Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Initiating Forgiveness

Leslie Basham: We all have a responsibility to forgive. Here's Nancy Cobb.

Nancy Cobb: Be the initiator, even if it isn't your fault, even if the issue is really major. If you want to experience God's forgiveness and if you want to experience His grace, forgive and let the Lord handle the repercussions with your husband Himself.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Wednesday, June 2. Let's join Nancy continuing in a series called "Recipe for a Godly Marriage".

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, I often have women express to me that they struggle to feel that they are truly forgiven. They know what the Scripture says; they've confessed their sins. But they just don't feel forgiven.

There can be a lot of reasons for that. But according to the Scripture, one major reason that we may not feel God's forgiveness of our sins is that we are not forgiving others of their sins. Because Jesus said, "If you will not forgive, then you will not be able to experience the fullness of God's forgiveness in your life."

No where is that concept of forgiveness more important than the marriage relationship. And that's what we're discussing this week with Connie Grigsby and Nancy Cobb.

Nancy and Connie, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy Cobb: Thank you.

Connie Grigsby: Thanks, Nancy. It's great to be here.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you've hit on such an important issue. You address it in both of your books. We're going to encourage our listeners to get a copy of each of these books--the first one, The Politically Incorrect Wife and then the second, How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You.

You say in one of those books that the lack of forgiveness is a marriage silencer. What do you mean by that?

Nancy Cobb: What happens is, if she won't forgive, she goes into a manipulative mode to force her husband into some sort of penance.

For instance, she will cry or she will withdraw. She will withdraw herself from sexual relationships with her husband. She will pout. She will do anything she can to make her husband act like he's sorry.

And that's just not godly behavior. And, Nancy, you touched on a really interesting point just a minute ago. You said, "Many women don't feel forgiven by God." And you know, after I came to know Christ, I didn't choose to be a forgiver then.

So I used to pray that prayer maybe every day for months, and I didn't correlate it until you just said that. That must have been why. Then when I realized that forgiveness on my part was huge, that the Lord wanted me to forgive and I began to exercise forgiveness, I experienced grace.

So what I wanted to do then was extend grace to my husband, since we're talking about the husband-wife relationship. And I didn't want to have issues between us, even if I wasn't the instigator of perhaps, a tiff between the two of us. I wanted to make it right.

So I would ask to be forgiven for my part that I had played and anything that I might have done to make him feel the way he was feeling. Even if I felt it was his fault, what difference did it really make?

The relationship needed to be restored. So, I would suggest to women, be the initiator. Even if it isn't your fault, even if the issue is really major, if you want to experience God's forgiveness, and if you want to experience His grace, forgive and let the Lord handle the repercussions with your husband Himself.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And to take the first step, especially when you feel that he was the one who initiated the offense, that requires a lot of humility. I mean, you just have to say, "I'm willing to go to the cross, to die to my own rights, my own reputation, my own feelings. I'm willing to let it go."

And isn't that what grace is all about, extending to others what they don't deserve? I think the thing that keeps us so often from forgiving is a consciousness of how big their offenses--they don't deserve--you know, if that husband would come, you know, crawling on his hands and knees doing penance and repentant and broken, I'm so, so sorry I hurt you, then of course we could forgive.

But isn't it more like Christ when we forgive the one who doesn't even realize how deeply he hurt us. Do you find in your marriages that you're often needing to forgive?

Connie Grigsby: Certainly, there are multiple times, sometimes in one hour that we're called to forgive. And if we're having a bad day or an edgy day, or whatever is going on--I've been married twenty-two years and many times throughout the day little things irritate me because Wes does things differently than I do things. He thinks differently.

Many times I've discovered later, some of the things that I'd forgiven him for, he didn't--when I would, you know, discuss these things with him later--he didn't even realize it was even an issue, just those--back to those basic differences between husbands and wives.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And of course our minds are really mulling this over.

Connie Grigsby: Oh my goodness, yes.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And we're thinking, by the time we're done mulling it over, he set out to hurt us as badly as he could. He's clueless.

Connie Grigsby: We have processed it so many times. I have discovered in my own life that it is such a privilege to be an initiator in this business of forgiveness. It truly doesn't matter if Wes knows how he hurt me, why he hurt me. Certainly we talk about it, but what a privilege to be an initiator. What a privilege to be given the opportunity to be more like Christ.

And one of the key things that keeps me going is when I think, Lord, would I rather be right or would I rather be godly? Well, that answer's so obvious that it just opens the door; then Lord, I want to forgive him. Forgiveness is such a key. Both of us wrestled with it for years and it will literally keep you in bondage if you don't forgive.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you know, forgiving does come down to an act of my will. It comes down to a choice. I will forgive; I will let this go. And the option is what? If we don't forgive, we're going to nurse that grudge. We're going to hang onto it and the seed takes root in our hearts, that seed of bitterness.

And ultimately, according to Hebrews chapter 12, that seed of unforgiveness is going to grow. It's going to put down roots and put up fruit that is really ugly in any relationship, particularly in a marriage.

