Forgiveness – The Key to Love

Before love can be either given or received, there must be forgiveness. Through His son Jesus, God forgave our sins when Jesus died on the cross. This was love. We cannot truly love someone unless we are willing to forgive them.

Matthew 12:31 says: And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Even though every kind of sin can be forgiven, we still put limits on God forgiveness. The ability to forgive comes from God and not from our abilities.

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is when we refuse to look at, or focus on the sins of others. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12(NIV) Here Jesus is quoting a passage in Jeremiah 31 as God was explaining to Jeremiah what would happen when God established His Covenant of Grace.

Many people have the idea that if we forgive someone, we forget what happened. However, forgiveness is when we ‘refuse to remember’ the wrong that was done against us. In other words, we do not keep reminding ourselves of the wrong done against us. Forgiveness is when we no longer ‘keep score’.

Many relationships are destroyed when someone in the relationship begins making a mental list of all the wrongs done against them. We want to use those sins to ‘protect’ our pride. We want to look better than the other person in the relationship.

“How can I forgive them when they have done…?” Forgiveness comes from God. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he did not say I forgive you. But he did say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34(NIV) You see, only God can forgive sin. When someone sins against us, we ask God to do the forgiving because we are unable to do it in our own strength. Forgiveness requires God sized strength.

Throughout the Old Testament, the emphasis seems to be on looking at sin. The law was put into place so we would know what sin is. In Romans 7:7 Paul says:

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7(NIV)

In the New Testament however, the focus is on the forgiveness of sins made available when God caused Jesus to be victorious over death. In the Gospels, Jesus is frequently telling people ‘their sins were forgiven’. This would get the religious leaders all in an uproar because only God could forgive sins. The leaders were focused on the sin, but Jesus was focused on the forgiveness of the Father. Jesus was doing what the God had instructed him to do.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.1 John 4:7-12(NIV)

When we experience God’s forgiveness, we can experience love. When we forgive others through the God’s strength, we can experience love. Love and un-forgiveness cannot co-exist. In other words, when we hang onto the sins of other, God cannot show us love because he cannot look at sin. Let go of the sins of others so God’s love can be seen in you.

When we exercise forgiveness of our spouse, we will begin experiencing love. When we exercise forgiveness our children or our parents, we begin to experience love. When we exercise forgiveness in a work or business relationship, we begin experiencing love. When we exercise forgiveness of our neighbor, we begin to experience love.

The most important thing in a person’s life is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13(NIV) Paul is telling the church at Corinth that the greatest gift is “love”. When you exercise forgiveness, you are showing love. People will see love; they will know that Christ dwells within you. They will want what you have.

Forgiveness brings love, but un-forgiveness brings bitterness. (Acts 8:22-23)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

What Makes a Marriage Bloom?

Every young person has dreams about their future. They have certain goals that they hope to accomplish; they want to be valued by the society in which they live.

The young lady will dream of weddings with all the frills and a wedding dress that will be better and prettier than any other wedding dress. She dreams of living in a beautiful home where everything is perfect. Somehow in the dreams the house always stays well kept. It never needs cleaning or dusting. There are never dirty clothes on the floor. Somehow the clothes never need washing, ironing, or being hung on hangers.

The young lady dreams about her wonderful husband that loves her so much that she gets every desire of her heart. He earns enough money that there is always money for dining out or attending a cultural event. There is always enough money to take a cruise or a vacation to the mountains, lake, or beach. In her dreams, there is nothing but love and protection. Her husband will never make a mistake.

The young man on the other hand dreams of having this important job as an executive or an indispensable employee. He dreams of the money he will make and how he will always drive the nicest car in the neighborhood, he will own the nicest house on the block. He may also dream of this beautiful boat that he can take to the lake and impress everyone with the beauty and size of his boat. He may dream of playing golf every week-end or going to the gym. Or he may dream of having a workshop where he can work on cars or boats; or perhaps work on various wood working projects that he makes to improve the decor of his house or make it more organized.

The young man may even dream about this beautiful woman that will treat him like a king. She will prepare his meals at just the right time; the meals will always be done to perfection; and there will never be a dirty dish in the sink. His clothes will always be washed, iron, and hung in the closet. Life will be wonderful. This woman will always be ready for intimacy at the snap of his fingers. Life will be so wonderful. His wife will never do anything that would displease him.

Then the day comes along when the lady and the man decided they have met their wonderful spouse. They date for a while with each person putting the other person into their own dreams. The day comes when they decide to get married. They may experience a little trouble in their intended mate but it will go away after they are married.

The couple gets married and reality sets in. The wife tried to make her husband fit the dreams that she had. She realizes that he does not have an unlimited income; he wants to have home prepared meals; his clothes get dirty and are always lying around. He has different ideas about what the home should look like; he gets tired after working all day long; and he is not the ‘knight in shining armor’ that she was dating. She just cannot make her husband into the man she dreamed would be her husband.

The husband begins to realize that she is not intimate at the snap of his fingers; she sometimes burns the food; she wakes up looking a mess and may even be a little grouchy; and she always seems to need money for something. There is not enough money to buy the car of their dreams or the house with the nice workshop. The wife sometimes gets tired after cleaning the house all day or running errands for him. She does not seem to be interested in becoming the girl of his dreams.

And they both think: “What have I done?” The marriage begins spiraling down and divorce begins to enter their minds. Their spouse has ruined their dreams. Rather than looking at the good things about their spouse, they begin looking for all the bad they have done. They start keeping score. They use the mistakes of their spouse like ammunition in the attempt to recover that dream they had before they were married.

But God has something much better for them if they willing to trust Him.

1 Corinthians 13 is considered the love chapter of the Bible. It is frequently used in Christian weddings but is not often understood. People tend to think the love just happens. Love is a choice we make. It is an emotion that requires action on our part. Here is what it says:

 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  • Love is patient,
  • love is kind.
  • It does not envy,
  • it does not boast,
  • it is not proud.
  • It does not dishonor others,
  • it is not self-seeking,
  • it is not easily angered,
  • it keeps no record of wrongs.
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • It always protects,
  • always trusts,
  • always hopes,
  • always perseveres.

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:3-8a.(NIV)

This passage was not intended to be a definition of love but rather it is what happens to make love develop. It is the prescription for love. When we are self-centered and hoard everything for ourselves, we are not showing love because love cannot exist in these conditions. For love to exist, this is what you need to do:

  • Be patient,
  • Be kind.
  • Do not envy,
  • Do not boast,
  • Do not become proud.
  • Do not dishonor others,
  • Do not become self-seeking,
  • Do not easily become angry,
  • Do no keep record of wrongs.
  • Do not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • Always protects,
  • Always trusts,
  • Always hopes,
  • Always perseveres.

Then you will begin to experience love. It is then that you once again to see ‘the girl of your dreams’ or ‘your knight in shining armor’ because these actions are probably what you did before you were married.

Just as plants need the right fertilizer to produce beautiful blooms, love also needs the right fertilizer to produce. Doing the right things serves as the fertilizer needed for love to bloom. So rather than slinging mud at your partner because they are not what you expected, start sprinkling them with the proper balance of ‘fertilizer’ and they will become the person they should be; the person you wanted in your dreams. Your marriage will begin bloom again.

NOTE: Scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com