Loving requires forgiveness
Forgetting requires forgiveness
Forgiveness requires love
Loving is forgiving
And then forgetting
Today's article was written and ready since yesterday, but as I awoke this morning thinking about love on this valentines day, forgiveness was on my heart and so I began to write.
You cannot say that you love someone if you are unwilling to forgive that person, because love and forgiveness go hand in hand. Loving, the unconditional type, says that regardless of what you’ve done, I love you. That word ‘regardless’, is not a robotic disregard of your feelings though. It is a willingness to put your heart, ego and others’ impressions of you on the line and forgive anyway. Loving is a cycle of selflessness and forgiveness. The part of you that may want revenge and to feel justified, is intentionally diminished and subordinated to your desire to restore and reconcile, because your love for that person must outweigh any hurt.
Forgiveness and humility are best friends. There is never a time when pride and forgiveness live in the same house. A humble heart sees that it too has made mistakes and has hurt others. That humble heart knows that the same way that you desire another’s forgiveness whom you’ve hurt, this forgiveness should be reciprocated. A humble heart sees the humanity in humans and wants to love them despite their faults.
It is a deception to think that someone else’s hurt or indiscretion is more egregious than yours and therefore one is justified to maintain that position of hurt and unforgiveness. There is only one righteous judge and He is God, it is He who says that we have all sinned and fallen short of His glory. Remember Jesus says that the committal of a sinful act is not in the actual commission but that it starts in the heart and in one’s thoughts. So, think about how many times you may have wished for the hurt of another. No one knows your thoughts and therefore by society’s standard we are indeed good and upstanding, but against the standard of a righteous and holy God we are like 'filthy rags'.
People will offend us all the time, those we know and even strangers, because persons will always fall below our expected standard of behaviour. This same standard is often the root of unforgiveness since we tell ourselves 'I would never do what that person did'. We deem the action as indefensible, make ourselves the righteous judge and determine that the behaviour was too heinous to be deserving of forgiveness.
The truth is that forgiveness is never something that is deserved. You may be very correct that the behaviour was wrong, hurtful and offends every standard of decency. However, the criterion for forgiveness is not based on the simplicity or outlandishness of the fault, it is based on a heart that knows, each one of us is guilty of an error, sometimes daily to be honest. God has forgiven us of so much, none of which we deserved. We have offended others without knowing and they have forgiven us. We have sought forgiveness from those we love and even though we didn’t deserve it, they gave it anyway.
I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. Luke 7:47
Never deceive yourself into thinking that you are right and entitled to harbour unforgiveness. I’ll say this now, there is NEVER a fault or offence that entitles you to stand in a place of judgement and determine that an error is unforgiveable. You may have heard this many times, but I’ll say it again, unforgiveness hurts you; emotionally and physically. Therefore, there is NEVER an offence that should cause you to inflict further hurt to yourself. Imagine that someone is stabbed and in pain but then refuses to visit the hospital or to treat the injury; the same is true of unforgiven offence.
Many persons think that they have forgiven a particular issue especially after the passage of time has allowed the sting of the pain to lessen and new situations or experiences in life now occupy our minds. Sometimes you may have genuinely forgotten about the offence and then something triggers a memory that causes those putrid emotions to resurface. The forgiveness cycle is not a one-time thing. You may need to actively and consciously extend forgiveness several times to completely heal, once you realise that there is residual hurt from a situation.
The cycle of love and forgiveness is one that says, for my love of this person to endure, I must selflessly give them the forgiveness that they need. I must be the one to free my heart of offence so that it can make way for deeper love. I will create room for the greatest gift of all, I will give love and not pain, I will extend grace to those who may be least deserving. I will love as God loves and graciously extend my heart in humility to restore a broken friendship, to mend what was shattered and to love more candidly and sincerely. I will elevate love above pain, I will do for that person, something that they did not do for me. I will give love, above all else and God, the righteous judge, will see and be my reward. He says to love those who hurt us, pray for those who use us and to treat with kindness our enemies. More so, those we love, we must forgive, it’s the cycle of love and forgiveness.
There are several levels to this forgiveness conversation, but I have chosen to reiterate a single message; forgive those you love. We must love our enemies, that is certain, but start your love and forgiveness journey right at home, start with those whom you see daily, start with you.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other…God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:11&16b NLT