Choosing To Love and Forgive

People will hurt you and people will mistreat you.  I know that isn’t a groundbreaking assertion, but it is true nonetheless.  I spent part of this past Sunday and even this past Wednesday night teaching on the fact that we can’t control what others do, but we can control how we respond to it.  Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it is always necessary to remember.  At our boys school this past Monday night we went to a seminar and the key point was, be proactive-I’m in charge of me.  That is from Stephen Covey’s book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and that line of books.  In our country, so many people want to play the victim role.  And there are certainly times in which we are the victim of something, but we don’t have to have that mentality.  I love what Paul said in Romans 8:36-37, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  Paul knew what it was like to be mistreated and misrepresented.  He knew what it was like to have people want to silence him and get rid of him.  Yet he writes, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”  With God we can and will overcome everything that is placed in front of us.  There are two ways that we can make this process a little faster and a little easier.

The first way is choosing to love people.  We don’t have to like what they do, but we are called in Scripture to love them.  Love is a word that is thrown around in the English language and sadly it has lost much of its meaning and value.  According to the Bible, true love is more than an emotion.  It is an emotion that leads to an action.  It is the love that God has shown to the world (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8).  It is the love that husbands are commanded to give to their wives (Eph. 5:25).  It is the love we are called to show to those around us (Luke 10, Mt. 22).  True love is not based on how people treat me.  True love is based on how I treat them.  Matthew 5:44 says, “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.” We can’t make people choose to love us, but we can choose  to love them, and that is what we are called to do.  Part of loving them is forgiving them.

That is the second way we can be more than conquerors.  Everyone makes mistakes.  We all say or do things that hurt others.  Sometimes we may intentionally do it, but for the most part it is something that is unintentional.  Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, remember, we have the ability to choose how we respond.  The natural response is to defend ourselves, and to want to get even with the person.  However, the biblical response is to forgive them.  The reason we are to forgive is given in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. ”  Notice that last phrase, “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  When we have a hard time forgiving someone, we need to remind ourselves of how much God has forgiven us for.  Suddenly we will realize just out disproportionate what someone has done to us is.  God has forgiven us for far much more than any one person could ever do to us.

Those are the two keys to be a “super conqueror”, choose to love people and forgive them.  You may not be able to control others, but you certainly can control yourself and your response.

By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him

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