Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness


In an upper room where He celebrated the Passover with the disciples, and where He washed the feet of His disciples as a servant would, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” According to Him, all men will know that they are His if they love one another. (John 13: 34-35)

Love one another just as I have loved you – Just how easy is this new commandment from Jesus? How about we look at some of the people described in the Bible to be “loved by Jesus”?

Jesus loved the disciples who were with Him in the said upper room. Jesus loved the siblings Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). But Jesus also loved the rich, young ruler who chose to hold on to his wealth rather than follow Him (Mark 10: 21). Jesus loved His disciples James and John, the brothers who asked Him to call down fire from heaven and wipe out a stranger they saw was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He also loved temperamental Peter who had taken his sword on the high priest’s servant Malchus during Jesus’ arrest. And Jesus loved Judas Iscariot, His disciple who betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus loved them all – and us too – just as they are, faults, failures and all. “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person to meet the needs of that person in such a way that causes sacrifice,” says Dr. Harold Sala, well-known speaker, author and Bible teacher.

And in John 13: 34-35, Jesus is asking His followers, both His disciples and us, to give the same kind of love.

The problem is, we tend to divide people into two categories: that which we like about them and that which we dislike. And the bigger problem is that, every person has idiosyncrasies, mannerisms or habit patterns that have the potential to be unlikeable, offensive even. And unlike a wormy apple which we could cut to salvage the good part, we can’t love people in slices. And Jesus wouldn’t want us to. Paul even wrote to the Romans, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

When you really love someone, you have to accept them as they are with the expectation that God will work in their hearts and He will be the one who changes them.

“To love a human being means to accept him, to love him as he is. If you wait to love him till he has got rid of all his faults, till he is different, you are only loving an idea. Love him with the love of Christ. This means accepting him as he is then lead him towards a goal he doesn’t see and, because I love, to attack all that is contrary to God with all of the energy of love,” wrote Florence Allshorn, a missionary to Uganda in the 1920s.

Admittedly, it is difficult to accept and love those who have offended us. And there are actually several other options on how we can respond to them. We can go “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” which leaves both parties blind and toothless. We can break off the relationship – something God never did with us, praise Him! We can live dejected, while letting your pain grow.

Don’t sound like great options either, right? But Jesus is telling us, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” (Luke 6:28)

We need to understand that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) When we stand at the foot of the cross, we will all be on level ground. No one could look down on someone else and say, I am better than this person. Paul even wrote to the Galatians, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3) This is compassion and humility – elements that make up the love of Jesus Christ.

Aside from blessing and praying for those who have offended us, Jesus tells us that we must also forgive them. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean the offense was okay. Forgiveness means, you are giving up your “right” to hurt the person back. When you forgive somebody, you release a prisoner – you!

Sounds tough? Nah… IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! Apart from the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that is. We need to ask the power of the Spirit to respond to Jesus’ call to love, accept and forgive as He does. And we ask for the filling of the Spirit by

1. Acknowledging our need for it;
2. Confessing our sins;
3. Giving ourselves, as is said in

Romans 12: 1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…”;

4. Asking the Holy Spirit to fill us; and
5. Accepting the filling of God’s Spirit and walking in simple obedience.

When we ask and accept the filling of God’s Spirit with thanksgiving, and reach out, take Jesus’ hand and walk with Him, only then can we respond to the impossible call of Jesus. Only then can we love, accept and forgive one another as He has done so with us.

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