a man wearing a suit and tie standing with his wife

a man wearing a suit and tie standing with his wife

Forgiveness does not give someone permission to treat you in whatever manner they choose, but it does prevent you from being resentful.

My spouse and I were sweating in the early morning light of a southern summer morning. Our fingernails were stained with filth and dust from our possessions. It was garage sale day, and we were emptying the old house in preparation for moving into a new one. But we were also keeping a big secret.

An anonymous visitor examined the premises for hidden riches among the tables of knick-knacks, worthless electronics, and books. As my husband and I were straightening tables and casually discussing the events of the day, a woman standing on the opposite side of the table looked at us and inquired about a treasure she couldn’t seem to find. 

“What’s the secret?” She inquired. 

Robbie and I exchanged glances. I clarified, “to marriage.” 

“Yes,” she said, calmly waiting for our reaction. 

We stared at one other again, and Robbie uttered without hesitation what I instantly knew to be true. He said, “Grace.” “It’s only grace.” 

Grace isn’t simple to come by. 

The definition of grace is “unmerited favor.” That is, grace happens when you provide compassion, love, and forgiveness to your spouse even when they do not deserve it. That’s the secret.

Grace does not allow for retaliation. The only justice is the freedom that everyone, including yourself, enjoys when you just let things go—wishing the best for the other person and the circumstance and relinquishing the power to punish. 

It is not easy to have grace in marriage at first. We are greedy creatures by nature, looking out for our comfort and just deserts. We can, however, trust God to give us the strength to let go via the power of the Holy Spirit. 

When we consider all of the ways God has forgiven us, how can we not provide grace to others? Consider Jesus’ story about the king who paid his debts. One debtor owed millions of dollars, but he pleaded with the monarch for compassion, and the king felt sorry for him and canceled his debts. 

This debtor then proceeded to another servant who owed him a few thousand dollars, grabbed him by the throat, and demanded immediate payment. The creditor had that individual imprisoned till he paid his obligation. When the king learned what had occurred, he became enraged and sentenced the guy who owed him millions to death until he paid his obligation in full. Jesus’ message was that we should treat others with the same grace we receive or face God’s wrath. 

The secret in action 

You may exercise grace in your marriage in a variety of ways. It isn’t difficult, and to be honest; it isn’t a secret. You need to cultivate a desire for grace in your household. 

Even in these situations, forgiveness is possible. Forgiveness does not give someone permission to treat you in whatever manner they choose, but it does prevent you from being resentful. Take some action. Put an end to the situation. But don’t cling to the urge for vengeance. According to the book of Romans, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, because it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, declares the Lord.”