Love, the Antidote to Unforgiveness.
You may be saying to yourself, “How can I ever forgive?” Love, the antidote to unforgiveness, is the furthest thing from your mind.
You might be in a situation that seems unforgivable. You may have experienced something so heinous, no one would ever expect you to forgive. The hurt may be so deep, you can’t imagine mustering up the courage or strength to extend forgiveness. You could be bound by bitterness, anger, and extreme pain. You certainly can’t even fathom replacing unforgiveness with love.
Believe it or not, love is the only antidote to unforgiveness.
God is Love.
We love because he first loved us. -1 John 4:19
As Christians, we trust that God is love. He loves us unconditionally. God shows us what true love looks like. He even commands us to love. Love is a big deal to God. Hate (or unforgiveness) is the opposite of love. Holding a grudge, allowing bitterness to fester in us, and responding to a difficulty in anger are barriers to love.
How can we move from unforgiveness to love? Focus on love. We are what we focus on. So, if God is love–and He is!–then we need to place our focus on him. The more we focus on God and his amazing love for us, the more we are able to extend that love to others.
Have you ever experienced the traffic nightmare that comes when an accident has just occurred? Even if the accident happened on the opposite side of the road, our lanes are still slowed to a halt. Why is that? It’s because we are focused on the accident and not on moving forward. In some states, it’s called “rubber-necking.” Even as people move past the accident, they are still turning their necks back to see what’s going on. They can’t seem to pull themselves away from the drama of the conflict and disaster.
We do the same in our own life circumstances. We can’t seem to pull our focus from how we have been wronged. The details of the situation play over and over in our heads. We talk about it with everyone around us. We are completely focused, and sometimes obsessed, with the wrongdoing. This perspective robs us of our ability to love. How can we possibly love as God loves when we are holding grudges and bitterness against others? We can’t. We just can’t.
In 1 Corinthians 13, God gives a very clear picture of what love is and what it isn’t. Let’s focus on that. Take the blinders off and see all the abundance of life we have available to us through the beauty of love.
Love Conquers All.
“Love conquers all” is not a bible verse. However, there is truth to the statement. God is love and He conquers all. Even the most difficult situations or most heinous sins can be covered by God’s love and forgiveness.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers over a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” -John 15:12
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. -Romans 13:8
Love is a choice. When we choose love, our lives reflect the love of Christ to those around us. As a believer, isn’t that the goal? We cannot glorify God with a lack of forgiveness. When we choose bitterness and resentment, the enemy wins. When we choose love, we win. Love (God) conquers all.
Loves Leads to Freedom.
A lack of forgiveness is like a shackle around your neck. When we refuse to forgive, WE are held in bondage by that unforgiveness. As I shared above, we obsessively focus on the wrongdoing, which keeps us exactly where the enemy wants us. Love, however, leads to freedom. When we release resentment, we shed our chains. We are no longer slaves to the sin of unforgiveness. Whether or not someone has asked for forgiveness or we even experience reconciliation, our hearts are free from the burden of carrying the load of unforgiveness.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. -Psalm 119:45
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:13-14
Do you want to truly forgive someone? Maybe even yourself? Love as God loves you. It truly is the antidote to unforgiveness.