How Do You Love Those You Can’t Forgive?

Valentine’s day has come and gone, and for some, they are left holding not only wilted flowers but a wilted heart.  The love they thought they held has faded, and now they are left with bitterness and the inability to move past the hurt.  The ability to love again seems unattainable because a critical piece is missing.  

Forgiveness

One can not love if they are unable to forgive.  

In the aftermath of heartbreak and hurt, two things must take place: 

1.  Recognition of One’s Sins 
2.  Receive Forgiveness

Before you can forgive and show love, you must walk in having acknowledged your sin and the acceptance of God’s forgiveness for it.  You can not forgive if your eyes are on yourself and the other person’s sins.  Our eyes have to be fixed upon a Holy God, and our sin acknowledged and recognized before Him.  One of the most significant examples of this is the woman in Luke 7.  

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  Luke 7:36-38

Instead of blaming the men around her for her sins, this woman came to Jesus recognizing her sin in light of a Holy God.  Her remorse and repentance overspilled onto Christ’s feet.  This woman was taking her sin before Christ ignoring the personal ridicule and shame that would inevitably follow.  However, the Pharisees were taking their sin before man and comparing their sin to one another and not in light of Christ’s holiness.  Luke continues: 

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”  Luke 7:39

Part of walking in forgiveness is recognizing that you have been forgiven.  The Pharisees did not see that they needed the same forgiveness as the woman.   If they had their attitude, love, and compassion would have been different.  

The Pharisees were so focused on the woman’s sin; they could not even see their sin before a Holy God.  Christ, who knows the heart of man, interpreted the thoughts of the Pharisees and those in attendance: 

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said. 

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” 

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:40-50

Christ’s response demonstrated that those who come to Him with their sin, will be forgiven and those who are forgiven will love much.  He spoke not theoretically, but out of experience.  He of all people had the right to hold a grudge and be filled with bitterness.  He goes to the cross with forgiveness and complete and pure love for the world.  

Christ’s cry to the Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), rings out as a cry for all of us to take before God our Father.  A cry to receive His forgiveness for our sins and then allow His love to flow through us.  

How do you think this woman showed love to others after her encounter with Christ?  
How do you think she loved the Pharisees who were condemning her?  
How do you love those you can’t forgive?  
Have you taken your sin before a Holy God and received His forgiveness?  

You are encouraged today to take the step of faith and go before God with your sin.  Ask for His forgiveness and allow the chains of bitterness and resentment to be washed away.  

It is then you will see love beyond your comprehension pour out of your heart for those you could not forgive in the past, and you will not love only a little, but love much!!

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