By Dr. Charles Stanley
They beat Him unjustly, tortured Him, humiliated Him, stripped Him of His garments, and raised the cross so the Lord Jesus would suffocate to death by crucifixion. The Messiah—the Son of the Living God—came to save the world from its sin. Although His mission was the most wonderful, the most noble in all of history, how did the people repay Him? They falsely accused Him and sentenced Him to die the most horrible death known to humanity.
It was absolutely unjust. Yet Christ’s response shows us the nature of godly love: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Do you know how Jesus was able to forgive through such intense pain? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “for the joy set before Him, [Christ] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus was able to forgive those who crucified Him because He was focused on obeying the Father and saving us—that was His joy.
Christ’s forgiveness is like His love for us—unconditional. It’s not based on anything any of us can do; rather, it’s based on Himself. Jesus loves and forgives us because He provided for our forgiveness—not because we can earn it in any way. We can either accept this truth by faith or we can reject it outright through our unbelief.
With that being said, understand the enemy will try to convince you that the love you experience comes from somewhere else—from something or someone other than God. However, when you go looking for acceptance in the wrong places—expecting others to fulfill the needs that only Christ can provide for—you’ll find yourself empty, broken, and unfulfilled. It’s not the fault of others that your needs have not been met—no human being could ever meet all your needs. However, you may hold them responsible for hurting you just the same.
So much of the hurt we feel is because we either won’t listen to God or we ignore the fact that only He can truly satisfy our deepest longings of acceptance, belonging, and competency. But as believers, we always have the option of handling our hurt and pain in the right way—seeing everything we experience as either coming from the Father’s hand or being allowed in our lives for His eternal purposes. Of course, we may not feel like being caring and merciful. But we act in faith and obedience to the true source of love and forgiveness—the Lord Jesus Christ—knowing that He will produce them in us.
Can you do so? If so, then the next time someone wounds you, turn to the Lord for His comfort and wisdom, overcoming your angry emotions, and focusing on His will—which is to reconcile others to Him. Imitate the focus and passion that Christ demonstrated on the cross, which counted everything secondary and inconsequential to doing God’s will. And through your obedience, He will change the world.
You know that God is committed to forgiving you; therefore, be His faithful representative by doing likewise.
Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org