WILL YOU FORGIVE?
“Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12).
I like the book of Proverbs. It offers insightful and practical wisdom for daily living. Consider this little nugget of truth. Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses. What does that mean? If you have God’s love in your heart, it WILL cover ALL offenses. First Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind…Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Are you patient and kind? If you’re a Christian, and the love of God is in your heart, then those qualities should describe you. Do you demand your own way? Are you irritable? Do you keep records of when people offend you? Do you give up on people? Then chances are, you’re not a Christian. I know that sounds like a strong statement, but let me show it to you in the Scriptures. 1 John 2:9 says “If anyone says, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who hates a Christian brother or sister is living and walking in darkness. Such a person is lost, having been blinded by the darkness.” How about John 13:34-35? Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
To be a Christian is to be like Christ – to be loving and forgiving. Remember what Jesus said when He hung on the Cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If you’re going to wear the name of Jesus, then wear His character as well – the love of God. Jesus said if you hate someone it’s the same as committing murder in your heart. He said if you go to church to worship and remember that you‘ve offended someone, or you have failed to forgive someone who‘s offended you, then go and make things right before you worship (Matt. 5:21-26). Jesus also said that if you’re a Christian, not only must you love and forgive your Christian friends, but you must also love your enemies, and bless them, and do good to them as well (Matt. 5:43-48).
Does this sound like an impossible task? Well, it IS impossible in your own strength, but with God‘s help you can do it. I know it’s not always easy being loving, and it’s hard to love and forgive someone who has offended you. But here’s the bottom line. The Bible doesn’t say that love and forgiveness is a “good idea.” It’s a commandment for everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian. Let me give you another Scripture to meditate on. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Forgiveness is not a side issue. It’s absolutely important. So if you’ve been holding onto unforgiveness, then repent of that sin right now, and ask God to give you the grace to forgive that person. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Hebrews 12:15 says, “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” Choose forgiveness today – or it’ll destroy you and those around you.
Pastor Chris Jordan