Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Monday, December 19, 2011

Love Travels Only the Forgiveness-paved Road

He who covers over an offense promotes love, 
   but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Prov 17:9

Theme Song: Psalm 130 Out of the Depths

Dear Father,

     You told me that the message for us is that the only way that we can love (AGAPE) people is to forgive them in Your strength. It is a mystery, again, and if I describe this incorrectly, I would be distorting Your Doctrine and Wisdom with my words. So let my Words be from You. Please help me, Father!
In Jesus Christ's Name, Amen

 I am writing this in a sort of unorganized way, but in the order that thoughts occur in my mind and I am praying that you will follow this and understand; you will understand.

     The only way that we can love the sons of men with the Agape of the Father is to forgive them. At first thought we think of the verse above which states that to cover over an offense promotes love. Another verse, Prov 19:11 states that it is to a man's glory to overlook an offense. I (and perhaps you) are tempted to think that these verses mean that we must be so childlike and pure that we do not see the evil in others which in some cases is directed towards us. Others of us think, "Everyone is good to me. There is no one in my life that I need to forgive. I am blessed!".

     Take a man, a stranger, that you meet somewhere and the Holy Spirit prompts you to go and preach the Gospel to him. Consider His voice also telling you as you approach him, "You cannot love him unless you forgive him". And you reply, "Father, I do not know this man. He has not wronged me. He is innocent in my eyes until proven guilty". And God still tells you, "You must forgive him. You know that he is a sinner. You must forgive him in My strength before you can show him My love."


“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Luke 6:37

     Consider another scenario. You meet a stranger in church. This stranger is homeless and pitiful and explains his difficulty to you. You do not know him but you are filled with compassion and love for him. You tell him, "You can certainly stay in our home. We have an extra room and I am sure that my family will welcome you. Please come and stay with us, dear one, for you need to know the love of Christ. We will show it to you. Come and stay with us!" He moves in with you and you show him lots of love on the first couple days. After that, you start to notice that he is kind of loud. Then you realize that he keeps the house kind of messy. Then you see him yelling at your children. He starts to take your love for granted. HOW DO YOU RESPOND? You cannot love him as before. You wish that he would find somewhere else to stay and start to ask others if they have extra rooms in their homes. You realize that you really do not feel any love at all for this man, but only irritation. You ask yourself, "Did I ever love this man with AGAPE?". NO, you had loved him with storge and/or phileo, but when the time of testing came, you could not forgive, and you were left with only resentment. If you are led by the Spirit, you will cry out to God to remind you of His love and forgiveness. He will grant you the power to forgive and love this man in spite of his faults. Only now, after you have forgiven him, you have loved him with AGAPE.

 On the contrary:
   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”Rom 12:20

      Going back to the example of the man that you are called to share the Gospel with: this man is never going to stay at your home and you will never have a chance to be irritated with his shortcomings. But nevertheless, within the 15 minutes conversation in which you share the Gospel, the Holy Spirit calls you to initially forgive him before you can share the Gospel in love.

      We question God asking, "If I have to forgive everyone before I can love them, then I am going to have to know what to forgive: the sin in people. If I am thinking about people's sin all the time, then I am going to have bad perspectives of everyone. Am I not called to think highly of others and not ponder on their shortcomings?"

And God replies with Is. 5:20:

"Woe to those who call evil good 
   and good evil, 
who put darkness for light 
   and light for darkness, 
who put bitter for sweet 
   and sweet for bitter.

and He replies with John 3:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

     "But God, how can I love people when I know their sin. To love people, I need to have a very high view of them. I need to think of them as noble and virtuous and Godly. I need to think of them as innocent and without guile. How could acknowledging their sin pave the way for Your love to flow through me? It feels as  though I could never love them with AGAPE if I can see all of their sin right at the forefront."

    And here is the crux of this mystery, dear family: when we truly understand salvation and the essence of what God has done for humanity, two things will most certainly occur and become increasingly clear to us as we are conformed to His image:


     We will see the holiness of God and be like the prophet Isaiah (ch. 6). We will realize that our lips are unclean and that we live among a people of unclean lips. We will cry out "Woe to me for I am ruined!"  Our view of God will become greater and our view of mankind will become lesser. But the view of God's greatness will surpass the temptation of hopelessness and despair at sin in and around us (I have only realized this very recently). As we come to Christ, He takes the coal and touches our lips so that we may be clean. God puts the righteous robe of Christ around us. 

1 Blessed is he
   whose transgressions are forgiven,
   whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man
   whose sin the LORD does not count against him
   and in whose spirit is no deceit.Ps 32

     The forgiveness of God in the face of His holiness will become a refuge and a strong tower. Seeing the Light of His Face will make us very aware of the darkness in the world and in our flesh. As we receive Him and as He reveals His glory and forgiveness to us, a deeper and more gruesome view of sin is given to us. As He bestows His forgiveness in Christ, we will have an even greater LOVE FOR GOD. Certainly God is righteous and there is nothing wrong in Him that anyone should need to forgive Him. And as He forgives our sin which has become ever-increasingly distasteful to us, our love for Him will continue to increase. BUT AGAIN, THE JOY, GRATEFULNESS, AND LOVE TOWARDS HIM THAT HE PUTS IN US IS GREATER IN INTENSITY THAN THE INTENSITY OF THE SORROW OVER SIN. 

