Love your enemies

Most people in the world do not want what they call truly evil people to get away with their crimes. Millions have in their hearts “never get never forgive” not really facing the fact they have mountains of wrongful deeds and words to their own account. Many of us want a “pound of flesh” not realizing that pound of flesh is our very own corrupt sin-stained heart. It is best to leave vengeance in the hands of our Maker. And He WILL make right even if it “hurts like hell.”

Excerpt From “Flames of Love

Hell Hath No Fury?

When Forgiveness Hurts Like Hell

By Bradley Heath

This restorative view of divine judgment does not preclude the possibility
of immense pain and anguish. Indeed, I would argue that this view of hell as
God’s most severe means of enabling a person to turn away from their sin
could include the worst pain possible for a person to experience. Let me
offer a story that I think illustrates this important truth. Several years
ago I was asked to engage in a spiritual counseling relationship with a
person who had just been released from prison. This man had become a
Christian in prison, and was looking for someone to help him grow in his
walk with Christ. He did not want to go to a church service, because he knew
there would be children there, and being around children was off limits for
him. He was a pedophile, convicted on multiple accounts of rape and sexual
abuse. Reading this last sentence probably either sent a chill up your
spine, turned your stomach in knots, or brought tears to your eyes. It did
all three for me. It really is hard to imagine something more heinous and
monstrous than this kind of tragic abuse of precious children. When I was
told about this person and was asked to be his spiritual mentor, my first
thought was, “Hell no!” But I prayed about it and came to the conclusion
that if I refused to meet with him then 1 would be a huge hypocrite. I
couldn’t keep on talking about the boundless grace of God and at the same
time write this person off. So I agreed to meet with him. I didn’t really
sleep at all the night before the morning of our first meeting. I kept
praying, “Lord, help me to see the person as you see the person.”

So the morning came and we met in my office. I was first surprised that he
looked normal. I was expecting someone with greasy hair and red eyes, but I
got an average-looking farmer in overalls. My next surprise came when we sat
down and I began to talk. I have never had a conversation where I felt like
the Holy Spirit was in charge as much as this one. As I began to talk to
him, I felt an overwhelming love for him. I told him, “You know in your
heart that God absolutely hates and weeps over what you have done with your
life, but I want you to know in your heart that God has never stopped loving
you and that you are God’s child:’ After saying this to him, he began to
weep. Through tears and sobs, he told me about a lot of the pain he had
experienced in life. He had been horribly abused as a child himself. While
in prison he had received numerous beatings. All of his friends had cut
their ties with him. Pain, receiving it and inflicting it on others, was the
defining feature of his life.

But do you know what he said was the most painful thing he has ever
experienced? It wasn’t being beaten, raped, or rejected. It was being
forgiven. He said that being forgiven by God was the most painful thing he
has ever experienced. The experience of being embraced by a divine love in
the midst of his sinful mess of a life was for him both the most joyful and,
at the same time, most painful thing imaginable for him. Before he opened
his heart to the power of God’s Spirit, his heart was hard and his mind was
darkened. He could do horrible things and not experience sorrow or regret
because he was blind to what was really going on. In a very real sense, he
did not know what he was doing. Indeed, evil and sin always involve a deep
kind of self-deception and ignorance. Recall that when Jesus was hanging on
the cross, he prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they
are doing” (Luke 23:34). But as God’s Spirit began to take a hold of him,
his heart began to soften and his mind began to clear. He was now seeing and
feeling for the first time the horror of what he had done. And it hurt like
hell.

I tell this story because it shows that forgiveness is not the equivalent of
getting off the hook without facing any consequences. Paradoxically, it is
only in being forgiven that a person can fully come to experience the pain
of their wrongdoing. Anyone who has hurt a loved one and then had that
person forgive you and still choose to love you knows what I am talking
about. The offer of grace and the opportunity of reconciliation are painful
to receive because in being embraced by someone we have hurt our sense of
the wrongness of our wrongdoing is intensified all the more. If we think a
person hates us, it’s easy not to feel bad about how we might have harmed
them. If we know without a doubt a person loves us, and refuses to stop
loving us, it’s hard not to be cut to the heart at the thought of how we
harmed them. Forgiveness frees us from the condemnation that we deserve for
our sin, but it does not necessarily release us from all of the consequences
that come from our sin. As I have said, in some ways the experience of
profound forgiveness actually intensifies the painful consequences of our
sin, in that it reveals the beautiful goodness of the forgiver, and because
of that, the ugliness of our sin is seen in its proper light. Vengeance can
cause pain, but only love can cut to the heart.

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