Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Relate: What is the price of forgiveness? What is the price of the inability to forgive? Some sad stuff has happened in my life but not much bad stuff has happened. I’ve experienced death and loss but I’ve never been in an abusive or cheating relationship. I had great parents and did not experience anything significant in the way of neglect, verbal, or physical abuse growing up. I haven’t experienced true bullying, never been mugged or raped, never been loaded into a train with a destination like Auschwitz, and never been bought and sold by a slave trader. It is hard for me to understand how hard it might be for another to forgive.
When I meet with someone who has faced injustice or abuse in ways like that I can only imagine what they have gone through. I can talk about the need to forgive. I can say that Jesus commanded us to forgive and that He said the price of not forgiving someone else is hell, but those are only words. The best I can do is to pray and to point them to heroes of the faith like Corrie Ten Boom who had to learn to forgive the Nazi oppressors in her own life.
React: That and I can point them to Jesus. Twice Pilate said he was going to set Jesus free and then he betrayed him to the injustice of the mob. He was beaten, mocked, run through a kangaroo court, and a crown of thorns was shoved on his brow. Facing sleep deprivation, and serious amounts of blood loss, he was forced to carry a heavy crossbeam naked and exposed through a crowd and up a hill. He was then raised up on that cross at a place where everyone passing by would wee his suffering and his shame. Right in front of him the soldiers gambled his inheritance away as he was dying. The crowds, and even one of the men dying next to him took their turns mocking him as he hung there naked, in pain, and fighting suffocation with a strength that was quickly bleeding away.
If anyone had a right to anger, if anyone ever had a right to rail at the injustice done to them, he did. Instead Jesus cries out, “Father forgive them, they don’t realize what they are doing.” Jesus paid a huge price for my forgiveness. Not only that, in paying that price, He set an example. No matter what happens in my life, no matter what is done to me, I can forgive.
God, help me to forgive. I can look at the big things that might come and prepare myself for the need to forgive hypotheticals, but day by day there are petty wrongs committed against me as well as petty wrongs I commit against others. Forgive me for what I do and help me to forgive the things done to me. Please protect me from the serious, life wrecking wrongs that could be done unless You would rather use injustice in my life as a way to show Your grace and forgiveness to a watching world. Above all else, be glorified in my life.