It Really Is All About Forgiveness, Part 1
Since the 1960s there has been tremendous talk and discussion about “love” and how it looks and feels. It’s been defined as everything from feeling wonderful about someone else, to having sexual relations with many people with no real emotional connection. In essence, what it all boils down to where the world’s definition of love is concerned is limited to the realm of feelings. Without God that’s the best humanity can do. With God, we can rise above that toward a truer more pure form of love, but only if God is actually and truly part of the picture and if it is done His way.
God does not simply love people or His Creation. Yes, He certainly does that, but it doesn’t end there nor is the full definition of “love” exhausted by how God feels for humanity. God’s actions – all of them – flow from the fact that He is love, not that He simply loves. He loves because it is the very essence of who God is and true love – God-defined love – is seen in His actions toward humanity.
God has done something for humanity that would never have been considered by any created being. Because God is love at the very core of His being, the natural outflow of that trait expresses itself in something that is literally the very pinnacle of what makes Him God.
In short, because He is love, God has found a way to forgive. Not only has He found a way to forgive, but He has extended that forgiveness in two outstretched arms for over 2,000 years.
Often, we hear about God’s love and we should. But I think there is something we’ve been missing about the superiority and excellency of God’s love. Without the extension of forgiveness to humanity, God’s love would never have reached us.
In other words, because God is love, He pursues us. John the apostle tells us this very thing in 1 John 4:8.
The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love (NET; emphasis added).
But love must be coupled with some sort of demonstrable action otherwise it is simply an emotion. There’s nothing wrong with emotions. We human beings experience a full range of emotions, some good and some bad.
But human beings are not love. We can be loving but we are not, in and of ourselves, love. We can only exhibit love under the best of times and then only as a very poor reflection of God’s love. This love that we demonstrate is usually relegated to the area of romance, though it can certainly be seen between two people who are merely very close friends. The bond they share transcends simply liking the other. There is something deeper that binds them together in friendship.
But God is love. Love is God’s essence, but not in an ethereal, incalculable way that is so often misunderstood today by pundits, psychoanalysts, and New Age shamans. Love that is God is supremely demonstrable and God has proven it. We know of God as love because of what He did for humanity. In essence, the love that is God proves beyond doubt that He far exceeds any nebulous form of psycho-babble or New Age speak. God has proven beyond doubt His character and the fact that He is love is both unassailable and beyond the reach of mere mortals.
Yes, for God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). Everything about the physical life of Jesus on this earth proves His love. Everything He said. Everything He did. Everything He thought. All of it proved love abounds in Him because He is love. He forgives.
No other religious leader, no other human being, nowhere in all of God’s Creation does anyone teach forgiveness as part of the very fabric that sets God apart from all of His Creation. Beyond this, no one excels at forgiveness as does the Lord God.
For God so loved the world, that He gave…in order to forgive.
Because God is love – again, His very essence – He was compelled to find a way to forgive and find a way He did. He couldn’t not find a way. This forgiveness is held out to all who will come to Him to receive it. In spite of this continued offer of forgiveness, multitudes continue to reject the offer. There will come a day for each person when that forgiveness will no longer be held out. We are all too aware of the consequences of rejecting God and His forgiveness. It separates the saved from the unsaved.
But I’d like to actually shine the light on Christians. Let me ask you a question I have recently begun asking myself: do you forgive as quickly and as thoroughly as God has forgiven you?
It is a question that desperately needs our attention and our honest response. Are we as quick to forgive others who slight us as God does where we are concerned?
My answer for myself is very simple: No, I do not forgive as quickly, as fully, or as generously as God has forgiven me.
How can I change that? Do I want to change that? Should I even be concerned about changing that?
If I am at all concerned about my fellowship with God since I have salvation, then I should most definitely want to change my attitude where forgiving others is concerned. Yes, I should absolutely be concerned about changing it. How can I change that? There is only one way that I know of and that is through an ever-deepening growth in fellowship with God (Love).
But one of the best ways that we can enter into and maintain our fellowship with God is through the action of forgiving others. It is when we forgive from the heart, not the mind, that we are most like our heavenly Father. It is when we fully set aside and forget as though it never happened a sin against us by someone else, that we are acting in concert with God and being true imitators of Him.
I want to expand on this concept because it is exceedingly important. I cannot stress that enough. If we fail to forgive others their slights against us – perceived or real – we are not acting as God acts toward us. We need to find how we forgive so that we are truly imitating Him so that our fellowship with deepens.
We’ll look at this more closely next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: 1 john 4:8, forgive, forgiveness.