Summary: Last week I shared about what love had to do with overcoming fear. Today my focus will be on what love has to do with overcoming unforgiveness. We've all struggled with this one. Overcoming being hurt by someone can be difficult. Forgiveness takes love.
WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? (Part five)
INTRODUCTION: Last week I shared about what love had to do with overcoming fear. We looked at 1st John 4:18 that states perfect love drives out fear. Today my focus will be on what love has to do with overcoming unforgiveness. Let’s face it-we have all struggled with this one in some way shape or form. Getting over being hurt by someone can be very difficult. It’s a lot easier to harbor bitterness than it is to forgive. It’s not easier on us; just easier for us. What’s easier on us, believe it or not, is being able to forgive. And that’s going to take love.
What’s love got to do with overcoming unforgiveness?
1) Love's got it covered.
1st Pet. 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
“Above all”. First and foremost; on top of everything else. Peter implies that what follows is of utmost importance; which it is because what follows is love. Peter is saying, ‘above all else-love”. That’s the theme we’ve been seeing. In 1st cor. 13 Paul talked about being able to do some wonderful things but if love wasn’t there it means nothing. In Colossians 3 you will see a list of virtues for the follower of Christ and in verse 14 it says, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Love is the basis and the glue for all other godly virtues.
“Love each other deeply”. This is also translated, ‘fervently’ and ‘intensely’. This is important because our unforgiveness for someone can be pretty intense so in order to forgive our love needs to be intense; more intense than our bitterness. “Covers over a multitude of sins”. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean gloss over, as if it’s no big deal. However, with that said, it does carry a connotation of letting certain things roll off. Not making mountains out of molehills and picking your battles. Sometimes the reasons for our unforgiveness are so trivial.
Peter wants us to love one another deeply because the deeper the love the deeper the forgiveness. The stronger I love you the stronger I’ll fight to work through the offense and put it behind me. Why? Because when I have deep love for you I’ll cherish the relationship more and therefore work harder at not allowing anything to jeopardize it.
But therein lies the rub. Because when someone you love sins against you it hurts that much more. And therefore we’re more susceptible to harbor bitterness and even hatred. The irony is that I could more easily dismiss an offense by a stranger because they don’t mean as much to me. But when it’s someone I love it hurts more deeply.
This is true but it’s that love you have for them that will be the basis for your ability to forgive them. Because deep down your love for them prompts you to want to resolve it. In the moment your pain doesn’t allow yourself to but deep down you want it to be resolved. And when you allow love to override your pain you are in the position to forgive.
Prov. 10:12, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” When hurt breeds bitterness and hatred then I will find myself stirring up and feeding conflict. And, as a typical fire gets bigger and hotter the more wood and gasoline I put on it, so it is with conflict; it’s fueled and kept burning by hatred. However, love destroys conflict; it puts out the fire. When a wrong is committed against me it has the opportunity to produce things like anger, bitterness, hatred and vengefulness.
But these are the fires that love will put out. When you cover a fire you smother it; you deprive it of oxygen. Hatred and unforgiveness are the same-these fires need to be covered (smothered) so that they die out. And when love puts the fire out it shouldn’t be rekindled.
Prov. 17:9, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
When love is at work, the offense is dealt with and I’ve moved on. However, when bitterness remains I’m going to bring it up again. And when I repeat the matter to you or I repeat it to someone else I run the risk of separating close friends; whether those close friends are me and you or someone else and you. Either way, when this happens, love has not been promoted. When love is promoted I’m seeking to be a peacemaker not a troublemaker. If the matter dies with me then I will have done well. If I keep it alive I stir-up strife.