When I decided to return to college, I sent my sons to live with my former husband, their father. They were twelve and thirteen years old. It was the worst choice I ever made!
Unknown to me, my husband was an “in the closet” pedophile who sexually abused our thirteen-year-old while he was living with him. Fast forward through this scenario--my son became ill and passed away from AIDS.
My initial reaction of hatred toward my former husband was so great, I seriously thought about hiring a “hit” man to kill him. For years, I was caught in the “trap of revenge.” It consumed me and created a fire inside that made me bitter and angry toward everyone. I wanted to repay this man for the wrong he had done to my son. I became his judge. My unforgiveness took on a life of its own; I made a choice to hold on to these feelings of anger for years.
I don’t believe very many persons have escaped being unfairly wronged. Throughout history, we have seen oceans of anger, hatred, and even death caused by unresolved, emotional unforgiveness. David’s son, Amnon, committed an unconscionable act against his half-sister, Tamar. His dishonor of her virginity destroyed her life. She was shamed and unable to ever marry because her innocence had been violated. David’s son, Absalom, entered into the mire of revenge, killing his brother Amnon and getting even with his father. Ultimately, Absalom met a tragic death.
We use different tactics to justify our unforgiveness. We may have heard someone say, “I will forgive, but I won’t forget.” This sounds humble and acceptable, but the truth is, it is false pride. A root of bitterness is still hidden deep in the soil of this heart. Other times, we will rank our unforgiveness as not as bad as some other sin like sleeping with another person’s spouse, homosexuality, having sex outside of marriage, murder, lying, and many others. These are worthless rationalizations.
Like you, I have committed countless human offenses and transgressions (sins) that were punishable and condemning. But forgiveness for my most heinous sin is made possible by the redemptive sacrifice of God’s son. Forgiveness is a choice I make to save my life. When I don’t forgive others:
Refusing to let go of past hurts puts me in bondage and alienates me from God’s Son, the source of all forgiveness. Each of us has committed wrongs and offenses against others without offering any apology or repayment of any kind.
You may believe that no one has been wounded by another as severely as you. But if you believe that God allowed the sacrifice of His innocent Son, you must also realize that sacrifice exceeds any comparison to your distress. Even though you have the right to expect an apology from your offender, your maturity will rise to new heights when you use your privilege of choice to abandon your expectation, release your offender, and walk in freedom.
The bottom line is that there is only one Judge. He is holy, just, righteous, loving, long-suffering, patient, and forgiving. He will give you time to self-correct. But in the meantime, guard and protect your heart from deadly poison because it contains the key to your existence.
We are to be so far removed from avenging that we willingly risk being taken advantage of again.”1
1 John Bevere, The Bait of Satan (Florida: Charisma House, 2004).
What's The Big Deal About Love?
For many years, the story of the relationship between Jonathan and David has been used by some to hint there was an emotional/passionate love between these two men. In so doing, it illustrates the absence of knowledge about Hebrew culture and history since Jewish culture solidly forbids homosexuality.
Bible research on the friendship between these two people is very clear. Jonathan and David committed to a covenant (binding) of brotherly love. God, Himself, called David “a man after my own heart who will do everything I want.” (Acts 13:22) Biblical history describes the character of Jonathan, son of Saul, as “nearly perfect.”
On the pure side, this story reflects a beautiful portrayal of God’s covenant love between two people of the same sex. This type of love does not demand total perfection or the fulfillment of expectations emotionally or physically another human heart cannot give. It is impossible for any male or female to satisfy the totality of every need, desire, and emotion of another--past, present or future.
God’s love is active. It is filled with power that recognizes the heart and soul of every person even when His love is rejected. Not imprisoned or intimidated by emotions or feelings, His amazing ingredient, called grace, demonstrates the attitude of His essence.
And what’s the big deal about grace? We all know it’s something we didn’t expect or deserve. But what makes God’s grace any different from an unexpected reward of human favor? First of all, it is fundamental to God’s interaction with humankind and is the highest expression of love for His human creation.
Please permit me to share a few examples:
I could fill an entire book expressing countless examples of God’s grace.
The primary difference between human grace and God’s grace is His is unchangeable and consistent and never stops working to love, forgive, and protect. His love brings life. This truly is a big deal!
Emotions and feelings can be as shaky as the aftershock of an earthquake. They become even more shaky when physical passion enters the mix. For example, one of David’s sons carried a love torch for his half-sister, Tamar. After concocting a diabolical scheme to get her alone, he raped her. Immediately following his sexual encounter with her, “he hated her.” In fact, it was said his hatred was much greater than his extraordinary love for her.
Unless my heart is first occupied by Godly love that accepts His undeserved favor and forgiving grace 24/7, there will be little value in saying how much I love another. My opportunity to experience “true” love is fractured.
Substituting one person to fill the hole left by another (mother, father, spouse) is like making counterfeit money. Regardless of how much it looks or feels like the real thing, it is still “funny money” and eventually will be recognized.
The big deal rests not only in the type of love but also in the object of your love.
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine