By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield”
“Always forgiven, never loved less.”
Others will know we follow Jesus by the way our lives reflect these truths. The people God has purposefully placed in our lives need to hear, learn, and be reminded of God’s love. In every situation and relationship we have the opportunity to love people for Jesus. In our daily lives, we are inundated with social media posts, text messages, and rude comments directed right at us. We have a choice, in every instance, to respond in love. Instead of becoming defensive and offended, we can choose to see God’s plan in those moments, and love them for Jesus.
God sees us for who we really are. Through Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. Adopted children are chosen, despite their current circumstance. Our Heavenly Father wants us, mess and all. He wants a relationship with us, and in Christ, He calls us righteous!
Righteous, by dictionary definition, is “characterized by uprightness or morality; morally right or justifiable; acting in an upright, moral way; or the slang: absolutely genuine or wonderful.” It’s the version of ourselves we have the hardest time seeing: absolutely genuine and wonderful. Instead, we often get stuck in the sinful version of our selves.
Sin curses this earth, but it doesn’t define who we are …God does. He says, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). He chose to rescue and redeem us, and call us righteous children of God. The NIV Study Bible defines this righteousness as “those who honor God and order their lives in all things according to His will.” It then further explains, “In every human relationship they faithfully fulfill the obligations that the relationship entails, remembering that power and authority (of whatever sort: domestic, social, political, economic, religious, intellectual) are to be used to bless, not exploit.”
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We Are Always Forgiven
The apostle John wrote,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
God is accessible to all His people. Our protection and salvation lies in His name, in who He is. The prophet Isaiah wrote,
“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
To an exiled people, God assured them – you will always be forgiven, and never loved less. Jeremiah wrote,
“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’” (Jeremiah 31:34).
To the exiles at the time, it brought hope, but how much more hope do we have now that the promised Messiah has come? He has risen, He lives, and He sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us in prayer!
We Are Never Loved Less
The prophet Jeremiah preached to a people suffering in exile,
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
God’s love for us is the greatest love story of all time. The apostle John wrote,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The Message paraphrase reads:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need by destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
Everyday we are faced with a choice. Will our lives reflect the full life Jesus died to give us? John recorded the Savior’s words,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Will we choose to treat others based off our enemy, who seeks to lie and isolate us? Or, will we choose Jesus – the way, the truth and the life – and instead choose forgiveness and love?
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The VOICE paraphrase of Psalm 5:11-12 reads:
“But let those who run to You for safety be glad they did;
let them break out in joyful song.
May You keep them safe –
their love for You resounding in their hearts.
You, O Eternal, are the One who lays all good
things in the laps of the right-hearted.
Your blessings surround them like a shield.”
Jesus is our example, our guiding light in the dark. Jesus walked the earth, and felt the struggle, the heartache, and the pain of this world. Yet, He did not jump onto the pages of Scripture at His birth on earth. John wrote,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1-2).
Our God, the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, has always been and will never change. “Through him all things were made;” John continued, “without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:3-5).
God so loved the world – full of rebellious, sinful people who continually stray and sin. Jesus is the light in the darkness. Our ability to love others is evident by the time we spend with Him. God promises when we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. We do this through the daily discipline of prayer and time in God’s Word, the Bible. The core of who we are changes and matures spiritually as we submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in this way. Jesus said,
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).
We can always forgive, and never love less, by the power of Christ in us. Love them for Jesus. Instead of offense, we can choose forgiveness. We, those God calls righteous, have the honor of bringing glory to God by choosing the path of forgiveness and love. James wrote,
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
We can choose to remain in Jesus, instead of self-love, self-care, and the selfish descriptions the people the world beckons us to become. John, Jesus’ earthly best friend, recorded his Savior’s words:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Always forgiven, never loved less. This is the love of God for us, and the love we are called to share with those He faithfully places in our lives.
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A Prayer to Choose Love
Abba, Yahweh! Jesus, Messiah! Holy Spirit, Counselor! One True, Triune, God! Glory to You for this day, this life, and Your purpose and will for us. One day at a time, teach us more and more how to forgive and love the people You have placed in our lives, Lord. May our hearts be open to the wisdom and love You pour into us through the people You place in our lives to disciple us, as well.
Father, we are blown away by Your love for us. Thank you for loving the world enough to send Jesus, Your One and only Son, to sacrifice His life for us on the cross. When we picture the brutal scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, let our hearts break for the compassion Christ has for us. Help us to remain in You, Jesus, and for our lives to glorify You. Be with us in every instance of offense, and remind us to choose Love.
In Jesus’ Name,
NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.
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Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.