20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:20-21
I think the commandment for us to love others as ourselves is most difficult when we are called to forgive them. We can overlook a difficult nature or a disagreement in principle, but it can be nearly impossible to move past hurt.
Forgiveness can be difficult, and it comes on all shapes and sizes. In our day-to-day lives, people will do or say things that offend us. Living in a broken world means we’re going to bump up against other broken people who do broken things. When it’s a person we don’t know as well or someone we don’t have a great deal of contact with, and the offense is small, we can make judgments about who they are and the offense will impact future interactions with them. We keep them locked in a box of who they were the moment they offended us, refusing to allow them to redefine who they are to us. Forgiving these offenses are challenging because the other person often doesn’t even understand they offended you, so they rarely make any effort to restore the relationship.
When it’s someone close to us, and the hurt is deep, it can be devastating and destroy relationships. Because the relationship was close, the hurt is wrapped in betrayal and all trust is destroyed. We throw these people in a box as well, refusing to open it even if they have apologized to us. Forgiving others who have hurt us deeply is one of the most difficult things to do in our walk with Christ. How do we forgive offenses that cut us deep to our heart and soul?
We forgive because we are forgiven and we have been saved from the punishment for our sins. But our saving faith is not merely believing that we are forgiven, it's more than that. It looks at our own sin through God's eyes, sees how horrible it is, then looks to the holiness of our Lord and understands how unspeakably glorious His forgiveness truly is. We are not simply off the hook with the cross, our saving faith means we savor the truth that a forgiving God is the most precious reality in all of the universe.
It is from that understanding that we can forgive others. When we can see our sin the way He sees it, and know that He has freed us from all payment, then looking at the offenses of others becomes minuscule in comparison. The problem is that pride so often gets in the way of us being able to recognize this - we look at others and think their sin is worse, their wrong is worse than anything we would ever do...but that is just not true. That pride is sin, we need to humble ourselves and allow God to reveal our sin to us. The reality is that no one in my life can come close to the way I have offended my King, and He still loves me beyond measure. How could I possibly hold a grudge against someone in my life?
The Bible calls us to forgive. Having an unforgiving heart leads to bitterness, and a heart that is bitter cannot love as it ought to love.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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