Paul Tripp

President of Paul Tripp Ministries

The Sweet Harvest of Forgiveness

Yes, you can choose to carry that list. You can choose to punish the other. You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a desire for companionship to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many people live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest.

The harvest of forgiveness is the kind of relationship everyone wants. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection. When we forgive one another daily, we don’t look at one another through the lens of our worst failures and biggest weaknesses. As we talk honestly, weep and pray, and repent and reconcile, our appreciation for one another grows and our affection deepens. We quit looking at the other person as the enemy. We stop protecting ourselves from him or her and begin to work together to build walls of defense against the many threats to a relationship that exist in this fallen world.

Forgiveness produces patience. As we respond God’s way in a daily lifestyle of confession and forgiveness, we begin to experience things we never thought we’d see in our relationships. We begin to see bad patterns break, we begin to see one another change, and we begin to see love that had grown cold become new and vibrant again. We experience hard moments when God gives us the grace not to give way to powerful emotions and desires that would take us in the wrong direction, and we see the practical help and rescue his wisdom gives us again and again. All this means that we no longer panic when a wrong happens between us. We no longer take matters into our own hands in the panic of hurt and retribution. We no longer try to be the other’s conscience or judge. No, we are much more relaxed in the face of failure and willing to patiently follow God’s commit-confront-confess-forgive plan. We’ve come to understand that his grace is bigger than any difficulty we’ll ever face in any of our relationships. So, we’re able to rest and wait, knowing that God is at work, even when we’re exhausted and discouraged, and that he’ll not quit working until his work in us and our relationships is complete.

But there’s one more thing. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows. When you’re living every day in the confession and forgiveness pattern, you’re forsaking your way for a better way. Your relationships are no longer a daily competition for who’s going to get his or her way. You no longer see the other person as a threat, wondering just when he or she will once again get in the way of what you want. You’re not obsessed with your comfort, pleasure, and ease and with the fear of when your friend or relative will interrupt it. No, forgiveness puts you on the same page with each other. You’ve both submitted your desires to the desires of Another. You no longer try to build your own little relationship kingdom. No, you now, together, live for God’s kingdom. You now live with the same set of expectations and rules. You now have the same way of thinking about and addressing problems. And together you celebrate what God's given you, both aware that you could never have done it yourselves. You now experience unity as never before, because forgiveness has liberated you for a higher purpose and a better daily plan.

But there's yet one more thing. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in marriage grows. When you're living every day in the confession and forgiveness pattern, you're forsaking your way for a better way. Your marriage is no longer a daily competition for who’s going to get his or her way. You no longer see your spouse as a threat, wondering just when he or she once again gets in the way of what you want. You're not obsessed with your comfort, pleasure, and ease and with the fear of when your mate will interrupt it. No, forgiveness puts you on the same page with each other. You've both submitted your desires to the desires of Another. You no longer try to build your own little marriage kingdom. No, you now, together, live for God’s kingdom. You now live with the same set of expectations and rules. You now have the same way of thinking about and addressing problems. And together you celebrate what God's given you, both aware that you could never have done it yourselves. You now experience unity as never before, because forgiveness has liberated you for a higher purpose and a better daily plan.

Remember, God put people in our lives to show us a better way. So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one enemy that's after us and our relationships. As we do this, we all become thankful that forgiveness has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.

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About Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit http://www.paultrippministries.org/store

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