When we’re angry with someone, looking at them with eyes of love can be difficult. Embracing them with a heart of forgiveness can be even more so.
After all, our sinful nature says that we want to make the other person feel the hurt they dealt to us. Worse yet, we often even feel the vengeful desire to “one-up” them, and make them hurt even worse than they hurt us. When we’re wounded, attack is generally our first response, much like a cornered animal.
But when we’re living in the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to rise above our sinful nature, and respond to hurt in a manner that is totally counter to what the world says we should.
We are supposed to love those who hurt us. And this is more than just a few forced kind words through gritted teeth. Such actions simply mask a heart that still remains bitter.
No, the love the Lord expects should cause us to go out of our way to show both kindness and generosity to those who have caused us the most pain. We should be willing to sacrifice of our time, material, and energy to meet their needs.
Look at the world around us. How much of the pain that we see on the evening news would the world be spared if we chose to put forgiveness into action with Jesus’s love, instead of returning volley for volley?
It is election season in Kansas. And the closer we get to election day, the more our airwaves, newspapers and mailboxes seem to be filled with messages strongly in support of, our staunchly against, certain candidates and issues.
As a journalist who minored in Political Science, I am at the same time fascinated and appalled by these campaign ads. They don’t tell you anything useful about who you should be voting for or why. They spend a lot of time putting forth double-talk and vicious attacks toward their opponent, making accusations that most of the time are either patently false or highly distorted versions of truth.
When one candidate comes out with a message demeaning his opponent, his opponent in return generally comes out with something even worse or more misleading about him. It is usually enough to make me not want to vote for either side.
Just once, I would like to see a politician follow the example of Jesus in Luke 23.
Faced with unwarranted false accusations, torture, mocking and imminent execution, Jesus did not lob accusations back at his accusers. He did not fight with them. He did not condemn them or call down “holy thunder” on them.
No, He forgave them. And not only did He forgive them, He shed His blood to redeem them. In the midst of hatred, Jesus showed a love so strong He laid down His life for those who showed Him only contempt in return.
Forgiveness in the face of undeserved hurt is what Christians are called to, and what should separate us from the rest of the world.
When you are tempted to hate, look to the example of Your Savior on the Cross:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Daniel Kiewel is a Youth Leader at CrossPoint Church in Great Bend, and maintains a faith-based blog at www.breakthetape312.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.