25th Janary 2014

Love Covers A Multitude Of Sins

“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”
1 Peter 4:8 (The Message)

We tend to forgive those we love most for their failings, mistakes, and accidents, but it is quite another thing to forgive our enemies. Then there are the individuals in between—our acquaintances, those we work with, those we worship with, our physical neighbours, or perhaps distant friends.  It’s a ‘sliding scale’ of willingness to forgive, directly related to the love we have for that person.

Forgiveness is an intrinsic part of love.  The ultimate in love and forgiveness is God the Father, who loves us so much He sent the Word to become flesh to pay the penalty for our sins (John 3:16), that we might be forgiven. Micah 7:18, from the NET version, says, ‘There is no other God like you! You forgive sin and pardon…delight in showing loyal love.”  Such is grace—endless forgiveness, despite and in spite of, our sins, because God loves us so much.  In human form Jesus Christ followed in the Father’s footsteps.  His instruction to the disciples in John 13:34 was, “Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.”  His dying words, “forgive them,” (Luke 23:34) reflect the Father.

In Luke 7:47 (NIV), Jesus Christ, talking of Mary Magdalene anointing his feet, says, “…her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.  But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.”  Does this mean the more we are forgiven, the more we will love and, conversely, the more we love, the more we forgive?  The context suggests that Mary was probably a known prostitute, whose prior activities likely caused pain to many, even though she had repented and changed her lifestyle.  I imagine she was really despised by people, much as prostitutes, regrettably, still are today.  Jesus forgave her.  She was the first to see the resurrected Jesus alive, an indicator perhaps of his great love for her.  At this time women were ranked lower in society than men, so to have seen the resurrected Christ before the Apostles must have irked them – so much so they didn’t believe her (Mark 6:9-11).

Knowing that we are in as much need of God’s ongoing forgiveness as the next person, prostitute or paedophile, ought to give us empathy.  We all need forgiveness, regardless of the sin, and we must all forgive, regardless of the sin.  Colossians 3:12-14 instructs, “…chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.”

Love does indeed ‘cover a multitude of sins’ and ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’.  Forgiveness of our fellow man will certainly test the boundaries of Christ’s love in us, whoever we are!  With even the best will in the world, forgiving those we struggle to love cannot be done on our own.  It requires assistance!   But we have help.  Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “Christ lives in me.  The life you see me living is not ‘mine’ but it is lived by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So let’s go to God in prayer and ask for that Spirit to love and forgive.

Prayer
Friend, family, and especially foe, let your Holy Spirit lead me to love all and forgive all as you do, Lord.
Amen

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email:  tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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