Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Unmerciful Me

Mercy is not one of my spiritual gifts. Unfortunately, this fact doesn't mean that I don't have to practice mercy in my daily life.

Not only is mercy not one of my gifts, neither is driving. Apparently, I'm pretty bad at it. My wife usually still lets me drive when we go places, but she maintains her white knuckled grip on the door handle, just in case she has to bail out quickly. I can even sense, at times, her envying Emma's car seat with its 5-point harness.

Anyway, have you ever noticed that when you drive you operate under the biggest double standard in the history of the world (that may be, perhaps, a tiny exaggeration). Let me explain. When you pull out in front of someone or make a bonehead mistake on the road, what is your reaction? "Oops, my bad," you may say as you wave at the driver you have offended. Then you wonder why they are so angry at you and give you the one finger salute as they pass by. On the other hand, when someone pulls out in front of you, or you see someone make a bonehead mistake that affects you and your getting somewhere on time, what do you do? You honk, scream, beat on your poor steering wheel, etc. You make sure that they know you are unhappy with their driving technique when you pass by them on the right; then you wonder why they merely waved at you and mouthed "My bad!"

Yesterday, I found myself in this type of predicament. Someone was being a bonehead on McCart Ave. while I was trying to get to work. I honked, and got mad. I made sure that the other car knew I wasn't happy. It is very difficult, when someone has wronged you on the road to forgive that person for making a mistake, even though you expect the same forgiveness when you mess up.
The same is true for non-driving offenses. Perhaps someone has hurt you emotionally (or physically for that matter). Perhaps they have let you down in some way, or maybe they broke a promise or made a bonehead mistake. Regardless of how they hurt you, people in your life make mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes affect you in big ways. When we are hurt by people, forgiving them can be difficult.

Jesus tells a story about forgiveness to his disciples.

Matthew 18:23-35

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 talents (millions of dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him, "Be patient with me," he begged, "I will pay back everything." The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found on of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a few dollars). He grabbed him and began to choke him. "Pay back what you owe me!" he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, "Be patient with me, and I will pay you back." But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay off the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. The master called the servant it. "You wicked servant," he said, "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Forgiving others can be tough. Many times people have hurt you so deeply, and caused such gaping wounds in your life that it will take years to recover. Perhaps your parents divorced, your spouse cheated, or your kids lied. Whatever the case, the Bible is clear that the wrongs they committed toward you are not even comparable to the way in which you have wronged God... and we continue to wrong Him every day. Romans 5:8 is actually quite remarkable when you look at it in this light.

But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Who in your life have you not forgiven. A parent? A husband or wife? A child? A brother or sister? A best friend? A roommate? A coworker? Who's debt do you need to forgive today? The stakes couldn't be higher.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Begin the process of forgiveness today, and see if the act of cancelling someones debt doesn't actually set you free in the process.

No comments: