We often hear how hard it can be to respond with forgiveness when wronged. Yet we are called to it nonetheless. What we don't hear about as often is the power that lies within this act of forgiveness. The triumph of Jesus over evil is shared with us as we forgive others as we have been forgiven by God.
The following was found written on a wrapping paper at Ravensbruck concentration camp in WW2:
"Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness."
In this season of the cross, here are some words of deep truth from Evelyn Underhill:
"To look at the Crucifix and then to look at our own hearts; to test by the cross the quality of our love – if we do that honestly and unflinchingly we don’t need any other self-examination. The lash, the crown of thorns, the mockery, the stripping, the nails – It is no use to talk in a large vague way about the love of God; here is its point of insertion in the world."
The Book of 1 John is a mighty testament to the love of God.
He Himself is defined by the character of agape love (4:16).
Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of that love (3:16).
His perfect love drives out fear (4:18).
As you go through this week, allow His love to both comfort you and compel you. He knows you fully, and loves you through and through. This is our spiritual "Red Bull", energizing our spirits to extend costly love to others. Actually the Scriptures have a better phrase than spiritual red bull, it's called living water.
I was blessed by these thoughts from Fleming Rutledge as we approach Good Friday and Easter:
"How do we measure the size of a fire? By the number of firefighters and fire engines sent to fight against it. How do we measure the seriousness of a medical condition? By the amount of risk the doctors take in prescribing dangerous antibiotics or surgical procedures. How do we measure the gravity of sin and the incomparable vastness of God's love for us? By looking at the magnitude of what God has done for us in Jesus, who became like a common criminal for our sake and in our place. When you really come to know the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus, then you will also come to know the depth of your own participation in sin. And at that very same moment (this is the glory of Good Friday) you will come to know the true reality, the true joy and gladness, of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Pastor Ward Parkinson