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. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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