A practical expression of kindness is forgiving those that have hurt you. The Bible associates kindness and forgiveness.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”. (Ephesians 4:32)
I believe the most essential quality in a meaningful and happy marriage is forgiveness. It’s easy to allow offenses to gradually pile up and become a wall of resentment and bitterness. This happens between parents and children, too. The hallmark of a bitter person is that they can defend their right to be resentful. The price tag of clinging to that right is a loss of joy.
Kindness doesn’t require a person to “be worthy” of being forgiven. The willingness to forgive is a barometer of kindness in one’s heart. God’s Word speaks of “forgiving one another”. This is personal, specific and focused on the individual that has hurt you.
Is it possible to grant forgiveness without being asked to do so by the person that offended you? Of course it is. I have forgiven people that never asked me to do so and probably never will. The same is true in your home. I know my family (and others) have forgiven me when I was unaware that I had hurt them.
Don’t require those in your family to confess their wrong to you every time you are hurt before you offer forgiveness. Forgive them anyway. Remember, it is not Christlike to be forgiven; it is Christlike to forgive.
One hindrance to forgiveness is attaching it to a feeling. If we wait until our emotions allow us to forgive, we may never do so. Kindness is not a feeling, but an action. And one of those actions is forgiveness. Randall Worley wrote, “Forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision”.
Again, the text in Ephesians 4:32 corroborates this in that we forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”. We are commanded to forgive people the way God has forgiven us. He hasn’t forgiven us because we deserve it, but because He is kind.
Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Only the kindness of God will give you the desire and ability to do so. When you do so, you are reflecting His heart.
“To forgive is to permanently shed hurt feelings and to put something away. It means drawing a line under something and saying, ‘Finished'”. (Edward Crowther)
(A great resource for this issue in marriage is a book by Dave Harvey, “When Sinners Say ‘I Do'”. It’s one of the best books on marriage I’ve every read and explores this aspect of marriage in an excellent way).