Love Writes With Ashes

Love is the solution to resentfulness. Another way of saying, “love is not resentful” is to say that “love is forgiving.” Instead of holding a real or perceived wrong against someone, love either chooses to not take it as a personal offense; or if it is a personal offense, chooses to forgive. Far too long the cliché “forgive and forget” has rooted its shallow counsel into Western Christianity. I would imagine that anyone of us, who have ever genuinely been hurt by someone else, realizes that your ability to forget seems to be relegated to anniversary dates and child hood phone numbers. The memory of personal offenses seem to linger far past their desired expiration date. Therefore, love is not “forgive and forget” but instead “remember and forgive.” One commentator eloquently states, “Love writes our personal wrongs in ashes.”[1]

Paul directs us, in Ephesians, to “forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32 ESV). This is our goal, but as we continually strain towards that goal, let’s always be reminded by and revel in the greatness and magnitude of God’s forgiveness to us. Chrysostom offers a beautiful and helpful picture. “Sin is drowned in the ocean of God’s mercy, just as a spark is extinguished in a flood of water.” Not only does Christ forgive us, but he as well blots out our sin in such a way as to leave no trace of them. Most often, when a wound occurs, a scar remains, but “God does not suffer the scar even to remain, but, together with release from punishment, grants righteousness also, and makes the sinner to be equal to him who has not sinned. He makes the sin neither to be nor to have been.”[2] Thomas Manton likely is quoting Chrysostom when he writes, “Thy sins are like a spark of fire that falleth into the ocean; it is quenched presently. So are all thy sins in the ocean of God’s mercy; there is not more water in the sea than there is mercy in God.”[3] This is love. It does not keep a record of wrongs. It is to this we strive.

 

[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., 1 Corinthians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 424.

[2] W. R. W. Stephens M.A.. Saint John Chrysostom: His Life and Times (Aeterna Press: Kindle Edition), 277-278.

[3] Thomas Manton, The complete works of Thomas Manton. Vol. 6. ( London: James Nisbet & Co, 1872), 447.

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