Faith

Forgiveness

One day, you are driving to go see your father in the hospital, when you come to a four-way stop; you see a man with his head bowed, holding a cardboard sign that reads Homeless, and a few other words that you can’t quite make out. In that moment at the stop sign you realize that you packed a lunch bag full of drinks, some snacks, and a couple of ice packs that you were taking with you because you really didn’t want to spend a small fortune on food and drink at the hospital. You keep driving down the road toward your destination, until you cannot go any further because of the nagging feeling telling you that you should have given that man what you had. After another mile or so, you finally listen and turn to go back to the man at the intersection. Once parked in the parking area near where he is standing, you proceed to grab the bag of food and drink, the pocket bible you had stashed away, and the little cash you had with you. You approach the man, ask his name, give him the few dollars and try to give him the food. “Randy” says that he just ate and does not want the food. You place the bag on the ground near him, saying “No Randy, you keep it. You may need it later in the day”. Before you leave you hand him the pocket bible, letting him know that it is for him as well.

You part company with him and continue on your journey to the hospital. It is good to see your father, and the added bonus of seeing your sister-in-law and brother was great as well. The hope is that he gets released soon and can be at home resting, but that decision will not be made until the next day by the doctor who performed his operation. After a time of visiting, you depart to go home to take care of things there, reminding your father that you will be there again tomorrow. On your journey home, you go back by the four-way and Randy is gone. You look over and you see the bag that you left for him toppled over, discarded, and seemingly unwanted. A part of you fumes a little that your love and kindness was just thrown away. I mean how dare he! You stopped on the way to see your sick father to help this man, you sacrificed your time and money to try and help him. Your heart begins to harden as you think about it, and your mind gives way to vulgar words at his inconsiderate, unappreciative gesture.

This is where I am reminded: It is easy to get angry and spiteful when someone shows no appreciation for the sacrifices you have made, the love you have shown, or the kindness you offer. But there are a couple of things to think about before giving into anger and judgement. One that comes to mind is when we give something to someone, we should do so with no strings attached, no expectations, and no thoughts of what the person owes for our “being so kind”. If that is the mentality that we have, that they owe us or that they should have done something more with what we gave them, then we really did not do it out of kindness at all. The second thought that comes to mind is that it is not our place to question the other person’s integrity; it is not our place to judge them or what they do with what has been given to them. And if we do get upset about it, then forgive them and ask God to forgive you for being bitter about it.

After all, Randy had no idea what was being sacrificed to get that to him. He may have not cared that you sacrificed anything at all even if he did know, we do not know Randy’s story either. Why did he have to be out there? He could be an addict, he could be mentally ill, he could have been forced to be there…who knows. Regardless of the reason of his being there, he needed help, to be loved, to be forgiven for whatever he has done wrong. It is written in Colossians 3:13-14 NIV, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Which leads me to another point: What are we doing with the sacrifice God has made to save us, and the love he so unconditionally offers us? Our Heavenly Father, sent His only son to die on the cross for us. When I say us, I mean every single last one of us and do you know how sinful we really are? Have you taken a good long look inside yourself and at the entire world around you? We are a sinful people, but God still sent His son to die on a cross for our sins; that is huge! I do not believe that any of us truly grasp the full magnitude of what He did and continues to do for us.  And how grateful are we? Every chance we get, we spit in God’s face by pulling Him from our schools, removing His commandments from public view for fear of hurting someone’s feelings; we curse him and doubt him for not healing a loved one, or for sending too much or not enough rain, etc.; we trample on His word on a daily basis by judging one another, being unfaithful to our spouses, lying because we can, or using it to be hurtful; lastly, we often forget all about Him or put Him away in the back of our minds until we need Him for something.

How do you think that makes God feel? The very God who made us, loved us, gave up His only son for us, so that we may not perish in the pits of Hell for all eternity! When we throw his love and sacrifice away, His heart is crushed, and He mourns for us. But through all we have done to Him; all the pain we have caused, He still loves us. He wants us to find our way back to Him, to accept His love and guidance. God does not give up on us, and He does something we struggle to do every day: He forgives us. All He asks from us is to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, Love Him above all else, and to love and forgive your fellow man as He has us.

As difficult as it may seem, we must forgive our fellow man for the things they have done to us and not judge them, that judgment is for God alone to do. Just like with Randy, yes what he did was hurtful, but I forgive Him for it, and I pray that whatever his situation, God lifts Him out of it and shows him how much he is truly loved.

For Jesus himself said, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6: 27-31 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6: 36-38

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