While the path to marriage restoration is lined with stumbling blocks and deadly land mines, I am convinced that one of the most destructive is our inability to stop focusing on our spouses sin and wrong doing long enough to recognize our own, which results in unforgiveness and bitterness, and reveals an unholy attitude of self righteousness and condescension. Most of us are very familiar with Matthew 7:4, which says How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? But we need to read that verse in context to fully understand its importance as a principle of marriage restoration, which we see in the following verses from Matthew 7:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I am absolutely certain that marriage restoration is NOT possible without understanding and practicing this very important principle of restoration. In fact, I believe that So strongly that I recommend avoiding contact with our spouses as much as possible until we master it. And that is done only by a REAL change in the condition of our hearts through the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and not with empty words. Deuteronomy 8:2 tells us Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. So it’s important to humble ourselves before the Lord and examine our own lives and behavior; keeping in mind the instruction Jesus gave in John 8:7, which says But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And let’s not forget that her sin was the act of adultery, for which the penalty was death!
In addition to telling us not to cast stones at others unless we are without sin, Jesus warned us about the dangers of unforgiveness in The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Matthew 18:21-35, which He summed up in Matthew 18:34-35, by saying In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother
from your heart.” Then these verses from 2 Corinthians 2 tell us:
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. And there’s NO doubt that Satan WILL use our inability or unwillingness to forgive our husbands and wives to kill, steal and destroy our marriages and any hope we have of marriage restoration, and keep us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to give us, as we’re told in John 10:10.
Hopefully, what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 is enough to get our attention, and make us take this matter seriously, because He 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. And Colossians 3:12-14 tells us Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
If we refuse to forgive as Jesus instructed us to do, it WILL lead to bitterness, which makes us captive to sin according to Acts 8:23, which says For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” An excellent chapter dealing with these issues is Ephesians 4, which includes the following verses:
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
And another VERY important reason for anyone standing for marriage restoration, or asking for any miracle to overcome unforgiveness is provided in Mark 11:24-25, which says Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” So we see that our failure to forgive could prevent the Lord from hearing and answering our prayers, which is way too high a price to pay for holding onto something that only hurts us and does NOTHING to help us.
Finally, as long as we’re focused on our spouses’ sin, shortcomings and wrong doing, we’re far from achieving the Lord’s measure of forgiveness as revealed in Hebrews 8:12, which says For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” And holding grudges and keeping records of wrongs obviously falls FAR short of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT), which says Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Ouch!