July 30, 2014
The Power of Forgiveness
The LORD said to me again, ‘Go, show your love to a woman loved by someone else, who has been unfaithful to you. In the same way the LORD loves the people of Israel, even though they worship other gods and love to eat the raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for six ounces of silver and ten bushels of barley. Then I told her, ‘You must wait for me for many days. You must not be a prostitute, and you must not have sexual relations with any other man. I will act the same way toward you.’ In the same way Israel will live many days without a king or leader, without sacrifices or holy stone pillars, and without the holy vest or an idol. After this, the people of Israel will return to the LORD their God and follow him and the king from David's family. In the last days, they will turn in fear to the LORD, and he will bless them (Hosea 3:1-5, NCV).
Friend to Friend
True forgiveness always requires sacrifice on our part – a truth that may often seem unfair in human terms. After all, we are the ones who have been hurt. Why should we have to sacrifice anything? Shouldn’t the people who hurt us be the ones who have to make the first move and offer the biggest sacrifice? True forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – defies human logic and cannot be explained in human terms. Human forgiveness is easier but a shallow substitute and cheap imitation for the amazing power of God’s forgiveness.
Hosea was married to a woman who hurt and humiliated him. Scripture does not say Gomer ever repented and asked for Hosea’s forgiveness. But that did not stop Hosea from forgiving her. In fact, Hosea sacrificed his pride and his human rights in order to forgive Gomer. Hosea’s forgiveness also required a financial sacrifice.
Hosea had to sacrifice materially. He had to buy back his own wife. Seriously? Gomer was damaged goods, and she definitely was not on sale. The price was substantial. Six ounces of silver and ten bushels of barley was the going price of a slave, and since prophets are definitely not in the top income bracket, the payment was a great financial sacrifice for Hosea. Gomer’s own sin had placed her in bondage. Even so, Hosea was willing to make a financial sacrifice in order to fulfill his commitment in marriage. Love that never gives up is willing to pay a price, to sacrifice so people in bondage can be set free.
Mother Teresa said, “Love, to be real must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self!” The words of King David reveal the essence of love and forgiveness. "No, I must pay the full price. I won't give an offering that costs me nothing" (1 Chronicles 21:24, ICB).
Hosea could have played it safe. Nowhere in Scripture does it suggest Gomer wanted his forgiveness, and Hosea had no guarantee she would not do the very same thing again. He took a huge risk in bringing Gomer home. What passes for true love is often little more than a convenient emotional arrangement. Someone is kind to us so we are kind in return. Someone treats us badly, so we don’t get mad, we get even. Sound fair? Seem reasonable? Yes, but only in human terms. Love that never fails goes beyond reason and refuses to settle for justice alone. True love insists on granting mercy.
I love the story of a doctor who told the little boy that he could save his sister’s life by giving her some of his blood. “Johnny, are you sure you want to give your blood for Mary?” the doctor asked. The boy hesitated for several moments; his lips trembled as tears filled his eyes. His parents and the doctor assured Johnny that the procedure would not be very painful and would be over with quickly. Finally, he smiled bravely and said, “Sure Doc. I’ll give my blood for my sister.” As the transfusion took place, the little girl began to respond immediately. Parents, doctors and nurses erupted into cheers and applause. When the ordeal was almost over, Johnny’s brave little voice was heard, “Hey, Doc, when do I die?” A stunned silence fell across the room. The doctor and parents suddenly realized what Johnny was thinking. Johnny thought when he gave his blood to his sister, he would die – a very high price he was willing to pay.
Love that never fails is willing to pay a great price and make a great sacrifice. Love that never fails is yours to receive and yours to give.
Father, I come to You today, asking first for Your forgiveness for the sin in my life. I choose to turn from that sin and obey You. Thank You for your grace and mercy. Give me the strength and power to extend that same mercy and grace to those in my life who have hurt me.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What hurt or pain are your holding in your heart and life? Realize it is holding you prisoner and make the choice to let it go today. Forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is a choice that leads to a step of obedience. Forgiveness is not an emotion or feeling. If you make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.
Read the whole story of Hosea and Gomer found in the book of Hosea. First put yourself in the place of Gomer. How do you think she reacted to Hosea’s decision to forgive her and bring her home? Then put yourself in the place of Hosea. Think about the thoughts and feelings running through Hosea’s heart and mind. Record your thoughts and insights in your journal.
What one person do you need to forgive right now? Pray for that person. Ask God to let you see them through His eyes and make the deliberate choice to forgive them.
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