Love and Forgiveness – it’s not easy!

18 02 2012

At the moment at church we’re going through a series on Revelation 2-3, the letters to the seven churches, and our prayer meetings each week are reflective on what we’ve heard on the Sunday. Last Sunday we looked specifically at Chapter 2 verses 18-19, the beginning of the letter to the church at Thyatira, and we’ve really been looking at love. Love for others, love for God, but all in all, how He loved us first, that’s the only way we can love! Outstanding.

But what I wanted to share was what I heard at this week’s prayer meeting. There was a bit of focus on sacrificial love, but that wasn’t the bit that really stood out to me.

Sometimes I get annoyed by people, they might do something that I find irritating, and especially if it’s something recurring. There, I’ve said it, I admit it. I know it’s not right, but that’s where I am (at the moment!)
With that in mind, the verses that stood out for me were:

  • “If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4 v 19
  • “[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13 v 5
  • “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3 v 13
  • “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18 vv 21-11

You may see a theme there. There are people I struggle with, and I think the attitude I ended up on was one of “Well if I’m not rude to them but just minimise interaction with them, then surely that’s enough”. The thing is, while I may think that, I’m still simmering, there’s still “a hint of bitterness”, and frustration.

Actually, I’m still called to forgive these people when they hurt me, and what’s more, to love them! As God forgives me! And for those I feel I’ve forgiven a million times, that doesn’t mean I should stop and give up. The “seventy seven” in the last verse isn’t literal, in some places it translates as “seventy times seven”, and according to the footnotes in my bible, means “times without number”.

One phrase I’ve found helpful with this is that it’s possible to love someone but not like them. If there’s someone I don’t like, that’s ok, as long as I still act in love towards them. – Wow, that’s tough isn’t it!

Now that’s a big ask! This is going to take some work and prayer…. How do you deal with the people you struggle with? Hopefully it’s not just me!

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