In his book Married for God Christopher Ash comments on a favourite parable of mine, the Unmerciful Servant.
The point of the story is not to say to us “You really must forgive one another: forgiveness is very important”. That is true, but would not actually help. When, especially in a marriage, the hurt is done it is very hard to forgive and just being told to forgive just doesn’t work.
No, the point of the story is that you and I need to understand the astronomical debt we have been forgiven if we are disciples of Christ. And once we begin to grasp this truth the gates of our hearts are opened so that we can forgive even very serious debts owed to us.
God works in us to enable us to forgive. Once we really know the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers, there is in our hearts a new dynamic. Grace pours into our hearts, and that same grace can pour out from our hearts to our husbands and wives to forgive, to heal, to reconcile, to follow hurts with welcome and conflict with tenderness.
The Gospel is not about moralising. It is about encountering transformative grace and allowing that to change us and, in so doing, change others.