‘Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us.’ Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
Walking in love and forgiveness is difficult on several fronts. (1) It goes against your carnal nature. (2) There’s a chance others may never know you forgave the offence. (3) Your heart could break as you watch God bless the offender in answer to your prayers, as if they’d never sinned against you in the first place. John Calvin pointed out that praying like this ‘is exceedingly difficult’, and early Church theologian John Chrysostom called it ‘the highest summit of self-control’. The Bible says Job’s suffering ended and his prosperity was restored once he was able to pray for those who’d become a thorn in his side (Job 42:10). When you pray this way you put into practice the words of Jesus in His famous Sermon on the Mount: ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.’ (Matthew 5:44–45 NKJV) That’s Christ’s standard of forgiveness, and it’s a high one. Maybe you’re wondering how anybody could possibly live that way. Look at the life and death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Even while his enemies were stoning him, he prayed, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ (Acts 7:60 NIV) Therein lay one of the secrets of Stephen’s great effectiveness. True forgiveness is the medicine that heals the deepest emotional wounds. It closes the door on the past, and gives you grace and motivation to move forward and enjoy the life God wants you to live.
SoulFood: Ecc 1–3, John 10:34–42, Ps 81, Prov 30:11–14
The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2023