“Love . . . keeps no record of when it has been wronged” (1 Corinthians 13:5c NLT).
Love . . . forgives.
“What,” you may ask, “does ‘forgive’ mean?”
“Forgiveness,” wrote an anonymous but skillful wordsmith, “is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”
Is there anything harder for a disciple who imitates the character of Jesus Christ than forgiving?
I’ve taught these true values on five continents of the world. It happens every time: Regardless of race, status, wealth, or renown, when we begin publicly pondering the issue of forgiveness, the participants get very, very serious.
Why is forgiving so important? Because virtually every living person has been wronged—hurt—by someone else. And nobody likes it. When wronged, we tend to respond with anger and other emotions that drive our thoughts through dark alleys. And angry people do foolish things. Unchecked, we are vulnerable to taking revenge—trying to “get even”—in ways that eventually destroy the lives of both offender and offended.
How do we “keep record” of who wronged us and what they did? One way is by rehearsing those wrongs in our minds, imprisoning them there for easy retrieval. Another is by recording them in a journal or an electronic notebook, as we might a grocery list. A third way is to recite those wrongs to listening ears, telling others about how someone has hurt us.
Whatever our method, harboring unforgiveness triggers a vicious chain-reaction. The angry and bitter unforgiveness that we imprison in our heart captures us and puts us into bondage. It messes with our mind and distracts our heart. The soldier who hides a leaking chemical agent vial in his jacket—which he intends to use against his enemy—will himself be destroyed by the toxin.
Adding to this tragedy is another reality: Two significant others are also involved. In ongoing spiritual warfare, both God and Satan care about our response as disciples when we are wronged (Colossians 3:13 et al.).
“Okay,” you say. “I know the Bible tells us that God cares about our response to life’s wrongs. But Satan? Really?
Really. In 2 Corinthians 2:5–11, Paul specifically challenges that church to forgive a particular offender—as a counteroffensive move against Satan’s destructive schemes. Paul knew that unforgiveness acts against us just as the chemical agent would against that soldier.
Other questions emerge:
- Other than other persons, who else might you and I need to forgive?
- For God’s glory, Satan’s defeat, and our stewardship of life, how can we “forgive” well?
We’ll ponder those matters as we continue this series on what matters most to God in a disciple.
© 2018 John C Garmo