IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES
TOPIC: THE POWERFUL FORCE OF LOVE AND FORGIVENESS
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Anyone who loves their brother and sister[a] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”
There is probably no topic that has captivated people throughout the centuries and from most every culture than the topic of love. We put a man on the moon, broke the speed of sound, and mapped the human genome, but love remains a complete mystery. Science has not been able to explain it. Mathematics cannot predict it. Poets still wrestle with adequate words to describe it.
The Christian has been forgiven for the greatest of offenses. He has been forgiven for knowingly, purposely and unrepentantly transgressing the Law of God. And yet we are often slow to forgive our fellow man for the smallest of transgressions. Even the biggest of the sins committed against us are as nothing compared to how we sinned against God. God does not honor this attitude. In Mark 11:25 Jesus says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Our ongoing assurance of pardon before the Father is in some way dependent on our willingness to forgive others.
“When we recognize God’s love for us, and our hopeless situation apart from His love, we can begin to truly love one another.”
We tend to think, based on all that we absorb in our daily life in a fallen world, that love is mostly a feeling that is expressed primarily in erotic ways. Sexual intimacy is an expression of love in marriage, but marital love is infinitely more. And satisfying sexual intimacy flows from true love; love that is sacrificial, and above all, forgiving.
‘For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you”
(Matthew 6:14,15, AMPC).
As we face the temptation to walk in unforgiveness, it’s important to remember who the source of the hurtful actions, negative feelings, or wrong behavior is. The author of this sin is the devil. He is the one who introduced hatred and strife into the world when Adam and Eve sinned. Without his influence, there would be no evil behavior in need of forgiveness. He is the one who is influencing others to hurt us (Ephesians 6:12). That being the case, we need to act against his influence before taking any action toward the other person. We should bind him from lying to our offender, and using them to harm them and others. We should pray that their eyes would be
opened to understand how they’re being used, and how they will ultimately be hurt as well.
With this understanding, we should then act on our love and forgiveness toward that person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we ignore the situation, or don’t seek justice when dealing with something that breaks the law. But it does mean that we don’t harbor bitterness in our hearts toward the other person. Our minds and bodies may be screaming for us to hold on to strife and retaliate in our defense. But a heart full of God’s love will cry out to forgive, even when emotions don’t match our actions (Romans 5:5). We can choose to rise above the other person’s actions and respond like Jesus.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
THE heathen moralists, when they wished to teach virtue, could not point to the example of their gods, for, according to their mythologists, the gods were a compound of every imaginable, and, I had almost said, unimaginable vice. Many of the classic deities surpassed the worst of men in their crimes: they were as much greater in iniquity as they were supposed to be superior in power. It is an ill day for a people when their gods are worse than themselves. The blessed purity of our holy faith is conspicuous, not only in its precepts, but in the character of the God whom it reveals. There is no excellency which we can propose but we can see it brightly shining in the Lord our God: there is no line of conduct in which a believer should excel but we can point to Christ Jesus our Lord and Master as the pattern of it. In the highest places of the Christian faith you have the highest virtue, and unto God our Father and the Lord Jesus be the highest praise.
The theme of God’s forgiving love is so fascinating that we may linger awhile, and a long while too, upon that bright example of forgiveness which God has set before us, but from it all I hope we shall be gathering grace by which to forgive others even to seventy times seven.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”
Brethren, a close imitation of God would make our religion honourable. The ungodly might still hate it, but they could not sneer at it; indeed, the more candid among unbelievers, perceiving our holiness to be the result of our faith, would say nothing against it.
As children. It is the natural tendency of children to imitate their parents: yet there are exceptions, for some children are the opposite of their fathers, perhaps displaying the vices of a more remote ancestor. Absalom did not imitate David, nor was Rehoboam a repetition of Solomon. In the case of God’s children it is a necessity that they should be like their Father; for it is a rule in spirituals that like begets its like. Those who live wickedly are the children of the Wicked One: no proof is needed, you may take it for granted: life is the evidence of nature. Those who live godly and righteously in Christ Jesus, believing in him, are God’s children; and though the godly sin, yet they do not love sin, nor remain without repenting of it. Holiness of life is the proof of regeneration, neither can we accept any other. “By their fruits you shall know them,” is a rule of universal application. God’s children must be like him. With all their faults and failings there must be about their lives as a whole a likeness to God. The copy may be blurred, but it is a copy.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do”
(Colossians 3:12-13, NKJV).
Hate brings death to many areas of life. It breaks apart relationships and destroys peace and health. It can affect our work and effectiveness in the Body of Christ. It also affects our relationship with God and our confidence before Him. Receiving an answer to prayer requires faith, but when we know we’ve done wrong, we cannot confidently stand before God and ask of Him. It also keeps God from hearing our prayer (Psalm 66:8; Isaiah 59:1-2).
A sister to strife and anger is unforgiveness. When we’re fighting with someone, we are not letting go of what they have done to us. Rather than halting the strife with forgiveness, we are keeping the offense alive by retaining bitterness. However, God has instructed us to forgive. It’s not a suggestion, but something we must do to open the door for peace and victory in our lives. We are instructed to imitate God. Only then can He forgive us.
The devil doesn’t want us to walk in peace and victory in our lives. He’ll send the sins of strife and unforgiveness to interrupt our faith and relationship with God because He wants us to be like him, to experience defeat life like he did. Thankfully, if we fall for his traps, we can repent. God will wipe our slate clean, allowing us to begin again (1 John 1:9). The key is to continue to stand on God’s turf of agape love, and off Satan’s turf of unforgiveness and strife.
We must submit ourselves to Love so we can resist the devil’s ugly temptations and receive the peace God always intended us to possess (James 4:7). Remember, loving others is part of obeying and loving Jesus (John 13:34). God’s love has been shed abroad in our hearts, so we have the power to love others by not sinning against them (1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 3). It’s God’s grace to continue the pathway of love and forgiveness toward all!
“Be imitators of God,” it tells us to keep on imitating him as long as we live: therefore I conclude that God will always be to us what he is. He will continue in his love since he makes that love the example of ours. God will persevere in bringing us home to heaven, for he teaches us to persevere, and make this a part of our likeness to himself. The Lord will not turn away his heart from us; he will not fail nor be discouraged: having begun to make us fit for heaven he will never withdraw his hand until that work is done. Therefore rest upon the immutable goodness of your Father, and pray for grace for evermore to imitate him until you come to see his face. May his presence be with you, and may he give you rest. Amen.
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