Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"It Ain't Easy!"

I agree with Rick Warren when he says that forgiveness my be the hardest part of love. We are in the middle of his "40 Days of Love," which is basically a study of 1 Cor.13. Part of what it means for love (the real kind of love that is God's love) to be patient and kind, is that it "keeps no record of wrongs." Love can not grow in an unforgiving heart. The refusal to forgive is the acceptance of bitterness, rage, and anger, which causes malice, and is not the kind of heart that Jesus lives in. (Eph.4:31-32) To seek God is to seek love because God is love, which means that forgiving those who hurt us is not an option. Our forgiveness depends on it!
With apologies to my high school English teacher, sister Smith, "It ain't easy!" Jesus never said that it was! In fact, the Cross shows us that it's usually very very hard and very painful. And to pile on to that Jesus' teaching that it be endless, limitless, and - if I understand Paul - countless, well - "IT REALLY AIN'T EASY!" How can it be endless when the hurt doesn't go away?
Forgiveness isn't about taking away hurt, it's about not letting what someone has done to you have any power over your walk with God. That is why it has nothing to do with what "they" need, want, or deserve. It's about us having a heart like Jesus.
I have always thought about Jesus' shocking reply to Peter's magnanimous willingness to forgive seven time, as being a little "over-kill" to make the point of endless forgiveness. After all, if you let some one hurt you four hundred and ninety times, and you have to forgive them four hundred and ninety times - shouldn't you have moved a long time ago?
As we studied that passage in Matthew 18 again this week, it suddenly dawned on me that it's not just about 490 trespasses that need to be forgiven, but maybe it's about the 490 times you will remember the hurt and relive the pain and disappointment in your head, and you'll have to refuse to let bitterness and anger seize your heart! You'll have to remember to forgive again - and again - and again, because forgiveness isn't about forgetting or about not hurting, though it helps with both, it's about growing in Jesus and learning to love just like he and our Father do.

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