‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ Mark 12:31 niv
The tragedy of living in a broken self-focused world is that the collision course of our lives brings hardships and terrors to the lives of others.
For those of us in the world who have been hurt by others, the hurt goes deep into the recesses of our unreachable soul, it’s as if we fence off this part of our hearts with a sign saying ‘Keep out’.
The amazing truth of God’s redemption of a fallen people is that Christ’s death and resurrection makes a way, not just for those who sin, but for those who have been sinned against. Throughout scripture we see Christ’s compassion towards those who have been wronged, towards those whose hearts have been broken by a world on a destination to eternal death. A world who unknowingly are aligned to the father of lies, the devil who has no goodness in him at all.
Just as a heart that sins is exposed by what it serves so does a heart that has been broken, mistreated or assaulted. We become a people who are afraid of others, we become a people who refuse to accept or see any love in other people. We begin to believe that all people are untrustworthy. This is a lie from the devil. The devil’s plan is to undermine all that God is and plans to do, so that people in a broken world of sin and rejection stay in the darkness of that sin and rejection of God.
God’s ultimate plan and purpose, as we thought about in our last blog, is to draw us into a relationship not just with Him but with one another, so if the devil cannot undermine our faith in God instead he undermines our trust in others.
Once again there is a solution but as with sin in our hearts that requires confession and in turn receive forgiveness from God; His solution for an embittered heart is also a super difficult one to accept or do.
The Lord’s prayer declares ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us’. This is the solution to a broken heart that has the keep out sign of bitterness. Unfortunately, our understanding of forgiveness restricts our willingness to do it.
The dictionary description of forgiveness is defined as an individual, voluntary internal process of letting go of feelings and thoughts of resentment, bitterness, anger, and the need for vengeance and retribution toward someone who we believe has wronged us, including ourselves.
This isn’t the forgiveness that God offers us. Forgiveness isn’t a letting off, it isn’t a belittling of the sin and seeing it as unimportant, in fact God’s forgiveness towards us required the death sacrifice of his own Son.
The same is true of the forgiveness offered to those who have wronged us, it isn’t a letting off, it is a demand and expectation of justice. The trouble is we think we are the ones who are to offer the justice because we are the one who has been wronged. The truth of the matter is; it is God who has been wronged by the one who has sinned, even if we are the subject of the sin it is an offence to God to have one of his chosen children to be harmed by another. God declares vengeance is His Deut 32:35. It is God who will judge, who will avenge all sin, who acknowledges and provides payment for the brokenness not only in the world but in our hearts.
Forgiveness of another isn’t always a measure to restoring our relationship with the one who has wronged us but it is a desire to restore our relationship with God. We are declaring to God we trust him to deal with our hurt justly and we have confidence that God will ensure the sin is paid for. This action takes faith in God to enable us to go through with it. We never forgive because the other person deserves forgiveness just as God doesn’t forgive us our sin because we deserve it. Grace is to receive undeserved favour and that is what Christ has done for us all on the cross.
And the amazing freedom that comes in the moment when we are willing to take away the ‘Keep Out’ sign and ask God to have our whole hearts, we will then begin to live a life that isn’t afraid of others; a life free from worldly cynicism; a life that doesn’t expect the worst; a life that sees the reality of others in the light that we are all sinners and we have all fallen short of God’s glory.
As our hearts are healed by a loving trustworthy Father who gives us all his goodness and withholds nothing from us, even though we deserve to be eternally separated from Him we then, begin to see the power of his word to transform our lives into the likeness of Christ.
If you are finding life too hard to handle turn your hearts over to the Lord Jesus and ask him to shine the light of his word in the darkest places of your heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we all need to remember we are not alone because amazingly God has provided Brothers and Sisters in Christ to be an encouragement and a help in times of trouble.
Instead of isolating ourselves from one another we are to move towards one another offering the love and eternal hope that comes from knowing Christ and being known by Him.