“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” This Charles Dickens quote just about sums up ANY holiday season. And does this response sound familiar to anyone, “Yeah, everything was great EXCEPT…..”I’ve said it before, and will probably say it again.
I think there will always be exceptions to the perfect holiday. Everything was great except: my kid was sick, my car broke down, my flight was cancelled, my ordered gift didn’t arrive in time, my bonus wasn’t given this year, my funds were running low, my family member said some very hurtful things…… my……oh my…… oh my! Surely the worst of times.
There are exceptions or special conditions to nearly everything: contracts, grammar rules, laws, warranties, etc. I’m about to shock some of you with what I’m going to say next, but keep reading all the way through. There are even exceptions or conditions to Salvation: we must repent of our sins, and believe that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.
But there are a two things in scripture where “no exceptions” apply.
- God commands us to love without exception (Mark 12:30-31)
- God commands us to forgive without exception (Mark 11:25)
In the words of my friend Scooby-Do, “Ruh-Roh!!” No exceptions! No conditions! No buts! No what ifs! God wants us to love others the same way He loves us. He loved us when we were sinners, when we were not lovable, not nice, not going to church, not living right, not saved, and here’s the big one: He love us when we did not love Him. Now that’s unconditional love. That’s God NOT holding grudges.
We didn’t do one thing to earn His love OR His forgiveness, yet He freely gives it. Without exceptions. No strings attached. No grudges. He already loves us, we don’t have to ask for that. But we do need to ask for forgiveness, of which He immediately gives upon request. 1John 1:9 tells us that. And on top of that, He will forgive us over and over again. He is faithful to His love for us. He’s committed. He’s fully invested.
Are you seeing what I’m seeing? That love and forgiveness are like a light switch and a light bulb. What’s the point in having one and not the other? We are to love and forgive each other the way He does for us.
About right now, I’m sure some “unforgivable person’ pops up in your mind. And you’re convinced that if you could tell me your story that I would understand why you cannot love them or forgive them.
I was once that person. I had the “unforgivable person” in my life that had unfairly and unjustly hurt me purposely for years. Yet God patiently taught me how to forgive the unforgivable person. No buts. No exceptions. No excuses. No grudges. But, that’s a story for a later time.
Holidays have a way of dredging up those family members and friends that we would rather not see. They challenge our love walk, and the sight of them reminds us of unhealed and unforgiven hurts. We can’t love them until we forgive them. And we can’t forgive them until we love them. Let this holiday season be one of healing, love and forgiveness. Don’t let your grudge steal Christmas. Ask God to help you love and forgive without exceptions. He will supernaturally equip you.
CLICK these passages to learn more about what God has to say about love and forgiveness.