Now, I teach a lot on the subject of forgiveness. I think it's so foundational in a marriage. But, I have women come and say, "You can't imagine what it is that my husband did." Jesus said offenses will come. They will be there, and some of these are huge in a marriage where there's been unfaithfulness.

What if my husband has sinned against me in such a way that emotionally I feel like I just can't forgive? What are you telling me to do?

Nancy Cobb: Well, the word--"can't," really can be challenged because if the Lord says to forgive, He always gives you the grace to do that even if the offense was major. So, by an act of the will, you can choose to forgive and should forgive. But if you need to seek counseling from a pastor or a marriage counselor who's a Christian, we encourage women to do that.

But we don't encourage women to live one more day with a root of bitterness springing up in their hearts because they wouldn't forgive. So, the other thing is that when you do forgive, you put them right in God's hands because they don't have you then to argue with because you've forgiven them.

So they experience guilt and they should experience guilt and the guilt should lead them to the cross. The other thing is that Jesus died on the cross for that sin and if that man has asked God to forgive him that sin, who are we to hold that against them? Whether a separation is something that they could consider should only be determined after much prayer and consultation with their pastor.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Okay, what if, you know, I've forgiven this offense but he hasn't changed. He's still committing the same offenses day after day after day. Do I just keep giving? What are the limits here?

Nancy Cobb: I think there are no limits to forgiveness. You do keep on forgiving day to day but you need to seek out some counseling. If it's something that is dangerous, illegal or abusive, a woman needs to have some protection. And the protection that she has is the authority that she's under. And if she's not going to a church now, she should seek out a godly church.

Maybe she knows a neighbor who is going to a church and she should talk to the neighbor about this. But she needs more guidance than we can just give her briefly in this interview.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And yet we're saying that forgiveness, as Jesus said in Matthew 18 [:23], may need to be again and again and again and again. And in so doing, we're really saying, "I'm not going to bring up the past or use it against you again."

That's really what forgiveness means, doesn't it?

Connie Grigsby: That's right, and that's a powerful tool in a marriage, to keep the past in the past and not keep hanging offenses over your husband's head, and also to stop keeping score. It is not a high calling to be a score keeper. When I get to heaven, I don't want to have a score card in my hand.

I want to have the beauty and the joy and just the passion of knowing I've lived my life for the Lord. And it won't involve a score card.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think sometimes our fear is that we're letting the person off the hook and we feel like they need to be on the hook. But what we're really doing is transferring them from our courtroom where we're the judge and we're turning them over to God's courtroom where He is the judge.

He is the one who is able to change their hearts, to deal with them. And we're saying, "I'm not God. It's not my place to change you, to fix you, to make you over. I'm releasing you from my courtroom to God's courtroom."

As we've been talking about forgiveness, I know now that there are many, many women listening to this conversation who need to forgive. As you think about your relationship with your husband, is there something that you have not released, something on which you have not pressed the delete button? You're still holding onto it. You're still keeping score. You won't let it go. You won't release it.

Can I say that as long as you refuse to forgive, you're going to be in prison? You're going to be in bondage, and your husband is not going to change. So if you want God to release you, to set you free, then you have to be willing to release your husband--to release him to God, to say to the Lord, and maybe to your husband, "I forgive you," and then also to ask God's forgiveness and perhaps your husband's forgiveness--if he's been aware of this to go to him and say, "I have been keeping score. I have held these offenses against you. I have become a bitter, angry woman. I don't want to be that way anymore. Please forgive me."

And as you get God's forgiveness, then you will be able to be a channel through whom that forgiveness can flow to others.

Leslie Basham: I think we should all take some time today and consider whether we need to ask someone for forgiveness. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby. They'll be right back to pray.

If you'd like to learn more about what our guests talked about today, they've written two books called The Politically Incorrect Wife and How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You. You can get both books for a suggested donation of $20. We're calling it "The Godly Wife Package, "and to order, visit or call 1-800-569-5959.

Maybe forgiveness is a big issue for you and you need prayer. We have a group of people who meet and pray for our listeners. To send us your request, just write to Revive Our Hearts.

Do you ever find yourself drifting from being your husband's wife and acting more like his mother? On tomorrow's program, our guests will discuss how we need to give up control in our marriages. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. And now Nancy and our guests will pray with us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to invite you just to join Nancy and Connie and me as we pray. And let me just pray a prayer that, if this expresses the desire of your heart, I'd encourage you to make it your prayer to the Lord.

Oh, God, I have sinned against You and against my husband by being a score keeper, by refusing to forgive, by holding onto past offenses. And right now, I seek Your forgiveness for my unforgiveness, for my bitterness. And no matter who started the offense, no matter who is more at fault, right now I choose to let it go. I choose to forgive. I release my husband to You as You have forgiven me, so right now I choose to forgive him.

If you've prayed that prayer, you're going to begin what I believe will be for you an exciting adventure of walking in grace and the forgiveness of God.

Leslie Basham:

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.