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.Col 2


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Rom 13:8

     We will certainly see the sin in others as we see God's holiness. As Isaiah declared "I live among a people of unclean lips" and David declared "When I speak I am for peace, but they are for war" and "there is none righteous, not even one" and Solomon declared "I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all" (? :) )  and Daniel prayed "O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you"


     Godly people are very aware of the sin of all men. But they are also filled with an even greater view of God in the face of their own sin. I must also state that this high view of God given to us, He removes from us the comparisons between men that are made with regard to morality so that "no flesh may boast in His sight". Not only does the sight of God's holiness remove from us any inclination to exalt one man over another, but we will be able to forgive any wrong done to us. When we see the weight of our own sin removed, no sin committed again us is too big for us to forgive as we abide in Christ. IF WE CANNOT FORGIVE, WE HAVE NOT KNOWN HIS FORGIVENESS. 

 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
   35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”Matt 18

     When we think about forgiving others, we usually think about greater offenses (and certainly each of our views of what comprises a "great offense" differ). But God speaks of a "continuing debt of loving one another". It would not be just for us to forgive great offenses, but refuse to forgive the lesser offenses. Rather Christ says that:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’Matt 25:21

     Personally it has been easier to forgive those who have committed greater offenses than to forgive for example subtle hidden slanted words or minor irritations. The debt of love that is given to us as we receive Christ's forgiveness allows us to continually forgive others. Our forgiveness is not only continual, but it is continuous as we abide in Christ continuously. It does not ignore sin or fail to acknowledge sin, for certainly all of the gifts of the Father (including forgiveness) come from the Father of Lights with whom there is no darkness. This forgiveness is not contrived, but flows out from the love of God within us. It does not waver, but humbly and willingly perseveres and submits. It keeps on forgiving, MOMENT BY MOMENT. As He gives us this strength to continually forgive, we are able to love with AGAPE.

     Where there is no conviction of sin, there is no perceived need of forgiveness. Where there is no forgiveness, there is no AGAPE.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”Luke 7:47

      Do you see the chains we have gotten onto ourselves to try to ignore our sin and the sin of others?

     We must see all of the sin, and yet see the Savior so much greater. What results is an infinite storehouse of AGAPE and forgiveness for others in spite of a clear view of their sin. This is true love. This is true love. When we see the worst of each other and still forgive and love: this is AGAPE. I am saying these things because they are true, not because I understand how or why they are true or because I have experienced these things more than in a very small way. 

     But this much I know: the people that I love the most with AGAPE are those whom I have seen the worst of and forgiven by His grace. 

     Dear family, it is okay to acknowledge sin in each other, for certainly no one may boast before Him. Yes, our sin is very great, but His forgiveness, love, and glory are exalted and supreme. And we are able to see the new perfect righteous LOVABLE creations of our family in Christ. Our vision of their perfection is by faith through the Spirit. 

9 However, as it is written:
   “No eye has seen,
   no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
   what God has prepared for those who love him”—
 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.I Cor 2

     Going back to the opening verse that states that to cover an offense promotes love, we acknowledge here how sin is covered or atoned for: through love and faithfulness...the love and faithfulness of God the Father in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. 

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
   through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.Prov 16:6

    Ignoring or not identifying sin does not cover it. It hides sin. In this manner, we are also ignoring the atoning sacrifice, love, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The way we cover over sin is to say, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" and to "stand in the gap on their behalf before the Father" and to plead that Christ would intercede for them before the Father. The same blood that made atonement for our own sin makes atonement for the sins in others as well.

True Encouragement

     True encouragement involves perceiving the sin of the body of Christ (you do not have to try, but as you see the holiness of God you will simply know what is dark) and exhorting them to turn away from sin, but to always portray the glories and blessings of the Father even more so that they know why they are turning away from sin and to Whom they are turning. And encouragement means exalting those very words, actions, attitudes, etc. that come from the Spirit of Christ in one another. This kind of encouragement does not flatter and it does not increase the ego. But rather we will become increasingly aware of His goodness to us in the form of the good works which He has both prepared for us and enabled us to do as we made our abode in Him. 

With regard to the remaining sin in each other, God has been teaching me to "Wait for Him more than watchmen wait for the morning". Hence the theme song. 

Prayer Request:

     I am defending my Master's thesis tomorrow (Tues, Dec 20th) and would be grateful for prayer for me to bring glory to God, that the committee would see Christ in me. And if you pray that I pass, that would be good too. 

     Another prayer request is for my lab people to trust in Jesus. This has been my insatiable anguish for the last couple weeks (and sort of months) though my heart existed only to plead their case before God. I will be leaving them by the end of this month. I am praying about writing Christmas cards to some of them completely pouring out my heart to them about Christ (I have done this several times in person). I do not care if I sound like an emotional mother or something like that. May God bless them and keep them, make His face shine upon them and be gracious to them. May He turn His Face towards them and give them peace. 

We are going to see Anand and Prasanna for Christmas! I am most likely continuing under another adviser after that for the phd unless God shows me something else. And I am still praying/waiting for God to inspire His man to come find me!

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