Friday, November 2, 2012

Forgiveness and Compassion

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34 (NIV)

As much as I know that we are to stay away from anger and bitterness and forgive everyone “seventy times seven”, this doesn’t come automatically for me; I often have to consciously stop and think about it to make it a reality. While sometimes anger or resentment builds slowly because I have not chosen to rebuke these feelings, there are times when the moment sneaks up on me and I am in a rage before I even know what hit me.

Most of what I call “injustices” in my life, however, are small in the grand scope of things. I let a stray word, harsh text or unreturned phone call ruin a perfect day. I can’t say that I have had an experience anything nearly as severe as the injustices surrounding Jesus’ death--yet even on the cross, watching them divide his garments, he was not only forgiving them, but asking God to forgive them.

Jesus knew that it was Satan in them that was responsible for their ill behavior. He offered them compassion and forgiveness instead of judgment—even in his time of distress. Choosing compassion over judgment is what he calls us to as well.

More often than not, that stray word that almost ruined my day was not intended in a mean way. The abrupt text wasn’t meant to be harsh, but was the byproduct of someone in a hurry. And the person who failed to return the phone call had a perfectly good excuse. By not immediately flying off of the handle and instead seeking to understand. . .which takes a bit more patience. . .the “unjust” action is usually understandable and I am able to approach it with not only understanding, but compassion.

Lord, help me trade my ungodly feelings to compassion for those who hurt me. Help me see them through your eyes and not the jaded eyes of this broken world.