“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:12,13).”
This morning I took my two youngest children to the local Christian school for the first time as new students. I drove into the drop off area and right as my kids opened the door and left the car to leave, my son got yelled, “Dad, wait, I forgot something.”
Suddenly, a honking horn came from behind me. Obviously, the driver behind me was perturbed at something. I thought,”Great, my first day at a Christian school and another parent gets on my case.”
I parked to let my son get his forgotten lunch, and the man who had honked at me came over to explain to me the error of my ways. He was nice about it and we shook hands.
Still, I was a little stressed and went to the nearby coffee shop to relax a bit. I sat outside because it was a nice morning.
As I sat there, a middle-aged, overweight gentleman sat down and nearby and began making calls on his cell phone. He was right next to me so I could hear all his business.
This man seemed stressed, and got me even more stressed. Then he said,”Hey, are you going to church this weekend. Let’s get lunch and talk then.” I thought, “Hmm, another stressed out Christian.”
We believers are not immune to stress, nor are we invincible to sin and failure in our lives. It would be nice if it weren’t so, and we could be perfect in this life, but it ain’t gonna happen.
The best of people are human, and sometimes their weaknesses lead them into hell. Take golfer Tiger Woods for example.
His wife Ellen Norgegren is the cover story in a popular magazine this week, discussing her shock at his betrayal. The couple recently divorced over his multiple affairs.
Prior to the news of these dalliances, Tiger Woods had a squeaky clean image. He would have been the perfect candidate to do a milk commercial directed at kids. Who knew he was a sex addict?
The New York Daily News, in discussing the contents of the magazine article, quotes a clinical psychologist, who praises Nordegren for saying that she wants to reach the stage where she can forgive her former husband..
“It’s the healthiest road that one can take in this situation,” said pyschologist Diana Kirschner “To work on forgiveness is critical. A lack of forgiveness is shown in research to cause the person who was cheated on more stress and health problems.”
There you have it. It is the victim of the former “good” man who is the the more stressed. The cause: failure to forgive.
We might believe we are like the Psalmist, who writes,”Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering… I walk continually in your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD…(Psalm 26:1,4-6).” Perhaps we are –or perhaps not.
Whether we are righteous or not, when we are betrayed we need to forgive. Otherwise, our righteousness becomes self-righteousness.
In the last meal Jesus ever had with his disciple, famously portrayed in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper”and recorded in Matthew 26, Jesus is discussing betrayal. One of them is going to betray Him.
Prior to his meal, his disciples grumble about an incident in which a woman anoints Him with expensive perfume. Why, this fragrance could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor, they complain.
After the supper, in Jesus’s agony over His impending execution, His closest disciples can’t stay awake while praying. Jesus is turned over to His enemies by his disciple Judas. In addtion, one of his most trusted confidantes, Peter, disowns Him.
It is no coincidence that Jesus offered the first communion in the middle of being failed and deserted by His closest friends. He said during the supper,”This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).” He knew these men were going to need absolution.
Don’t we all. We all put our pants and dresses on the same way. No one is exempt from sin and its consequences before heaven.
We ought to cut each other a little slack, and forgive one another a little more. Humans we are.
I can start by forgiving those closest to me when I have something against them, and work at it with complete strangers, like beeping fathers at Christian schools or stressed out believers interrupting my quiet space at a coffee shop. We’re all in the same boat, bailing until Jesus comes back.