We’ve been discussing how your marriage relationship really is a classroom for your children as they watch you navigate the good times and the bad. The example you set in your home will help them learn how to deal with a variety of circumstances they will face in their lives. The same holds true for lessons on faith. As we live out our faith in our marriages, our children will learn what it looks like to obey Christ and live a godly life.
Hurt and Disappointment Happen
One very important relational and faith lesson has to do with how we deal with other people when we are hurt or disappointed. These hurts can be big or small. The fact is, we all face them. And hurt and disappointment happen in our families and marriages, it’s just a part of living in a fallen world. Let’s look at a few pointers from scripture that can prepare us to deal with hurt when it does happen.
Forgive 77 times, what about the 78th time?!
So here is Peter in Matthew 18:21, trying to be all big and magnanimous, when he asks Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me, up to seven times?” I expect Peter thought he was being generous! Jesus answered him, “Not seven times but 77 times.” I can only imagine Peter’s thoughts! My thought would have been, “what about the 78th time, do I really have to forgive then?!” The more we read Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness, I think it’s safe to assume Jesus’ answer to my question would be something along the lines of stop counting!
When We Love Well we will Forgive Well
If we are going to have a peaceful and happy home, we are going to need to practice forgiveness and for some, it will happen daily. I am fairly certain that my husband has forgiven me more times than I could possibly know! In marriage, this concept of forgiveness is tied pretty tightly to how we practice love in our homes. If you look at the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, you will find a list that looks something like this:
- Love is Patient.
- Love is Kind.
- Love does not Envy.
- Love does not boast.
- Love is not Proud.
- Love does not Dishonor Others.
- Love is not Self-Seeking.
- Love is not Easily Angered.
- Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs.
- Love does not Delight in Evil.
- Love rejoices with the Truth.
- Love Always Protects.
- Love Always Trusts.
- Love Always Hopes.
- Love Always Perseveres.
All of these traits provide the foundation upon which we are even able to forgive our spouses when we are hurt. If I were to quickly run down this list each time I was hurt, I might be better equipped to forgive quickly. This list reminds me of my responsibility in my marriage to show love, not just in the good times, but in the difficult times as well. Think about the last time your spouse hurt your feelings as an example. How did you handle that? Did you fly off the handle, becoming easily angered by his choice of words? Did you run through all of the times that he had said something similar, keeping that record of wrongs. Did you think about how you could really get him back, delighting in evil towards him? Did you commiserate with your sister or friend about the situation, dishonoring him? I think you are beginning to get the picture here.
Maybe the better pathway would be to exercise some patience, try to respond kindly, look for any truth in his words and protect the relationship by being unselfish and forgiving. You see, when we love well, we can forgive well. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever wants to show love forgives a wrong.”
A Little Forgiveness Goes a Long Way
How we practice forgiveness in our homes does make a difference in how our children view forgiveness and the forgiveness offered to them through Christ. When we regularly seek and offer forgiveness, we are teaching our children that perfection is not expected (or even possible), failure is pardonable and humility is a gateway to a restored relationship. There is enormous freedom with these concepts. Freedom to learn and grow and relate in healthy ways, especially in our relationship with God.
There is way too much self-seeking, prideful and boastful hubris driving society these days. Most of what society sells as success is really excessive confidence and arrogance that leads people to believe they can’t possibly do anything wrong. And our children are growing up thinking this is true about themselves. We even think it’s true of us! We are being deceived! And this deception, culturally, is keeping us from the basic understanding of just how sinful we really are and keeping us from having authentic, healthy relationships and marriages. It’s also an attitude that keeps us from having a relationship with God.
So, practice forgiveness in your home, seek and grant forgiveness freely and often. Let forgiveness be your go-to, default response! You’ll be teaching your children a critical lesson!