Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011 … Forgiving Others

Passage of the Day: Luke 23: 34 … 34 Then Jesus said [from the cross], “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

My Journal for Today: I don’t know about you; but when I read this statement from our Lord, the God-Man, dying on the cross, I think I’m probably more like Peter when the heat is on, running like a scared rabbit at the threat of death. It’s very hard for me to identify with the degree of sacrifice exhibited by My Lord, Jesus, on the cross. And some may say, “Well, He was God as well as man.” And that’s true; but Stephen (see Acts 7: 59 - 60) was just a man, a man with a sin nature like me; and yet, he exhibited the same degree of self-sacrifice and forgiveness when he was stoned to death unjustly as did Jesus on the cross. Remember the young teenager, Cassie Bernall, whom I’ve mentioned in my journal entries this month, highllighting how she died at Columbine High School by simply saying that she was a Christian to a deranged young teenager who held a gun at her head. So, obviously it’s possible for mankind to emulate Christlike strength and forgiveness … yes, even, while we are in the midst of dire or threatening circumstances.

But just think about what Jesus was all about as He hung there on the cross, dying by horrible physical pain and even worse, the spiritual pain of separation from His Heavenly Father. And yet, He showed the love of His father, forgiving those who crucified Him (and as we know, that includes you and me!). As He hung there, He was actually more concerned for the spiritual well being of His enemies than for Himself.

And therein lies probably the toughest challenge I have ever found in my pursuit of Christlikeness; and, though I’ve never been put in a position of having stand for Christ in a life-threatening instance or to forgive someone who was about to take my life, I would hope and pray that I could be like Stephen or maybe Cassie Bernall; and in my humanity, I could make the choice and genuinely forgive those who persecute me – even to the point of death for Christ.

Of course, I’d rather not ever be put in those circumstances; but I think we all need to ask ourselves, especially as we contemplate this in the light of Easter, which is often celebrated during this time of year, … “Do we have Christ in our hearts when we have to pick up His cross daily; or do we fall pray to our humanity as did Peter when he ran?” Tough question; but now is the time to be making the commitments and build up the discipline to be able to forgive our persecutors as did our Lord.

My Prayer Today: Lord, I feel so inadequate; but I know that Your grace is sufficient to give me strength to cover my weakness! Amen

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