My husband and I hit a brick wall every-so-often—a place in our hearts where our pride has consumed us and neither wants to make the first attempt to apologize. If you’ve been married for any length of time, I’m certain you can relate to the difficulty couples have in pursuing humble reconciliation after a fight. In the midst of the mud-slinging and hurt feelings, we’re tempted to scamper off into seclusion and silent treatment, angrily waiting for the other person to confess their wrongs and to ask for forgiveness.
I call this isolation a “go-first” stumbling block, and it wasn’t until the Lord helped my husband and me apply the light of the gospel to this dark place in our hearts that we began to find Christ-centered motivation to be peacemakers.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17–19)
In these rich verses of Scripture, we find three gospel truths that propel us toward fruitful martial reconciliation:
1.) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
Being a new creation in Christ means even if our feelings suggest we can’t overcome fleshly temptations to resentment, our Savior assures us that by his Spirit, we have access to the power, love, and self-control required to humble ourselves for the sake of peace. (2 Timothy 1:7)
2.) “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…”
God made the first move to repair our broken relationship with him. Christ humbled himself for us and yet had no obligation to—his sacrificial love motivated his humble obedience to the Father’s will. If God went first, we can too.
3.) “and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”
This ministry is given to every Christian. God wills us to be at the forefront of repairing broken relationships, especially the bond between husband and wife. If we’re refusing to take the first step toward peace, we’re electing to remain in our sinful pride—and such a choice God directly opposes. (James 4:6)
The mercy of the gospel is the motivation that compels us to be peacemakers. Even though being obedient in this area feels costly at times, we can trust that God’s grace will bless our efforts to turn from our sin and live peaceably with one another. By this, our Father is glorified and our love as a couple grows deeper. And as author Dave Harvey writes, “When sin becomes bitter, marriage becomes sweet.”
More About This Topic: Podcast Episode, “The Olive Branch”