“But if anyone has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not for me, but in some degree—not to say too much—for all of you. Sufficient for such a person is this punishment which was imposed by the majority, so that on the other hand, you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a person might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
forgive – to show favor, give freely – Strong’s 5483 (charizomai)
reaffirm – to make valid – Strong’s 2964 (kuroó)
February 1st – the start of the month of all things love. I think when most of think of Valentine’s Day, we automatically jump straight to romantic love . . . flowers, and candy, and dates . . . there’s most certainly nothing wrong with any of that. But as I was reading these verses just a few minutes ago, I thought to myself, “How fitting for the start of February.” These words Paul wrote, not only about actively forgiving those who have wronged us, but also about reaffirming our love for those people, are such a perfect start The Month of Love. And I think, in a world that really doesn’t grasp love and its real meaning, we need to expand our definition and understanding of what love truly is (and in many cases, isn’t). Love is not an emotion or a feeling. It’s not something fleeting or hard to grasp, and it’s most certainly not something we fall in and out of depending on our mood (or hormones) that day. Love is a decision we make daily, and an action we undertake toward those in our lives. We need to learn to both love extravagantly and forgive extravagantly because we have been loved and forgiven so extravagantly by our Savior.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
We’ve all heard the saying. I’d venture most of us use it. I know I have. And while I’m by no means advocating setting ourselves up to be abused and manipulated, I also, don’t think we walk in the level of love and forgiveness in which Jesus intended the church walk. We say things like, “I can forgive but not forget . . . ” or “I love them, but I don’t like them . . . ” when in all actuality, we haven’t forgiven at all. And these are thinly veiled ways of holding a grudge. Reality is, we’re not going to be besties with everyone. Reality is, not every personality type is going to always mesh. But the other reality, I’ve been faced with as of late, is that I need to do some serious heart checks about how I think about and act toward others. I need to ask myself and the Holy Spirit, if I’m using those differences of personality and personal convictions as an excuse to walk in unforgiveness, ungraciousness, and lack of love toward those around me.
I don’t just want this month to be about love as a feeling. I don’t want to limit it to the gushy, romance that we associate with what is a fun, but highly commercialized, holiday. I want to commit to letting God change those things in my heart that need changing. To remember that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). There isn’t a human walking this earth that God doesn’t unconditionally love and deeply desire to be in relationship with. There isn’t a single person that He didn’t send His son to die for (John 3:16), and so it seems like the least I could do is submit myself to the conviction to love others deeply. To allow Him to transform my heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and to commit, with the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit (because y’all, there is no other way), to loving others more boldly and extravagantly than ever before.