Forgiveness Thursday – Grow In Love

“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Thursday! Living in a month associated with love (Valentine’s Day), we sometimes forget that love is not only romantic. When I arrive home early enough to view the evening news, I find it discouraging! Have we totally lost sight of what love is? Love is so important that there is more than one word for it in the Greek language. Love is more than romantic feelings. It is giving more than taking. It is listening to hear and understand. It is also forgiving.

Most of us are familiar with John 3:16, which is the ultimate act of love. God loved us so much that he gave us his son, so that we might be forgiven. All we have to do is forgive. If God forgives us, why can’t we forgive someone who is irritating us is some silly way? It may be someone who just annoys us. Maybe it is the person who takes issue with what we say. Maybe it is someone who has different beliefs.

Last week while I was in class, I listened to the story of the prodigal son. It’s a familiar parable to most, but the discussion that followed really grabbed my attention. Why did the son return home? My answer would be that he was desperate from living in horrible conditions. This reality of his bad decisions had set in and he had learned his lesson. The teacher went around the room asking students their take on the parable. Most had a similar answer to mine. Yet, it was in this discussion that I became aware that our answers were based on our world views. She revealed that the majority of the world believed it was because of the famine. Were we wrong or were the others wrong? Neither. In 2018 Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on our area. If the parable had said that a hurricane came through and the son had to live in horrible conditions, I would have probably answered “the hurricane” as the reason. Hmmm.

When I was an undergraduate Political Science and International Affairs student, we had a saying “where you stand is according to where you sit.” Many times over the years I have been reminded of this phrase. I have also found it helpful in understanding others. For example, if you fear for your life when a law enforcement officer pulls you over, you are going to have a different point of you than if your husband is a law enforcement officer. Unfortunately, it seems that often people are not REALLY listening! The result is chaos!

This is not love! So, how do we love someone who believes something different or takes issue with everything we say or do? Though it sounds complicated, it is simple. Forgive. Well it is simple process, but can be difficult to accomplish. Yet, it is the ultimate act of love.

Unfortunately, forgiveness is not what the world teaches. When I watch the evening news, I see people wanting to fight for their rights. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in to further your cause, but fighting is not necessary . . . Or is it? Last week a lady and her uncle came into the office in an outrage due to a building permitting issue. I was scheduled for a conference call, but hearing her voice get louder and louder, I decided to step in and relieve my staff. I immediately asked if she wanted a glass of water and a chair to sit in. This broke her pattern and allowed me to decelerate the conversation. The entire issue was a misunderstanding. No one had hurt anyone. However, after hundreds of years of suppression, it is no wonder she and her uncle felt picked on. From there I made a call, found out what she needed to do, and eased her mind. Suddenly, she was calling me an angel, when only minutes previously she was ready for anyone in the room to be fired. She needed to be heard. It would be easy for me to hold a grudge due to her abuse, but it would be much easier for me to attempt understanding what it might be like to walk a minute in her shoes and forgive her. I chose the latter.

The truth is we never really know what it is like for others. We don’t know what they struggled through or been taught that has influenced who they are at any particular moment. So, the best thing to do is listen to understand! May God Bless You!

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