Monday, August 23, 2010

Armed with Love: Forgiveness

"(Love) keeps no record of wrongs" 1 Corinthians 14:5
After our morning workout, my mom and I headed to the supermarket. When we came out of the store we notice a young man wondering around the parking lot. He was very young, about 18. He was covered with tattoos and dirt. He looked as though he had been sleeping with the pigs. He started to approach our car. When I began to back out he turned away. I started to feel compassion for the young man. I knew what my mom's reaction to him was. My mom has a heart for the homeless. She can't pass a homeless person on the street without giving them money. "Did he need something?" I asked my mom. She emptied her coin purse into her hand. "Pull around," she said, "If it was my son I would want someone to give him money no matter what he'd done to get himself on the street." The young man had sat himself down on a curb under a tree to escape the heat. I rolled the window down as I pulled up. "Did you need something?" I asked. The young man started to explain, "I'm having a really bad day. I was going to ask you if I could wash your windows for a couple of dollars." I reached my hand out the window. "Here you go," I said as I poured the change into his filthy hands. "Do you want my to wash your windows?" the young man asked. "No," I replied, "Do you know why I'm giving you this? Because God cares about you." The young mans face lit up and he smiled. As I drove away I thought about all the things I wish I'd said to him. I wish I'd asked him what his story was. I wish I had taken just a few more seconds to tell him about Jesus. I wish I had told him to call his parents, tell them he was sorry, and ask if he could come home. I wish I'd told him his parents would forgive him. That is what I would want someone to tell my prodigal son.

First Corinthians 13:5 says, "(Love) keeps no records of wrongs." This verse literally means that when we love, we don't keep an account of the bad things done to us. We don't make tally marks in our hearts every time we are hurt or offended. If we do we become hard hearted and resentful towards the people we love. We are bound to offend each other on a daily basis. The key to a happy marriage and family is being quick to forgive and graceful enough to not hold the offence against them.

How much offence are we supposed to take? When have we forgiven enough? Jesus says that we can never forgive enough. In Mathew 18:21-35, Peter asked Jesus this question. Peter wanted to know how much forgiveness was enough. He asked him if seven times was enough. Verse 22 gives Jesus' answer, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus did not mean that we could stop forgiving on the seventy-seventh time, but we should never stop forgiving. Jesus goes on to illustrate this in a parable explaining that we should forgive because we have been forgiven.

I also think about the Prodigal Son when I think about forgiveness (Luke 15:11-32). The most hurtful sin I can imagine is being abandoned by my loved ones. How can a spouse walk away from their partner? How can a child turn their back on their parent? Yet,I am amazed by the Father's response to the son when he returns. The Father welcomes the son back AND throws him a party. I think I would be happy to have my son back, but I don't think I would throw him a party! I would want my son to pay for the mistakes he made. That is the difference between my love, and God's love. My human love has limits, but God's love is limitless. If I want to love the way God wants me to love I have to have limitless forgiveness. The only way I can have limitless forgiveness is to love others through God's limitless love. I must ask Him to give me that love for my family every day. Lord, let me love with your limitless love. Let me forgive with your limitless forgiveness.