If there is one thing about God everyone knows, it is that He loves us all. If there is another thing about God everyone knows, it is is that He is willing to forgive us all, even the ones that reject and deny Him.
We, as Believers, should emulate God, right? Doesn’t He tell us, over and over, that we should be holy, as He is holy? Doesn’t Yeshua tell His Talmudim (Disciples) that they should love each other, as the Father does, so that people will know they are His Disciples?
But the old adage doesn’t say: “To Err is Human; to Love, Divine”, does it? No, it doesn’t. It says, “To Err is Human; to Forgive, Divine.”
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we are told how even sinners do good things for those they love (specifically their children.) For instance, in Matthew 7 Yeshua says:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Contextually, Yeshua is teaching about asking God for what we need, and I do not think I am quoting out of context since we don’t need anything more than forgiveness of our sins, right? My point is this: Yeshua is teaching us that even sinners can love others.
But forgiveness? That is not easy for anyone, especially humans, since we are (generally) self-absorbed and selfish. Forgiveness is something that we must do: according to Yeshua, if we do not forgive each other here on earth, His Father in heaven will not forgive us, either. In fact, my message from the other day is all about how we give God permission to treat us as we treat others, even if God wants to give us a break (When We Give God Permission To Do Something).
I checked out my Strong’s Concordance the other day (while thinking about this topic) and counted around 100 references to “forgiveness” (in all forms of the word), but for the word “love” there were nearly three full pages of references, so it is abundantly clear that love is mentioned in the bible much more than forgiveness. But even though forgiveness is mentioned less than love, it is what we need to be saved. God’s love makes salvation available to us, but it is by His forgiveness that we are saved.
Here is what I mean: God’s love is for everyone, as we’ve mentioned already, but His love for you will not allow you to enter into His glory. The way to become justified (cleansed of sin) is not through His love, but by means of His forgiveness, which is given after we have performed the necessary sacrifice. The problem is that the sacrificial system, as outlined in the Torah, is no longer possible because of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, but we are not doomed: by means of Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice we can be justified and cleansed of our sin. As a cleansed person, no longer stained with our sins, we are able to enter into God’s presence (oh, if only my Jewish Brothers and Sisters would grasp this truth and accept it.)
It is clearly stated throughout the Tanakh (and reiterated in Hebrews 9:22) that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and without forgiveness of sin there can be no salvation.
So you see? God’s love for us is what motivated Him to send Yeshua to be a sacrifice, and Yeshua’s love for us is what sustained Him throughout His life and torturous death. God’s love for us and Yeshua’s sacrifice is what makes salvation possible, but it is forgiveness of sin that saves us.
As we live our lives trying to die to self and allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to fill us more and more, we need to work on forgiveness more than love. Frankly, I really don’t like it when people I don’t even know come up to me and hug me, and say something like “Love you, Brother!” because (to me) love is too important a word to throw around like “Wassup?” or “Howdy” or “How ya doin’?” You don’t even know me, so how can you really love me? God’s love is real, it’s complete, it’s tangible- humans can’t do that, so stop saying you love me when you can’t possibly love me. Just be nice, be cordial, and be honest with me and with yourself.
You want to know what I think is the ultimate expression of love? Forgiveness. Anyone and everyone can love others, but if you want to prove that you have the ability to love as God loves, then stop telling strangers you love them and forgive the people you already know who have sinned against you and hurt you.
That is the kind of love that God wants from each of us.