I encourage you to pursue genuine love that forgives
Worldly wisdom doesn’t allow for the love of Jesus Christ which forgives. No revenge, no desire for personal justice, and no festering resentment, that’s God’s way. In Christ, you can put grudges to death for the sake of Jesus renown. The child of God turns “to forgive and comfort” because they don’t want the guilty person to “be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow”. Rather, Christians want “to reaffirm love” (2 Corinthians 2:7-8) in order to aid the guilty person in repentance and reconciliation.
The sad scenario of self-vindicating unforgiveness
It started with you perceiving an offense, whether intentional or not, you experienced pain. A sense of indignation rose to the highest emotional level, then self-defence kicked in and self-vindication began. You began interpreting the original offense as a personal attack. So, the heart began recording all the damming evidence against the offender.
Throughout the growing offense, personal innocence is assured by self and sin, as responsibility is not accepted for any wrong responses. Your vengeful motives, hurtful speech, and malicious actions, are all overlooked. Sin assures you that you are justified in your wrong behaviour by declaring you innocent. Then, sin informs you that slandering the other person is OK. You see, sin has it all figured out. Any amount of damage caused to as many people as necessary is justified in the relentless pursuit of self-vindication, and self-promotion.
What may have begun as an innocent and unintentional happening turns into full-blown war. Sin swears it’s allegiance to your cause. It will faithfully see you through to utter ruin and self-destruction in the name of self-vindication. Sin evaluates and concludes your personal innocence while calling divine judgment upon your offender. Any others who will not take your side must like-wise suffer your justice. Indeed, sin is the faithful companion of unforgiveness – till death do you part.
The beauty that forgives
However, forgiveness releases the offender from personal liability and any debt requiring repayment or correction. Forgiveness halts feelings of resentment, animosity and anger toward the offender. Forgiveness sets them free, while setting you at calm toward them (This also applies when legal justice, restitution, or safety issues need to be worked through).
As love is the founder of forgiveness, so unforgiveness proves the absence of love. In fact, hatred is at the heart of unforgiveness, even robbing you of the desire to be forgiven. But not so with the child of God who forgives!
The supremacy of love that forgives
Scripture tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, Holy Spirit generated love reflects God’s loving nature instead of the world’s idea of love. God’s love behaves differently, it “does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Because love rejects the harbouring of unforgiveness, acknowledging it as sinful, and dishonouring to the Lord.
Make no mistake; forgiving costs, it can hurt! As the humble road is taken, as personal preferences are denied, and as the negative whispers of others are ignored, self loses. However, this is the only path sanctification knows. This is the Christ exalting road transforming us “from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Today, let the world see the Christ who forgives in you; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44-45). Be like Jesus Christ, who, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten” (1 Peter 2:23).
Continuing next week…
Together for Christ: Lincoln Forlong www.bbf.net.nz