Many of us get married with baggage. We bring negative elements from our past into the relationship. The baggage Karen and I brought into our marriage led us to the brink of divorce, until we dealt with it. Baggage can ruin a marriage.
The three biggest types of baggage are iniquities, inner vows, and unforgiveness.
Iniquities: Like a tree that grows crooked because of powerful prevailing winds, an iniquity is a generational bent toward sinful or negative behavior. Growing up, children may be exposed to things like anger, abuse, chauvinism, sexism, racism, or pride. They learn these because their parents expose them to it.
Children are impressionable and learn from their parents. Mothers and fathers can pass along righteous tendencies and set their children up for success, or they can pass along generationally entrenched sins. These are iniquities.
To break iniquities, you have to recognize those sins in yourself. You can’t blame them on your parents, because someone gave them that baggage just like they passed it along to you. You have to acknowledge your sin, confess it, and ask God to be Lord of that part of your life.
Inner Vows: These are the opposite of iniquities. Rather than a learned sin, an inner vow is a self-directed promise made in response to pain or difficulty. We don’t make inner vows because we are evil, but because we are hurting. It’s our way of saying, “This hurt me. I won’t let it hurt me again.”With God’s help, determine to no longer let that iniquity impact your marriage. Refuse to pass it along to your children. It’s never too late to break an iniquity.
For instance, a person who grew up in poverty might say, “I was poor. I’ll never be poor again.” Then they dedicate themselves to making money. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—providing for your family is good—but an inner vow keeps Jesus from being Lord of that area of your life.
In vowing never to be poor again, a person is saying, “I am now in charge of my finances.” Then they protect that area with deep determination. As a result, inner vows can also make us unteachable and irrational in that part of our lives. We tend to overreact when anything attacks or pushes against that vow.
To break an inner vow, we must renounce it. We have to retrace our steps, go back to the point when it started, and say, “I renounce that vow. I had no right to make it.” Then we have to submit that area of our lives to the Lord.
Unforgiveness: All issues of freedom are related to this. You cannot be free from the baggage of your past without forgiveness. “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). God gives us as much grace in this life as we give away to others.
Gracious and forgiving people walk in freedom and enjoy its blessings. But bitter, unforgiving people forfeit those blessings. There is never a time that God will allow unforgiveness in our lives.
Why? Because unforgiveness is unbelief. It refuses to trust God to punish sin or wrongdoing. We have to repent of unforgiveness and allow God to deal with the people who have hurt us. A way to do this is to bless the person we are mad at until healing comes into our own lives. That’s why Jesus said “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
Iniquities, inner vows, and unforgiveness can ruin our relationships. For a healthy marriage, we have to give that baggage to God.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today