FORGIVING LIKE GOD & BELIEVING

One of the national newspapers recently posted some photos of a woman having a meltdown because she missed her travel connection. Apparently, it was a memorable event. I guess a person has to be careful these days of how he/she reacts. You never know who is listening to your call or taking a photo of your behaviour. Our privacy is decreasing daily as big brother watches us for a weak moment. The social media devil prowls around like a silent snake seeking someone to shame. Years ago it was just the “paparazzi” that celebrities had to worry about. Nowadays, everyone has to worry about everyone else carrying their smart phones. Where is the sense in all of this that the weakness of one mirrors the weakness of us all? King David was right when he said, “Please let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (1Chronicles 21:13). Have we become so merciless and unforgiving?

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Paul speaks of the last days and gives us a list of faults that will be evident, among which we find “…unloving, unforgiving slanderers…” But of course, he expected far different from those who claim to believe, both then and now.

“Do not return evil for evil to anyone. Try to do what is good in the sight of all. If at all possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all persons. Never take revenge, Beloved…but if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.” (Romans 12:17-21).

Paul’s whole basis for this was that he had been forgiven himself. He had been God’s enemy: a blasphemer and murderer. But God had forgiven him. Paul had been shown grace. By its nature, grace is undeserved. It is the same with us. Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us that there is no one on earth who always does good and never sins. All of us have fallen short (Romans 3:23).  So we also have deserved God’s justice and punishment. But He has shown us grace and forgiveness. However, God expects that we show the same grace and forgiveness to others.

And connected with this, folks: don’t judge others! Have we become Mr or Mrs Perfect all of a sudden? If we judge others, is this not exactly what we are saying: my behaviour is absolutely perfect, so I can pass judgment on you! Matthew 7:1 commands, “Do not judge so that you may not BE judged!” (emphasis mine). In case you are wondering, there is a threat there. Jesus is saying that if we judge others, we too will be judged. Yet when we look at the behaviour in our world, Christian or non-Christian, the governing principle seems to be: do whatever, but don’t get caught doing it! Who knows, maybe having cameras all over the place might be a good thing if they really changed our behaviour; but they don’t. As far as I know there is no camera built yet that can take a picture of your thoughts. At least, not on earth; and believe me, that’s where most of the wrongs are done. But there’s a camera in heaven and it has everything in it: thoughts, words, actions. How do you feel about that one? And there will be a judgment, but it won’t be done by us.

Have I scared you yet? Well, you should be. But you can rest easy. Someone took all of those wrong thoughts, words and actions on His own shoulders. It has all been paid for, folks. The greatest book that was ever written tells us so. And yet incredibly, many people are still too proud or too afraid to accept it. An Arab chief tells the story[i] of a spy who was captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. As was his curious custom, the general offered the spy a choice between the firing squad or walking through a big, black door leading to the unknown. It looked very forbidding and the spy chose the firing squad. The general remarked to his aide that the convicted criminals always chose the known to the unknown. “What’s behind the black door?” asked the aide. “Freedom,” said the general, “but I have known only a few brave enough to take that door.”[ii]

Are you brave enough to believe? Just walk through the Door!

[i] Don McCullough, “The Unknown” 1001 Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories For Preachers, Teachers and Writers, Edward K. Rowell, Editor, ( BakerBooks, Grand Rapids, Michigan) p. 280.

[ii] Ibid. p. 281

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