Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mystery of the Cross Part 2

Forgiveness hurts! It really hurts. Even from the cross, Jesus says, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." He does not call them ignorant bastards. He does not blame anyone for his crap! Spit upon, flogged, punched and nailed naked to a cross, He, Son of God, says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Forgiveness hurts. I know. I am trying to forgive people who have called me names, accused my of adultery, gossiped unapologetic. And I am having a hard time forgiving those who hear the gossip and do not rebuke the gossiper because they want to be liked!

Forgiveness hurts! It's a command from Jesus that we forgive 70 times 7 those who hurt us. It's not a feeling. It's a bloody command! Jesus proves it on the bloody cross. When we forgive, we let go of any obligation on the part of the one who has hurt us. No one owes us an explanation. No one owes us an apology. So, how do we forgive. The answer lies in the hurt Jesus took on upon Himself on that first Good Friday many years ago! Did I mention Jesus died in the cross...FOR ME! If I know His forgiveness for me, I can then forgive those who have hurt me. And that's the point. I am hurt. I do not try to make people remove the nails from me.

I have been struggling with forgiving those who have hurt me by their gossip while damaging my reputation. I pray to God to give me a forgiving heart. So how do I know I have forgiven someone? By the fruits of my heart. I hurt! I do not seek retribution. "I don't get mad I get even", is what the world says! Jesus commands us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. And there's the rub. Jesus hurts every time I break God's commands. By His death upon the cross, He took my debt away. Hence, no one owes me anything either! When we forgive someone we are loosening them from any obligation to us. They do not owe us an apology. They do not owe us an explanation. To forgive means to let go of the offender. So how do we know we have forgiven someone? We hurt! Jesus tells us a story of a slave in debt to his king for 10,000 talents. He begs for mercy and his debt is wiped clean. But he goes to a fellow slave who owes just a pittance. Rather than forgive that slave as he has been forgiven by the king, he demands that the debt be paid in full. Once the king hears of this, the first slave is jailed until his original debt is paid off. The moral of the story, "So my heavenly Father will do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from the heart." (Mt. 18:21-35) As Christians we are called to forgive others. It's a calling, not a feeling. So how do we know we haven forgiven someone? We hurt!