“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…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt 5:44-45 NKJV
As I read this I wondered what loving my enemies would really mean. What it would look like. What it would feel like.
I kept reading my Bible.
In chapter 6 of Matt we read the “Lord’s Prayer”.
Verse 12 stood out to me: “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”
I re-read the verses about Loving my Enemies. Then I focused back on Verse 12.
Love means forgiveness.
I MUST forgive.
Even if they don’t want it, haven’t “earned” it, or won’t accept it—I MUST FORGIVE.
But there’s more to it than that.
Not only are we instructed to love our enemies and to forgive them- the Bible actually says that if we don’t forgive them, we’re in trouble.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6:14-15 NKJV
This seems contrary to 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
But it’s not.
You can’t take parts of the Word of God and build your life upon them. You must read the Word of God and apply it to your life as a WHOLE.
You see, both passages on forgiveness are true.
If we confess our sins to God, He forgives without condition or exception. And we are told numerous times in the Bible that we are to become MORE like Christ. It's a life long process. Christ forgives, therefore we must forgive. And when we can't. We need to ask God for help.
Part of the sins we may need to confess IS lack of forgiving another.
He WILL forgive even that!
Plus, He will help you find the strength and ability to forgive those who have wronged you/hurt you/used you or whatever.
Eph 4:32 is how this is possible. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
You don’t have to do it on your own.
It’s IN Christ (through His act on the cross) that God is able to forgive us. It’s also through Christ that we are able to forgive others. Christ IN us. Enabling us to do what we humanly cannot do on our own.
But you must do your part first.
You must remain tenderhearted.
A hard heart can’t forgive someone.
It’s not open to forgiving.
Next, you must confess your trouble granting forgiveness to God.
His grace will forgive your weakness and when you ask Him, He will then helpsoften your heart and make a way for you to forgive what seems impossible.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26 NKJV
It’s a circle.
God forgives us because of the sacrifice of Christ.
We accept His forgiveness.
We mess up.
We confess our sins.
THEN...Someone hurts us.
We forgive them.
God forgives us.
OR… we can’t forgive them.
So we go to God asking Him to forgive our unforgiveness.
He forgives us and enables us (through the help of the Holy Spirit) to forgive others.
We forgive them.
God forgives us.
Love and grace are wonderful things.
There’s no limit to them. No set number on the times we can forgive others, simply because there’s no limit on the amount of times God will forgive us. (click to tweet)
The key is remaining open, tenderhearted.
God’s love and grace are big enough for the evilest of evil. He’s sun shines on the just and unjust.
If He can love like that, why can’t we?
After all, “There’s none righteous, no, not one.”Romans 3:10
We all need forgiveness. So, let's all start giving it.