Tag: love

Forgiveness and Love

When we think about love, probably the first thing that comes to our mind isn’t forgiveness, but as I contemplated love, I couldn’t help but observe all the different characteristics of God and of man’s relationship with Him which we should rightly connect with the fact that we are loved by Him. We think of love through a variety of lenses, and yet maybe struggle to fully grasp what it is. It isn’t just an emotion, or a dose of hormones on our brain. Love is deep within our hearts and is maybe a conviction, a hope, and all of the fullness of giving self to honor or uplift the object of that love.

Paul gives to us that greatest of definitions concerning love, [1Co 13:4-8a NKJV] 4 Love suffers long [and] is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…

We so often romanticize the words of Paul, yet isn’t he telling us that love is the very best of outlooks (hope) with a big dose of forgiveness? Forgiveness is the opposite of selfish, for in forgiving, we must put off self and pride. Forgiveness is what God offered to us although we didn’t deserve it. Forgiveness to a sin-sick world, a world filled with envy, pride, rudeness, selfishness, and all manner of evils brought forth by Satan and all of his lies. Love is at the root of who we are supposed to be because we are Christ’s, and we are to be a reflection of the best characteristics which He embodied and lived out by way of example during His life on this earth.

So, it is unto His teaching and example we must look to really understand what it means for us to love like He loves. He loved us first! (1 Jo 4:19), and not because there was anything virtuous about mankind
which was deserving of His love. Like a parent, our Creator God bestowed every manner of blessing and gift upon mankind. He is the giver of all good things in the material realm, He is the creator of all
splendor, all power, and all authority; He has bestowed richly a spiritual blessing of eternal life in His presence which is rooted in His forgiveness of us for all of our transgressions.

So like toddlers, we are being taught by Him through His word and our discipleship of His life, that we are to love. We are to love God with all of our being and our fellow man as we love ourselves (Matt 22:37-39).
As He taught His disciples to pray, he taught them to ask for God’s forgiveness and connected that forgiveness to the act of offering forgiveness to others (Mat 6:12). We have to recognize what a great
debt we ourselves owe, and therefore find in our hearts compassion from which we may freely offer forgiveness to others (Mat 18:21-35). So much of the teachings of the Lord were directly related to these two ideas – love and forgiveness. Certainly our page is not enough to mention all that is relevant on these topics.

So much of John’s writings stress the importance of love; God’s love for us, our love for Him, our love for others. Mans’ relationship with God because of our sins is such that we are already living in a cursed world that is hopelessly condemned. Notice that it was from God’s love, that He would offer grace and mercy toward man: [Jhn 3:16-17 NKJV] 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
For God to offer salvation, He must needs forgive man that our sin which separates us from Him might be put off and cleansed.

We are certainly quick to want love and want God’s love because of all that it means for us. Yet are we equally quick to love others by extending mercy and grace? With our obedience to His will, he provides forgiveness to us. Are we as forgiving with those who have hurt us, wronged us, done things which are truly harmful? This is a difficult thing for us with our emotions, our pride, our hatred. It is
often easier for us to keep up animosity, rather than offer forgiveness. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “[Mat 5:44-45 NKJV] 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those
who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Too many in the world today claim to be following Christ yet refuse to submit to His commandments or be obedient to Him. John tells us though that we must submit and obey in order to love Him: [1Jo 5:3
NKJV] 3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” Love is the difference in doing someone else’s will by our own choosing rather than
begrudgingly. So it is that we must understand that love and forgiveness are inextricably intertwined in such a way that you cannot truly have the one without the other. As we begin to understand this and start to apply forgiveness to our love of others, we then can unburden ourselves with so much load of resentment, grudging and hatred. When you have forgiven, there is nothing to hold against someone. When you have forgiven, the scores are settled up and everyone is even. When you have forgiven, you have extended grace and mercy to those who haven’t done anything to deserve it. When we start to grasp these things, it can revolutionize our relationships with those around us.

God is Love, therefore if we are His children, we must also be filled with love and demonstrate that love toward others by being quick to forgive. Forgiveness is a gift that God has chosen to extend to us, and one which we must be quick to give. Love also compels us to hope and expect the best for others. It will change our relationship with God, as well as our relationships with other men because so much weight of negative feelings and walls of separation are torn down by forgiveness and love.

Love, grace, mercy, forgiveness are all gifts which God has given to us, and we should be more freely giving of these gifts toward others. It will change our lives and rebuild our heart. If we can move out of our own way and distribute these gifts more freely, our road will become easier and our steps lighter on the journey we call life.