Trina is a 36 year old single sister in Christ. I appreciate her sharing with us today about the power and importance of love and forgiveness:
It’s my desire to testify that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ in the demonstration of my love toward others in my actions, attitude, and words.
- Can the world see Jesus when they observe me?
I ask myself this question about my own conduct. As time transpires, love seems to be waxing more and more cold, inside and outside of the church. With life’s challenges and trials, I find myself praying continuously, that I am empowered to be gracious, full of love, peace, patience and mercy, that I am long-suffering, bearing good fruit, and being pleasing to God. It seems there is often something happening in life that really puts us to the test. Life is a journey that has many, many stressors. Through it all, we must walk in love!
The Bible says in John 13:35 : by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Love and unity, in particular among God’s people toward one another, and also toward all others is paramount. The Body of Christ is one with Jesus, edified and built up in love; each member caring for the others. We are commanded to love each other, and we should be obedient to this command. Love provides the foundation needed for us to be able to obey all other commandments.
Matthew 22: 37-40:
Jesus said unto him, 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 NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Also, demonstrating and walking in the love of Christ is a great testimony to the lost, who are looking for light in this cold, dark world. The Bible tells us many times to love one another:
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. -1 John
What does this tell us then, when we look around and see the lack of love and unity within the Christian family structure, and also within the church? A lack of love opens the door to all other sins.
This brings me to the next points – forgiveness, and lack thereof.
- I believe unforgiveness is a HUGE and often unacknowledged sin in the lives of some Christians. This is scary! God does not take unforgiveness lightly. We MUST forgive. Love and forgiveness are not options, but are mandates.
Matthew 6:14-15 – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Some people may believe they are in good standing because they have “gotten saved,” go to church, live modest lives, and are obeying most other commandments. My sisters, if we don’t have love for one another and forgiving hearts, we are not in good standing at all! Some people are not easy to love. People hurt each other, sometimes over and over again. Particularly, repeat offenders can be a challenge. During these difficult situations, I have to think of Jesus and how He loves me when I’m unlovable. He forgives me when I have been wretched. He knows everything about me- the good, bad and ugly, and He still loves me. I must confess my sins, and He forgives me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1:9.
I aim to follow His example, even loving my enemies and forgiving them. It’s not easy, and is simply not possible to do in my own strength. I must be fully surrendered to God, and dead to self, to love and forgive as He has called me to. I must walk in the Spirit, having my flesh crucified daily. I must not walk in my flesh! The Holy Spirit enables me to do what is humanly impossible. My flesh wants to hold grudges or retaliate against those who have offended me. In my flesh, it feels like if I keep loving and forgiving someone they will continue to take advantage of me.
I cannot go by the feelings in my flesh.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21.
I must yield fully to God and allow His Spirit within me to enable me to be obedient to Him in my attitude and actions toward people, and let the Lord deal with them. It’s God’s awesome duty to change hearts and minds, and vengeance is His alone.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:31-32 “ Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Daily, the enemy can use others against us to hurt us so he can use the circumstances to get footholds in our lives. The enemy is always busy, being out to kill, steal and destroy, but we are not ignorant of his devices; we must stay busy in Christ! Loving those who sin against and hurt us does not mean we are unjustly angry in the first place, or that they aren’t accountable for their own sin.
Ephesians 4:26 – Be ye angry, and sin not: Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
I have learned that obedience to the commandment to forgive benefits me. Forgiveness has profound healing power, and gives relief because a burden is being released. It is beneficial to pray for wisdom when dealing with problematic people. There are times when keeping a healthy distance is the best thing to do.
Proverbs 22:24-25: Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go. Lest thou learn his ways and get a snare to thy soul.
Strife, discord, animosity, rivalry, gossip, backstabbing, cliques, grudges, jealousy, unforgiveness, hatred, and other manifestations of the flesh can be found almost as much among Christians as with the rest of the world. This is very sad! This hurts the testimony of Christians and brings reproach. The unsaved, who are indeed watching us, are not seeing Jesus in some Christians. They observe that some people who are professing godliness are acting no differently than anyone else. This can turn them away from Christ!
- We certainly can be tempted to sin, like anyone else, but we must walk in the Spirit.
- We must confess our faults to God and repent of any sins we are harboring in our hearts and committing against others.
Notice how the Bible tells us to pray:
….And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors… (Matthew 6)
The Bible instructs us to pray to be forgiven in the same way we are forgiving others. So, exactly how are we forgiving others? Partially? Hesitantly and grudgingly? Not at all? We are asking God to forgive us in the same way that we are forgiving others!
Another specific problem I see is women targeting each other.
- Are we, as sisters in Christ loving each other? Or are we fussing, competing, and fighting with claws out?
- Are we encouraging each other, building each other up, or tearing one another down?
- Are we jealous, envious or resentful of one another?
- How are we toward our brothers?
- Do we have a loving and respectful attitude?
I long to see my sisters in Christ loving and supporting each other. I long to see brothers and sisters and husbands, wives and their families walking together in obedience to God, in unity and love.
The Bible commands us over and over to love:
- And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. – Colossians 3:-14
- Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law- Romans 13:10.
Yet, some Christians are hostile and unforgiving, and going about their business, being faithful church goers, and going through the motions as if all is well. The relevance of all Scripture is very apparent to me as I observe what’s going on around us in the world today, even in the church:
- And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. – Matthew 24:12.
Thank You for loving us with an everlasting, all encompassing love. I pray, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and myself, to stay in full surrender to You, walking in obedience to You and loving You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Your word says that if we love You, keep Your commandments. You command us to love and forgive. Help us to keep these and all other commandments, as you give us the ability to by empowering us with your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus’ name I pray.