Summary: How do we love the unlovable? We can flee them, fight them or forgive them. Jesus shows us the forgiving heart. We want to (1) release them through forgiveness, and (2) change them through love.
One of the greatest attributes of Jesus is His forgiving heart.
• Jesus said at the outset that He has not come to condemn, but to redeem.
• This is remarkable because Jesus, being just and holy, has all the right to condemn.
• We have failed in many ways; we have done wrong countless times. Yet as imperfect as we are, when we come to Him we know we will not be despised but accepted, not spurned on but loved.
This is the heart of Jesus we see in the Gospels. We saw it at its best on the cross when He prayed for His enemies, "Father, forgive them!"
• How do we treat those who have offended us or hurt us? People we find it hard to get along, people we are stuck with?
• This is what we want to cultivate - the heart of Jesus is a forgiving heart. A heart that is BIG enough to accept the imperfections and the mistakes of others.
• This is what the Lord wants us to be. Let’s read Colossians 3:12-14.
Jesus puts it more blunt - Matt 5:44-45 "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."
The fact that the Bible says "bear with each other" means we will not always see eye to eye and agree on everything. There will be "grievances against one another."
• The question is not WHETHER people will step on your toes but WHEN. Those times will surely come.
• What do you do next? You have 3 ways to cope with it:
FLEE - you run as far as you can from him, you cannot even stand the look of him);
FIGHT - you go against him, you harbour resentment in your heart and seek for revenge, or you choose to be more generous, you
FORGIVE - leave it to God to judge him and refuse to take it personally.
You are not solving the problem by fleeing and fighting. You get into more trouble and experience greater stress.
• This passage gives us an answer. We see here a picture of what we need to PUT ON (clothe yourselves) and what we need to PUT OFF grievances. How? Do it through forgiveness.
• To forgive is to release that which is holding me - resentment, hurt, revengeful spirit. I refuse to take it personally.
So I’d like to sum this up in 2 lines:
(1) RELEASE them through FORGIVENESS; (2) CHANGE them through LOVE.
(1) RELEASE IT THROUGH FORGIVENESS
You release it and you flourish, because it is no longer holding you back or locking you in.
• Jesus had all the reasons to be disappointed in life - He faces many wrongful accusations and unjustified persecutions.
• Not just from without - the religious leaders and people who do not know Him, but also from within his small group of inner circle - His 12 disciples.
• For most part, they do not fully understand Him. There were doubts, denial and even betrayal from among the 12 who were closest to Him.
I wonder if Jesus had, at some time during His ministry, regretted calling the 12.
• They were "slow of heart to believe" Jesus said. They argued about who is the greatest among them, they slept when they should be praying and standing by Jesus.
Think about this. Jesus not only knew their private doubts and unspoken thought, He saw their future failures. He knew about Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal.