“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you.
Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
If someone hit your car and it was clearly their fault, is it easier to forgive the person who is gravely apologetic and truly concerned if you are injured, or the person who gets in your face yelling and screaming with insults and profanity? The answer is obvious. However, God wants us to forgive both. I know…“Easier said than done!”
But if we are to be obedient to God’s word, we ARE to forgive both! For Jesus says in Matthew 5:44-48:
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
And yet, despite the pain, ridicule and humiliation Jesus experienced by the Jews, Roman soldiers and onlookers, Jesus still uttered the words in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”, while He hung from the cross. Can you fathom that kind of selfless love and forgiveness? That’s why Jesus is our model of behavior and not what mainstream media portrays, like movie stars, reality TV and pop music stars. Unfortunately, our society glorifies and rewards pridefulness, violence, greed, and selfishness.
Another reason to forgive the lovely AND the unlovely is because our heavenly Father has forgiven us. No matter how “good” you think you are, you are a sinner! Don’t feel bad, so am I and everyone else on earth! So compared to God’s perfectness, we are as vile to God, as the violent criminal is to us. And yet, God tells us in Isaiah 43:25, “I-yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
But for God to forgive our sins, Jesus further teaches us in Matthew 6:14, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Why? Because if we do not give others our forgiveness, then we are implying that we don’t need God’s forgiveness. In other words, your pride is saying that you are better than another sinner, so you are refusing to offer your forgiveness. And if you are perfect enough to not offer forgiveness, you don’t need God and His forgiveness. But remember what Jesus said to the crowd, who wanted to stone the woman caught committing adultery in John 8:7. Jesus said, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!”
Furthermore, consider the price that was paid for YOUR forgiveness! Jesus had to die for our sins, so that we could receive God’s forgiveness (See my other blog entry for more on this topic, “What Is The Path To God?“). Without the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, we would still be under the old Law and sacrificing all kinds of animals to “cleanse” ourselves for our sins. Once again, by you not offering your forgiveness to others, you are saying that you don’t need God’s forgiveness and that Jesus’ death was not for your redemption.
And how many times should you forgive someone? Peter asks Jesus this same question in Matthew 18:21-22. The Bible says, “Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”
In summary, put down your pride! Be humble and learn to love the unlovely. Your kindness and gentle spirit may be enough for someone to recognize their ugliness and seek out Christ. Although one thing is for sure! If you claim to be a Christian and are not able to demonstrate forgiveness, your hypocrisy will be judged by non-believers (See my other blog posting, “Why Godly People Act Ungodly: Explaining the Hypocrisy in Christianity”). And that judgment will drive them away from Christ! And why not? You are not demonstrating anything different than what a non-believer already possesses. So heed the words of Ephesians 4:32, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
In His light,