Love and Forgiveness 1/26/21

“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Mt 18:21-22)

“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. … Love never fails.” (I Cor 13:4-5,8)

Does our expression of love and forgiveness look like that of our Lord’s, or does it look like the world’s?

If we belong to Christ, there are some things over which we have no choice. We must forgive as we have been forgiven. We must love as we have been loved. We must give grace as we have received grace. These are only theories and ideas unless they are acted out in our daily lives, given to real people who may be hard to love, who may have wronged us.

When Christ went to the cross, had we not wronged Him? Was it not for our sins that He suffered and died? Paying the penalty for our sins, bearing the wrath of the Father for our sins? He suffered wrong, wrong from us, in love for us. He took our sin, paid the penalty in our place, and gave us His righteousness.

How can we say we love the Lord and rejoice in His love if we do not love others? How can we rejoice in God’s forgiveness if we don’t forgive others? Do we only forgive and love the lovable? Or do we love as Christ loved us, we who in our sin were unlovable?

If we cannot love and forgive, without exception, then we must question whether the love and forgiveness of Christ truly dwells within us. When we don’t love and forgive, it is pride which reigns in our hearts, not Christ. Pride doesn’t belong in our hearts. Our pride was nailed to the cross with Christ. We empty ourselves before Him that He might fill us.

The Dead Sea supports no life. It is dead. It is dead because although water flows into it, nothing flows out. It keeps what it receives, and without sharing, it dies. Let’s not allow our hearts and lives to be like the Dead Sea. The blessings of God that we receive must flow out to be shared or we become spiritually stagnant.

The verse that tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” is usually associated with the giving of our tithes and offerings. However, I think we can also apply it to all of the spiritual blessings we have received. These, too, we should share with others. Give your love and forgiveness cheerfully. That demonstrates the Holy Spirit’s power within you. That demonstrates that you truly understand the love and forgiveness you have received from our Lord. “Freely you have received, freely give.”

Pastor Haney

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