We are all sinful, fallen and prone to think of ourselves before others. When people hurt us we are inclined to prefer to wrap ourselves up in that hurt, almost as a protective shield guarding ourselves from any potential closeness with that individual to prevent further hurt. But the thing we don’t realize as we wrap that blanket around ourselves is that the blanket grows. It becomes unforgiveness and bitterness. Then it grows to resentment and further anger. It turns into a boa-constrictor which starts tightening and tightening until all we can feel is the anger, bitterness and frustration. Before long you don’t even realize you have the constrictor around you anymore and you can’t figure out where the pain and anger and frustration are coming from.
This is why Christ calls us to forgive, because unforgiveness chokes all the life out of not just the relationship you have with the person you won’t forgive, but also out of all of the other areas of your life. It steals your joy and your closeness with God himself.
We are called to love as Christ loved us. Let that one sink in…We ARE called to love AS Christ loved US. If you think about it, that’s a REALLY powerful statement. What does Christ’s love for us look like? We were his enemies, not just people that occasionally do bad things, rather enemies, in complete defiance of God. That’s what sin is. It is looking at the creator, whether one consciously recognizes the creator or not, and spitting in His face as we say I don’t need you, I can handle this on my own. That’s who we were. And what did Christ do? While we were still enemies of Him, Christ went to the cross and died in our place so that we could have a restored relationship with God. It is only after we recognize our creator and acknowledge what HE did FOR us and how much HE loves US, that we can even have a relationship with Him. He didn’t wait for us to straighten up or become righteous before He loved us. No, in our unlovable state He loved us, which is what provided a way for there to even be a relationship.
Our culture tells us that love is a feeling that is about you and that you can fall into and out of it based upon the degree of pleasure you derive from a person or thing, but that’s not the way the Bible describes love and that’s not the way Christ loved. We gave him no pleasure, only heartache and death, yet He behaved in love! 1 Corinthians 13 defines love as patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self seeking, not easily angered, does not keep a record of wrongs committed, not delighting in evil, rather love rejoices in truth, it bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things. These are actions, not feelings and honestly most of them are actions one must take in situations of hurt or disappointment. Rarely are we envious, rude, proud, easily angered, etc. in the face of someone’s kindness. Rather we respond in these ways when we are hurt or angry.
So how do we forgive? We forgive by loving as Christ loves. We love as Christ by daily taking the opportunities to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in the face of anger, hurt and disappointment, rather than wrapping ourselves in a boa-constrictor of hurt that will only lead to choking the joy and life out of our lives. Why do we do it? Because Christ first loved us. God knows the incredible joy, peace and freedom that comes from loving in all situations and it is not a command He gives us, without having first walked the path Himself. So let’s decide what path we will walk down…the wide and greatly traveled one of self love…or the narrow and less traveled one of loving because He first loved us! It’s a journey, and every day you’ll have to surrender your pride anew…I know I do…but that surrender is the sweetest gift you will ever receive and I promise it’s definitely worth it!