Have you ever wanted someone to hurt as much as you hurt, concerning a cause in society or a situation that personally occurred in your life? Have you ever wanted someone to care about a cause as much as you cared about it? Have you ever wanted it so bad that you tried to make them feel guilty about it? Have you ever wanted it so bad that you tried to make them feel ashamed about the way they felt about it? We see this a lot on social media and in the world today. Okay, let me be honest. I’ve interrogated people about their thoughts and beliefs, and my goal was to make them feel bad enough to change their minds. That’s a pretty good strategy, right? Wrong! If we’re not careful, the caring thoughtful person can easily become the one who is hurling insults and belittling others. If we’re not careful, we will start to place conditions on our love and forgiveness. Again, don’t take my word for it.
Matthew 18: 21-35 ESV states, Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So, his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt. So also, my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Similar to the servant in the parable, we asked our Heavenly Father, our King for forgiveness at some point in our lives and he gave it to us. In fact, our father in Heaven loved us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus so we could be saved before we ever knew it was an option. He took on the sins of the whole world. He took on sins for the very people who mocked him and crucified him. He took on the sins of the world for the very people who continue to mock him today in 2021; however, his grace and mercy is new every morning and he is always ready to welcome us into the kingdom, so he can shower us with love and forgiveness.
Yet, if someone doesn’t treat us a certain way or believe the way we believe, we withhold love and forgiveness. We try to shame people. We try to make them feel guilty. That isn’t love. He didn’t shame us. He didn’t make us feel guilty because it took us a little longer to truly surrender our lives to him. (He continued to shower us with love, grace, and mercy.)
On a personal note, I’ve been going to church for 40 years. I was baptized when I was eighteen but I had an encounter with Jesus in 2020 that changed my whole life. It allowed me to love in a way that I didn’t know was possible. (Therefore, we must give people an opportunity to mature in the word. The word of God will cause someone to care about situations like racial injustice. The word of God will cause people to love— not the guilt and shame we try to put on others. In other words, while you’re waiting for hearts and minds to change, show the kind of love and mercy that was given to you before you had an encounter with Jesus. Better yet, show the kind of love and mercy that is given to you every day because we all fall short. Just think about it. Then, go to the Father and pray about it.
#Soul Searching with our Father#