Having a Kingdom Marriage, Part 5

Forgiving an unrepentant spouse

What about those times when your spouse isn’t sorry—how do you forgive then? Unilateral forgiveness is when you choose to forgive your spouse even if he or she has not asked for it and may have not even repented. Essentially you are forgiving your mate on your own, without his or her involvement. 

Why would you grant forgiveness to someone who doesn’t want it, has not asked for it and may not deserve it? The reason you grant unilateral forgiveness is not to set your spouse free but to set yourself free. Unilateral forgiveness keeps you from being bound by something the other person may never set right. This is what Jesus did on the Cross by “not counting [our] trespasses against [us]” (2 Corinthians 5:19). 

Forgiveness is crucial for any marriage to thrive. But if that forgiveness is conditional, it is not couched in the love of God. Jesus Christ died for our sins and asked His Father to forgive us while doing so himself. He didn’t wait to give us His gift of mercy and grace until we got our act together or came humbly to Him with flowers or chocolates. Forgiveness is probably the greatest gift you can give your spouse, but it’s also the greatest gift you can give yourself. 

Taken from Kingdom Marriage, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2016 by Tony Evans. Used by permission. All rights reserved.