(Originally posted on March 16, 2012)
Our number one, most important, above all else – not “boy, I sure would like you to consider doing this” – commandment:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-34
We are loved by God – completely and unconditionally! We are forgiven and forgiven and forgiven again. Can I get an AMEN?! God expects us to love others and forgive their transgressions against us in return. Can I get an “AAUGH”!?
Here’s what it looks like: Matthew 18:21-32 (The Message), at that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got underway, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
Every person possesses an inherent human dignity by the very nature of who and Who’s we are. Dignity and worth belong even to, no, especially to, those we hate or reject; those who annoy, provoke, and get on our last nerve. That was Jesus’ mission and message.
That person is truly the person who mirrors something about you that you refuse to see. They are in your life to teach you a lesson about yourself, and they will continue to annoy and anger you until you learn that lesson. Even when they move on, and you think you are rid of them, someone else comes along to take their place. It’s true. You know it’s true.
Try to sit with this lovely fact for a while: “you only love God as much as the person you hate the most.” Ouch!
I will give you an example of my own life: I often like to convince myself and everyone around me that I have my life altogether and that I have more self-esteem than legally allowed. Then someone comes along, and in a millisecond, the false self I thought I sent packing long ago, or have become comfortable with, rears its ugly head. AGAIN!
Never mind the random jerk I encounter in my day-to-day adventures outside the wilderness where I live (where nature just exists for my pure pleasure and never riles me. AHA, it’s a beautiful thing. But I digress), within my own family, I have gone from “Mother of the Year” to “Mommie Dearest” at the speed of lightning!
Just when I have visions of myself as the Proverbs 31 woman, “A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.” – my husband pushes my buttons – and poof – from Saint Linda to Jezebel in the blink of an eye. And you know how she ended up, don’t you? No? Are you ready? It’s not pretty…
The dogs ate her! (1 Kings 16 – 2 Kings 9)