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Have you ever struggled to make a relationship work, only to see it crumble before your eyes? Every day we see married couples trying their best to make their marriage work, and families trying to patch up damaged relationships, to no avail. This kind of struggle is painful and discouraging, but our lives don’t have to be this way. What Jesus did on the cross sets us free from this kind of pain and gives strained relationships new hope.
When we have family problems, most of us rely on our own efforts to try to work things out with the other person. All of us have our limitations and shortcomings, and it’s a “hit-or-miss” proposition if we think we can somehow find a solution on our own. In our self-efforts, it’s impossible to love someone who says and does hurtful things; depending on Jesus, however, enables us to do so. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13).
God loves us, and He doesn’t want to see us suffer. He sent us His Son to show us by example how to love others the same way He does. He knew we couldn’t do this alone, so He gave us His Word to teach us. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV).
When someone hurts us, our emotions get involved, but God’s kind of love goes much deeper than feelings. The kind of love He asks us to display is actually a decision, and a commitment we make. When we reach the point where we wonder if we’re capable of deliberately loving like this, we must remember that we were the first recipients of this intentional love, before we were even born.“We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Loving like this is not always easy to do, but He promises us it can be done. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
If we hold grudges and refuse to forgive, the pain that others can inflict upon us can remain and fester until it causes deep emotional wounds that won’t heal. This actually hurts us more than the other person, and it can put our spirits and souls in bondage. This isn’t God’s will for us. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Jesus illustrated how to forgive those who hurt us when He forgave those who hated Him. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).
Living in unforgiveness keeps us from truly loving and it takes the joy out of life. The truth is that Christ is the only one who can fix broken relationships and free us from the pain. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36). Jesus wants to help us and trusting Him in this area allows Him to do so.
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