May 7, 2014
Forgiveness of others parallels the forgiveness of self. Jesus forgave you of “all” your sins and loves you unconditionally. Once you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior it’s time to begin forgiving yourself for your past failures. Only then can you truly show others the love of God.
Colossians 3:13b-14 “13; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
We are to forgive even as Christ has forgiven us. This may seem a tall order, but it is possible for us to walk in. Forgiveness is not like giving someone trust or giving them authority in your life. Trust and authority must be earned, but forgiveness is a command and obtainable through the Holy Spirit. We were forgiven before we asked, even before we were born and yet Christians often use the words, “I have forgiven, but I will never forget”; that is not forgiveness that is still holding the offence over the person. Praise God He does not hold any offences over our head. Holding an offence over a person is just not true forgiveness; it is not any type of forgiveness. With this said even a Christian being a mortal cannot forgive exactly like Jesus forgave since we are not called to literally die for another person, but the heart of forgiveness in letting go completely the offence is a command that God can require of us and we can do it. In times of difficulty in walking in forgiveness we can draw on God’s forgiveness toward us for our strength to forgive others, Ephesians 4:32.
I want to point out that the verses in Colossians Chapter 3 were Paul is using the phrase “put on” are similar to applying layers of clothing which is a beautiful word picture for adding these characteristic to our lives. With that being the case verse 14 where we are called to “above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection, is the final overcoat that covers all of the other clothing. In 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, Paul tells us that no matter what we do or how good we do it without love we are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:13 the final verse in the chapter says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Faith is in the past having confidence that what Jesus did on the cross was real. Hope is in the future in that our faith will provide for us in the future, but love is right now. Love is actually acting and moving in the “here and now” in the faith you have. They actually couple together in that with the same measure you show love; the same measure of faith you have in what Jesus did for you.
Paul calls love the “bond” of perfection. The Greek meaning for bond means “that which binds together” so we could call it the glue. Love is more than a gushy feeling or emotion; it is a characteristic that extends far beyond emotions. Even when our emotions do not feel good we can show the love Paul is speaking of. The Greek word for love in verse 14 is AGAPE, which was not actually in the Greek language nor did it have a meaning prior to the writings of Paul. AGAPE actually comes from the Greek word AGAPAN which means “great with affection, love”. The early Christians used it for their “love feast” in conjunction with the Lords Supper. In 1856 AGAPE was translated into “Christian love” which is actually in opposition to “EROS” which is carnal or sensual love; Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper. This kind of love, AGAPE, would also be much stronger than FELIO which is another Greek word meaning a deep mutual friendship. AGAPE is what God showed us in John 3:16 in that even when we seemed unlovable due to our sin nature, God’s love for us led Him to give His only begotten Son that we might have everlasting life. Because this kind of love is not tied to an emotion, but rather a chosen state of being, it can be commanded of Christians to walk in it. Notice I said of Christians and not mankind. Without the love of God and becoming born again, thereby receiving the Son Spirit, a mere natural man can never exhibit AGAPE love. This is why it was never recorded in any language prior to Paul’s day.
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