Someone once told me that because I did not trust him that I did not possess unconditional love.
Another once told me that because I did not ignore the wrongs they inflicted on me that I had an unforgiving heart.
Both said I was not biblical. Yet, could they back up their position on actual scripture??
Just what are “biblical” love, trust, and forgiveness? Does anyone really know for sure? Depending on the situation, I’ve had some of the most asinine excuses. Some were quite laughable. Unfortunately, even seasoned Christians sometimes use these guilt tactics to further their own cause. I think we are all guilty at times.
Ask yourself a few quick questions and check to see in what context they are using scripture in their accusations: Do they pull out the words that would enhance their point of view while ignoring the full context? Are they pulling the “Love” card to shift the topic? Do they pull the “forgiveness” card because there is something they do not want to admit?
So, let’s refer back to the bible… Yes, Jesus said to turn the other cheek. He also said to brush the dust off your feet and leave town if they do not believe truth. Jesus said to go the extra mile and give until it hurts. But he also overturned the money-changers in the temple…very angrily I might add. (Luke 6:29-31 & Matt 10:14 & John 2:13-17) So which is it? Are we to be doormats or angry at sin?
I know it all sounds contradictory…hypocritical…two-faced. But really, it’s not. It’s both. You see, there is great strength in Love. There are boundaries in forgiveness. And God in his awesomeness gives us the Holy Spirit…for some good ole fashioned common sense!!
I am reminded of what is called “The Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13. The middle of the chapter gives the definition of Love:
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Do you see that? The two highlighted lines? Most of the description is about simply being “nice”, a character trait which I agree most in our society has totally forgotten. But the two highlighted lines are simply ignored by people with an agenda. Love puts others best interests above themselves. That also means we sometimes need to say things that make us very unpopular, an act that is almost impossible for non-confrontational people. Love will not ignore, excuse, or gloss over truth in the name of grace. Love is grace in truth.
And trust? Trust and love are not synonymous. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men.” Doesn’t sound too trusting to me! And then God says in Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.” Wow! So much for trust! Oh, but then, He goes on to say, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord.” So, there you go. We do trust. But we are to be selective as to where we put that trust. Why? So we are not led astray into the abyss of someone else’s control. Because…that’s not love. We trust men…only when they are saturated in God’s truth…in God’s Love. In essence, we are trusting God through men.
And yes, we all need to forgive, but Love will not accuse another of unforgiveness to cover up their own sin. A wrong against another is still wrong. Forgiveness frees up the anger in our own soul. Forgiveness does not negate the wrong, forgiveness negates revenge. God will take care of judgment. When we hold unforgiveness, we are in essence playing God. But we are never to gloss over sin in the name of forgiveness. God will still hold them accountable, we only need to be concerned with our own hearts.
How do we see love? Watch their actions. Do they serve others? Do they expect anything in return? Do they expect credit for their deeds? Are they critical of others? Are they kind? Do they stand for the truth…no matter who gets upset? Do they defend the “little” guy? Do they always give second chances (without negating the wrongs)? We always knew Aunt Bee (The Andy Griffith Show) loved everyone, why? Because she was always doing for others….but without expecting anything in return. Because she wanted to, not because she felt forced. We could see her heart. And yet, God does not even care about the actions…he cares about the heart.
Love does not promote itself, but will stand firm. Love is unselfish. Love is strength in truth.