Jesus had been brutally treated and nailed to the cross to die. Yet in that moment, he still had the strength of mind and character to pray, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Where does strength like that come from? What could ever motivate this kind of response? The only answer is found in genuine God-enabled love.
I Corinthians 13 is called “The Love Chapter.” It follows Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts and their function within the body of Christ. In chapter 13, he then adds, you can have all these wonderful gifts, but if you lack love, you are little more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (13:2) Paul then begins to unwrap the primary characteristics of love.
Verse five delineates four qualities of genuine love. “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” Forgiveness involves those same qualities. Forgiveness is love in action. It is not simply the response of a big heart. It is an act of genuine godly love. For “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16)
1. True forgiveness is not rude – or impatient, or ill-mannered.
2. True forgiveness is not self-seeking or insists on its own way. Godly love always seeks the best for the other person. It always seeks another’s highest good.
3. True forgiveness is not irritable or resentful. The Bible says, “Those with good sense are slow to anger, and they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” (Prov. 19:10-11) Forgiveness, as an act of love, is able to overlook the faults of others. (I Peter 4:8)
4. True forgiveness also does not keep a record of wrongs. (13:5). It is able to move on to allow the process of healing and restoration to begin.
Often, however, instead of releasing the offence, we harbor the hurt, the pain, and the anger.
Genuine forgiveness is an act of love empowered by the Holy Spirit within us. It is not ill-mannered or preoccupied with its own rights. It is not easily provoked. Nor does it allow itself to get burdened with grudges. It is able to release all these matters to a faithful God who judges fairly and who himself keeps no record of wrongs. (Micah 7:10-19)
“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, not threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (I Peter 2:21-23) Forgiveness is the obligation of the forgiven – and we are the forgiven.
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love