One Ministry, One Church, One Message Worldwide
A healthy dose of forgiveness is something we all need at one time or another. We feel life’s painful edges when we make a mistake and hurt someone, or when we’re on the receiving end and they hurt us. It can be tempting to hold a grudge, but that traps us in a cycle of emotional pain we don’t need. It’s easier to forgive others when we know that we’ve been forgiven.
God made promises of love and forgiveness to us before we were even born because He knew that was exactly what we would need. When we accept Jesus, we receive those promises for ourselves. Forgiving someone for something they’ve done wrong is one way to demonstrate love. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, NIV). God loves us so much that He’s extending open arms to us, despite our past wrongdoings.
We’ve all heard the sermons that tell us to love one another, but some churches neglect to tell us the whole story. It’s impossible to go through life without sometimes feeling like we’re under attack by negative emotions; at times like this, it’s pretty tough to show love for others through our own efforts. However, God has taken care of that. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we think about this long enough to let it sink down into us, we find strength to love others.
A misconception about love is that it involves emotions. Feelings are a by-product of love, but they’re not love, itself. Love the way God describes it is a conscious decision. “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always ‘me first,’ Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, MSG). Feelings can fluctuate like the ocean tides; a deliberate choice to love enables us to be consistent.
God deliberately chose to make His love for us evident by sending His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17). Forgiveness is the opposite of condemnation. Choosing to hang on to past hurts traps us in a painful past and prevents us from moving on; that’s not God’s will for us. Believing in what Jesus did frees us to receive the forgiveness and undeserved favor He offers us with no strings attached.
Feeling unloved and unforgiven makes life seem harsh and cruel. It can open us up to worry, anxiety, and other negative emotions that God never wanted us to feel. However, we don’t have to struggle when we remember God’s love and forgiveness. “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7, AMPC). Knowing how He loves us gives life a whole new perspective.