“Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.’” (Matthew 9:2 NLT)
If you’re a Jesus follower, do you remember the first time He told you your sins were forgiven? On some levels those words have had more impact on my heart and mind than hearing words of love and compassion. Why is that? Because His love is offered to everyone without exception, but His forgiveness is contingent upon our response to His love, not necessarily our words, but by the attitude of our heart.
In the verse above, the paralyzed man didn’t ask Jesus for forgiveness, at least not with words, but in a way that only Jesus can, He saw in the faith of this man’s friends such love for their friend, Jesus offered forgiveness to the man. Which causes me to wonder. What if, like so many I’ve met in my lifetime, there are those who might never ask for the Lord’s forgiveness?
It’s easy not to feel deserving of forgiveness, from a friend, and certainly not from God. “After how badly I messed up? I can’t forgive myself, let alone expect forgiveness from God!” I’ve felt that way and I suspect you have too. Perhaps that’s why “forgiveness” is one of God’s most loving words.
Another application of that same thought is for us to forgive someone when they’ve purposely and deliberately hurt us. In some ways it’s more liberating for us when we forgive someone than when we are forgiven. It’s like we have our hands around someone’s neck, choking the life out of them with our hatred and unforgiving spirit, but by God’s grace and with the power of His Spirit, we release our grip and forego our “right” to hate, and instead offer forgiveness.
Another loving word that we rarely like to hear is “no!” How many times have we begged God to give us something we thought would be so good for us to have? To spare my loved one! To save my marriage! To save my job or other source of income! To let me have that house, apartment, car, relationship – the list is virtually endless of things for which we’ve asked God and His answer was “no!”
“How is that loving?” you may wonder. Often, regardless of the specific request, God’s answer of “no” leads us down a path we would never have chosen for ourselves, yet one that reaps so much blessing it’s hard to imagine why we wouldn’t have desired it for ourselves. Time is a gift the Lord gives us to help us put things into proper perspective and to give us insight into what He’s known since before the beginning of time.
That’s why trust is such a critical element in our walk with Jesus. We’re so often blinded to what’s best for us, but God sees our journey from start to finish, and He has insight into what’s best for us in ways we could never figure out on our own.
Another word with which we wrestle in our walk with Jesus is “wait!” We’re often like the red-faced toddler holding their breath in an effort to make us let them have their way. Stomping their feet or shrieking their displeasure. How childish we can be with our heavenly Father, who, gratefully, never loses His “cool.” He loves us far too much to let us have our way sometimes. If we’ll allow it, waiting for God’s answer can be some of the most important and beneficial times in our lives.
Patience is a virtue that is never developed instantly, it must be learned over time. God in His loving mercy offers us the opportunity to be yoked with Him, not to see how fast we can run, but to see how carefully we can listen. Often, in our haste, we misinterpret or misunderstand the loving words our Savior speaks, not because we don’t hear them, but because we don’t want to obey them.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