One of the most difficult aspects of human relationships is maintaining an open heart to the other person. Perhaps the person on the first occasion you open your heart stabs it or pricks it, either to break it or to cause it to bleed. You’re bruised or even battered by this attack. How do you keep your heart open to that person?
Look at Paul for a moment. He writes to the church at Corinth,
“We speak freely to you, Corinthians, and open wide our hearts to you. We do not withhold our affection from you, but you withhold yours from us. As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13, NIV)
I find it bewildering that brothers and sisters in Christ close off their hearts to one another in direct violation to the command to love one another. I find it horrifying that brothers and sisters in Christ proclaim to hate or dislike one another because ‘he doesn’t believe in…” or “she practices this…” or whatever excuse comes to mind.
Paul says to the Corinthians:
“Make room for us in your hearts. We wrong no one, we corrupt no one, we exploit no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” (2 Corinthians 7:2-4)
Paul, with great kindness, tells the Corinthians of his pride in — his encouragement from — his joy because of –, and his special love for — them. Now, though he hurt them in his earlier letter, he tells them to open their hearts again to him, as his heart remains open to them.
Father God, help us to truly forgive ourselves and others so that our hearts may remain fully open to the other. In Jesus’ Name, amen.