I just watched Kirk Cameron’s “Unstoppable” movie. I highly recommend it to all. If you are one of those people who want to know why God allows suffering, or if you are a Christian who struggles with the fact that bad things happen to good people, this movie is for you. Good for all ages.
Comfort and Compassion
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…” Isaiah 40:1
There are a lot of hurting people in this world, the result of the fall, Satan’s attacks and our own stupidity and wrong choices. Jesus comforted the hurting and had compassion on their plight. He told the woman caught in the very act of adultery that he didn’t accuse her. He told the woman at the well, who was living with her wrong choices, that he had living water for her that would change her life. He fed thousands who had empty bellies and empty hearts.
We see in the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus standing in the Synagogue in Nazareth where he was raised and quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” Then he tells them that he is the fulfillment of this scripture.
What is the good news? That God loves us that his son came to show us that love and how to love others. Jesus demonstrated compassion and comfort. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:1-2, “Are you strong because you belong to Christ? Does His love comfort you? Do you have joy by being as one in sharing the Holy Spirit? Do you have loving-kindness and pity for each other? Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions.” The good news is that what we have received from Jesus, we can share with those other hurting people. His compassion and comfort came out of a heart filled with love. His compassion healed the man with the withered hand in spite of the consequences he would face from the religious people. His compassion drove the demons out of the Gaderine, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers and it forcefully nailed him to the cross. The compassion of Christ was so great that the grave couldn’t hold it, or the five hundred others that came up with him.
Jesus told us that we are to preach this good news of God’s love and compassion. The wonderful news that he sits on the throne of grace in all authority and power then gives us the same authority and power her on earth. The good news that he hasn’t left us here alone, but has sent the Comforter, His Spirit to guide us and teach us. Jesus never put conditions on his love; he just wanted to help people. Search the scriptures and you’ll see he never turned anyone down. Sure, in his home town, in the same chapter quoted above in Luke, he said a prophet couldn’t do much for his own, because of their unbelief, but he still wanted to help them. He never said, “It’s your own fault, deal with it,” but he did tell us, those who say we love him, “what you’ve seen me do, you do it!”
We could reach the world this way – could change the world this way. One person at a time, one smile, one hand reaching out in love, one crust of bread, one warm blanket at a time…
Sometimes I am like Jonah, not wanting forgiveness for ‘them.’
Sometimes I am like the Sons of Thunder, wanting to call down fire from heaven.
Sometimes I am like the Pharisees only wanting to clean the outside.
Sometimes I am like Judas, wanting God to do things my way.
Sometimes I am like the Children of Israel complaining over Manna.
Sometimes I am like Paul, crying ‘Oh, wretched man that I am.’
Sometimes I am like Mary sitting at the feet of the Teacher.
Sometimes I am like Peter stepping out and walking on the water.
Sometimes I am like David with a song in my heart and praise on my lips.
Sometimes I am like Abraham pleading for just one righteous man.
Sometimes I am like Ruth leaving all behind and cleaving with love to the future.
Sometimes I am like Steven looking into the face of Christ.
Sometimes I am even like Jesus, walking in His love and light.
I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. I never really had too much of a problem in that area, except with a few specific people who had inflicted a load of hurt in my life. But I learned the hard way that un-forgiveness is like a cancer it spreads, or like a poison, affecting the other “good” relationships in my life. My problem was that I didn’t fully understand forgiveness. I, like most people, thought of it as an emotion or a feeling. I had the idea that someone had to say they were sorry and repent for their actions before I could ever forgive. I thought if I forgave the behavior before they apologized, it would give them permission to continue, or validate their behavior. Thank God, I did learn, mostly through His word and good Christian counsel, that forgiveness is a CHOICE. Basically, I had been REFUSING to forgive! Satan uses this to give us a “victim mentality” once we have that, we start keeping track of every wrong, perceived or real. We start rehearsing every incident mentally and verbally. Soon all we can do is spout that poison out to anyone who will listen, and it works it’s destruction.
Looking at God and His forgiveness of me helped me to forgive. I had been forgiven much. Then thinking of Jesus on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” if Jesus could say of the men who purposely hammered those nails, or the Sanhedrin who purposely condemned him to death, or of me, who willfully sinned, sending him to the cross, BEFORE any of us had repented, then I couldn’t justify my withholding my forgiveness. My un-forgiveness turned also into bitterness, and that resulted in mental and physical problems. God can and did heal me, but what he healed was only symptoms, the real problem was my heart. When I asked God to help me get rid of the root, it was un-forgiveness, and self-pity, two equally destructive things. I got some repentance, and other’s have never admitted wronging me. I was able to CHOOSE to forgive all, and the amazing thing is after a while, my emotions caught up with that choice! Now I hardly ever think about it and I can even be around those people with no ill will. My other relationships improved, and I was able to open my heart up bigger to God and those around me. How can we give God our whole heart if it is full of cancer! He gave me the strength to do it! Un-forgiveness is an ugly thing. It will destroy your marriage, your family, your church and even your health, if you let it. Choose to forgive today!
Wisdom of forgiveness~
Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. NIV
Matt 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.NIV
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.NIV
2 Cor 2:1010 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, NIV
Col 3:12-14 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. NIV
“When I become bitter or unforgiving toward others, I’m assuming that the sins of others are more serious than my sins against God. The cross transforms my perspective. Through the cross I realize that no sin committed against me will ever be as serious as the innumerable sins I’ve committed against God. When we understand how much God has forgiven us, it’s not difficult to forgive others. Because we are the most forgiven people in the world, we should be the most forgiving people in the world”. C.J. Mahaney
“Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me”. Author Unknown
“You are nothing better than deceitful hypocrites if you harbor in your minds a single unforgiving thought. There are some sins which may be in the heart, and yet you may be saved. But you cannot be saved unless you are forgiving. If we do not choose to forgive, we choose to be damned”. C.H. Spurgeon
“Un-forgiveness is the poison we drink, hoping others will die”. Author Unknown