LOVE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS
by A. Torosyan
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We are living in a world in which grief and pain are seemed very common. Bitterness, hate, disappointments are everywhere including in our homes. We are disappointed with our friends, spouses, children, co-workers and even with our self. We continually try to cover this grief and pain, try to overlook them and go on with our life. It is not exactly a smooth ride but we are used to riding on this wagon.
As Christians, while we are trying to do better, unfortunately many times we see on our branches fruit such as greed, evil desires, and impurity. Things that are remind us of our past, pre-Christian life when we walked in the darkness. Who is causing this? While for some sins we may find someone to blame, most of the time we can not find anyone other than ourselves. However, we still attempt to justify ourselves by finding different reasons and blame others for their faults.
But sooner or later (mostly quite a bit later), by the conviction of the Spirit of God we acknowledge our sin and obey His commandment to forgive and to love. It would not be an exaggeration if I said that many of us have similar experiences in our Christian lives when we go through pain and grief. Perhaps now you may remember some examples.
Trying to love someone, who caused you pain and suffering, is not an easy thing. It is very hard.
I belong to a nation that faced genocide by the Turks over 98 years ago in our home land, because of our race and religion. We had a generation (remnants) without parents and family. The grief and pain hardened our nation against Turks, filled them with hatred and bitterness. They had justification for this, one that the World would accept. But is it good enough for a Christian? The Bible says “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Does this give them an option? So what should they do? Well, the answer is clear; love your enemy, love the unlovely, love the undeserved, love the one that causes you grief and pain, love the person that killed your family.
Christianity is a life of sacrifice. Christ made this clear to his disciples. The Bible says love covers “a multitude of sins”. God demonstrated this to us in Christ. As we look to this, we see the work and the process in front of us.
This takes us into a special journey which comforts our mind and conscience as we start to obey the commandment. We start not to concentrate on the issues that are painful, but concentrate on our duty of love.
We discipline and train ourselves for this; we spend hours on our knees asking God for help. But for some reason we can not produce a consistent result. After long practice and success we suddenly face major failures. Our love and kindness suddenly disappears and instantly we go back to the beginning, to our pains and grief. We resurrect the pains; we go back and count our inventory of bitterness.
What happened? Didn’t the Bible say “Love covers a multitude of sins”? Why am I still feeling the pain?
These are questions which could lead Christians into troubling waters, as they may start to have doubts in their confidence and faith about the Word.
Knowing that all the failures are due to man and not God, we start to search the Word to find an answer for our problem. Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun”. Our problem is not new for men or new to God, and He has an answer in His Word.
Let me explain this problem with an illustration. Grief and pain are like a thorn or a rusty needle that pierce our skin. As this foreign object stays in our body, it hurts and stops us acting normally. Whenever we try to move, it hurts. It keeps reminding us of its existence.
Like our children, we like to put a band-aid over it and hope that it will solve the problem. In spiritual language, we apply our love. We bind it; cover it with a nice clean band aid. Our eyes do not see it any more, and we start to act normally. We stop talking about it and we go on with our life.
It looks good, right?
Now, let’s look into real life example, when your kids get a splinter in their hand, what is their first reaction; “Dad, could you get a tweezers or a needle and remove the splinter from my hand and by the way do not worry if you hurt me I will be OK!”
Why? Because they know removing splinter can be painful. But we (the parents) also know that if we leave this object under the skin, it will certainly cause infection and the band aid will not be able to cover it.
In Colossians it says “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
The key message here is related to our subject, when we try to love without forgiving, we are keeping the thorn in our heart and try to cover it with Godly love. While at the beginning it seems to work, soon it comes back. We work hard to increase our love (increase the size of the band aid, and cover the infection) but as time goes by, our love becomes less sufficient. We can not see the Love of God that we sing “Love of God…ocean (I need to copy from hymn book)…….”. We feel like we drained the ocean.
Love becomes heavy, burdensome, it turns into a sacrifice. Why is love so burdensome?
The answer is very simple, because we skip the first step and went to second. Is the band aid wrong? No. Do we need it? Yes, but not before we remove the thorn. The wound needs to be free of foreign objects before a band aid can be applied.
The Bible calls removing thorns “forgiveness”. It is an operation which removes the thorn with its roots. It can be a painful procedure as it requires sacrifice, but it ends well. It is the beginning of turning the land of thorns into land of flowers. (Into a garden bower)
And this is the first step. A sacrifice, which we try to avoid as it is not easy, but it is within our reach. Something which we learned well from the cross.
When we forgive as the Lord forgave us, the source of pain goes away. After that we apply our love to close the wound, protect it from future infection. As we look at the wound becoming healthy, we rejoice with it.
When we see how God’s love through us covers all the past wounds and heals them and makes them like new, we are filled with joy. And our joy overflows and goes to the people that harmed us. Christian joy is not just visible to God, but it is also visible to others, including to our past enemies.
Loving should never be a sacrifice. The sacrifice is forgiveness, which is the point at which we take the step and complete it. However love is a joy that continues and grows and grows like the lilies in the field. God clothed them every day with splendor and grandness.
Are you willing to remove the thorn? Yes it may cause some pain. Are you willing for this sacrifice and be free of pain, able to show God’s love in your life, which we talk about all the time?
Are you ready to give up from your right of hatred and bitterness, something, which you took ownership for a long time? Are you ready to empty your pockets from what belongs to you?
I believe the biggest sacrifice in forgiveness is to give up from what we earned, what we own.
Why should I forgive someone that does not deserve it?
Why should the Lord forgive someone that does not deserve it, like me?
Helpful Steps in Forgiveness and Love
Acknowledge that every sin comes from evil
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 1John 5:19
Our warfare is spiritual warfare with darkness
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians. 6:12
Pain that we are suffering is not unique to us
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 1Peter 4:12
Unless we remove the source of pain it will poison us
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15
Clean wounds must be protected by love
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14