Do you ever watch action movies where, in the beginning of the film, the hero’s wife was killed by the bad guy, or his daughter was kidnapped (that’s pretty much every action movie plot, isn’t it?), and the rest of the movie you sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation. You cannot wait to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him. I get this sort of sadistic pleasure watching the villain suffer. It’s horrible. I know. But my only interest in the movie is seeing the action hero prevail by torturing and maiming the bad guy. What if, at the end of the movie, Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger confronts the bad guy. He has his gun drawn and aimed directly at the villain. It’s retribution time. It’s the moment the audience has been waiting for. Time for the bad guy to meet his maker. But what if Bruce Willis or James Bond were to drop the gun and say, “I forgive you.” The two embrace and shed some tears. The credits roll. The movie is over. I don’t know about you, but I’d demand a refund. I don’t watch those movies to see forgiveness. I watch those movies to satisfy my sense of justice. I want to see evil destroyed and goodness prevail. I think we all want that. Even if it’s something minor or petty, we want revenge, not mercy. We might forgive later, but we want the other guy to suffer a little first.
But is that really what we want? You do realize that if our lives were an action movie that we’d be the villain? And you know who the hero would be? That’s right. Jesus. The hero would be warranted in handing down retribution. But, instead, He let people like you and me torture and maim Him. And not only that, He prayed that God would forgive them. Who does that? A true hero, that’s who. You were once the villain. Now you have the opportunity to be the hero. Our world desperately needs heroes; not the kind who torture and maim the bad guys, but the kind who are compassionate, humble, meek, patient, loving and FORGIVING. Forgiveness is a product of one who is compassionate, humble, meek, and patient. Forgiveness is indicative of the one who is being transformed.
No matter how long we have been a Christian; no matter how much we love Jesus; there is always the temptation to act otherwise. We will always fight the tendency to respond in a worldly manner. I really struggle with this. However, I struggle with it the most when it comes to forgiveness. I hate to admit it, but I don’t always want what God wants. I want to imitate Christ, but I’m not always happy about it. I find it much easier to hate than to forgive. Sometimes I just want to be mad, and I don’t want to accept an apology or say, “I’m sorry.” It’s in those times that I must remind myself of one unavoidable truth—I AM WHAT I DESPISE! The very things I loathe about others are things I have been guilty of as well. The things that anger me when done to me are things that I have done to others. I hate it when people talk about me behind my back, but I’ve talked about people behind their backs. I hate when someone slanders me, but I’ve slandered others. I hate being lied to, but I have lied to save my neck. I hate it when people are rude, but I’ve been rude. I hate hypocrites, but I’ve been hypocritical. Even if I am innocent of certain offenses, I have certainly offended God, and that is a much higher offense than anything that has ever been done to me. I know all about offending someone. I know all about sin. And, thankfully because of Jesus, I know all about forgiveness.
As Christ-followers, we are different. We offer the unthinkable to the undeserving because that’s what God has done for us. What better example of forgiveness is there than Christians? We were dead in our sins, but have been resurrected to a new life. We are forgiveness personified. We are a living, breathing example of how the rebellious can be redeemed. We are a walking billboard for the redemption story. We MUST forgive. Not just because it’s an obligation. Not just because the Bible says so, but because forgiveness is offering the unthinkable to the undeserving. That’s what God has done for us and, in turn, that’s what we should do for others.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32