Forgiving, as hard as it is, is not an option for the believer.
Jesus prayed, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). John made it clear that forgiveness is evidence of God’s work in us. In 1 John 4:19-21, he wrote: “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
One of the surest ways, therefore, to miss experiencing God’s will and blessing for your life is to refuse to forgive. Yes, there are hurts that wrack the soul and losses that can never be replaced. Yes, there are injustices that beg for retribution, perhaps even punishment. But, the deeper the pain and the more heinous the evil inflicted, the more obvious it is that nothing can be done to replace the loss.
Forgiving is the only means of releasing the offender and freeing the spirit of the injured. How does this process begin? In the same way it did for the women who were victims of child abuse and the couples who lost a child: by first giving thanks.
Is this an insulting and absurd comment?
In part 1, we explained how the Bible’s command for a wife to submit to her husband actually means that she is to submit to his need for respect. We then shared one woman’s story about how when she began doing this, she found out what 1 Peter 3 means about “finding favor” with God.
What about husbands who submit to God’s plan to love their wives? Do they also find God’s favor?
Yes, and this is especially true during a conflict when a wife shows disrespect (Ephesians 5:21, 25, 33). Remember, “When you do what is right and suffer for it” and “you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:18-20).
But, note what Peter specifically calls husbands to do: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Let’s address this controversial topic of submission in marriage.
In Ephesians 5:21 we read of mutual submission: “be subject to one another.” Paul then goes on to instruct wives to submit to their husbands (5:22-24) and husbands to love their wives (5:25-29). He then summarizes the passage on marriage in 5:33 with the command for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands.
If a wife’s submission is central, why does Paul say nothing of submission in his summary verse, calling wives instead to respect their husbands? Simple. A wife submits by meeting her husband’s need for respect. A husband submits to—or is “subject to”—his wife’s need for love.
Don’t worry, ladies. In part 2, we will deal directly with husbands and God’s call on them to submit as well. But right here, let’s address the controversial and sometimes uncomfortable topic of the wife’s submission.
John Gottman, the foremost quantitative researcher on marriage, wrote, “In the research literature on marital interaction that has used observational methods, women’s marital interaction . . . has been consistently described as more confronting, demanding, coercive, and highly emotional . . . than the interaction of their husbands.”
Why is this? Why does she resort to this covert form of power?
Oftentimes a wife feels she is more vulnerable and more easily victimized than her husband, so she rationalizes her demands and emotional reactions toward a nonviolent husband of basic goodwill. She sees her behavior as a way of keeping things even, because in her mind she feels her husband controls her emotionally.
I had my thinking challenged years ago when someone asked me, “Emerson, do you want God’s will for your life? Do you want God to work in your life in a powerful way, doing glorious things? Do you want God to really bless you?” I said, “Yes, of course.”
The person then said, “Let me ask you another question. If Jesus Christ appeared to you and asked you to do something you didn’t want to do, would you do it?”
Before I responded, he said, “And let me say, you can’t say, ‘I don’t know.’ If the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Lord of lords, and the King of kings asked you to do something that you didn’t want to do, and you said, ‘I don’t know,’ that is a ‘no’ answer. Therefore, you can only answer the question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
I wanted to say, “Yes!” I assume you would too.
Through the years as I’ve counseled people seeking guidance on God’s will, every so often I ask that question: “If Jesus Christ appeared to you and asked you to do something you didn’t want to do, would you do it?” Though these folks had come specifically for counsel on God’s will, to my surprise, some said, “No.”