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To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine

You are far more likely to be hurt by someone you love than by someone you consider your enemy.  Some reasons for this are obvious. Your friends, your family, and your mate all spend an exceedingly greater amount of time with you than your enemies. In fact you rarely see your enemies. The sheer number of interactions with those you love statistically must produce an offense at some point. Other reasons are less obvious. For instance, you probably don’t care much about what your enemies think of you. Your interest in pleasing them is last on your list. You don’t sacrifice for them, and your commitment to their well being is likely limited to either the most basic requirements of your commitment to God, or if you’re not spiritual, to the least speck of necessary human cooperation.  So when your enemies do try to hurt you, it’s expected, and the impact is frequently trivial. 

But the people you love, they know you. They know your flaws and your weaknesses – sometimes even the ones you don’t know (Psalm 19:12). No one is perfect, afterall. When they unveil those flaws and weaknesses out of carelessness, it stings. When they expose them out of malice or anger, it hurts. When they exploit them for the purposes of betrayal, it is nothing short of anguish. The breach of trust in such an instance can seem like an unbearable affliction. But as strange as it may sound, the value of love far exceeds the dangers inherent in those pains. Love requires vulnerability to potential pain. Not to love, and not to be loved, is a quiet and invisible pain that takes its toll over time in ways that rob a person of life and keep him isolated from the best of the good. Such isolation reduces him to cynicism, and eventually separates him from the divine relationship offered by a loving God who never betrays.

Forgiveness is a command of God (Matthew 18:21-22) that requires us to not only stop keeping score, but also to lose count of the score. To obey such a command demonstrates maturity, and makes us more like our father (Micah 7:18-19). More importantly it is a divine attribute of God, and he has given you the power to reflect him in your engagement of that power. Jesus tells us that the sincerity of a man’s love is reflected in his ability to lay down his life for those he loves (John 15:12-13). And he expects us to love in that exact way. To forgive someone is a laying down of your life. It is also a reflection of how much you actually love that person, as well as how much you love God. The sincerity of your love is tested not in the good and easy times, but in the difficult and painful times – but especially in those times that require you to imitate God with divine forgiveness.

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