grace of God everyday, then I can view what he has done as an act and not a reflection of his total self.

  • Brandi says:

    Thank You! I definitely needed this. I always have to remind myself of how God forgives me time & time, so I must do the same.

  • Joe says:

    Tks les and leslie. I so often feel like peter when he asked Jesus hlw many times must i forgive. 7 times. Hlow flooredr3d he must have been when Jesus said 70 x 7….so often i feel like i have an open sore wounds and my spouse daily rubs salt into it. Like you said sometimes unintentionaly and t8mes very intentional. ..i feel at.the end of wither us or my life for releif..need Gods help for sure. In my weekem3ss He is strong right…i sure do feel qeak..
    Ge5 a lot from your messages. Tks for sharing them.

  • efruitofhisdeath says:

    The easy solution for building grace and forgiveness, especially between spouses, is found in the THREE-WAY RELATIONSHIP between husband, wife and their mutually shared image of God.
    From the beginning, the image is present in Christ’s Spirit-active and creative death on the cross, a.k.a., “the tree of life”, which we have robbed; and therefore suffer.

  • Glenda says:

    I really need God’s grace to forgive.My husband had a multiple affair and never regret about it.He keep repeating it for 8 times with different married women.We’ve been married for almost 15 yrs. now.It’s really hard for me.Pls.pray for me and my family.

  • Sahili says:

    Glenda, praying for you ad your family. Blessings

  • Valerie says:

    Thank you for this!
    I need this! Never knew how difficult it was to forgive until marriage, or how I would rather build up resentment than turn to God for help.
    This is helpful and convicting.
    I’m excited to work on this!

  • Greg says:

    We are to be “thankful” children, both by GOD’s command and by accepting that we do not deserve the many blessings given us, one of which is our life help-meet. Continued study of GOD’s word points directly to “forgiveness” as one of the foundational piers a thankful heart is built and builds upon. Appreciate the reminder GOD and L & L of the application in my marriage of both principles.

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