*This is the second post in a series from A Guide to Biblical Manhood. Read the first post here

In a Genesis 3 world, your marriage depends on forgiveness and repentance. James says we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2) and that means you and your wife will stumble…in many ways. You can’t be surprised when your wife sins, you just have to be committed to live out the “or worse” part of your vows and be ready to forgive.

James adds later that we should confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16). That means you can’t be defensive — you need to confess your sin and repent (turn away from it). As the leader in your marriage, you should, in fact, be the first to repent and the first to forgive. If someone needs to own something in the home, it should be you.

Related: Download the Free PDF of A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul provides a general message for the body of Christ that you have the opportunity and obligation to live out every day in your marriage.

26. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

27. and give no opportunity to the devil.

Avoid laying out a welcome mat for the enemy. Don’t allow long-term unforgiveness or long periods of awkwardness. 

29. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

If you are born again, the Holy Spirit is working in you to conform you into the image of God. Allow the Spirit to do His work of redeeming you from anger and bitterness. Don’t grieve the Spirit by giving in to anger or in saying corrupting words to your spouse in moments of frustration. Put away an attitude of anger by confessing it whenever it surfaces and then turning away from in in the power of the Spirit.

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:26-27, 29-32)

How you see your wife when she upsets you — and how you in turn respond — has everything to do with how you understand the way God sees you.

Jesus once told a parable about a servant who owed a significant amount of money to the king. When he was ordered to be sold along with his wife and children in order to pay the debt, the man fell on his knees and begged for mercy. Out of mercy, the king forgave the man his debt and released him. When that servant found someone who owed him only a small amount, however, he grabbed the man, began choking him, and demanded, “pay what you owe me.” When the man begged for mercy, the servant refused and had the man thrown in debtors prison.

The other servants were distressed when they saw this and reported it to the king. Jesus continues:

Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. 

(Matthew 18:32-35)

When we are born again, we have a great debt of grace. We are forgiven a debt we could never repay. We are like the wicked servant if we don’t forgive our wives as generously as God forgave us.

In light of your debt to grace, lead in the race to repentance and forgiveness.

A Guide to Biblical Manhood


altBy Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas
How to serve your wife, how to mold men through baseball, how to make men in the church and more practical theology for cultivating men of God who are doers of the Word for the sake of the Gospel.

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Randy Stinson serves as Senior vice president for academic administration and provost. He is also associate professor of leadership and family ministry. You can follow Dr. Stinson on Twitter at @RandyStinson.

Dan Dumas is senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary. He is a church planter and pastor-teacher at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanDumas, on Facebook or at DanDumas.com.