Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).
This has been a difficult thing for me to dwell on. Mostly because I am too wrapped up in my current car trouble. But it is nice to take my eyes off myself for this. A good thing to focus on.
Acts Chapter 7. Stephen shows this same love for the lost. He doesn’t cover his head and pray, “God let me die quickly so I don’t feel this pain.” Instead he raises his arms to Heaven and prays, “Do not hold this sin against them.” This is a normal human being who is showing the same love as Jesus did for the lost. Have you ever cared about anyone, that you didn’t know, enough to pray for God to forgive their sins against you?
3 People come to mind immediately for me that I knew well, and they treated me so badly it caused me great harm. Stuff that has effected me to this day. One has brought me to struggle with Jealousy, one threatened to slice my throat and kill me, one unjustly took away my job that I loved, and got away with slander. To this day they haunt my dreams. Their sins have scarred my life. They have caused great struggles in my life. And I have not truely forgiven them. I find that I don’t want God to forgive them. I want them to pay for what they have done. All three people are lost people.
People I should care about. In this instance I am no different then the people that made me sick and slander the name of God. It is so hard to forgive people that cause so much harm. Even in my post of Christians slandering the name of God I stated that I couldn’t even pray for God to forgive them.
The Bible clearly states that I must forgive others as God has forgiven me. How many times have I groasley sinned against God? Why would I not want the same Grace given to them that has been given to me? God will judge me the same way I have judged others. Praise the Lord I am NOT God.
He amazes me every time I think about the forgiveness he showers on humans. How does He look down on our world and not just vommit at what He sees. He could so easily destroy this earth and all that are on it and give us what we truely deserve. Death through pain, and suffering in eternal Hell.
I struggle with possibly sharing heaven with people like Jeffery Dahmer, whose mom claims he became a born again Christian behind bars. But when I look at his life in biographies he was a lost soul just like myself. He needed God and didn’t find him until he was behind bars.
But God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. He doesn’t want to hold this sin against us. But the wages of sin is death. And God has paid the penalty for us. All we have to do is believe that.
It is NOT human to forgive others. It does not come naturally for us. It is a supernatural gift that God gives us. It is something we have to train our minds and hearts to do. Someone once told me, “If I come up and introduce myself to you and hold out my hand to shake , and you punch me in the face instead, I can forgive you. But the next time I come up and say hi, I will stand farther back and not extend my hand in greeting.” I used to argue all the time about this. I never believed this is how Jesus meant for us to forgive. Forgiveness does make you vulnerable. That same person can hurt you again and again. 7×77.
Then I thought about it. Would I get back into the relationship with the person who cheated on me over 40 times? Apparently I must have forgiven him for him to have done it to me 40 times.
Would I get back in the car with the person who was threatening to kill me? Apparently I would, since I pulled him back into my car as he attempted to leave. Not knowing what he would do to himself in that state. And then stayed up all night watching him as he slept in my home.
Would I go back to work for that person who slandered my name and took my job from me? Apparently so since I put up with this treatment for a full year and never quit hoping it would change.
However, knowing what I know now, I would never go back to work in that kind of situation. I would protect myself. I would never allow someone to cheat on me like that again. And I would never let myself get into a friendship with someone who drank and was into satanism again. I did forgive them in the situation, and I worked my way through it. But I think it was hope that got me through it more then forgiveness. I always hoped they would change, but I never forgot what they did to me. And I trusted them less and less.
My Lord, please help me forgive these three individuals. Help me to forgive all transgressions done to myself and to others, just as You have done for me. You have already helped me be more gracious when dealing with others, please help me reach deep in my heart to forgive ALL others. Help me to take my eyes off of myself and my pain. Help me to reach down deep and find the compassion for ALL people who need it. Not just the obvious ones. Make me like Stephen.
In Jesus’s name I pray