December 20, 2016

Forgiveness Isn’t Like a Stoptional

Written by Shana Schutte

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 20, 2016

By Shana Schutte

This is love for God: to obey his commands.  (1 John 5:3)

I once rode in the car with my humorous husband when he ran a stop sign. I said, “Oops! Missed that one.” He laughed and responded, “That’s what I call a Stoptional.”

Sometimes, we treat God’s commands like they are Stoptionals. Sure, He told us to do a particular something like not gossip, lie, steal, or harbor bitterness, but it’s not a big deal if we don’t follow through, right? Because, well. . . there is grace.

One of the commands we sometimes feel is optional is His command to forgive. We convince ourselves that we can love God but still harbor a little hate for that person who rubbed us the wrong way, wounded us, mistreated us, abandoned us, robbed from us, attacked us, left us, or lied to us, right? Wrong. In fact, God says it’s impossible to love God but not love our brother. That means you can’t do it. It’s kind of like saying you can love your mate well and have an affair. It’s like saying you can eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and lose weight. It’s impossible.

1 John 4:19-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Wow! Pretty sobering. The word “love” in this passage is the word agapao in the original Greek language. Agapao is the verb for the word agape which is benevolent love that has one’s best interest in mind. That means it’s impossible to have God’s best interest in mind and not have our brother’s best interest in mind. When we love God, we love what He loves—and He loves people.

The choice to forgive is an indicator of whether Christ’s love is in our hearts and if we have listened to Him. Habitual forgiveness is a sign we belong to Him. Christ says that if we don’t love, we don’t belong to Him. Tough–but true–words. This doesn’t mean that you will always feel like forgiving before you forgive. But out of love for Christ, we choose forgiveness.

Do you need to make the choice to forgive someone today?

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matthew 18:21-22).


Lord, please purify my heart and help me to love those you love. Please reveal any unforgiveness that’s in my heart and give me your love for anyone I am harboring hate toward. Amen.


Take a few moments to pause today and ask the Lord to reveal anyone you need to forgive. If He reveals that you need to forgive a particular someone, confess your unforgiveness and ungodly attitudes or actions. Then, tell the Lord you choose forgiveness. Ask Him to help you love His way.

Related Reading

Matthew 6:14-15; Acts 3:19; Mark 11:25

Post/Tweet today

Forgiveness isn’t like a Stoptional. #WisdomHunters #ItsImpossible

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  1. Terry Sowell says:

    My bibles have always said 70 times 7 which equals 490, which makes even a bigger point of not putting a limit on forgiveness.

  2. Billy says:

    I really like Shannas insights

  3. Gwynne says:

    Dear Billy,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to us and let us know how much you enjoy Shana’s devotionals. Please know I am going to pass along your kind words to Shana and I am sure she will be blessed by them.
    We hope that you and your loved ones will have a wonderful Christmas. May you feel His Presence in this season of celebrating the “real reason for the season”.
    Grateful for you~

  4. Gwynne says:

    Great point Terry. Thank you for your insight! We hope that this Christmas finds you and your loved ones soaking up His Presence and Love.
    Grateful for you~

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