Apologizing is hard work. You know what else is hard? Forgiving an apologizing spouse.
Why? Why should that be hard? Well, for one, it’s easy to suspect that the apology isn’t sincere (“I’m sorry.” “You are not!”). For another, when this isn’t the first argument on a certain misbehavior, the wounded party sees a trend and fears it will continue indefinitely. Am I enabling more of this bad behavior? For another, staying angry gives you emotional leverage. For another, staying wounded gives you the moral high ground in future negotiations. Your injury is an asset—why would you give away this form of capital?
Holding onto anger, however, poisons your soul. It marinates your spirit in toxins that will affect everything else in your life and especially in this most important of all your human relationships. Holding anger blinds you to your spouse’s gifts and values for your life and keeps you from seeing his or her efforts to make things better.
There’s a better way. “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). What breaks you out of these anger ruts is the sweet remembrance of the massive debt of ours that our Lord Jesus forgave. If we show a bitter and unforgiving spirit to our spouse, we are daring God to do the same to us.
Let it go.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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