Gospel Check-In

A few nights ago Kim and I were doing some pre-marital counseling with a younger couple and we focused on the general idea of the Gospel being the centerpiece of marriage. In the process of this discussion, it occurred to me that asking yourself a simple question might be a good indicator of how well the Gospel is taking shape in your life. The question is: When was the last time I spoke these phrases?

1. I’m sorry
2. I was wrong
3. Will you forgive me?

If you find that you are habitually unable to say these phrases, you might have a gospel problem. The reason I say this is that these phrases underscore the fact that you are aware of your own sin. If you never see your sin, either you are perfect (not the case) or for some reason you can’t seem to come to terms with your sin and confess it. If you can’t come to terms with your sin and confess it then you probably are not pursuing the remedy for it, namely the Cross.

More specifically, it also seems as though the last phrase, “Will you forgive me?” is particularly humbling and yet produces a greater Gospel-centered blessing. We have started making our kids say this when they have sinned against us or one of their siblings and through this process we have started to use this phrase more in our marriage. I think this phrase is more difficult because it’s not just an identification of personal sin (I was wrong) but it places you in the humbling position of needing mercy. This goes beyond just stating the fact of wrong doing. Also, implicit in the statement (will you?) is an uncertainty that the forgiveness will be granted. When forgiveness is received from the person offended and the words “I forgive you” are spoken, it’s all the sweeter than someone saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not that big of a deal”. Sin is a big deal, but when it is pardoned the feeling of blessing is immense. To me, this statement highlights the Gospel in more poignant ways that simply saying “I’m sorry.”

Ask yourself: When was the last time you uttered these phrases to your spouse or those close to you? If you have not, why not?

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2 responses to “Gospel Check-In

  1. Z –

    This is right on, and is so important in multiple ways in marriages. Not only must we be able to say “I forgive you,” but also “I love you” that is based not on one’s personal emotional state at the time but based on the reality of human sin and gospel forgiveness.

    I think part of the problem folks in our generation are having is that we have never been taught, in church or at home, the truth about either the gospel or about our sin. One of our best friends here at seminary is proving this to us right now, insofar as he will not admit his own sinfulness (“I’m basically a good person” ) and thus cannot conceive of the gospel as being able to help his marriage get fixed (“That’s how I got saved.”). He cannot and has not told his wife “I’m sorry; I was wrong; Will you forgive me?” It is painful for all involved, and extremely difficult to reorient his categories.

    Thanks for bringing this up; it really is, counter-intuitively, the promise and narrative of the gospel that is what transforms us. The guys on the White Horse Inn this weekend said it well: when we *assume* the gospel, we will quickly lose the gospel, and this situation is just another example of that fact.

  2. Z – love the thoughts here. And you’re right in warning about the way people (as in “we” as in “me”) word things. Like when you say:

    When forgiveness is received from the person offended and the words “I forgive you” are spoken, it’s all the sweeter than someone saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not that big of a deal”.

    True, when asked for forgiveness we tend to say “don’t worry about it.” And like you say further, “I’m sorry” is not enough. It could easily mean “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’m sorry this happened,” or maybe “I’m sorry I’m like this” (as if God made a mistake in making me).

    Its been a long time since I’ve said these words to Karla, and I think the conclusion is correct: I’m far from perfect, therefore I’m minimizing my sin. Thanks for the reminder!!

    Ron

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