Merry Christmas! As you can see from the past couple of views, I find it impossible to love and forgive myself. Lacking the ability to love and forgive helps me to understand the inability of those I have harmed to forgive me. Jesus said:
“…With men it is impossible, but not with God: For with God all things are possible.” 1
The act of forgiveness is impossible outside the grace of God. Forgiveness takes place in our heart through the eyes of grace. Let me remind you that grace is God’s ability working in us, that is, the power of Jesus’ blood at the cross, the power of resurrection life, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of God makes us able to do what we cannot do in our own ability.
The apostle Paul instructs us, saying:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” 2
In the next verse, he tells us how to do it:
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 3
It is the power of God’s grace within us giving the ability through the Holy Spirit to “…forgive one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” In other words, we are to forgive, just as our Heavenly Father has forgiven us – through faith in Christ.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” 4
The Power to Forgive
We must be born again in order to imitate God and forgive as He has forgiven us. This is not only my view, but that of Jesus, who replied to Nicodemus, saying:
“…unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God… Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’” 5
I’ve heard many say in counseling, “It’s humanly impossible for me to forgive what he did to me.” Many times a person I’ve counseled has been molested by their father. I sympathize with them, saying, “This is why you need the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to you. Jesus was crucified for your sin. He took your penalty for sin, and through faith in His blood you can be made right with God. You must receive God’s forgiveness in order for the Holy Spirit to empower you to forgive.”
Can’t you see that it is humanly impossible for us to forgive, if we haven’t experienced God’s forgiveness for ourselves? If we do not know God’s forgiveness, we have no idea how to express forgiveness to others.
The Power of Love…
The root problem is simply a lack of understanding of God’s love. It is faith in God’s love that causes the heart of man to produce forgiveness. Forgiveness is a spiritual event that takes place in our heart when we forgo a debt owed to us by another, like God did for our debt of sin. As I stated previously, “Forgiveness takes place in our heart through the eyes of grace.” Or, we could say, “…the eyes of God’s love.”
Listen to the apostle of love, John the Beloved, saying:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 6
As we grow to be more like God, we also grow in our ability to love others with sacrificial love. John continues saying:
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 7
The Power of the Spirit…
Even though all our relationships are not perfect, as we walk with God, we can know that He who lives in our heart is stronger than our past and present struggles with sin, self and situations. John puts it like this, saying:
“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater that the spirit who lives in the world.” 8
It is time for us to rest in God’s love. This rest comes as our faith grows through the study and meditation of God’s word – His love story to us. I’d suggest the New Living Translation (NLT), starting with the Gospel of John, and First John, his letter to the early church. Several of his quotes I’ve shared in this view, including this one concerning the Spirit, who lives in us who believe:
“And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” 9
A Prayer For You...
Heavenly Father: I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart as I trust in you. May my roots go down deep into the soil of Your marvelous love. And may I have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love really is. May I experience the love of Christ. Then I will be filled with the fullness of live and power that comes from You. Now glory be to You, my Father! By Your mighty power at work within me, You are able to accomplish infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope. May You be given glory in the church forever and ever, through endless ages, in Jesus’ Name. Amen! 10
1. Mark 10:27 KJV
2. Eph. 4:31
3. Eph. 4:32
4. Eph. 5: 1,2
5. John 3: 3,6,7
6. 1 John 4:7-10
7. 1 John 4: 11,12
8. 1 John 4:4
9. 1 John 4: 13-17
10. Eph. 3: 17-21
Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Evan for transcribing this months view!