Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 03/23/16

Love Is ... Forgiveness


STORY: Trade Unforgiveness for Love

Someone hurt me. Deeply wounded me. Intentionally defamed me. She didn’t ask for forgiveness, and didn’t admit she did anything wrong. In fact, she celebrated the acts of wrongdoing like she was victorious. Even though she didn’t apologize, I knew the spirit of unforgiveness in my heart would turn to bitterness if I didn’t take care of it. I needed to release the hurt and the one who hurt me into the hands of God. 

Has someone ever disrespected you, made you feel like less of a person, and caused irreparable damage through his or her actions? Then you know my pain. 

I didn’t have to be right in the conflict they created, but I longed to be loved. Respected. I had earned that much. And I wanted truth to be revealed. I was in a powerless place. 

Others joined in the defame name game. I was crushed. And then my church served communion. Before I could partake, I knew I had to examine my heart. I named the ones who offended me. I asked God to help me love them like He loves them. I asked Him to heal my breaking heart. I was in a bad place. Hurt. Pain. You’ve been there. What can you do to soothe the sting? Take it to Jesus!

I asked God to help me love those who hurt me, not with any old love, but with the love of Jesus. That same love Jesus showed me when I didn’t deserve love, I wanted to experience for the ones who sinned against me. I prayed for them by name. Put myself in their shoes. I gave the benefit of the doubt. And I spoke the words, “I forgive you.” I wasn’t pardoning the offense. I was simply saying “I no longer hold you accountable for how you wounded me, but rather I release you to God, who will take care of helping you grow from this.” And He is helping me grow from this as well. 

Do you have someone you need to forgive? Maybe this week you can take the first step in learning to love them again, with the same love Jesus has offered you. It’s not easy, but it can be done. And you know what happens when you release the hurt? It frees you up to experience an unexplainable grace and peace from the very God of all comfort. Hurt for healing; bitterness for blessing. What a trade!

STUDY: God’s Love Shows Us How to Forgive—His Forgiveness Shows Us How to Love

The Source of Love
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (1 John 4:7-11 NLT)

•    Is not loving one another an option?
•    Where does love come from?
•    If a person doesn’t love, what does that say about his or her relationship to God?
•    How much does God love us?
•    What is real love?
•    How does the magnitude of God’s love for us affect how we love others?

Love is the Pattern of Forgiveness
In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.” (Numbers 14:19 NLT)

•    What are two adjectives for God’s love?
•    What motivates God to pardon sin and offer forgiveness?

Stubborn Love
They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them. (Nehemiah 9:17 NLT)

•    Describe God, based on the third sentence of this verse.
•    Even though the Israelites refused to obey God and stubbornly went their own way, God didn’t abandon them. How can we learn from that to deal with people who have been obstinate against us?

Ripe Forgiveness
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5 NLT)

•    Find three phrases that start with the word “so.”
•    If we are to follow God’s pattern of forgiveness, what other virtues do we need?

Flourishing Love
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 NLT)

•    What benefits from forgiveness?
•    What happens when we dwell on an offense?

STEPS: Follow the Leader of Love

•    Examine your heart. First ask God to forgive you for any ugliness in your own heart, and then you will be ready to consider showing love to others by offering forgiveness.
•    Pray for your offender. Ask God to show you how He loves them.
•    Show love to your offender. Reach out to them just as God would. This week what is one specific way you can show love to those who haven’t been loving to you?
•    Forgive your offender. If this is hard for you, ask God to make you willing to be willing to forgive. Forgiveness starts when you seek to forgive. As long as you feel like they have no right to your forgiveness, you will be tormented by bitterness.

Copyright 2016 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.

Give Now