When Sinners Say “I Do”
1. Mercy and our battle with self-righteousness
· Mercy is most necessary when we think we’ve been sinned against – how we respond can reveal the absence or presence of self-righteousness.
How many have heard statements like: “I can’t believe you did that!” or “I don’t deserve this!” or “I’ve got a right to be angry!”? What is implied by these statements?
· Self-righteousness is a sense of moral superiority that appoints us as prosecutors of other people’s sinfulness – we relate to others as if we are incapable of the sins they commit (pontificating).
· Self-righteousness begins by mentally assigning an evil motive to the crime of our defendant-spouse, and then convicting them internally without any cross examination or defense testimony.
Based on passages such as Lk. 10:29-37 & 18:9-14, what are some outward expressions of self-righteousness (justifying ourselves)? How do these characteristics manifest themselves in marriage?
· Some good questions to ask when struggling with self-righteousness:
Am I self-confident that I see the supposed “facts” clearly?
Am I quick to assign motives when I feel I’ve been wronged?
Do I find it easy to build a case that makes me seem right and my spouse seem wrong?
Do I ask questions with built-in assumptions I believe will be proven right?
Am I overly concerned about who is to blame for something?
Am I able to dismiss questions like these as irrelevant?
· Weaknesses in our spouse will tempt us to be self-righteous – those areas of vulnerability or susceptibility in our spouses that frustrate and annoy us.
How do weaknesses differ from sins?
See 2 Cor. 12:7-10 & Heb. 4:15 – seems to indicate there is a legitimate incapacity to do or experience something. Weaknesses may refer to disease, or human limitations that are the result of our physical make-up.
What should be our attitude and response to the weaknesses of our spouse? (eg. 1 Cor. 15:10 and 1 Pt. 3:7)
· Jesus says that mercy has a promise of reward NOT results (Lk. 6:35) – there is no promise that our enemies will be changed, but we certainly will be changed by extending mercy!
2. Forgiveness, Full & Free (Matt. 18:21-35)
· The main point of the parable: Extending true forgiveness is clear and pervasive evidence that we have been forgiven by God; the bottom line is that forgiven sinners forgive sin.
· Forbearance is the grace to overlook offenses against us for the sake of Christ; forgiveness is extended to another person whose sin can’t be overlooked.
“Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.” (The Valley of Vision)
Who do the characters of the parable represent?
Is it possible to truly forgive your spouse unless you grasp God’s forgiveness of you?
· The process:
What are the steps needed to actually forgive your spouse?
Are there any sins against a spouse that cannot be forgiven?
a. Forgiveness between a husband and wife must involve 3 things: 1) The repentance & seeking forgiveness by the offender; 2) The extension of mercy by the one offended; and 3) The offended’s willingness to absorb the cost of forgiving.
What are some of the fears associated with granting forgiveness?
What other options does a spouse have if they choose not to forgive?
b. Forgiveness has three aspects to it (three-legged stool):
1) Releasing from a debt they owe to you
2) Promise never to revisit the offense or bring it up again
3) Active pursuit of the offenders good
“Forgiveness can be a costly activity. When you cancel a debt, it does not just simply disappear. Instead, you absorb a liability that someone else deserves to pay. Similarly, forgiveness requires that you absorb certain effects of another person’s sins and you release that person from liability to punishment.” (Ken Sande, The Peacemaker, pg. 163)