Today I am going to post an excerpt from Tim Keller’s excellent book “The Meaning of Marriage”. It will be a startling revelation for some – as it was for me.
In Mark 11: 25, Jesus says that if you are praying, and you realize that you have something against someone, you must forgive him or her right there. Does that mean you should not confront the person? No, you should, since Jesus in Matthew 18— as well as Paul in Galatians 6 and elsewhere— tells Christians that if someone wrongs them, they should go to the person and discuss their sin. Wait, we say. The Bible says we are supposed to forgive people and then go and confront them? Yes! The reason we are surprised by this is almost always because we confront people who have wronged us as a way of paying them back. By telling them off, we are actually getting revenge. They made us feel bad and now we are going to make them feel bad, too. But this is absolutely deadly. The person you are confronting knows you are doing payback, and he or she will either be devastated or infuriated— or both. You are not really telling the truth for their sake; you are telling it for your sake, and the fruit of that will be grief, bitterness, and despair.
Jesus gives us the solution.
He says that Christians, knowing that they live only by the forgiving grace of God, must do the work of forgiving wrongdoers in their hearts and then go to confront them. If you do that, the confrontation will be so different. In other words, without the “compound”— the power of forgiving grace in your life— you will use the truth to hurt. The other person will either attack you back or withdraw. Your marriage will go either into a truth-without-love mode, with constant fighting, or a shallow love-without-truth mode, in which both partners simply avoid the underlying problems.
How different confrontations would be if we could follow Jesus’ words. How transformed marriages could be if we learned this lesson. I believe this would empower us to actually “speak the truth in love” instead of in anger or resentment.
For me this means intentionally praying for people who feel wronged by me, or who I am having feelings of resentment towards. It is not something that I naturally feel motivated to do. In fact, it is usually just the opposite. It all comes down to my willingness to be obedient to Christ.
What about you? Does this offend you or excite you?
Keller, Timothy (2011-11-01). The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (pp. 156-157). Penguin Group.