What’s love got to do with it? (Got to do with it?)posted on October 10th, 2011 / by Kelli Jones / 13 Comments
There are days when I feel like a referee in my house. I have five kids, and when everyone is in a bad mood on the same day, let’s just say the sibling quarrels can feel like a UFC tournament.
The fun thing about parenting, though, is that as I’m correcting my children and training them how to love each other like God loves us, I often find myself being taught a lesson in the midst. This was the case just the other day.
It was one of those days when my two year old girls were both in quite the sour moods. They are typical two year olds who both want whatever the other one seems to have at the moment, and thus, a squabble broke out over a toy. I happened to be wearing a black and white polyester striped shirt that day, so I quickly grabbed my whistle from around my neck and blew it.
Ok, well, really I don’t own any of that attire. I was just wearing my “Mom clothes” and stepped in and ended the quarrel.
I went through our usual talk about sharing, how God wants us to love each other and how slapping one another upside the head is not expressing love. I ended the “discussion” by having them each tell the other sister she was sorry. I told the sister being apologized to that she should now respond with “I forgive you.”
Let me pause for just a second to add that we adopted one of our two year old daughters from China about four months ago. She is still learning to speak English, but her receptive language is excellent. So when I told her to say “I forgive you” to her sister, she did not repeat what I said, but she did something that demonstrated to me the root of the word forgiveness in such a powerful way: this little two year old girl, who before four months ago had never even been told the words “I love you” or had any concept of what it means to forgive, reached out and gave her sister a big fat kiss. Even in her little heart, she knew that forgiveness is just an expression of love. Suddenly God began speaking to me, reminding me about love and forgiveness.
Immediately a flood of questions entered my head. How can we say we love if we do not forgive? How can we say we can’t forgive an offense, and yet claim to love like Jesus did? How can we claim we have forgiven someone and yet not make allowances for that person’s imperfections in our lives? How can love ever be expressed by making a choice to do what is best for “me” in a situation over someone else’s needs?
I am not proposing that God would ever ask you to subject yourself to abuse, and if that is your situation please know this article is not referring to those type of offenses. What I am referring to is the belief in many people’s minds that love and forgiveness are two separate things. They operate as if there is no connection, correlation or intersection of the two.
I was reminded by my daughter in such a sweet and visible way that love and forgiveness have everything to do with each other. The impact of a two year old who has only recently begun to experience what it means to be loved having an understanding of how to tangibly express forgiveness was so powerful.
I could not help but think about how many of us as Christ followers claim to love one another, yet our actions speak differently because someone has offended us. Would there really be any quarrels within “the church” if we truly “got it?”
Quickly, my thoughts turned from questions to a picture of Jesus on the cross. The forgiveness of our sins Jesus paid for on the cross is the greatest expression of His love for us there will ever be. If we claim to follow Him, yet cannot forgive someone, how can we say we love? What if we were to take the perspective of Jesus on the cross that we see in Luke 23:34 when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Many times in life when someone commits an offense against us it is because they don’t know what they are doing. I do not mean they are not aware of their actions, but they might be at a different place in their own understanding of love. Essentially, when Jesus was on the cross He was asking the Father to make an allowance for our imperfections and ignorance, and He modeled for us what we need to do with others.
I don’t pretend to think I am sharing with you some mind-blowing revelation you’ve never heard before, and this article is not about condemnation or guilt. It’s about being called to a higher way of living, the way He intended us to live. I believe the Holy Spirit is coming to remind us all of this basic truth we may claim to believe but have a hard time living out.
I’m not going to give you a five point process on how to love and forgive, because it’s the work of the Holy Spirit within us that gives us the ability to do just that. I’m just asking if you’ll join me in allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any areas in your heart where there is unforgiveness. Will you take it a step further and allow Him to manifest Himself in you and give you the ability to express His love in the form of forgiveness?
So what’s love got to do with it? Everything.
Holy Spirit, I thank you for this visible reminder of what it means to forgive. Reveal to us any areas in our heart where we have unforgiveness, and give us the ability to express love in its highest form and to forgive. Thank you that you are made perfect in our weakness and that you give us the ability to love like you do. Lord, let this be a starting point for any rearranging you want to do in our hearts. You have permission to change what needs changing. We love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.