(A relevant aside: Nor are the three most important words anything that protestors are currently chanting or that political leaders are currently offering)
But nearly 50 years ago, the Beatles told us, “All You Need Is Love.” I love you, you love me…so we can live happily ever after. It’s the gospel according to Barney (of purple dinosaur fame).
Sorry, Hallmark. More than love is needed. There are all kinds of people who love one another whose marriages/relationships/friendships have failed. This is why the three most important words are these: “I forgive you.”
There’s another set of three words that is quite important: “I am sorry.” When you wrong/hurt (sin against) someone else – and we do, more than we even know – ask to be forgiven. Say, “I’m sorry.” No excuses, explanations, rationalizations, or blaming. Simply say, “I am sorry.”
And when you are the wronged party, don’t say, “Don’t worry about it” or “It’s okay”. It isn’t okay! If it was, there would be no need to seek forgiveness. Instead, use those three most powerful words – “I forgive you.” To forgive means to let something go, to put it away, to make sure it’s no longer there.
“I forgive you. I let this go. This is no longer between us. Let’s move on.” This says so much more than an unclearly defined, culturally twisted “love.”
This is how God deals with us. God has reconciled us to Himself through his Son, Jesus. He says, incredibly. “For the sake of my Son and his sacrifice, I forgive you. I let this go. This is no longer between us.”
Such power in these words and actions! Flowers, chocolates, cards, and dinner will be forgotten long before forgiveness runs out. As forgiven people of God, we are called to forgive one another. And in this way, more than any other, married couples especially can tighten the knot and strengthen their relationship. Express love through forgiveness: “I forgive you. I let this go. This is no longer between us.”
To whom do you need to say, “I am sorry?” Do so, without hesitation or reservation or delay.
Who needs your forgiveness? Give it freely. Show lasting love with the three most important words, words spoken by God himself: “I forgive you.”
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Grateful with you for God’s love in Christ,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand