"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfections."
The cross is the place where God's love triumphed over the powers of evil. The Father, in His pleasure, chose to send Christ to the Cross. Christ "desired us to be with Him where He is" and chose to lay His life down to "purify for Himself His own special people". When you think of the cross, do you see yourself as God sees you? Yes, your sin sent Christ to the cross. Yes, He is the total sacrifice for your sins. But is that all you see yourself as—a sinner saved by grace? The apostles frequently revealed that God's vision of you in Christ is far more glorious than that.
In the above passage, Paul declares through the Spirit, that if you are in Christ, then you are God's elect and therefore holy and dearly loved--not just loved but beloved or dearly loved. The Father loves you just as He loves the Son (John 17:23). Christ is all your holiness and righteousness (1Cor 1:30) and much more. At your "worst" as at your "best", the Father loves and see you this way. It is not about you. It is all about Him—His love, sanctification, and election of you in Christ. Notice in the above passage that God commands, and seems to simply expect, all of us saints to put on these beautiful qualities of kindness, patience, forgiveness, and love in all circumstances with all other saints no matter the mistreatment we receive. This may seem unrealistic to you. And it will, if you are looking at yourself, your past, your circumstances, or your abilities. But if you look at at God's love for you in Christ, you will see that same love toward all other saints around you, and your heart will overflow with His kindness, grace, forgiveness, and love. Such should be natural and effortless on our part. Paul said that he labored with all God's energy that mightily worked in him (Col 1:29). So what is our problem?
You are His beloved. Do you see that the Father's thoughts toward you are always ones of love, forgiveness and grace, no matter how much you fail or are misunderstood, mistreated or abused by other saints? And those saints who mistreat you, do you see that God's thoughts toward them are always ones of love, forgiveness and grace? Do you really see it? Or, have you forgotten? God's love is true and secure for all His children all the time. But we get to choose whether we see ourselves and other saints through eyes of God's love and grace or through eyes of human performance. God does not empower us to love when we choose the latter, but He does when we choose the former. Why do we fail to love? It is very simple, we have forgotten to see His love. Please don't misunderstand. This does not mean that you have stopped believing He loves you. You need to simply "fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith." Then God's love through you, to even the most obnoxious of saints, will be natural and effortless—though not necessarily painless. The effort should all be God's.
If natural and effortless love seems unreasonable to you, I would encourage you to begin thanking the Father often for the riches you already have in Christ. Let this soak in you mind. You may be surprised at how God will slowly change you without your effort. For a testimony of God's faithfulness to work in the life of a weak brother who began to give thanks, download freely and read Thankfulness and Confession at: http://ccmbooks.org/free-literature/
Next time I hope to write on the way to continual and effortless forgiveness, no matter the abuse.