(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 is, “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”!?
Matthew 18:21-32 tells us how and why God expects us to forgive – a lot! – “One day, during some downtime, Peter asked Jesus. “How many times do I have to forgive people that push my buttons because I’m at six right now with my neighbor. Will one more do it?” Jesus sighed, “No, Peter, try seventy times seven and then some.”
Here comes a parable…”Once upon a time, a king demanded a huge debt be paid by one of his servants. When he couldn’t pay, the king was going to throw his entire family, the dog, and two fish in jail. The servant begged him to give him more time, and he could keep the fish as ransom. Feeling all generous the king canceled the entire debt. The servant, quick to forget his generosity, went after another servant who owned him what amounted to pocket change. Without any sympathy, he demanded his money and immediately threw the guy in jail when he couldn’t pay. The king got wind of it, changed his mind, threw the first guy in jail, sent his family home, and kept the fish.”THE END. The lesson is about us showing others the mercy God shows us without keeping count.
Every person possesses an inherent human dignity by the very nature of the fact of who and Whose we are. Dignity and worth belong even to those we hate or reject; those who annoy, provoke, and get on our last nerve. That was Jesus’ mission and message.
The person we struggle with most is the person who mirrors something about us that we refuse to see. They are in our lives to teach us a lesson about ourselves, and they will continue to annoy and anger us until we learn that lesson. Even when they move on, and we think we are rid of them, someone else comes along to take their place.
Sit with this lovely quote for a while and see if it doesn’t make you squirm: “You only love God as much as the person you hate the most.” Ouch!
I’m willing to tell on myself here. I often like to convince myself and everyone around me that I have my life altogether and that my compassion and love for others would rival Mother Theresa. 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. 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 riles me – 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). Ewwwwwww!
So, what do you say? Let’s show some love and thankfulness for the God of second chances, shall we?