Thursday, February 5, 2015

Getting Passed the Past

Scripture Texts: Genesis 32; Genesis 33; Hosea 12:2-6

Jacob was about to meet Esau, his brother whom he had deceived and stolen his birthright and blessing. It seems natural that Jacob would want to do his best to win favor with Esau. If so much had been taken away there is a good chance there might be some hard feelings left. Clearly Jacob was expecting the worst, so he sent his best to try and win favor.

As the meeting unfolds we find Esau has clearly moved passed the past. Jacob clearly is held by it but Esau has moved on to the point that he is overjoyed to see his brother again. We are not told this in the text, however it is clear that forgiveness has taken place and that God has been at work in the heart of Esau. Jacob was trying to accomplish in his own strength what God had already put in place.

Looking at the reuniting of Jacob and Esau there are some important things to learn for cultivating a healthy marriage. First, is to find a way to move passed the past. No one is perfect and each partner in a marriage will make mistakes. If we hold the mistakes of the past over each other it will be impossible to fully experience all that marriage has to offer.

Second we learn that we should trust the work of God when there is stress and strain on a relationship. Jacob was doing his best to make amends and earn forgiveness from Esau, God had already done that work. True forgiveness, a requirement for marriage, comes only when we allow God to work in our lives and our relationships.

Third, we need to forgive ourselves of the past as much as seek forgiveness from the other person. Jacob carries great anxiety about the past because of his actions and how they impacted Esau. It is possible that Jacob was carrying guilt and had not forgiven himself. When we do not forgive ourselves for the wrongs done to our spouse, the relationship is tainted by our own guilt. To experience all that we can in marriage we must forgive ourselves.

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