Let Love Win
By: Tiffany Ann Lewis
“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
There seems to be some difficulty in the translation of this text. Some scholars see the text as reading, “A brother that is helped by his brother, is like a strong city: and judgments are like the bars of cities.” (Douay-Rheims Bible) The Aramaic Bible in Plain English translates it like this; “A brother is helped by his brother, like a city by its fortress, and they hold it like the bars of a fortress.”
Either way, what seems crystal clear to me is that offences such as bitterness, resentment, and un-forgiveness, can become a type of prison if left unresolved. Oh sure, at first it feels like those bars are protecting the heart from more hurt, but the truth is, they are preventing individuals from the ultimate relational goal that God has designed. God designed human beings for fellowship with Him and eachother; “it is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18)
Forgiving someone may be one of the hardest choices a Christian will ever make. With anger, hurt, and a very real sense of injustice fueling the fire of our emotions, we are faced with a very difficult decision…to forgive or not to forgive.
The specific forgiveness that I sense the Lord speaking about is something more than turning the other cheek; more than not holding a grudge. I believe the Lord is calling us to a forgiveness that would be willing to extend love again. Unfortunately, depending on the level of hurt you have experienced, it may feel like a burden you simply can’t bear.
The heart is a funny little organ. Responsible for sustaining life, it also has been likened as the source of our emotions too. We learn by every experience we go through. Pain teaches us some very powerful lessons in life. We burn our hand and the pain teaches us how to handle the stove. We fall off our bicycle and the pain teaches us how to balance on two skinny wheels. Now, just because we have experienced pain does not mean that we will never use a stove or ride a bike again, oh but the heart…when it gets hurt it doesn’t want to love again. Sometimes it’s just easier to build walls and hide behind them than to feel the pain of a broken heart. The problem with that solution is that love isn’t getting in nor is it getting out.
It’s time to break out of the prison of offence and let love win.
The litmus test to all this is love. Are we willing to extend our heart again? You see, it is possible to share your time with someone but still withhold your heart from the relationship. We can hide our heart and protect it from pain while walking around with tender mercy, kindness, and humility. However, to live this life that Christ has called us to we must extend love again.
Above all else we are called to love. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; 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.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
Forgiveness that does not extend the heart again isn’t really forgiveness at all because love and restoration is at the core of forgiveness. Let me explain what I call “the grace factor of forgiveness”. The Greek word used here in Colossians for forgiving is “charizomai” (Strong’s #5483). Charizomai is a grace word, it comes from the same root as grace, “charis” (Strong’s #5485) and means: to do a favor, to show kindness unconditionally, to give freely, to grant forgiveness, and to forgive freely. In other words, forgiveness is an intentional act of releasing one another from the debt that the offence caused. It is refusing to require the penalty due, literally, to let it go. The grace factor of forgiveness is giving the offender what they don’t deserve…forgiveness.
Beloved, forgiveness is a choice. In that moment the pain may or may not go away. We don’t have the power to heal our heart but we serve the One who does. He has called us to forgive others as He has forgiven us therefore, in His love and mercy, He will supply what we need in order to respond to His request.
Our power is only the power of choice. It may take years to experience the emotional freedom and healing of forgiveness but it starts with us making a choice…choosing to let love win. Amen and Amen.