I’ve been stuck on a passage in the Bible for a while. It’s Luke 6:27-36. I won’t quote it all here. But it’s from the Sermon on the Mount and includes sayings of Jesus like, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you… turn the other cheek.” Take a minute and the read the whole section and ask yourself the question, “Is that me? Do I do that?” I’ve concluded that God still has a lot of work to do with my heart.
But as I look around I don’t see a whole lot of love, grace and forgiveness in our country either. I hear Christian leaders talking about standing up for ourselves and getting back at those who have done evil to us. I see politicians dragging each other through the mud. I see a lack of forgiveness and grace and love in our culture.
Over the last few weeks there have been controversies over the building of a Mosque in NY and burning Qurans in FL. I’m not here to chime in on those particular topics, because they’ve been debated and over-debated. But what I’m not seeing from anyone on either side is a lot of forgiveness. I see retribution becoming a theme.
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any justice. When someone commits a crime, big or small, there should be justice and punishment. But there should also be forgiveness from the offended party.
Have we forgotten that being a Christian means that we must forgive everyone who harms us as Jesus has said in Luke 6? Or like Jesus did when He went to the cross and forgave the people who were killing Him.
Forgiveness means that we treat people with grace. We treat them better than they deserve to be treated. We don’t take revenge, because that’s not our place; it’s God’s place.
Forgiveness means letting go of resentment in our personal lives and loving our spouses, family members, co-workers and bosses even though they may have hurt us in some way.
Bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness burn in our hearts and destroy our lives. God’s way is better. Some people will be bothered by what I’ve written. And I think that’s because a lot of us are hanging on to resentment and won’t let it go. Some of you might say, “You don’t understand how I’ve been hurt!” And that’s true, I don’t understand, but I also don’t understand how much it hurt Jesus to be betrayed by a friend, abandoned by disciples, spit on, whipped, mocked and killed by people He created. Yet He, somehow, was able to say, “Forgive them.” I don’t that kind of forgiveness is humanly possible, but I believe that the power of Christ’s love in a hurting heart can turn resentment to forgiveness and love. We need to ask for God’s help.
A lot of poeple in our country are talking about getting back to the values that made us a great nation – a great Christian nation. But I would say, how about getting back to the virtue of a forgiving heart? That is what would separate us from the rest of the world and draw people’s attention to Christ – if we could forgive each other the way Jesus forgave.