Forgiving Seventy-Seven Times in Marriage
By Lynette Kittle
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense - Proverbs 19:11
Forgiveness doesn’t always come easy for couples struggling to put it into practice on a daily basis. Forgiving a husband or wife once or twice doesn’t seem so difficult, but repeatedly having to forgive a spouse for the same or multiple things seems to wear marriages down.
Still, it is very important for couples to realize how unforgiveness in marriage leads to hardened hearts. And hardness of heart is a destructive and dangerous condition for any couple to find themselves.
So what is the answer? What is the key to couples guarding their hearts from becoming hardened? How do couples push through feelings of unforgiveness to experience the joy and restoration of forgiveness in marriage?
Scripture explains how forgiving is an ongoing practice. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’” (Matthew 18:21)
Peter may have thought he was being extremely generous about forgiving by throwing out the number seven, but “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matthew 18:22).
Many couples may think this passage only applies to a Christian brother or sister and not to marital relationships. However, where does a couple need this principle more than in their marriage, living with someone day-in-and-out, vulnerable to their daily scrutiny and seeing their weaknesses up close?
Where better than marriage to live out a life of forgiveness in front of our family, friends, church, and community?
Like Ephesians 4:32 encourages, couples can choose to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Satan looks for ways to pit couples against each other. Too often instead of choosing to forgive, marriages become a battleground where hurting husbands and wives look for ways to wound each other on purpose.
However, Scripture urges to, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
Yet rather than forgiving each other, so many spouses feel justified in lashing out at their husband or wife, looking for ways to hurt them back. Still 1 Thessalonians 5:15 urges us to, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”
Sadly, lack of forgiveness in marriage leads to hardness of heart and as Jesus explained in Matthew 19:8, a hardened heart leads to divorce.
Couples can resist hardening of their hearts by following Scripture’s plea to, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
By forgiving our husband or wife seventy-seven times because God has forgiven us, we can keep our hearts from growing hard towards each other as a couple.
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, iBelieve.com, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, Growthtrac.com, and more. She has an M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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