Sometimes, we treat God’s commands like they are Stoptionals. Sure, He told us to do a particular something like not gossip, lie, steal, or harbor bitterness, but it’s not a big deal if we don’t follow through, right? Because, well. . . sometimes God allows some of His commands to be optional, right? And of course there is always grace.
One of those commands we sometimes feel is optional is His command to forgive. We convince ourselves that we can love God but still harbor a little hate for that person who rubbed us the wrong way, wounded us, mistreated us, abandoned us, robbed from us, attacked us, left us, or lied to us, right? Wrong. In fact, God says it’s impossible to love God but not love our brother.
1 John 14:19-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
It’s impossible to love God and not love our brother. 1 John 5:3 says, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. . . ” and one of those commands is to forgive.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”‘ (Matthew 18:21-22)
Forgiveness is an indicator of whether or not Christ’s love is in our hearts and if we have listened to Him. Habitual forgiveness is a sign we belong to Him. Christ says that if we don’t love, we don’t belong to Him. Tough–but true–word.
Do you need to make the choice to forgive someone today?