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Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Tidbit: True Love is a Cross

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.--Proverbs 17: 17
 Today I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a few years back, about a mutual friend who had done something to offend us both the day before.  My ears were still stinging over the matter, but she was near tears, even in a crowded public lunch room.  I still remember her saying, "I know Christians are supposed to forgive, but what can I do?  My heart is breaking. I'm not sure I can forgive.  Not for this."

I was troubled.  I was still angry, too, and it was true, that wasn't a very Christian way to behave.  I looked down at my plate and begged God to give me a reply.  Suddenly Proverbs 17: 17 came to mind and I shared it with her.  If "a friend loves at all times," shouldn't that include all the times the other person doesn't seem to "deserve" that love?  If we call ourselves friends, it is a requirement to love, and forgiveness is a key part of that love.  If we are a friend, we go on being a friend, even when our friend becomes our enemy (Matthew 5: 43-45).  Didn't Jesus love us at all times, even when it wasn't returned in kind?  How about that moment when those He loved were nailing Him to a cross?

The implications of this still shake me to my foundations from time to time.  I have seen the end of many friendships, and yet I feel God calling me to remain a friend in my heart, even to those who have done great harm to me and who have written me off long ago.  I must start by forgiving the wrong--that is, not holding it against that person, no matter how it hurt. You see, Jesus said, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins," (Matthew 6: 14-15 NIV).  Unforgiveness makes the other person something less-worthy of love or compassion than I am. By forgiving, I put that person above myself by counting that person as worthy of favor, just as I would hope for forgiveness for my own transgressions.

This is not as the world sees love, friendship, and forgiveness.  Outside of the Bible, I see little support in this world for the idea of being a friend, even to an enemy.  My "Quotationary" added a quote under Forgiveness that I thought I'd quote here:
Who pardons easily invites offense. --Pierre Corneille (1606-1684). Cinna, 4.1, 1639, tr. Noel Clark, 1993
 In effect, Corneille seems to be saying that we should not be quick to forgive, because that only invites more trouble for ourselves.  That is true!  However, this is what God has called us to do.  We are not here to advance ourselves, or protect our own interests.  We are here to follow God's example, and He carried out that example, all the way to the cross.  You see, love, friendship, and forgiveness are not real in our hearts if they vanish on a whim.  If they are real, they do not fail or change with the situation.  This is how Jesus demonstrated that what He felt for us was real--He stuck with it, even to death.

Today we must ask ourselves this question: Is our love real?  Can we be real friends and brothers to our neighbor, even at great personal cost?

Just a thought.  Until next time, stay savvy!

1 comments:

Kamal said...

Yes. True love is a cross. Thank you for reminding us again.

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