WHEN FORGIVENESS FEELS LIKE A WASTE
LIFE Devotions–May 31 2016
“Be kind and compassionate to one
another, forgiving each other, just as in
Christ God forgave you.”
–Ephesians 4:32 [NLT]
Divisions take place within families, companies, and churches because there is no kindness, no compassion, no forgiveness. We fall short of the grace God gave us and offenses grow to become thorny bushes of bitterness within our hearts. Rather than washing them away with the rivers of God’s mercy, they are nourished by indignation and hatred. The heart gets hardened and God’s word gets chocked by rocks of inner harshness.
Some my think that forgiving someone for their sin, specially if they have not asked for forgiveness, is promoting bad behavior. “Why would I be kind to someone who has hurt me when they don’t even acknowledge their own wrongdoing? Forgiveness would be a reward for their bad behavior. So let them pay and suffer until they are humbled enough to come and beg for my forgiveness. Only then will I forgive them...” This might feel right to the flesh, but it is not the example Christ gave us. When Jesus was being crucified, He said to His father, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus is interceding for His abusers even though they show no sign of sorrow for what they are doing. They are jeering instead, scoffing, and ridiculing Christ with hostile cries. As Jesus is being verbally, physically, and emotionally abused, kindness and compassion flows out of His heart. Like a rose giving away perfume when crushed.
Don’t forget that the man on that cross created each one of His enemies. He gave them the hands they were using to nail Him to the cross. He gave them the mouths they were using to blaspheme His Holy name. He made the very air that kept them alive to advance such repulsive crime. Creation punishing the Creator. As Creator, Christ also had the power and authority to dismantle the entire criminal operation in a split second by commanding His heavenly hosts to smite every soldier and religious leader on site. But he only opened His mouth to bless, to intercede, and to forgive. Many interpreted His kindness as a sign of weakness. They scoffed Him even more. “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” But their provocation did not move His commitment to clear them of this abomination. There were others though, who were moved to deep repentance as they witnessed this spring of grace flowing out His dying body. The banquet of love that came out of Christ's lips while His life was being brutally mangled did not go unnoticed by all. For the criminal crucified next to Him, for the Roman centurion at the crucifixion, for that member of the Jewish council who asked for His body after His death, Christ’s example made an eternal difference in their lives.
If someone you forgive misuses or misinterprets the grace you give them, rest in peace knowing that you are following Christ’s example. God will be honored and He will see to it that your obedience is not wasted, but leaks out into a glorious story of redemption for those around you that are watching your Christ-like behavior.
– Pray and ask God to help you overcome any hesitation you may have to forgive someone who has hurt you. The path to your freedom and God’s redemptive power is right around the corner. Trust His example and follow it.