Forgive… Don’t Just Say It

As a parent, I’ve told my children it’s not always what you say, but what you do. Anyone can say the right thing, but what are they doing or thinking?

For example, when I was growing up, my brother and I lived with our grandparents for a short while. Being older and from a different generation, they didn’t always understand us as teenagers–and especially my brother because they had only raised girls. I would tell him, “Just agree with them and then do what you want.” This was bad teenager advice obviously, but thankfully I was only referring to how much food he put on his plate or how much time it took him to get ready.

twee-thisMy point is that God cares more about what we do from our heart, than what we say with our mouth.

1 John 4:20 states, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

Isn’t it interesting that the Bible acknowledges a person’s words when they say they love God but doesn’t use the same criteria for hate? We don’t even have to “say” we hate someone or something– if it’s in our heart or actions, God knows it.

I’ve seen this all too often and it grieves my heart… You see a person who by all outward appearances loves God, church, and everything in between, but without saying it, they also have contempt and hate for another (perhaps a family member) and think nothing of it.

As the Apostle Paul said, “This ought not be so.”

The scriptures state: “This is the commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). So it’s important that we avoid saying one thing and then do (or think) something else, because the Bible also says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). Instead, because you love God (or at least say you do), let Him work out the pain in your heart and heal the areas of contempt, unforgiveness, and resentment.

Start by being honest with yourself and with God. The love you have for Him, and He for you, is enough to remedy the schism between you and another –if you’ll let it. Pride is your biggest enemy when it comes to forgiving and releasing another of their faults and shortcomings.

twee-thisI’m glad God wasn’t too proud to forgive us. Let’s extend that same love to others (and not just with words).