Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Love and Forgiveness

Wednesday February 14, 2024

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Matthew 4:7-10

Love and Forgiveness  

The true standard of love is not a warm fuzzy feeling. In fact love can often be anything but warm and fuzzy. It can be hard at times and even painful. Love is messy because humans are broken. The true standard of love is the love God has for us – a pure and perfect love. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son so that we could live with Him eternally. Without Him, we do not have eternal life, but death.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 Because He loved us, He sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He paid the wages of our sins. 

The world tries to tell us how to love – and how not to love. It sends us a mixed message of tolerance to love everyone, especially those who proudly embrace lifestyles that are an abomination to the Lord. (His words!) It also sends a message of self over everything. If someone upsets you – ghost them. If someone hurts your feelings – break up with them. If you think someone is toxic to you – cut them out of your life. Of course, we should never stay in places where we are abused or mistreated. But the world’s standard for love is very different than God’s. Love those who go against the standard clearly outlined in God’s word, but those other sinners who struggle and irritate you – no love or grace or mercy for them. Self above everything – if I don’t like you I don’t have to love you. But Jesus says the opposite:

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

Jesus says we are to love others even if we don’t like them. In fact, we don’t have to like them, but we are commanded to treat them with the love Christ because this is how He treats us in our sin and how the world knows that we are His disciples. No matter what we do or how far we wander, He offers His grace and mercy and love every time. 

Then Peter approached him and asked, "Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? " Matthew 18:21

What about forgiveness? Peter asked Jesus how many times he would have to forgive someone who hurt or offended him? He asked if seven times was enough? Jesus responded with this answer:  I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:22 Jesus was not limiting the amount of times Peter (we) should forgive someone to 490 times. Jesus was not being literal but instead telling Peter that he should have endless forgiveness for the person that has offended him, just as God has endless grace and forgiveness for us. We are called to have forgiving hearts that do not limit the number of times we forgive. We are only able to love and forgive because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Through Him we find the ability to forgive over and over, just as God forgives us over and over. 

It is hard to love and forgive those that have hurt us, but forgiveness is not for them. Forgiveness is for us. If we don’t forgive we cannot heal, and we also run the risk of developing bitterness and resentment in our hearts. 

Jesus gave us the example of how to love others. He loved hard people. He loved sinners. He loved people He did not agree with Him. He loves us and never stops. He does expect us to love hard people with the love He shows us.

How are you loving the difficult people in your life? Can others around you tell that you are a disciple of Christ by the way you are loving others?   

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