The single, powerful stroke of contrast

Forgiveness is firmly integrated in the inner workings of love.

1 Corinthians 13:5 – “[Love] is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.”

As an artist, I enjoy how each layer of a painting can modify the overall image, and enhance the original idea to the point of sometimes changing the picture completely. Typically, this is something that is controlled through the use of various shading and highlighting to bring out the intended emphasis. As a painting is nearing completion, I enjoy the highlighting aspect most of all because it begins to bring focus to the whole image.

On occasion, I have attempted to paint multiple paintings at once based on the same theme to see if I could duplicate an idea. No matter how hard I tried, even using the same colors and brushes, each finished painting would have a slightly different “feel” than the others.

I recently had a dream where I was commissioned to paint four similar paintings of a cabin in a snowstorm. In this dream, I was using the same colors and brushes, but I was purposely changing the brush technique to see how each painting’s emphasis would shift. All of the paintings were very dark and dreary, showing the intensity of the snowstorm.

Then, in an unintentional movement of my hand in the fourth painting, I had inadvertently created a shadow behind the roof of the cabin. It was a simple and quick move of the brush, and suddenly the entire character of the painting was transformed. Instead of the harsh, dreary, and hopeless nature of the the other three paintings, there was suddenly the sense of light breaking through the storm and creating this inadvertent shadow. The contrast of the single shadow changed the emotion of the painting from one of hopelessness into one of hope. The sun had broken through the snowy maelstrom in one small area of light, hinting that the storm would pass.

The reason this type of contrast is significant is because in art, contrast creates depth and meaning. A painting that is uniformly and methodically structured, even if done with great skill, lacks emotional impact and appears washed-out.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he has, in my estimation, penned the most comprehensive practical definition of love that exists. Most English versions will convey verse 5 as “[love] does not keep a record of wrongs.” In the original Greek, the sentiment conveys a harsher tone, more literally rendered as “[love] takes no accounting of the evil.”

In taking no accounting of the evil in others, we will need to operate within the principle of forgiveness. To forgive others is the only way that we can not take into account some evil that they may have done toward us. Just like in the painting process, forgiveness provides the contrast where all other natural responses of anger and resentment paint a washed-out picture of hopelessness. Forgiveness is the spark, the singular, powerful stroke of contrast that imbues a relationship with the depth and emotion that provides hope. It’s the sunlight through the snowstorm.

Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Yeshua replied, “but seventy times seven.”

We may not be able to control the way others choose to interact with us, but we can control our reaction to their influence in our lives. As believers, we are urged to provide forgiveness which contrasts with the world’s way of dealing with resentment. This single, powerful stroke of contrast makes us stand out from others and honors the One who desires us to be the catalyst of restorative and hope-filled relationships, just as He has been with us.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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