To forgive my wife, to love her, when I don’t feel forgiving or loving will at some point prove impossible if my highest commitment and obedience is to forgiveness or to love or even to my wife.
My power to forgive doesn’t come from forgiveness. My power to love doesn’t come from love. While the highest virtue or the deepest devotion may inspire us to live a certain kind of life, virtue and devotion in and of themselves are not “the breath of life”. They themselves cannot create and give life. They are, rather, the life breathed in.
My power to love and to forgive comes from God who is himself love, and who, because he is love, forgives. Beginning with me. Before I love and forgive, he has loved and forgiven me in Jesus. My love has its beginning in The Beginning. And my forgiveness has its end (completion and fulfillment) in The End. I work out what he works in (Phil. 2:12-13).
So, again, to forgive my wife, to love her (or anyone), when I don’t feel forgiving or loving is impossible if my highest commitment and obedience is to forgiveness or to love or to my wife. But if my highest commitment and obedience is to Christ—Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Living God now living in me—then all things are possible when I don’t feel like doing any of them.
In those moments of dying to self, one breathes in and breathes out prayer: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I am submitted to him.”
Power, then—our willingness and ability and effort to obey Christ and his commands—comes from him and by his Spirit, not from ourselves or anyone we love, not from any virtue, passion or excellence we aspire to. The circuit begins, is complete, and begins again in my heart when I submit to Christ and, by his Spirit, receive his grace to walk and live in obedience to him.
If our commitment is to obedience, we will fail; if our commitment is to Christ, he will succeed.