Monday, November 17, 2008

Love and Forgiveness

This week I’ve been thinking about sin, the love it takes for Christ to forgive us, and the love it takes for us to forgive each other. Maybe for some of you true forgiveness comes quickly and easily, but for people like me it can be a difficult process. I always think justice is necessary, but justice and forgiveness are two very different things. While justice sometimes occurs, the only thing I have control over is my attitude of forgiveness.

One story I have meditated on this week has been the one of the “sinful woman” who pours her ointment on Jesus’ feet. It’s such a strange picture in my mind. Here sits Jesus at dinner with one of the spiritual elite, a Pharisee. As this poor and sinful woman approaches, The Pharisee sits shocked. How could this type of woman walk up to Jesus? Then she begins crying, washing Jesus’ feet and anointing them with oil. She is making a scene, and the Pharisees are appalled, not just at this woman’s behavior, but at Jesus’ reaction to her. From the story, we know that Jesus can read his thoughts. So He speaks to what the man is thinking about in his heart.

That story is behind the phrase that will not leave my mind Luke 7: 47: "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." It just won’t leave my mind. Profound truth in just a few words, and it’s a truth that is changing my thinking. The forgiveness the Lord gives any of us is great and should produce our great love. The reason it does not is because in our humanity we think we know what sin is worse in God’s eyes. We are wrong in assuming what God thinks. I suggest to those of you who read this that all the sin Christ forgives is amazing. The difference is in our view of sin. We let our view cloud what God’s Word says. The Pharisee who sat and judged this sinful woman was full of pride, a sin which the Lord says He hates. He wanted justice for her worse actions, and did not realize the extent of the sin in his own heart.

The act of forgiveness from the Lord is rooted in His perfect love for us, the sinful. In return for His forgiveness, we are to love the Lord with all our hearts, soul and mind. His great forgiveness should easily produce great love. Of course as humans we fail to remember this, but one day in heaven we will be able to love Him completely without our sin filled flesh.

What I’ve just described is the love and forgiveness from God to man. Forgiveness and love also take place between people. The principle Jesus speaks of in this passage applies to our earthly relationships. I know for me, I can think of times when forgiveness was difficult. I can remember times when I have been so hurt or angry that forgiveness did not seem possible. I wanted that person to pay for what they had done. Yet Christ paid the ultimate price to save me, so the least we can do is forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ. I certainly don’t want the Lord to judge me harshly for all the wrong I’ve done. So, I must allow the love of Christ to dwell in me richly, and forgive the trespasses of others just as God forgives me. The result of forgiveness is love.

This is what it comes down to for me today: love motivates forgiveness and forgiveness creates more love. I have been deeply convicted by this passage to forgive in love quickly and completely. Christ has forgiven me, I should forgive others and pray for grace and mercy in their lives just as I have experienced it in mine.

I encourage those who read this to examine their own relationships, and to give forgiveness and love freely, just as Christ has done for you.


Diane said...

Thanks for this post, Keri. I am posting on this topic at my blog as well. Your comments reminded me of M'Cheyne's hymn text:

When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know
Not 'til then, how much I owe.

Blessings on you friend,

Martin LaBar said...

"The result of forgiveness is love."

So it is.