Posted tagged ‘Joyce Meyer’

Love and Forgiveness

June 19, 2012

Love and Forgiveness         (2)

We walk in love and forgiveness, doing good to all men, especially those of our kind” – the first line of our creed.

It is safe to conclude from the earlier post on love that: man can not truly love independent of God; man can not out love God; but he can by God’s power at work in him, love as God does.

In this post, we will quickly revisit God’s love; our love for God; love for self; and love for others, given particular attentions to loving our enemies and the role of forgiveness in all these. We will also attempt to show that the power to love comes through faith, and that it is exercised by knowledge.

True love is not mere emotions; it is expressed as an act of one’s will. An exercise of the will involves power and knowledge.

It is relatively easy for us to love God. When we realize how much God loves us and consider all the wonderful things He has done and still does for us, we’ll discover that it is not so difficult to love Him back.

We can not love in our own strength, not with God’s kind of love, as no man in the flesh can please God Rom.8:8. In our natural ability, we just lack the power and the motivation to love some people. In Christ, God gives both the motivation and the ability. This is where faith is required.

God’s love for us is perfect, never changes; it is constant. Rom.8:35-39. Such love is beyond what human mind can comprehend, but fortunately one doesn’t have to understand why he is loved in order to experience and enjoy that love. On the other hand, our love for God and for others grows as we experience more of God.

Our total love for God and complete trust in Him helps in our love of self. Truly believing that He has forgiven us just as He said helps us to forgive ourselves of past mistakes. The knowledge that He loves us; that He knows and does the best for us, helps in reconciling our selves to any real or perceived physical disabilities or inadequacies, removing all forms of inferiority complex.

It is not our love for God that makes us trust Him. Our faith in God is built on His love for us. The more we experience this love, the stronger our love for Him and our faith in Him grow. Love trusts, but trust must be earned. God has earned our trust in many ways, firstly and chiefly, by given His Son up for us while we were still sinners.

Likewise, whatever limited trust we will put in any man must have been earned. That we love a man and that we have forgiven him of his wrong does not mean we should go all out to trust him. The very fact that an arm is made of flesh is evidence that it is liable to fail. So, we should always leave room for mistakes (failures) in our relationships with men.

Jesus answering a lawyer quoted the following scriptures from Deut.6:5 and Lev.19:18

…, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” Matt 22:37-40 KJV

Literally, Jesus said that by keeping these two commandments you would have kept all the others.

If you love God with everything in you, you would never want to do anything to wrong or annoy Him. Also, if you love your neighbour as yourself, you would not do to or think towards him anything you wouldn’t love done to or thought towards you.

The Master raised the stake, making love seem more unattainable, when He demanded that we love our enemies.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matt 5:43-44 KJV

This way we are not allowed to screen the recipients of our love, all men are qualified.

In the same manner that we through faith appropriate grace for other things we have in Christ Jesus, we must appropriate grace for love. We confess the words of God about love and the ability He has given us to love. It will help to make a list of individuals for whom we have a definite lack of love; for whom we feel hatred, bitterness, offence, envy, etc and pray for them, pronouncing tangible blessings into their lives.

This is how love becomes a faith walk. This is how we receive power to love even the most difficult of men.

But how do you truly love a man, and still consider him an enemy? This calls for intelligence.

We must not be naïve as Christians, but as wise as serpents Matt.10:16, Prov.22:3; 27:12. A wise man sees evil from afar and hides.

With the love of God in us, we don’t consider men as enemies but we are quick to identify people who see us as enemies and come to terms with that. While we love them and pray for them, we never assume a shift in their stand against us, so we never let down our guards.

Forgiveness

Jesus admonished that we forgive men that offend us if we expect God to forgive our offences Matt. 6:14-15, Mk. 11:25. Elsewhere, He said it is better to leave your offerings at the altar and go to settle issues with your brother before making your prayers.

This greatly underscores the spiritual importance of walking in love and forgiveness. If things are not right between you and your brother, forget it, things can not be right between you and God. Your Christian walk is virtually put on pause until you have released every man.

Forgiveness, not holding to offences seems difficult because it is our associates, friends and relatives that offend us most. These are people that we believe should know better and we could be so hurt that we wouldn’t even mention it to them. It becomes a grudge.

However, no matter how much we may try to justify our position, we should know that this shortchanges us in every way: spiritually, emotionally, medically, mentally etc. If only for genuine self interest, we must let men go.

Years ago, Pastor Poju taught a principle that has never failed me. He said you can always excuse people on any of the following premises:

  1. You can assume it was just a misunderstanding, the fellow meant no harm
  2. You can assume he did it out of ignorance, didn’t know it was wrong or that you’ll be hurt
  3. You can assume the fellow did it under influence; he was used by the devil against you. Then you can direct your anger at Satan and not at him

The idea here is that the devil knows something good is ahead for you and he is using men against you, bringing offences your way so as to create a stumbling block for you. Well, if you truly believe something great is coming your way, you will quickly release men. Or, which one is more important to you: your future or holding people down?

I didn’t say any of these will be easy, but as a song writer wrote: If you catch hell, don’t hold it; if you are going through hell, don’t stop. Just go ahead.

A couple of years ago, a lady, a chief executive was greatly hurt by her staff when she happened on a Facebook chat in which they maligned her, saying all sort of rubbish about her. I met them begging are. She told me how much she trusted these particular staff and had invested a lot in them.

My advice to her was simple and short: for her own peace, health, and relationship with God, she must forgive them and must not love them any less than ever before.

Does that mean they should not be punished? No! It doesn’t. They should be justly punished, more so because she loved them. Why? So that they will learn; and thus avoid a bigger pitfall in future. Love disciplines and is disciplined.

In the above explanations and examples, men were excused. We were able to arrive at some logical reasons to continue to love them and thus release them.

However, love will not always appear logical and self interest should not be a motivation for true love.

Also, even when man is careless enough to jettison self interest, the commandment still stands that he must love.

The Lord upgraded the second golden rule in Jn.13:34, and stressed the upgrade in Jn.15:12

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Jn.13:34

Jesus knew some people will have difficulties loving even their own self and thus no qualms not loving their brother.

Now, this appears like a tall order. How did Jesus love us?

In man’s case before God, we were lawful captives of the enemy, and we were in enmity with God. Yet God loved us. There was no logical reason why He should; this is a love that surpasses knowledge. Eph.3:19.

We had no case for our release, no reason why He should set us free. Yet He loved us and wanted us released.

As a just God, He could not just release us out of love; for love is not a legal tool, but mercy is (lawyers can not ask for the love of the judge, but they do plead for leniency). Mercy had to be invoked, but on what ground? For the Judge to remain impartial, Jesus came and shed His blood for our justification.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:6-8 KJV

Anxieties, offences, and bitterness are known to have health implications. They have been linked to indigestions, constipations, heart problems etc.

For a scientific view on why you should always forgive, you may want to read Dr. Ellen Weber’s post, A Brain on Forgiveness.

The post talks about the mental benefits of forgiveness, how stress defaults to unforgiveness and shrinks the brain, and how holding a grudge slows down the brain. It states that feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment overtime can rub your contentment.

Just imagine that. Why on earth would I want my brain to slow down and shrink because of what somebody did to me, somebody that is probably enjoying his own life, oblivious of my anger?

Considering the fact that walking in love is a faith walk, considering the sacrifices we are called to make in loving our enemies and releasing men that bitterly hurt us, a recent tweet can not be more on point:

“You can’t walk in love for free…it costs something.” – a tweet from Joyce Meyer.

Yes, it sure does cost something, but walking in unforgiveness costs much more.

~ David Adebola Oke


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