A number of years ago Billy Graham’s wife died. She was born in China and gave herself unstintingly to her family, her famous husband and his extraordinary ministry of the gospel all around the world.
Once asked about whether she ever thought of divorce she quipped, “divorce never, murder sometimes!” Even great marriages have their moments. She also said, “a good marriage is the union of two forgivers.” How wise and realistic she was. Forgiveness never overlooks a problem but makes possible its resolution.
Forgiveness is where I lay aside my right to hold the matter against you and in so doing increase the possibility of reconciliation and growth.
Martin Luther King, Jnr., said that “we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive … forgiveness is not just an occasional act: it is a permanent attitude.”
There is plenty of opportunity for forgiveness in marriage as in any other close relationship. And it is so therapeutic and conducive of happiness, guarding us against pride, stubbornness, bitterness, malice and revenge. It delivers to any community, whether a marriage, a family or a work place, the atmosphere where relationships an grow.
Someone has put it simply: “1 tree + 3 nails = 4given.” This rightly takes us to the most amazing act in human history. When Jesus died on the cross to forgive us sinners we not only find that there is a way back to God, but we learn that we ought to forgive one another.
Forgiveness from God will enable us to forgive others. As one bloke put it, “if we are to open our hearts to receive His gracious pardon, we cannot keep our fists clenched against those who have wronged.” Imagine what a different place our world, our families, our community would be if we heeded this advice.
It certainly worked for Ruth and Billy. Billy’s preaching of the Cross was demonstrated in their life together for 64 years; a lifetime of mutual forgiveness. It has worked for countless others and is the essential building block for our relationships together and with God.