Today’s post is from my new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). Last Saturday we posted Chapter 24: Love Like Jesus — Calm The Storm. Love Like Jesus is due to be published later this year.
And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved the paralytic by forgiving him.
How to Love Like Jesus
Years ago I was a one-man information technology team for the fire department where I worked. My primary job was that of a firefighter, but in the evenings at the fire station, and on my days off at headquarters, I would purchase computers, install software, and program databases.
As the de facto department expert, I often had co-workers ask me questions about their personal computer purchases. I remember one time my friend, Frank Finnegan, asked me if he should buy a PC or a Mac. I explained — in a most eloquent manner — how the PC is less expensive, and how you can right click, and why it has more flexibility if you want to upgrade, and how there’s a bigger selection of software available.
Frank patiently listened to my brilliant and detailed explanation, nodding to indicate his understanding and agreement.
Then he went out and bought a Mac.
I was so mad. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever but I felt completely betrayed. Things were strained between us, and for a most ridiculous reason. For months I was stuck, I was bound, I was frozen in my relationship with my good friend Frank.
I was paralyzed.
I wonder if God in His wisdom purposely included forgiveness and paralysis in the same passage of scripture. Because when you can’t let go, when you can’t show grace, when you can’t release your anger and resentment — when you can’t forgive, you become paralyzed.
I was paralyzed in my friendship with Frank, and I’ve observed many others whose lives were paralyzed by unforgiveness too. The woman with tremendous potential who remains in poverty because she’s overwhelmed with anger toward her parents. The negotiator who can’t come to agreement because he won’t forgive the union president. The woman who heard what was said behind her back, and can’t let it go.
They’re paralyzed by their unforgiveness. And they’re paralyzed in their ability to love like Jesus.
There’s a great article in USA Today about what makes people happy. A statement from that article by University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson stands out and is relevant to our discussion in this chapter about how Jesus loved people. The statement is this: “Forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness.”1
Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. No wonder Jesus emphasized it so. His desire is for us to enter into a big abundant life, walking with him here on earth, and dwelling with him later in heaven. (John 10:10) To live that abundant life on earth, he tells us, we must learn to forgive. (Matthew 6:14, 18:21-22, 18:23-35, Mark 11:25)
Do you want to love like Jesus, unencumbered? Do you want to be free from anger, resentment, and disappointment? And do you want to be happy? Then learn to forgive. Forgive everyone, of everything. Forgive 77 times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus loved people by forgiving, he forgave the paralytic, he forgave the woman who anointed him at dinner, and he forgave us all when he hung there, dying, on the cross. (Matthew 9:2-7, Luke 7:48, Luke 23:34)
So don’t allow paralysis to get in the way of loving like Jesus.
To love like Jesus, forgive.
You’re the one who will be blessed if you do.
- University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson in an article by Marilyn Elias, Psychologists now know what makes people happy, USA TODAY, 12/8/2002, URL: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2002-12-08-happy-main_x.htm