For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:21-23 (ESV)
Jesus sets the standard for us as Bible believers. Sinless, not lying, no getting even, no threats – Jesus simply trusted that God would judge justly. How much of His example do I follow? Do I plot revenge against those who have wronged me? Do I slander my boss when I’ve been corrected for something I did wrong? Do I act pompously, or do I bully those who get in my way?
“But it’s so harrrrrrrd to keep my mouth shut. I just want to tell everyone how mean he was to me!” But how much harder was it for Jesus to stand silently while He was being ridiculed? After all, He was God’s Son. He chose to trust in God’s plan instead of using His own power. Should we not do the same – trust that God has absolute knowledge of what is happening in our life, and trust that He knows how to make things right – and most important, trust that God knows what is right in every situation!
We are to love and live with unconditional love. We are to accept others unconditionally (but we are not to love their sin and we have a responsibility to see that people hear the Gospel). We are to forgive unconditionally. We are to do this so that we model our Savior’s behavior!
Forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. One of my favorite singers is Don Francisco. One of my favorite songs says Jesus didn’t die for you because it was fun. He hung there for love because it had to be done. And in spite of His anguish, God’s Word was fulfilled. Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will!
When I forgive others, it’s not the same as God forgiving them. Although it is my task to forgive you when you’ve wronged me, it’s still your responsibility to ask God for that same forgiveness. It’s important that we continue to pray for those who have wronged us, because if they have not accepted Christ as their savior, they will go to hell. And those who have accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation need our prayers as well!
Forgiveness is a serious business. It’s crucial to our spiritual health, and it’s crucial to our physical and emotional well-being as well. It’s a model of Christ’s behavior on this earth. It’s a way for a non-believer to see Jesus in our lives. It’s a way of healing relationships. When I forgive you, it’s sinner-to-sinner. When I ask Jesus, who died on the cross just because I sinned, to forgive me, I’m asking to become holy in the sight of the creator of the world.
It’s hard to model Jesus sometimes! Jesus requires it. Let’s pray for each other – pray that we improve our forgiveness skills every day.
See you next week for week 5 of this series!